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News Analysis: Bridge scandal a make-or-break test for NJ governor on road to White House

English.news.cn   2014-01-11 15:48:03            

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Likely 2016 U.S. Republican presidential contender Chris Christie is facing his first test in a bid to take the White House amid a scandal that has rocked his administration and grabbed national headlines.

At issue is whether the governor of the U.S. state of New Jersey can survive a scandal whereby his administration allegedly orchestrated the closure of two lanes of a bridge to neighboring New York City, causing major traffic jams, in an effort to punish a local New Jersey mayor for not endorsing Christie's re-election bid.

What's more, paramedics trying to reach a 91-year-old woman got stuck in traffic during four days of lane closure in September, and the woman died after suffering a cardiac arrest, according to news reports.

In response, Christie fired a staffer allegedly responsible for the plot and the usually bombastic and at times confrontational governor appeared apologetic at a news conference Thursday.

Some experts said Christie's two-hour press briefing was a wise move, wearing down reporters and allowing them to ask any and all questions on their minds in a bid to put the scandal behind him as soon as possible.

"This has very serious potential to blunt his 2016 aspirations. But only time will tell whether he's down for the count," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

"Yes, he can survive this. But if he survives it and doesn't keep his crossover appeal intact, his 2016 chances are definitely blunted," O'Connell said, referring to Christie's appeal to people on both sides of the political divide.

"Thus far, he's said and done the right things. From a PR perspective, he did all that he could do," he said.

If Christie wins the GOP primary in the lead-up to the 2016 elections, he would have to beat likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"The reason he's leading her (Clinton) in the polls right now is his crossover appeal," O'Connell said. That means he cannot just survive the scandal, but must continue to appeal to both Republicans and swing voters, he added.

While the coming days will be a test for the governor, the scandal could well blow over by the time the 2016 elections roll around.

"As long as others confirm he knew nothing of the political retribution, he will remain a viable presidential candidate. The 2016 election is a long way off and many things will happen to all the candidates," Brookings Institution's senior fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

Related:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie looks to recover from scandal

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is still seeking to move beyond the most challenging test of his political career. His administration is accused of intentionally causing a traffic jam in one of the world’s busiest bridges in September.

The governor apologized repeatedly, fired a top aide, and got rid of his chief political adviser. Internal documents have revealed his administration may have caused major hold-ups at the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey and New York City. The mayor of the town of Fort Lee, which lies across the bridge from New York City, had refused to endorse the governor during his recent re-election campaign. Full story

U.S. governor apologizes for "Bridgegate" scandal

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican hopeful for 2016 presidential race made a formal apology to the public on Thursday and fired a top aide who was behind the scandal surrounding the closure of lanes on a highly trafficked bridge last fall as an act of political retribution.

"I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. There's no doubt in my mind that the conduct that they exhibited is completely unacceptable and showed a lack of respect for their appropriate role of government and for the people that we're trusted to serve," said Christie at the first news conference following the disclosure of the scandal. Full story

Editor: Fu Peng
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