Posts Tagged New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Rubio and Trump Continue Verbal Battle Ahead of Super Tuesday



Fresh from an endorsement by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump accelerated his political slug fest with opponent Marco Rubio on Saturday just days before the delegate-rich Super Tuesday contests.

With dueling appearances in Arkansas and Georgia, the billionaire businessman and U.S. senator from Florida continued an onslaught of personal insults that began on a debate stage on Thursday and looks likely to continue for months.

“The majority of Republican voters do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee, and … they are going to support whoever is left standing that is fighting against him to ensure that we do not nominate a con artist,” Rubio told reporters in Georgia.

Trump, speaking in front of his private plane in Arkansas, along with Christie, whose endorsement on Friday shocked Republican leaders anxious about his likelihood of winning the nomination, belittled Rubio and accused him of being fresh.

“I watched this lightweight Rubio, total lightweight, little mouth on him, ‘bing, bing, bing’ … and his new attack is he calls me a con artist,” Trump said. “The last thing I am is a con man.”

Their back and forth came while voters went to the polls in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, taking place a week after South Carolina’s Republican primary.

Donald TrumpFormer Secretary of State Clinton is expected to beat Sanders handily there. The state’s large African-American population is expected to favor her over Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.

A big win would give Clinton added momentum ahead of Tuesday, when roughly a dozen U.S. states make their choices for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

With hundreds of delegates at stake in Tuesday’s contests, the day could be a critical turning point for candidates in both parties.

Nominations in both parties are contingent on winning a majority of the votes by the delegates sent to the party conventions in July.

The Tuesday contests could upend the Republican race further if underperforming candidates drop out. Ted Cruz, the U.S. senator from Texas who won the Iowa nominating contest, must do well in his home state on Tuesday to regain momentum. Texas will send 155 delegates to the Republican National Convention, more than 10 percent of the 1,237 delegate votes needed for the party’s nomination.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is behind in the polls, said his state’s contest on March 15 would determine whether he stays in the race.

With the high-profile exception of Christie, many “establishment” Republicans have coalesced around Rubio in the hope of stopping Trump from gaining their party’s mantle in the general election.

Rubio stopped short of calling on his fellow candidates to drop out on Saturday.

“When voters have a clear choice between two people, that’s when Donald Trump starts to lose, so the sooner that happens, the better off we’re going to be as a party,” he said.

Rubio, who has criticized Trump for resisting releasing his tax returns, had not released his own by Saturday afternoon. He said Trump did not want his to be made public because they might reveal him to be less wealthy than believed.

“I think part of it is he’s not as rich as he says he is,” Rubio said.

At a campaign rally in Georgia, Cruz said a Trump victory would doom the party’s chances of winning the White House.



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Christie & Fiorina Drop Out of GOP Presidential Race

Christie & FiornaTwo more Republicans have ended their White House runs, whittling down the field as the party’s remaining candidates and Democrat Hillary Clinton look to blunt the momentum of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders down south.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina both called time on their presidential bids, one day after finishing sixth and seventh, respectively, in the New Hampshire primary.

Trump and Sanders two political outsiders with vastly different ideologies, but who have a common campaign credo of speaking what they say is truth to power, served notice in the Granite State on Tuesday with their resounding victories.

Sanders almost doubled Clinton’s tally and Trump bested second place Ohio Governor John Kasich by almost 20 percentage points.

Both results shocked the party establishments, virtually guaranteeing bitter and drawn-out races for the Democratic and Republican nominations.

New Hampshire was the second stop in the months-long process to choose the two candidates who will vie to succeed President Barack Obama on Election Day, November 8.

“I leave the race without an ounce of regret,” Christie said in a Facebook post, noting that while his message had been heard by many, it was “just not enough and that’s ok.”

Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican field, said she would “continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.”

So where do the other candidates go from here? South Carolina and Nevada, where both parties will stage nominating contests before month’s end.

The upcoming votes will be crucial for Clinton, the former secretary of state who admitted in an uneasy concession speech that she had “some work to do, particularly with young people,” to revitalize her campaign.

Clinton is seen as enjoying strong support among black voters and Sanders, realizing the need to boost his standing with African Americans, met Wednesday with prominent civil rights activist Al Sharpton in New York.

