Will scandals impact 2016 prospects for Clinton and Christie?
January 16th, 2014
09:27 PM ET
9 years ago

Will scandals impact 2016 prospects for Clinton and Christie?

(CNN) – As Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie find themselves wrapped in scandals this week, can the two potential 2016 presidential frontrunners survive the political backlash?

Republicans have renewed their criticism of Clinton after the release of a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee that concluded the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 was "likely preventable."

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And Democrats have come down hard on Christie for the controversy in New Jersey over alleged political retribution by top aides to the governor that closed access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge. The gridlock on the George Washington Bridge allegedly was retaliation for a Democratic mayor's failure to endorse the Christie's re-election.

Recent polls show the two deadlocked in a hypothetical presidential matchup. So will either scandal sink these top contenders?

"If Hillary can stand Whitewater, travelgate, Benghazi, then Chris Christie can get through a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge," Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said on CNN's Crossfire.

DeLay said more than a year after the fatal attack in Libya, the country has yet to find out what actually happened.

"You're talking to me about trying to get to the truth about what's going on when the left, quite frankly, main strategy is criminalization politics - they want to bury Christie, bankrupt him, destroy his political career, put him in prison."

DeLay said Democrats might find that the bridge scandal benefits Christie's presidential aspirations, calling the New Jersey governor "one tough hombre" and a "refreshing" change from the run-of-the-mill politician.

Crossfire co-host Newt Gingrich said while the left is occupied with Christie's scandal in New Jersey, 15 people have died trying to cooperate with the Benghazi investigation.

The Senate report also found that 15 people cooperating with the Benghazi investigation had been killed, hindering the investigation, though it was not clear if the killings were related to the probe.

Christie gave a two-hour news conference about the bridge scandal, which is relatively small, Gingrich said, compared with the lives that were lost in the attack in Benghazi.

"When do we get the Hillary Clinton, clear the air, tell the truth about what actually happened, both in the cover-up phase during the campaign and in the actual ground events? Doesn't (Clinton) owe the nation some kind of clear, decisive report?" Gingrich said.

But Democratic strategist and CNN commentator Paul Begala noted that Clinton has testified under oath about the attack. Christie has not testified under oath about the bridge tie-ups, he added.

"The bullying tactics he's using in his own defense, I think, are also part of his political problem. He really does need to come clean. The press conference was fine. He really needs to put out documents," he said.

Christie's administration hired outside legal help on Thursday as a special state legislative committee decided to issue 20 subpoenas to launch its formal investigation over the scandal.

Crossfire co-host Stephanie Cutter argued that while the right is obsessing over Clinton and the Benghazi report, important issues, such as extending unemployment benefits, are falling by the wayside.

Filed under: Chris Christie • Crossfire • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Winston Smith

    It's going to get dirtier and dirtier, the closer it gets to election time. It's a damn shame too, as the voters seem to not place any trust in politicians now. But these are the conditions that prevail. The one saving grace from it all, there's a way to change the channel, and mute the speakers on the tube and the radio. Use them often to preserve sanity, if you can.

    January 16, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  2. HenryMiller

    "Will scandals impact 2016 prospects for Clinton and Christie?"

    I'd love it if they'd both just vanish.

    January 16, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  3. tom l

    And there you have it. I hate to say it but this certainly appears to be the ultimate goal of the media. They must do what they can to knock down any Hillary challenger. The lust for getting to the bottom of the Christie scandal vs the downright apprehension to get to the bottom of Bemghazi, the IRS and the flagrant NSA is pretty darn apparent

    January 16, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Christie's administration hired outside legal help on Thursday as a special state legislative committee decided to issue 20 subpoenas to launch its formal investigation over the scandal.

    Tom DeLay / Newt Gingrich 2016
    Lobbyists for a better tomorrow !

    January 16, 2014 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  5. bassman

    Give credit to our media. It was a well played smear. Polls show it has worked. Christie now trails Hillary. Online studies have proved it. In less than 48 hours, ABC, CBS and NBC devoting 88 minutes to the story. In comparison, these same news outlets over the last six months have allowed two minutes for the latest on Barack Obama's Internal Revenue Service scandal. The disparity in less than two days is 44-to-one. Well played MSM, well done.

    January 16, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  6. Name Uche Agonsi

    Hillary Benghazi issue needs no comparison with Christie's. Benghazi, as a bad case senario could be a mistake....GWB had lots of them ( his were not only mistakes, but disastrous and irresponsible ). Christie's bungle was deliberate and a born out of hate politicking. Even the revelations showed a lot of unacceptable administrative over-reaches unworthy of any Presidential hopeful....its a red light for Christie's candidacy.

    January 17, 2014 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  7. plain and simple

    So Christie "appoints" people at will to the Port Athority,more than any other governor before him....then cuts money for schools. Less government only applies to those "other"people outside his personal realm. Christie and Clinton are the past. Let them fade away....please.

    January 17, 2014 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  8. CMO

    If these two candidates are the best that the US has to offer as front runners then it is high time we non Americans stopped seeing US as a serious country to be trusted to lead the world. To your tent everyone.

    January 17, 2014 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  9. Harold Read

    What Hillary scandal?
    The Benghazi incident was just a "group of spontaneous protestors upset about the YouTube movie"
    – no big deal that the protestors has assault weapons
    – no big deal that the protestors had military training
    – no big deal that the assault was planned
    – "what matter does it make" if a.US Ambassador and several lost their lives

    All Hillary has to do is to continue to stab Obama in the back, use Bill to make promises that it will be just like when he was President, and run on Bill's accomplishments and achievements.

    January 17, 2014 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  10. Kyne

    Hm, someone who abuses the power of office for personal revenge vs. a secretary who accepts responsibility for what was deemed "the department's failure" at "assistant secretary level and below"?

    What would Christie do as president or commander-in-chief if he's snubbed by domestic or foreign politicians?

    January 17, 2014 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  11. Minnie Mouse

    Your not a true politician unless your involved in a scandal(.lol )This happens to everyone! This will keep them more in the public eye and everyone will know what they are doing or not doing. It's not going to hurt either of them, in fact help them. Everyone will know if they can handle a crisis or not. We don't want someone running our country as president if they can't handle being under pressure.

    January 17, 2014 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  12. ChrisM

    Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Fallon singing

    Stuck in Gov Chris Christie Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam (born to run parody )
    on youtube

    really funny

    January 17, 2014 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  13. Amit

    Of course not! By 2016 no one would even remember traffic jams or Benbhazi, unless the right comes out with "Benghazi survivors for the truth" or some such "bandwagon" to besmirch, denigrate, spread falsehoods about any Democratic Presidential nominee – male or female.

    January 17, 2014 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  14. current state of the union

    Is it obvious they are trying to distract from the Christie scandal, yup, obvious and predicted .

    January 17, 2014 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  15. current state of the union

    Likely preventable, with more funding which was denied by the gop, in hopes an attack would be sucessful.

    January 17, 2014 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  16. A True Conservative

    Clinton?? Scandal?? Know nothing about it.....all the news is centered on that evil Christie! He may be responsible for a traffic jam and may have gotten a friend a job.....what Clinton have possibly done that is worse than that? Caused someone to be killed and then lied about? C'mon....get real.....

    January 17, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  17. John, PA

    Are you kidding!!! You are comparing the successful Al-Qaeda attack on Benghazi where there were 4 dead Americas that Hillary Clinton is responsible for to a traffic jam the Liberals, Democratic Party and you (CNN) keep trying to blame on Chris Christie.

    January 17, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |