(CNN) - Chris Christie thinks Iowans aren't tired by the bumper crop of questions circling his political future.
In fact, he says Hawkeye State voters like him almost as much as corn dogs at the state fair.
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"I think they love me in Iowa, too," Christie told ABC News' Dianne Sawyer in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday evening.
While the New Jersey governor's very public tussle with the question of running for president in 2016 moves toward an answer as slow as molasses in January, the Republican name-checked the early voting state as a potential building block for a would-be campaign.
"I've been there a lot," Christie said of the state. "I think they love me there, too, especially because of the way I am."
Christie has come under fire over a political scandal roiling his administration.
State legislative and federal investigators are looking at whether traffic jams were orchestrated by top appointees near the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee last year as political retribution against the town's Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie for reelection.
A report released on Thursday by a team of private lawyers hired by Christie's office to scrutinize the issue cleared him of having any knowledge of the matter until after it all occurred, a point the governor has made previously.
But the saga has called into question his sometimes brash leadership style that helped propel his rise to national prominence.
Despite the governor's insistence that Iowa voters "love" him, Christie's stock in the state has slipped during the fallout from the bridge imbroglio that has engulfed several top appointees.
A Des Moines Register poll from earlier this month indicated 57% of Iowans disapprove of the way Christie handled the scandal. Republicans in the state were not much kinder to the potential candidate: 47% said the New Jersey governor's response was lacking.
Christie's stock has also fallen in relation to one potential 2016 rival.
A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month showed Christie trailing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 48% to 35%, among Iowa voters, a dramatic shift from when the New Jersey governor led the Democrat and potential White House candidate by 5 points in a December poll.
Thus far, Christie, who helms the Republican Governor's Association - a powerful fundraising arm - has skipped stopping in Iowa to campaign with Gov. Terry Branstad.
Running for a record sixth-term, Branstad backed Christie amid calls for New Jersey's chief executive to resign his post as RGA chair over the scandal.
But the longtime Iowa pol predicted that winning over voters in his state, who kick off the caucus and primary calendar, could be tough tomatoes for Christie.
"Wouldn't hurt to be a little more humble," Branstad told the Los Angeles Times in February. "Iowans really like their leaders to be hard-working and humble."
Still, Christie insisted again, like he did on Wednesday night on his "Ask the Governor" radio program, that the impasse for his administration will not weigh on his decision about 2016.
"I don't intend to make a discussion about 2016 until a year from now," Christie said. "But it won't have anything to do with what has happened in the past 10 weeks."
"What has happened in last 10 weeks, I think will ultimately make me a better leader, whether it's governor of New Jersey or any other job I might take in the public or private sector," he added.
Wow what will msnbc have to do now that Christie is cleared ?? Maybe they will report on the BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR, who lied again today after talking to the Pope. How can you lie about what you met with the POPE about???
I think he needs a reality check.
He burned his bridges with the liberal crowd with Bridgegate. The hug from Obama got him on the bad side of the ultra conservatives. His banning of direct sales by car manufacturers infuriates anyone who hears it that isn't a car dealer.
If Christie does become the GOP nominee, I'd hate to see how much crappier his opponents were in the primary.
WHY is he CONTINUING his campaigning for the Republican nomination?
Then move to Iowa. Most of New Jersey regrets ever voting for you!
Gov Christie can't pass the Tea Party conservative purity tests. He has one thing in common with the Tea Party: hard ball bullying politics.
Imagine if Richard Milhous Nixon hired a law firm to write an evaluation that found him non complicit in the Water Gate break in .
Better leader or a failure as a leader.
Thus guy is really full of himself!
Don't care about Obama hugs or Bridgegate, just don't like Christie and will not vote for him, period. I have no problem sitting out elections when neither party makes any effort to nominate a half way decent candidate as they have done three elections in a row. Really, it's four, but W totally lied about everything he said he was in 2000 and pulled the wool over my eyes.
As someone from Iowa, and who's family still lives there, I beg to differ. His comment shows a complete lack of understanding of the state. My brother who has NEVER voted for a Democrat only comment was "If he didn't order the bridge shutdown, how did he hire people who would do something so stupid?"
Iowans are not the challenge. The rest of America is, which is why Christie will win the nomination, only to lose to Hillary in what will be the first of her two terms. Southern conservatives will never vote for Christie, and his failure will be epic.
In Iowa – town hall meetings everyday – republican govenors leader. Not much time left for governing. No wonder you have no idea whats going on.
Impeach Chris Christie!. New Jersey deserves better than gangster style governance.
He did it. He is as guilty as sin.
Doubtful. And Kansan's don't for sure!~
Christie's mob lawyers have completely cooked the GWB scandal investigations to his favor and advantage!! What a shame that he used taxpayers money to pay for these crooks!
iowans loved huckabee, too. didn't work out so well for him.
This idiot is a sheer bully.
He loves himself much more than we Iowans do.
If I held Christie stock, I'd sell, sell sell. Nothing says desperation like "they love me". always nice when a politician tells you how people feel about them, the con job never stops with these guys.
Smitty, the people I hired to investigate me said I didn't do it,, so its all over, thanks for stopping by, reality check, this is far from over, far, far from over.
For someone to think that Christie is out of the woods needs to do a reality check. Having your own lawyer examine things is like having your mother review one of her own children. Of course his lawyer is going to say Christie was not involved in this. There is something not yet revealed on this incident. It will eventually come out..
Christie has made a lot of enemies, the bridge closure is a big negative, yet I still think he has a chance to get the Republican nomination. Let's see how he does in debates.
"A Des Moines Register poll from earlier this month indicated 57% of Iowans disapprove of the way Christie handled the scandal. Republicans in the state were not much kinder to the potential candidate: 47% said the New Jersey governor's response was lacking."
You can fool some of the people some of the time, but eventually the lies catch up to you.
The report of Christie's mob lawyers exonerating him is laughable and a total sham!!