“My concern is that in January of next year, for the first time in American history, a black family will be moving out of the White House,” Sharpton said.

“I do not want black concerns to be moved out with them.”

Clinton said she recognized the American electorate’s fury with establishment politics.

“People have every right to be angry,” she said. “But they’re also hungry, they’re hungry for solutions.”

Sanders has signaled he is in the race to win and expects the coming weeks to be even more closely fought. The next battle is in Nevada on February 20, followed by South Carolina.

“They’re throwing everything at me except the kitchen sink, and I have the feeling that kitchen sink is coming pretty soon,” he said in a buoyant victory speech.

Beefing up his ability to take the fight to Clinton for the long term, the Sanders camp announced he raised $5.2 million in the 18 hours following his New Hampshire win.

For now, he reigns supreme with young voters: Clinton received just 16 percent of the vote among people under 29, according to New Hampshire exit polls.

If the Democratic race is poised to take a more confrontational turn, then Republicans are set for all out internecine warfare.

Trump’s visceral assault on American politics brought him his debut victory after a second-place showing in last week’s Iowa caucuses.

It was a must win for Trump, after his embarrassing performance in the Hawkeye State called into question his frontrunner status and brand as a winner.

But similar levels of support for Kasich, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush left the field in turmoil. The last remaining candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, finished farther off the pace.

Now the fight moves to South Carolina, a state with a lingering reputation for bare-knuckle campaign tactics.

Even before the candidates arrived, the state’s airwaves were being flooded with negative attack ads, with each man hoping to emerge as the mainstream answer to Trump.

“They’ve written me off in this campaign, over and over again,” Bush told supporters in Bluffton, South Carolina, arguing that his campaign got a new lease on life even though he finished fourth up north.


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Jeb Bush Attack on Rubio Backfires During CNBC Debate Leaving Campaign in Trouble

GOP 2016 DebateJeb Bush needed a strong performance at the Republican presidential debate to silence the doubters. He did not get it.

Instead, his lackluster showing is likely to spur even more questions about his viability as a top-tier candidate, with his campaign manager immediately after the debate insisting that Bush would remain the race for the long haul.

The former Florida governor came into the debate after having dramatically downsized his campaign staff and huddling with nervous donors to calm their fears, the result of persistent single-digit showings in opinion polls.

Those donors are likely to be even more anxious following Wednesday night’s debate, after Bush seemed to come out on the losing end of exchanges with both U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and disappeared from the screen for long stretches of time.

One commentator said, “You have all these donors invested in him,” at some point, they’re going to change horses. If he was looking to revive his campaign and replenish his coffers, tonight did not do him any justice.”

Bush hit fellow Floridian Rubio early with a jab at Rubio’s attendance record for votes on the Senate floor. But in what became one of the debate’s most-talked about moments, Rubio flipped the attack back at him, labeling Bush a craven opportunist.

The only reason Bush was making it an issue, Rubio said, was “because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”

Startled, Bush had no response. This was their plan of attack on Rubio, and it was a spectacular failure. He went at Rubio with a knife, Rubio came back with a gun.

Later in the event, Bush was asked whether fantasy football should be treated as gambling – and he joked about his own fantasy team before suggesting the government should get more involved.

It was the rare moment when Bush was given a chance to show his sense of humor and one that otherwise might have gone over well. But he was interrupted by a fiery Christie, who exclaimed, to the approval of the audience, “Are we really talking about getting government involved in fantasy football? We have – wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us. And we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?”

Bush, whose diminished standing in the race was noted by the debate moderators, was not a factor for much of the night. Of the 10 candidates on the stage in Boulder, Colorado, for the main debate, the only one who spoke less often than Bush was another struggling contender, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Polls have consistently had Bush in the single digits, far behind the insurgent campaigns of billionaire developer and reality TV star Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. The latest Reuters/Ipsos five-day tracking poll had Trump in the lead with 32 percent, Carson behind at 15.5 percent and Bush at just 7 percent.

Still, Bush’s campaign was unbowed, complaining after the debate that he got the short shrift among the time allotted.

“I think Jeb Bush did what he had to do tonight, which is talk about his record in front of millions of Americans,” his campaign manager, Danny Diaz, said after the debate, He maintained that Bush would stay in the race for the duration.

