New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could be on the verge of stepping into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, reversing course on nearly a year of fervent denials.
After much prodding from high-powered GOP leaders and donors, Christie, 49, could announce as soon as Monday that he'll join the seven other Republicans vying for the nomination, the New York Post reported Thursday.
Despite the constant media attention and pleas from powerful political figures to run in 2012, the boisterous Jersey native may be better off delaying until 2016, experts said. Entering this late in the game could put him at a major disadvantage, and his largely bipartisan and moderate behavior during the past few years may not play well in the hyper-partisan climate.
"If he waits until 2016, he has time to really develop a platform and really contextualize his somewhat moderate behavior these past few years and his working relationships with the Democratic party," said Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham.
"In theory, [bipartisanship] is great, but with the polarized climate we have right now it actually serves more as an Achilles Heel," Greer added.
Jamie Chandler, professor of political science at Hunter College, agreed, adding that while Christie's brand of politics may play well in the northeast, his name recognition in middle America is lacking.
"Christie is well known in the northeast, and he's well known in the media, but if you were to ask one of the people in these early primary states, they might have no idea who he is," Chandler said.
Politics aside, much also has been made of Christie's weight. The rotund governor has argued it's a non-issue, saying, "Despite the well-chronicled issues with my weight, I've been relatively healthy by all objective indicators."
The governor, who uses an inhaler for asthma, was briefly hospitalized last July after waking up with shortness of breath. Everything appeared fine following a chest X-ray and EKG and the married father of three was sent home.
But in politics, where image often matters as much as substance, Christie may be facing an uphill battle.
"We do live in a weight-ist society, so even if there are not overtures about his weight, there will be questions about his discipline, his self-control," Greer said. "It will really be raising a question of ... if this is a gluttonous person, would he be a gluttonous president?"
Follow reporter Tim Herrera on Twitter: @tim_herrera