Does Chris Christie Still Have A Shot At The Presidency?

Can the New Jersey governor rebound from the Fort Lee bridge scandal in time for the 2016 presidential election?
Posted at 4:38 PM, Jan 20, 2014

Of all the unanswered questions surrounding the controversies involving Chris Christie — and there are many — there's one in particular just about everyone is asking.

"What has the last week done to Chris Christie's presidential campaign?" (Via MSNBC

"Could 'Bridgegate' bring an end to his presidential ambitions?" (Via Fox News

"What does it do to political aspirations for a potential White House run in 2016?" (Via CNN

In other words, can the New Jersey governor — once thought to be the Republican front-runner for the White House in 2016 — come back from what's been a possibly career-damaging couple of weeks? (Via State of New Jersey's Governor Office / Tim Larsen

Results of a recent Quinnipiac poll are promising for Christie. Among likely New Jersey voters, 51 percent say he is honest and trustworthy. Seventy-four percent say he's a strong leader. (Via Quinnipiac University

His image nationally is another story. BuzzFeed's Ben Smith makes this observation: "Politicians don't get that many moments in the national spotlight. Voters don't have the time or interest, this far out, to know more than one or two things​." One of those things, of course, being the bridge scandal. 

And now the governor is facing new allegations. Federal investigators are looking into whether his office improperly used federal disaster recovery funds in a tourism ad featuring his family. The ad ran during his re-election. (Via New Jersey Economic Development Authority

And the mayor of Hoboken, N.J., claims Christie ordered Superstorm Sandy relief funds be withheld from her city unless she supported a redevelopment project. (Via CNN

But voters still have another two years before they head to the polls, and many observers seem to think if no more scandals emerge linked to Christie, voters will forget, if not also forgive.

"If they don't have a smoking gun that shows the governor knew, then nothing's going to happen." (Via CNBC

"He may be able to contain the damage — hurt but not lethal — but if there's more there, and there's a federal investigation now, then it could lead to the end of Chris Christie." (Via Bloomberg

A writer at The Daily Beast argues while there's no reason to write Christie off just yet, he's lost some of his post-election momentum. "Party elites want to hitch their wagon to someone who can win, and someone they can trust. There are other candidates who fit this bill … and those elites might respond to this scandal by giving them a second look."

Then again, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan argue it's not like the field of potential challengers is perfect, either. "He'll be running against a bunch of candidates who have their own sets of issues to overcome."

All this talk, of course, is assuming Christie wants to run for president. When asked about his 2016 ambitions earlier this month, Christie said, "We'll see what happens."