Diaz also suggested that the campaign would continue to make an issue out of Rubio, a first-term senator, and his lack of experience. Bush returns to New Hampshire on Thursday, a state his campaign now intends to make a priority.




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Establishment GOP Candidates Seek Way Back Against Trump & Carson in CNBC Debate

CNBC debateEstablishment politicians trailing Donald Trump and Ben Carson for the Republican presidential nomination are eager to shift the campaign focus to the economy and policy in Wednesday’s debate and expose what they see as weaknesses in the two front-runners.

Jeb Bush and other candidates are trying to turn the tide in a campaign that is dominated so far by provocative rhetoric that has played to the strengths of Trump, a bombastic reality television star and developer, and Carson, a soft-spoken surgeon who has been gaining support in opinion polls.

The two-hour debate, moderated in Boulder, Colorado, by business network CNBC.  Trump and Carson hold a firm grip on the race in polls of likely Republican voters for the November 2016 election, the forum comes at an increasingly perilous time for lower-ranking candidates.

Former Florida Governor Bush, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are under pressure to shake up a race for the party’s nomination that so far is tilting away from them with the first voting to take place in little more than three months.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio also need solid performances to build on recent momentum.

Officials from several rival campaigns said they believe the debate could help make Trump and Carson less popular if they are shown to lack knowledge of the intricacies of policy.

“If they run this thing well and push people to see if they’re smart on the economy and job creation and how fiscal restraint fits into that, you could finally start separating the sheep from the goats on an important issue,” said an official in the campaign of one of the Republicans vying against Trump.

Republican strategist Kevin Madden said the debate could pose a test for Trump and Carson.

“It requires them to no longer just glide by on attributes like being new and bold,” said Madden, a former top aide to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Carson set the table for a debate about the future of sacrosanct entitlement programs by telling “Fox News Sunday” he would use health savings accounts as an alternative to popular Medicare and Medicaid health programs for the poor and elderly.

Trump, suddenly behind Carson in some polls, went on the attack on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, saying he did not think Carson would get away with “abolishing Medicare”, which Carson denied he would do.

In Westerville, Ohio, on Monday, Kasich signaled he would take a tougher tone with Trump and Carson.

“I want you to know I’m fed up. I’m sick and tired of listening to this nonsense and I’m going to have to call it like it is in this race,” he said.

A Trump aide said the billionaire would be well-prepared to respond to attacks at the debate. A Carson spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Without mentioning Trump or Carson specifically, the campaign of Huckabee, who has offered a detailed “fair tax” plan, said the debate will require candidates to go beyond talking points.

“All of them as a whole are going to have to give more than just the topline bullet points of their economic policies,” said Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

Trump frequently touts the business experience that made him a billionaire as reason enough why a President Trump would create a stronger economy.

He released a tax reform plan in September that would lower tax rates for all Americans and would pay for the loss of tax revenue by eliminating tax deductions and corporate loopholes.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation said it would reduce tax revenues by $10.14 trillion over the next decade when accounting for economic growth from increases in the supply of labor and capital.

Carson has proposed all Americans pay a flat tax of 10 percent on income based on the biblical notion of tithing. He would eliminate individual and corporate tax loopholes. He has said his proposal would be revenue neutral for the federal budget.

Bush has been active in taking on Trump, and an aide said he plans to do so in Boulder.

Bush may have little choice. “Jeb is trailing in the polls, he’s got nothing to lose,” said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

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Could Romney Change his Mind and Run Again in 2016?

Mitt RomneyIs Mitt Romney going to run again in 2016? Unsurprisingly, that answer did not change Monday afternoon when the former GOP nominee showed up for the debut airing of “With All Due Respect” with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann of Bloomberg Politics.

Romney said for the umpteenth time that he is not running, or planning on running for president in 2016.

However, the former Massachusetts governor expects a crowded stage come debate season in 2015 and 2016, telling the political duo he expects about 15 people vying for the GOP nomination next year.

Romney associates say he is flattered by the attention and believes he would have done a better job if he had defeated the Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama in 2012 when he was the Republican nominee.

But Romney typically insists in public that he is not going to run for a third time after losses in 2008 and 2012.

