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Donald Trump: Chris Christie 'one email away from a disaster'

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Chris Christie’s political troubles have the makings of a “disaster,” Donald Trump warned an important political audience Tuesday.

The supremely self-confident real estate mogul, visiting the state that hosts the nation’s first presidential primary, said he had a hard time understanding the logic behind an effort apparently orchestrated by the New Jersey governor’s advisors to tie up traffic in Fort Lee. The scandal, now the subject of an investigation by the Democratic-controlled New Jersey Legislature, could dog the potential Republican presidential hopeful for some time to come, Trump said.

“He’s one email away from a disaster,” fellow Republican Trump said in a speech that was part of the “Politics and Eggs” breakfast series, a New Hampshire political tradition that has drawn would-be presidential candidates  for decades. “He’s fired four or five people. I don’t know what they’re going to say. I don’t know what emails they’re going to produce. So it’s a very scary situation for Chris. And we’ll see how he handles it.”

Trump was a bit off in the details; so far Christie has fired a deputy chief of staff and stripped future political work from his former campaign manager.

The real estate magnate, who himself flirted with a presidential bid three times -- most recently in 2011, when he relentlessly questioned President Obama's birthplace -- was not the only Republican on Tuesday to suggest that Christie's problems remain potent. Ken Cuccinelli, who in November lost a race for Virginia governor, said "it makes sense" for Christie to relinquish his role as head of the Republican Governors Assn.

"He does not serve the goals of that organization by staying as chairman," Cuccinelli told CNN. "And that doesn't mean any of the charges political or otherwise or substantive or not, it doesn't matter. Perception is reality."

In his meandering speech before a crowd of business leaders, local politicos and students on the campus of Saint Anselm College, Trump veered from foreign policy (Iraq is now “the Harvard of terrorism”)  to the economy (“Mexico is eating our lunch”) to promoting his reality show and explaining his famous coif – “It is my real hair!”

Trump, who endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 after putting aside his own potential campaign, also lamented the GOP nominee’s eventual loss, wondering how it went wrong.

“He had that first debate and it was looking great,” Trump said. “After that, either through advice or, maybe you get a little nervous, or maybe you do a little choking – which happens – something happened that was not good.”

“That was a race that should have been won. It was a race that could have very easily been won. It’s a race that if it was held two months later could have been won.”

Trump offered no hint publicly as to his own political plans. He’s been stoking speculation about a run for New York governor, but told the New Hampshire Union Leader in an interview that  he would still give serious thought to a run for president in 2016.

"It's absolutely in the cards,” he told the paper.

After a surviving a self-inflicted wound during the government shutdown, he said, Republicans were looking strong for the midterms.

“Because of Obamacare, which is really turning out to be a disaster, the Democrats have a chance of getting decimated in November,” he said.

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michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

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