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“If you’re looking for leadership in America, you’re not going to find it in the Oval Office,” Christie said at a rally in Louisiana before a fundraiser.

Before the speech at the Reagan library, Christie’s brother, Todd, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that there was no change in Christie’s decision to run.

“I’m sure that he’s not going to run,” Todd Christie said. “If he’s lying to me, I’ll be as stunned as I’ve ever been in my life.”

But after the speech, Christie’s inner circle clamped down and Christie didn’t make any other public comments about it.

A short primary season could make it tough to organize a campaign in time, but Christie has been making inroads with big money donors and media moguls.

He was the keynote speaker this summer for a retreat held by the billionaire oil tycoon brothers David and Charles Koch. This week he held a fundraiser at the California home of Meg Whitman, the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co., who lost last year to Democrat Jerry Brown in the governor’s race. Last summer, Christie met with the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes at Ailes’ home.

A large part of Christie’s hesitation to run has been his family. He has four children, ages 18 to 8. At a Sept. 22 event with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was also courted but said no to a 2012 bid, Christie said it just wasn’t the right time for him.

“It got to be something that you and your family really believes is not only the right thing to do, but I think what you must do at that time in your life both for you and for your country,” Christie, 49, said. “And for me, the answer to that is that it isn’t.”

But he and his wife have been reassured recently that White House life isn’t that bad. Months ago, former first lady Barbara Bush made a call to Christie’s wife, Mary Pat, to encourage her to think about a presidential campaign, and Nancy Reagan also encouraged Christie when they sat together at the library.

The weeklong trip was a clear success for him, advisers said. It was also long planned. Nancy Reagan sent out an invitation for him to speak at the library this winter, and Christie made a similar fundraising trip last year around election season.

Christie’s longtime friend, former law partner and adviser Bill Palatucci traveled to California with the governor and said there was no doubt it was inspiring.

“Many, many well-wishers who know the governor’s record and are congratulating him on his record in office,” Palatucci said after their stops in St. Louis. “Everyone from hotel staff, airport workers and those who attend the events responding that they know him and like his message.”

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Associated Press writer Michael Blood in Los Angeles contributed to this report.