“I’m not running and I’m not planning on running. I’ve got nothing to add to that story,” he told supporters during a stop this week at Atlanta’s Varsity restaurant.

Still, friends and former aides say, he could seek the nomination if a series of events plays out in his favor, chiefly that no single powerhouse emerges from what is expected to be a crowded field of Republicans vying for the party’s nod.

Some Republicans who know Romney well are advising him to tread carefully.

“I’m sure there are people who invested a lot in him last time who are urging him to consider it,” said Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona, the party’s 2008 nominee.

“I think it’s fine if he considers it. But at the same time I think Mitt would have to feel that he has a real strong shot at winning because it is such a very, very tough ordeal not only on the candidate but also on the family,” McCain said.

“One thing that he’s got going for him is everybody in the Republican Party likes Mitt Romney. They may not think he ran the best campaign, but he’s such a very decent human being, he certainly checks the box for likeability amongst the Republican Party,” McCain added.

Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who was the architect of George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, was similarly cautious.

“If he were to do this again, it would be the equivalent of running three back-to-back-to-back marathons,” Rove said. “It would require basically a year’s commitment to the primary and another year commitment to the general election. That’s a hard thing to ask of anybody in politics.”

Romney has stoked some of the 2016 speculation himself. He has gone from absolutely ruling it out in the months after he lost the 2012 election to equivocating in more recent public comments. “We’ll see what happens,” he told the New York Times Magazine.

He has clearly been energized by the attention he has drawn in campaigning for congressional candidates ahead of the Nov. 4 elections, most recently on a swing through Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, Kentucky and Louisiana.

Polls are sounding an encouraging note. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll in August said 35 percent of Republican voters in Iowa, which Romney narrowly lost in the 2012 Republican caucuses, would go for him in 2016, far better than any other potential candidate.

A Romney run would depend on whether any of the current crop of potential candidates caught fire. Announcements are expected to begin shortly after the Nov. 4 elections and continue well into 2015.

Possible contenders range from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to a trio of senators: Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. All appeal to various Republican constituencies, but all could encounter difficulties in winning.

Under the “draft Mitt” scenario, Romney could put off deciding for months, well into 2015. The problem with this, party strategists say, is that Republican donors attracted to Romney could go to other candidates.

“Mitt’s a smart enough guy to see that there are potential opportunities that are created by whatever happens to other people in the race,” said a former Romney aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I think the best way to characterize where Mitt is in the race is observing.”


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Romney’s Political Renaissance Continues

Mitt RomneyMitt Romney’s on the campaign trail in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas the next three days, helping fellow Republicans running for office this year. For the 2012 GOP nominee, this week’s travel is the latest example of Romney’s political resurrection from presidential election loser to respected party rainmaker and elder statesman.

“Governor Romney is a tremendous leader for the Republican Party. His ability to skewer President Obama and his administration’s flawed and failed policies are unparalleled, as time and again he has been proven correct on a host of 2012 campaign issues,” said veteran New Hampshire GOP consultant Jim Merrill, who was a top adviser to Romney in the Granite State in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

“As a seasoned campaigner, proven fundraiser and beloved elder statesman, its no surprise that Governor Romney is in such demand on the campaign trail. The former Massachusetts governor is the main attraction Tuesday in West Virginia at a fundraiser in Charleston and a rally later in the day in Beckley for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the GOP Senate nominee in the state. The events will also benefit Republican congressional candidates Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins.

Capito, who’s served seven terms in Congress, is considered the favorite in the race against West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, the Democratic nominee. The winner in November’s midterm elections will succeed longtime Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who is retiring after three decades in the Senate. The GOP sees the seat as a strong pick up opportunity.

Capito’s campaign has tried to link Tennant to the White House and to congressional Democratic leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and they see Romney as an effective messenger in a state where he trounced the President in the 2012 election.

“I haven’t seen a single poll that shows Obama above 30% job approval in West Virginia. What we saw in 2012, which was Mitt winning with 62% of the vote has just gotten worse for Obama since then. It’s clear that Obama is just not a popular guy in the state and Mitt is.

Romney ends Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he’ll be the main attraction at a fundraiser for state House Speaker Thom Tillis. He’s the Republican Senate nominee who’s challenging first term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. It’s another race where the GOP hopes to flip a Democratic held Senate seat.

