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Christie says bridge scandal won’t impede work

February 11, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that the bridge scandal facing him is disappointing but not a distraction from his job as governor — or from his effort to raise money for Republican candidates for governor.

Christie is a top contender for the party’s presidential nomination and the scandal could affect his chances. He spoke during an hourlong question-and-answer session moderated by Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown, a Christie friend. Brown, reading questions selected by the club’s board, asked Christie if the investigation would hamper his second-term agenda. It was the only question on the subject.

“While the last six weeks have not been the most enjoyable of my life, the fact is we have to do our work,” Christie told about 1,600 people at the Economic Club of Chicago.

It was the only question about the scandal posed to Christie during his first major public appearance since the January news conference in which he acknowledged that his administration had ordered lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge closed in September. Ahead of the event the Republican Governors Association, of which Christie is the elected president, touted his fundraising prowess for other Republican candidates.

Emails from a top political adviser and between a top Christie aide and a Port Authority official he appointed cast the traffic-snarling lane closures as retaliation for a local mayor’s decision not to endorse Christie’s re-election. Christie fired the aide and his political adviser but has denied authorizing or even knowing about the scheme until the emails became public last month.

“If there’s more action that needs to be taken, I’ll take it,” Christie said in Chicago. “But it won’t curtail for the long term a second-term agenda.”

The speech in Chicago was supposed to be Christie’s debut as a national political leader after his landslide re-election in November. He also is the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which has been a gateway for past Republican presidential candidates.

Christie was spending most of the day in private meetings with Republican donors and expected to raise $1 million during the one-day Chicago visit.

As Christie spoke, about a dozen New Jersey residents returned to the scene of a notorious traffic jam, urging people to sign a petition demanding Christie’s resignation.

“This is a total abuse of power, and Christie and the rest of his crew need to understand that you cannot affect the lives of everyday New Jersey residents,” said Fort Lee resident Valerie Howard Fadul. She said she was stuck in gridlocked traffic for more than five hours trying to get home from a Manhattan doctor’s appointment as her pain

Some national Republican fundraisers have said the scandal could damage Christie’s prospects should he seek the presidency. But Christie told donors in a private fundraiser that he is focused on rai

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