Chris Christie, making his first appearance on late-night television since a traffic-jam scandal erupted this year, joked that he “hypothetically” could defeat Hillary Clinton, at least on the dance floor.
Appearing yesterday on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the 51-year-old New Jersey governor performed in a skit called “The Evolution of Dad Dancing.”
The second-term Republican has been seeking to move past a scandal from politically motivated lane closings in September at the George Washington Bridge, a controversy that’s damaged his approval ratings and standing as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. After Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern U.S. in 2012, the governor’s TV appearances, including on “Saturday Night Live,” boosted his appeal.
“Hypothetically, you run for president,” Fallon said on last night’s show, recorded at Rockefeller Center in New York.
“OK, hypothetically,” Christie said.
“Hypothetically, Hillary Clinton runs for president,” Fallon said.
“Hypothetically,” Christie said.
“Hypothetically, do you think you could beat her?” Fallon asked.
“Hypothetically?” Christie said. “You bet.”
“In a dance-off,” Fallon said.
“That’s what I was talking about,” Christie said. “What were you talking about?”
Christie’s comments came as Clinton, a Democrat who served as U.S. secretary of state and as a senator from New York, has increased her visibility with interviews as she promotes her latest memoir, “Hard Choices.” A Bloomberg National Poll shows Clinton leading Christie, 45 percent to 38 percent, among likely 2016 voters.
Christie won re-election in November. Then e-mails surfaced in January that showed aides used the closing of access lanes to the bridge to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, who didn’t endorse the governor.
An April poll from Quinnipiac University found Christie with a 49 percent approval rating among New Jersey voters, down from a high of 74 percent in February 2013.
Bruce Springsteen, Christie’s favorite musician, appeared with Fallon in January, performing a parody duet with Fallon of the New Jersey icon’s 1975 hit “Born to Run” that lampooned the bridge affair.
During last night’s skit, the host and politician, both clad in khaki pants and polo shirts, performed moves designed to embarrass children, including the “Belt Grabber” and the “Don’t Make Me Turn This Car Around.” The skit was a reprise of an appearance last year by first lady Michelle Obama.
After running through a number of mortifying steps, Fallon wags his finger like a traffic cop for a dance called “This Bridge is Closed.” Christie throws up his hands and walks off stage, before returning to dance with the host again.
Christie appeared today at a San Francisco flower shop with Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for California governor, and declined a reporter’s request to recreate last night’s moves.
“I’m not Wayne Newton and this ain’t Vegas,” Christie said. “I do one show a night, everybody. I did my show last night on Jimmy Fallon. If I started to do it now, Kashkari would feel like he had to start to dance. You gotta get elected first before you could do that kind of dancing, believe me.”
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