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Chris Christie facing uphill climb as he launches White House bid

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[h=4]Chris Christie facing uphill climb as he launches White House bid[/h]The New Jersey governor would become the 14th candidate in the crowded GOP field.

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Jump into the political way-back machine to see three decades of presidential hopefuls announce their big plans. VPC


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie(Photo: Julio Cortez, AP)


TRENTON, N.J. — A lot has changed for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the last four years.
In 2011, Christie was considered a hot prospect for the White House, a view seconded in the polls. Nonetheless, Christie opted not to compete in the presidential election held the following year.
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The Road to 2016




Four years later, Christie says he's ready for a presidential run, but it's the voters who need convincing.
Christie is scheduled to announce his entry into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination Tuesday at Livingston High School, his alma mater.
Hours after Christie makes his announcement, he'll be in New Hampshire hosting a town hall.
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Christie to make quick exit out of NJ after announcement




Christie's former front-runner status is a remnant of the seemingly distant political past, thanks in no small part to the scandal over the George Washington Bridge lane closures.
What ought to be disconcerting news to Christie: He's well-known among the voters but has low favorability ratings, prompting fivethirtyeight.com, a data journalism site, to declare that Christie doesn't fit the profile of a nominee.
Based on live interview polls through mid-April, the site found that Christie was 41 percentage points below what would be expected of a future GOP nominee, considering how many Republicans were left to form an opinion of him.
Is it impossible for Christie to prove the polls and prognosticators wrong? Of course not, says New Jersey pollster Krista Jenkins, but she acknowledges Christie has a difficult road.
"I'm a pollster so I understand there's a great appetite regarding who's up and who's down. But I think people are reasonable enough to recognize that these polls are largely meaningless at this point,'' said Jenkins, a political science professor and executive director of Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind polling center.
"The vast majority of voters just aren't paying attention to presidential politics yet because it's too early, and the first time they'll become acquainted with the candidates will be when the candidates are on the debate stage.''
The first Republican debate will take place in August. Iowa and New Hampshire will hold the first nominating events in February. Most national polls put Christie in the back of a crowded GOP field.
Veteran political consultant Dick Morris rates Christie's chances low in a match against Democrat Hillary Clinton, if they emerge as the nominees for the November 2016 general election.
"Christie is too big and too boisterous not to be the issue if he were the nominee,'' Morris said. "The entire campaign would revolve around him. His gravity is just too strong. He would make himself the centerpiece of the race and it would become a referendum on Christie, much to Hillary's relief.''
Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics said a Christie buzz is missing among likely Republican primary voters.
"At this point there's little question that the chances of Chris Christie winning the Republican nomination appear slim. Would I count him out entirely? No. Campaigns matter and his hasn't even officially started yet,'' Skelley said.
He added: "But there is one thing that is going to be tough for Christie to overcome in the GOP primary: his poor favorability among GOP voters. Obviously, rock-ribbed Republicans are going to make up most of the electorate in GOP primaries and caucuses, and it seems they don't hold Christie in great esteem.''
Jenkins, from Fairleigh Dickinson, said she expects Christie to gain ground when the debates start.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie holds a town hall meeting on Feb. 26, 2014, in Long Hill, N.J.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>(Photo: Mel Evans, AP)

"The debates are a time when natural politicians will shine. I think Christie will do well in that environment and be able to distinguish himself from others who are less comfortable in that situation," she said.
For a brief time in the last presidential election cycle, Christie was seen by party leaders dissatisfied with front-runner Mitt Romney as a viable Plan B. During a question-and-answer exchange after a highly anticipated speech at the Reagan Library in September 2011, a member of the audience pleaded with Christie to run.
"It's extraordinarily flattering but by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is not a reason for me to do it," was Christie's repsonse. "That reason has to reside inside me."
Skelley from the University of Virginia says Christie still has "dynamism on the stump,'' but that could also be a curse "if people perceive him as overbearing,'' he said.
"As for why he'd still run given the challenges he faces, some of that comes down to his ambition. Observers have long felt confident that he would run for president at some point. He wants the job badly and Potomac Fever can sometimes be impossible to recover from,'' Skelley said.
Can Christie's desire to become President Christie overcome his long-shot status? Starting with the campaign announcement, the political world will find out.
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