Christie Faces Criticism, Silence From GOP Rivals; Dipping Polls

Christie Faces Criticism, Silence From GOP Rivals; Dipping Polls

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TRENTON, N.J. -

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides.

In excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press, the early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically.

Christie hopes to regain his footing after being shaken by revelations that staff members orchestrated massive traffic backups near the George Washington Bridge in an apparent political vendetta against a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse Christie.

The proposal could antagonize the powerful public teachers union, which has clashed with Christie over tenure reforms.

Gov. Chris Christie has found little support - and sharp criticism in some cases - from the slate of potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

At the same time, would-be allies from states including Iowa and New Hampshire have been slow to rally behind the Republican governor, whose administration appears to have created a massive traffic jam to punish a political adversary.

Even strong supporters acknowledge the New Jersey investigation is far from over.

Documents revealed last week that figures in the Christie administration may have intentionally caused major backups near the George Washington Bridge to exact political retribution against a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse his re-election campaign. Christie has denied any personal "knowledge or involvement" in the lane closures.

A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll released yesterday showed that Governor Christie has experienced a drop in ratings. His current approval rating stands at 59%, down from 65% a month ago. According to Monmouth University, this is the first time that Christie's job approval rating has dipped below 60% since Superstorm Sandy.

A further breakdown shows that Republicans are still sticking with Christie, while figures from Democrats and Independents show lower approval. The results show that 89% of GOP support Christie, compared to 85% last month. For Democrats, 38% and for Independents, 62%, these two figures are down from 47% and 75% respectively.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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