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Chris Christie preps for plunge into presidential pool

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Matt Rourke/AP

(Read caption) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Philadelphia on Friday. He is expected to officially enter the presidential race on Tuesday.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will announce his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, sources familiar with his plans told the Associated Press.

The long-awaited announcement will bring Christie into a crowded field of more than a dozen major Republican candidates. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday, Republican primary voters put Christie in 8th place, tied with Ted Cruz (R) of Texas and ahead of only four candidates.

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Known for his brash persona, Christie has had his share of moments in the spotlight. From being praised for his response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 to being slammed with accusations of bullying and with censure for the 2013 shut-down of the George Washington Bridge, Christie’s approval rating has spiked and plummeted dramatically during his two terms as governor.

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“Indeed, Christie has traveled an emotional and tumultuous political path over the past year, with lows and highs one might even call Nixonian or Clintonesque," the Monitor's Harry Bruinius wrote earlier this year. More than a year ago, Christie was riding high, winning a resounding reelection in New Jersey and bolstering his case that he could appeal to Democratic voters around the country and use his considerable political chops to return the White House to the GOP.

But then the Bridge-gate scandal seemed to turn the loud and blunt politician’s greatest strengths into Jersey shore clichés. One of his closest right-hand aides pleaded guilty to concocting a likely payback scheme with a bogus traffic study at the George Washington Bridge – creating days of traffic havoc for a small-borough mayor who refused to join the cavalcade of Christie’s aggressively sought bipartisan endorsements. Two other aides were charged with conspiring to commit fraud for political ends.

As Mr. Bruinius reported, "It appeared to denude the Garden State governor, tempering his defining bravado and the aggressive off-the-cuff quips that made him so appealing to voters.”

Christie helped raise over $100 million for GOP candidates in the 2014 midterm elections, but he also emphasizes his ability to work with Democrats, painting himself as the candidate with the ability to capture the votes of women and minorities that often evade Republican candidates.

Two sources familiar with Christie’s plans spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share information before Christie’s announcement.

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This report includes material from the Associated Press.