Meet the Press | January 12, 2014
>>> were back. so how is the christie scandal going to play with voters outside the northeast? iowa is a critical test for republicans. the caucus is there, kick tough a race for the white house in 2016 . we sent our own john yang to the hawkeye state to see if bridgegate is having an impact.
>> reporter: at the machine shed restaurant in urbandale, iowa , the monthly meeting of the ruby rebels. two topics are out of bounds -- religion and politics . for us, they made an exception. what do you think of what's going on with chris christie ?
>> well, i think it's very interesting. i can't imagine that he could be clueless when he shut down a major bridge.
>> reporter: glenda dawson is a registered democrat who says she sometimes votes republican.
>> i don't think that plays very well. no matter what party you are.
>> reporter: georgia pearson's view of the new jersey governor has changed.
>> if he had been bipartisan, maybe, and to find out that this was a very political thing really changed my opinion.
>> reporter: the road to the white house begins here in iowa . but could gridlock on the george washington bridge block a christie run? republican dave rieder says the whole thing is silly.
>> it's so strange that you think messing with someone's drive to work is going to be retribution to a mayor. i think it seems sort of comical and almost made up.
>> reporter: independent tom blue agrees.
>> you know, it's so hard to cultivate a presidential candidate , and i hope that the public isn't influenced to discard the guy over something like that.
>> reporter: christie 's no stranger to iowa , having campaigned here for normal the 2012 race.
>> the great governor of new jersey , chris christie !
>> reporter: last month's des moines , register, iowa poll found that 51% of iowa republicans have a favorable view of christie , putting him in the top tier of potential 2016 candidates. republican strategist jeff boyik calls him a front-runner.
>> he's under a microscope here so this kind of stuff is going to be play here, is going to be important here, so iowans will continue to watch and we'll continue to see how he reacts and responds.
>> reporter: while republican caucusgoers have recently favored social conservatives , 2016 could be different. though a moderate, corpus christiie's combative style appeals to some of iowa 's harder edged republicans.
>> he is a rock star to republicans who are hungry for someone who will take their message and hammer it home. i mean, that was his great appeal, that he was a guy that would take no prisoners.
>> reporter: analysts here say one thing working in cristy's favor is that the caucuses are two years away, plenty of time for the governor to try to put this behind him, unless there are more damaging disclosures to come. david?
>> john, thank you so much. never too early for you to be asking political questions in iowa . i appreciate your time this morning.
>>> back to our roundtable. chuck, when we talk politics, as we do all the time, you always say, look, to be president, temperamentally you've got to go through the midwest. that's why we sent john there, to get that visceral take outside the northeast.
>> six months ago we had this conversation, will jersey play in the midwest. i'm talking about general election . always the candidate with that midwestern demeanor, usually been a southerner or in the case of barack obama a midwesterner, and that's always been my question before all this. and i have to say, the other thing we learned during the scandal, cristhristie's on an island. not a lot of republicans coming to his support.
>> you think about iowa , the early states, ideology and the primary process, how much is personality going to be more important than ideology?
>> personality is going to be huge because actually, by the way, that is a big attraction for a lot of people with christie .
>> yeah. absolutely.
>> don't forget. and i don't think anyone should underestimate a little bit of what mr. priebus was saying. the fact he came out this week and immediately fired people and took responsibility is not something everyone sees in government all the time, and that may play well with some people.
>> i'm going to leetch it theave it there. thanks to all of you for an interesting discussion. we're going to take a break.
>>> up next, questions of leadership. that bombshell new memoir from former defense secretary robert gates .