One deeply plugged-in GOP consultant who asked not to be identified in order to speak candidly can easily anticipate a 2016 primary where Christie’s bear-hug with Obama is cloaked in the menacing robe of a black-and-white TV spot.

“I’m sure some of his consultants will freak out about how the bear-hug will be leveled against him,” the consultant notes, “but there are a lot of reasons why Christie would face long odds in running for president; if he does, the bear-hug won’t be one of the top ones.”

It’s true that Christie would face some conservative angst over moderate portions of his record, but the hug resonates on a more emotional level, because the entire nation — including nearly every GOP primary voter — was watching, and because it came just a week before an election Republicans were confident they could win.

But Christie also has his defenders — those who applaud his tour with Obama as a courageous move that will ultimately be validated.