Nearly 70 percent of Americans say the bridge-closure scandal engulfing Chris Christie has not changed their opinion about the New Jersey governor, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll. In addition, 44 percent of respondents believe he’s telling the truth about his knowledge of the events surrounding the controversy.

And far more Americans view him as a strong leader rather than as a bully…

When Republicans voters were asked whom they support if the GOP primary or caucus were held today, 16 percent picked Christie, 12 percent sided with 2012 running mate Paul Ryan, 9 percent said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and 8 percent said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Those percentages are virtually unchanged from last month.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, battling an ongoing political scandal in his home state, has quietly communicated with several of his fellow governors to reassure them that the situation in Trenton is under control and express appreciation for their support, Republicans familiar with the conversations said…

Christie’s position at the RGA is not in jeopardy, according to senior party leaders — for the immediate future it is likely to be a significant asset for Christie as he seeks to maintain his standing as a national figure. The committee’s communications apparatus has already helped handle the media uproar around the affair known as “Bridgegate.” And unless more gravely damaging facts emerge from an investigation in New Jersey, Republicans would be unlikely to break ranks and criticize a man who controls tens of millions of dollars in political spending for the 2014 election…

Within the corridors of the RGA, there’s not currently any doubt about Christie’s strength as a chairman for the organization. Fred Malek, the longtime Republican fundraiser who helms the group’s powerful finance operation, said Christie had handled the crisis “as well as anybody possibly could.”

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[G]iven the governor’s immediate reaction to the personal crisis that has engulfed him, it isn’t too soon to wonder when the accusations and media frenzy crossed the line from inquiry and investigation to political lynching…

I’ve been skeptical that Christie will sell to enough GOP caucus attendees and primary voters around the country to win his party’s nomination, though I certainly haven’t said that he can’t win. The more Democrats make their attacks on him resemble a partisan witch-hunt, the better Christie’s chances become — as long as his opponents don’t find a smoking gun.

The governor is a controversial figure who has stepped on toes over the years, so it is no wonder some are gleeful about his current situation and others are looking to pay him back. But the smell now emanating from the Garden State isn’t merely the pure sweetness of good government. It also includes a pungent odor of partisan politics and pettiness coming from Christie’s detractors.

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The same national press that conducted a blackout of the trial of Philadelphia murderer Kermit Gosnell as lawyers exposed his horrific late-term abortion mill – that was dismissed as a “local story” – decided a few autumn days of traffic jams in Bergen County to be the hottest outrage for everyone from Jacksonville to Boise. In fact, their burst of reporting indicated they believed this was the most important story in the world – by far.

In the first two days of the story after the e-mails on the manufactured traffic jams came to light, ABC, CBS and NBC devoted 88 minutes of breathless coverage to the story. To put their transparently partisan aggression into perspective, that’s 88 minutes in two days compared to two minutes of coverage in the last six months of the IRS-Tea-Party-targeting scandal.

In less than a week, there was 44 times as much coverage of The Bridge than to the IRS in six months. Had Christie absolutely zero national potential or ambitions, the traffic jams would have remained a local story. But he’s a presidential hopeful who would challenge the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton – and so, it was time to take him down.

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The Democrat Media Complex is doing it again. With a few ill-placed traffic cones, the press has turned on Governor Chris Christie with a partisan vengeance. Jumping over the bodies of Benghazi, the empty bank accounts of IRS victims, and the twitching circuitry of Obamacare, the Fort Lee lane closures are being treated as the scandal of the century.

Sunday shows featured wall-to-wall coverage, CNN is excavating boxes of Trenton documents, and MSNBC has practically rebranded themselves as The NYC Commuter Report. By the weekend, I expect a Maddow-hosted documentary titled “Blurred Lanes” or “All the Governor’s Cones.”

As I’ve said before, any abuse of power is serious and should be investigated thoroughly. But it’s impossible not to notice the MSM’s toggle from eye-rolling dismissal to political colonoscopy depending on the D or R after an executive’s name.

Despite the unhinged press coverage, Christie should send each network a bouquet. As with Jan Brewer, suspicious Republicans are rallying to the moderate’s side. While the New Jersey governor’s overall approval rating has dipped ever-so-slightly, it has actually gone up among Republicans. The prevailing attitude is “if the liberal media hates this guy so much, how bad can he be?”