On Wednesday and Thursday Romney is in Arkansas, lending a helping hand to Asa Hutchinson, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, and Rep. Tom Cotton, the GOP’s Senate nominee. Both contests are seen as very competitive.

The fact that Mitt Romney is in such high demand, and red state Senate Democrats are avoiding President Obama like the plague, is extremely telling.

Next month Romney Teams Up with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to help raise money for the Garden State’s GOP. And he’s back on the campaign trail in late September, traveling to Colorado and Virginia to help Republican candidates. Romney advisers say their boss will spend parts of October helping fellow Republicans.

Romney stayed far from the political spotlight following his bruising defeat to Obama. But starting in the summer of 2013, he began to get more involved in shaping the future of his party and guiding the national conversation. Romney also endorsed some two dozen candidates in the GOP primaries, with those he backed coming out on top in their contests.

With the two living former Republican presidents, George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, both staying far from the political conversation, Romney started to fill the void.

Mitt Romney is the most prominent and engaged elder statesman the GOP has on the national stage right now. While Romney is enjoying a renaissance, the President, thanks to a host of crises both domestic and international, is struggling with an approval rating in the low to mid 40’s.

A recent CNN/ORC International poll indicated that if the 2012 election were held today, Romney would top Obama 53%-44% in the popular vote. But the same survey suggested that Romney would lose to Hillary Clinton 55%-42% in a hypothetical 2016 matchup. Romney, who also ran for the 2008 GOP nomination, has repeatedly ruled out a third bid for the White House.

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Is this the beginning of the end for Christie’s White House hopes?

Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Thursday fired a top aide at the center of a brewing scandal that public officials orchestrated a massive traffic snarl on the busy George Washington Bridge to settle a political score.

Christie told a news conference he was stunned and heartbroken by revelations that his staff was behind the traffic jam designed to punish a local mayor who declined to endorse Christie’s re-election bid. The office of the U.S. attorney in New Jersey said it had launched an investigation.

The scandal and potential legal problems come as Christie has emerged as one of the most powerful figures in the Republican Party as head of its governors association and a possible contender for the White House in 2016.

“I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team,” Christie said. “I am who I am, but I am not a bully.”

At the news conference, Christie referred to the lane closings as a “rogue political operation.”

“I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here,” Christie said. “This was handled in a callous and indifferent way, and this is not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years.”

Christie took reporters’ questions at the packed news conference at his office that lasted just short of two hours.

He appeared contrite, describing himself repeatedly as heartbroken and apologizing to the public, and even to the media, several times.

Toward the end of his lengthy appearance, he visibly relaxed, leaning against the podium, and resorted to his more typical form, calling one reporter’s question “crazy.”

Christie said he has dismissed his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman  – whose job Christie held before he was elected governor – has opened a probe into the lane closures, his spokeswoman said.

“The Port Authority Office of Inspector General has referred the matter to us, and our office is reviewing it to determine whether a federal law was implicated,” Rebekah Carmichael said in a statement.

The controversy erupted with the public release of incriminating emails showing that a top aide to Christie played a key role in closing some lanes to the bridge, in a ploy to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey.

The George Washington Bridge,  one of the busiest spans in the world, connects New York City to Fort Lee. The abrupt four-day lane closures in September caused hours-long traffic jams and held up the passage of school buses and ambulances.

A local newspaper reported that emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations. One involved an unconscious 91-year-old woman who later died of cardiac arrest and another, a car accident, in which four people were injured.

Christie has enjoyed immense popularity at home since his election in 2009, particularly for his handling of recovery and rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy devastated his state in late 2012. He was re-elected in a landslide in November.

He has also touted his ability to work with political opponents as a mark of his skill at overcoming partisan divisions and forging alliances to get things done.

But the blunt-talking governor is known as well for engaging in shouting matches, hurling insults and belittling challengers.

Christie said he had been misled by his staff and knew nothing of the lane closings before they occurred and that he had been led to believe the closures were part of a traffic study.

He also said he was “blindsided” and heartbroken by the emails, and that he was doing some “soul searching.”

“What did I do wrong to make these folks think it was okay to lie?” Christie said. “What I want the people of New Jersey to know is that this is the exception, not the rule.”

