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New Jersey governor a strong White House contender: poll


New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie greets supporters before delivering his victory speech at election night headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey, in this November 3, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky/Files
New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie greets supporters before delivering his victory speech at election night headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey, in this November 3, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky/Files

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie insists he is not running for president, but a new poll out on Thursday shows him running ahead of most Republicans in a hypothetical matchup against President Obama.

He would trail the president by only six percentage points, according to a poll by New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson University. Only fellow Republicans Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, poll better against Obama.

"That's pretty good for a Jersey guy," said Peter Woolley, director of the university's PublicMind poll.

"People do not see New Jersey as typical of America, though it is. And they don't see New Jersey problems as typical of America, though they are. And Christie is very New Jersey."

The telephone and cellphone poll of 800 registered voters nationwide showed Christie lagging Obama by 46 to 40 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Huckabee would be in a dead heat with the president, at 46 percent each, and Romney would be nearly in a tie, trailing Obama 44 to 43 percent, the poll showed.

By contrast, Obama would clobber former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin by 20 points, beat former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty by 14, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich by 15, according to the results.

"I know Christie is not running for president," Woolley said. "But because New Jersey's fiscal problems are a reflection of the nation's fiscal problems, it is well worth testing his national appeal."

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

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