New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Thursday evening that he hadn't ruled out running for president — in 2016.

Christie, the Garden State governor who's popular with Republicans but has denied interest in running for president in 2012, was considerably less definitive about not running in the next cycle.

"Well, who knows? That's, what, five years from now? And who knows what life is going to be like five years from now?" Christie said on the Fox Business Network about the prospect of running in 2016.

"I haven't decided whether to seek reelection in New Jersey in 2013 to another term. And if I did, would I get reelected?" he said. "There are all kinds of variables."

Christie's attracted interest from GOP primary voters for having been elected in normally Democratic New Jersey, where he's brought an assertive attitude to state business and his dealing with the state's influential unions.

He's engaged in some of the traditional party-building activities consistent with a candidate mulling a run for the White House, but Christie has been vehement in denying interest in running for president in 2012. Still, he's set to headline a March 30 fundraising dinner for House Republicans.

Of course, his 2016 fortunes are dependent on a number of variables, chief among them whether a Republican candidate beats Obama next year.