New Jersey's Bridge-gate scandal isn't over yet — despite an internal investigation that determined Gov. Chris Christie wasn't involved
— but that doesn't mean Christie's not a viable candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, political strategist Karl Rove believes.
"He was never not a viable candidate," Rove told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace Sunday. "But does this investigation end it [the scandal]? Obviously not. It does help."
He pointed out that the investigation was done by a "respected former prosecutor
who is a lifelong Democrat who had access to a lot more information."
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That information included 250,000 emails, memos, communications, and other items, said Rove. However, he noted that the issue of whether Christie ordered the lanes closed on the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, N.J., into New York City for political retribution won't really be determined until the the New Jersey legislative committee and the U.S. attorney's office finish their investigation.
"But is Christie's possible candidacy ended? No," said Rove. "Is it back flourishing like it was before all this began? No."
There is much to learn from the issue, Rove noted.
"The interesting thing to me is we learn a lot more about how politicians handle adversity than we learn from them when they're in moments of success," said Rove. "What Christie has done is, he's got knocked down. He's now gotten back up, dusted himself off, and he's back in the arena."
The Republican governor will take another hit when the state legislature meets, and again when the U.S. attorney's office makes its determination on the case.
"The question is at the end of this, in six months, nine months, a year, do the American people say, look, this guy did or did not have something to do with it and he's able to take a punch and at that point he'll be better off than he was a couple of weeks ago?" said Rove. "The question is, is he going to be as good as he needs to be?"
Rove, speaking as part of a four-member panel on the Fox program, disagreed with fellow panelist Ron Fournier, National Journal's senior political columnist and editorial director, who contended that the internal investigation was a "whitewash" that didn't prove anything.
"They reviewed every single document that was available to them, including private communications from Bridget Kelly's private email to government accounts," said Rove, accusing Fournier of making a "personal attack" on him with his statements. "And if there was any evidence, a single email that said, hey governor, we're going to do this in order to mess over the mayor of Fort Lee...they would have brought it forward."
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