Despite earlier denials that anyone in his administration would shutter the bridge entrances as retaliation, emails released on Wednesday showed that at least one of his top aides, Bridget Anne Kelly, was involved in discussions about the closures weeks beforehand.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, wrote to a Port Authority executive in August.

The executive, David Wildstein, replied in an email: “Got it.”

In another message sent amid the gridlock, an unidentified author wrote: “Is it wrong that I’m smiling,” and Wildstein responded: “No.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, had previously said it was the result of a last-minute traffic study.

The emails were supplied to the media by Wildstein, the Port Authority executive, in response to a subpoena issued by a panel of state lawmakers.

Wildstein later admitted ordering the lane closures and resigned his post.

The emails were supplied to the media by Wildstein in response to a subpoena issued by a panel of state lawmakers.

He appeared before the panel on Thursday but declined to answer questions, repeatedly invoking the constitutional protection not to say anything that might incriminate him.

A long-time Christie ally, Wildstein previously has admitted ordering the lane closures and resigned in December. Kelly was fired prior to Thursday’s press conference.

In September, according to a report from the Record, paramedics trying to reach an unconscious 91-year-old woman in Fort Lee, N.J., got stuck in a traffic jam caused by the lane closings.

The woman later died at a hospital of cardiac arrest, according to a Sept. 10 letter that EMS coordinator Paul Favia sent to the borough’s mayor.

Although Favia did not explicitly blame the woman’s death on the traffic delay, the paramedics got to her in seven minutes — it was one of four such delays reported by the coordinator, the Record reported.

“Paramedics were delayed due to heavy traffic on Fort Lee Road and had to meet the ambulance en-route to the hospital instead of on the scene,” Favia wrote.

Matthew Hale, an associate professor of political science at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, said the growing scandal deals a huge blow to Christie’s 2016 presidential ambitions.

“The smoking gun is not quite in the governor’s hand, but these e-mails show that it is awfully close to it,” Hale said.

In his press conference, Christie downplayed his potential plans to run for president. “I am not preoccupied with that job [the presidency]. I am preoccupied with this job,” he said.

The New York Times called on Christie to explain, apologize and clean house.

“Mr. Christie can start by getting rid of every one of his aides and cronies who knew about this scheme,” the times wrote.

The Wall Street Journal said it was a test of Christie’s credibility.

“America doesn’t need – after a year of revelations that the IRS was turned against President Obama’s opponents – another chief executive willing to condone government attacks on his political adversaries,” the Journal wrote.

“And Republicans don’t need a presidential nominee who fulfills the liberal stereotype that he’s a political bully,” it said.

In an editorial, New York’s Daily News pronounced Christie’s presidential ambitions as “all but kaput.”

“He will be lambasted and lampooned as a man of low character and horrible judgment,” the newspaper wrote. “Take his denials of knowledge with skepticism, and the man is a monster.”

Taking a poke at Christie’s heft and aspirations, the Daily News front page headline read: “Fat chance now, Chris.”

Chairman of the Republican Governors Association and enormously popular, Christie won his second term by a landslide in November, garnering votes from all sides of the political spectrum.

But some question how far his blunt, tough-talking “Jersey” posturing will take him on the national stage. Christie is known for engaging in shouting matches, hurling insults and belittling challengers.

In one not-untypical response, when asked earlier if he knew about the lane closings, Christie sarcastically replied that he personally had put out the traffic cones.

Christie often touts his willingness to work with opponents as well as allies – a stance seen as a way of positioning himself as a national candidate able to close bitter partisan divides and win the White House.

A former prosecutor, he was highly visible working with Democratic U.S. Senator Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, and he notably praised President Barack Obama in 2012 for his response to New Jersey’s needs after Superstorm Sandy.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, said on CNN he was starting to doubt that Christie had been in the dark about the closings.

“As things begin to unravel with emails, the actions of counterparts, resignations, engagement of defense council, that position becomes more and more difficult to understand, more and more difficult to comprehend and, quite frankly, more and more difficult to believe,” he said.

“I’m actually rooting that the highest elected official in the state of New Jersey isn’t involved in this, but I will tell you I’m beginning to question my judgment,” he added.

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