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Christies’s problem is that he’s 2016’s Acela Republican…and he believes his own press…

In 2012, it was Jon Huntsman. Most famous of all, of course, was John McCain. They’re not entirely new, but in an age of rising conservatism, the Acela Republican is just the kind of candidate America’s media class pretend they could almost possibly contemplate thinking of voting for in the general election. The Acela Republican is the one Republican who shares their contempt for the GOP broadly, and modern conservatism specifically…

The big, genuine, authentic personality the press adores today? Watch the speed with which he’s reframed as a corrupt bully, a thug, a sweaty jerk with his finger wagging in the face of the little people. Those fiery, fun videos of him smacking around whiny teacher union reps will suddenly be windows into media analyses of a deeply angry, perhaps violent man. All it will take is one Vine of Christie losing it with some little old lady in New Hampshire, and we have the 47% story of 2016.

You can understand why the Acela Republican is blinded by the adulation and praise. You can see the cycle of addiction to the cheering and the media rewards that are given to him every time he scolds and chastises the Republican party, and the conservative movement. It will be too late when he understands that the price of the glowing coverage is a slow accretion of betrayal and insult to the very people who are necessary to win the Republican primary.

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There’s nothing unusual about moving to the middle as reelection approaches—that’s common for politicians in both parties. What’s remarkable about Christie, though, is that the scandal now threatening his political future was borne of his obsession with winning Democratic support. Christie was already coasting to a second term when his staff pressured Democratic mayors for endorsements that were needed only to run up the score and build his bipartisan brand…

These scandals are so damaging to Christie’s presidential ambitions because they hit at the heart of what animates the tea-party movement: concern over government overreach. Tea-party-aligned Republicans have criticized the Obama administration and Republicans alike over earmarking, wasteful spending, and cronyism. Now Christie’s administration has given an all-too-vivid illustration of the dangers of out-of-control government. Even if Christie had no direct connection to the George Washington Bridge scandal, it’s becoming clear that his administration reveled in a play-to-pay culture where his government wielded outsized influence in picking winners and losers…

Christie’s path to the presidency was running as a straight-talking outsider who accomplished a number of conservative reforms in a blue state. He still may have a shot. But in his zeal to raise his national profile, he lost what propelled him into the spotlight in the first place. It’s becoming harder to imagine Republican voters will be eager to trade in Washington wheelers-and-dealers for the Trenton variety in 2016.

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[S]horn of the bluster and reduced to a calm advocate of good government, the new Chris Christie is not as interesting as the old one.

Having risen to the top of the polls of future Republican presidential contenders largely on the strength of being a media darling, it’s far from clear that the Christie who has been transformed in the space of a few days into a press piñata can stay afloat in the conversation about 2016. The problem is not only that he is taking a pounding from liberals who rightly feared him as the GOP’s best threat to derail a Hillary Clinton presidency. It’s that a Christie who is on the defensive and must now worry about appearing to be a bully will be hard-put to distinguish himself from other Republicans with similar ideas but without the baggage that the governor must now carry as he goes forward.

Unless Democrats and their press auxiliaries can dig up something that directly incriminates Christie in the bridge lane closings, he will survive this rough patch. Polls show he has retained, at least for the moment, his support in the state. But the chastened Chris Christie who must now adopt a more generous tone toward his foes is not the same man who rocketed to fame as the tough guy who wasn’t afraid to abuse the press or tell voters that it was none of their business where his kids went to school or what they did. Even if everyone forgets about the bridge a year or two from now (and given the Democratic interest in making sure we won’t, don’t expect that to happen) Christie can never be quite the same politician again. In some ways that might even turn out to be an improvement since a bit more humility and restraint when torching anyone who isn’t a cheerleader would be a good thing for the governor. But the Christie who emerges from this crisis isn’t the kind of candidate who is likely to become the Republican nominee in 2016.

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“This is the exact same dynamic that sunk Charlie Crist,” says Hasner. “He abandoned the right to appeal to independents and Democrats, and when it came time, the left abandoned him and the right had already written him off.”…

Another political maxim is to always “keep a secure home base.” As they say, “there’s nothing in the middle of the road except yellow lines and dead armadillos.” But so many of these clichéd warnings seems to have escaped Christie. So much so that his friend, Joe Scarborough, now says Christie “has to get right with the right.”

The point here is that “Bridgegate” may not be the existential problem for Christie that some suspected. Instead, it may have simply been a sort of canary in the mine that revealed the real danger lurking underneath it all.

Is Christie going to end up like Crist? “Ironic that both began by hugging Obama,” says Hasner. “What’s next, Christie running as a Democrat?

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Via Newsbusters.

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