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RNC chairman downplays Chris Christie scandal

TRENTON, N.J. — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday that the traffic jam scandal won’t disqualify Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey from running for president.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press,’’ Priebus said Republican primary voters could move past the scandal that has ensnared the administration as polls show Christie as a top contender in 2016.

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‘‘America’s a forgiving people,’’ Priebus said. He said Christie demonstrated leadership by holding a lengthy news conference Thursday to apologize for his staff’s behavior.

‘‘We all make mistakes,’’ Priebus said. ‘‘The real question is: What do you do when mistakes happen?’’

Christie fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, the top aide who gave the go-ahead to shut down lanes to the George Washington Bridge. He also cut ties with one of his top campaign advisers.

Internal e-mails released last week showed that Christie’s allies orchestrated the September closures of lanes merging onto the bridge leading into Manhattan from Fort Lee, N.J., in an act of political revenge against the city’s Democratic mayor.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, unlike some leading Democrats in his state, didn’t break ranks to endorse the governor’s November reelection bid.

Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, said Sunday that Christie put his political future on the line by denying any involvement in a bridge scandal that’s engulfed his administration.

‘‘If it’s not true, the man has put his political career at risk,’’ Giuliani said on ABC’s ‘‘This Week.’’ ‘‘He says he didn’t realize, he says he didn’t know. I think it’s pretty darn credible — he wouldn’t make this blanket denial.’’

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