Could a set of traffic cones halt the New Jersey Governor's White House ambitions?

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Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, has been damaged by the revelations. Photo: Reuters.

Chris Christie is a huge political talent. He is a non-nonsense Governor, regarded - at least until today - as a major contender for the White House.

So is it really possible that a local scandal centred on a set of traffic cones could change the course of US political history?

Back in September, the Mayor of Fort Lee, a small town in the shadow of the world's busiest bridge, refused to endorse Chris Christie's bid for re-election as New Jersey Governor.

Emails show that Christie's top staff plotted, in a move both astonishingly petty and vindictive, to close all but one lane leading from Fort Lee to the Bridge.

The result was 4 days of traffic hell. The town here suffered gridlock; children couldn't get to school; emergency vehicles were delayed; lives were put at risk.

A traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge toll booths in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
A traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge toll booths in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Credit: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

All because the mayor was a Democrat. The emails show the chaos was plotted in Christie's office.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," wrote one top adviser. "Is it wrong that I am smiling?" replied another.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie answers a question from ITV News' Julie Etchingham after Superstorm Sandy.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie answers a question from ITV News' Julie Etchingham after Superstorm Sandy. Credit: ITV News

Referring to stranded school kids, an official wrote: "They are the children of Buono voters."

Buono was the candidate running against Christie.

It will only reinforce the Tony Soprano image of New Jersey politics. It is devastating to Christie's image as a bi-partisan figure who just wants to make America work better.

But is it fatal to his White House chances?

Today may provide the answer. Democrats, and Christie's 2016 Republican rivals, are loving this.