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Chris Christie: From Hero to Heckled [AUDIO]

At the end of last year, Gov. Chris Christie had sky-high approval ratings, and he was considered the odds-on favorite to capture the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Governor Chris Christie answers questions during his 113th Town Hall in Mount Laurel,
Governor Chris Christie answers questions during his 113th Town Hall in Mount Laurel (Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

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But since the Bridgegate scandal erupted in January, the governor’s popularity has dropped and now he’s contending with hecklers when he holds his weekly town hall meetings.

“Once there’s a scandal and the subpoenas are flying, people are now seeking high and low for anything,” said Peter Woolley, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “It doesn’t have to be what the scandal was originally about.”

Woolley said people love a winner whether it’s in sports or the political arena, and when someone is riding high, it attracts a lot of attention and more fans “get on the bus.” However, when things go sour, everything changes in a hurry.

“It certainly doesn’t look good when you’re running for president, to have a constant stream of hecklers and disrupted meetings,” Woolley said.

Hecklers are always sprinkled throughout political crowds according to Woolley, but when everyone is talking about them, that’s a bad sign.

“One heckler gives license to another,” Woolley said. “It’s certainly going to encourage other people to behave the same, and it doesn’t put the speaker in a good light.”

So where does this leave Christie for 2016?

“I think his presidential chances are pretty much in the hopper right now,” Woolley said. “This is a guy who doesn’t have a majority of voter approval in New Jersey right now, he’s a little bit upside down with that. He’s got a long way to go to reprove himself.”

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