Chris Christie Tests Limits Of Authenticity

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's political brand is built almost entirely around a single personality trait: authenticity.

He's a self-styled what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of politician, unapologetic that his blunt style can come across as brash. The approach has earned Christie plenty of love for being himself and sets him apart from other potential 2016 presidential contenders such as Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, who often come across as stiffer and more disciplined.

Christie's authenticity was on full display this week when he stood by his beloved Dallas Cowboys. In the face of Internet bullies who shunned his love for America's Team or mocked his bear hug with Jerry Jones, Christie brazenly defended his lifelong loyalty for an out-of-state team that's either the most loved or most hated franchise in the NFL.

Voters often say they're looking for real, genuine candidates. But striking that perfect balance of authenticity without being too hot or too cold is "one of the most difficult lines to navigate" for a politician, said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell.

"And that balance is different for every candidate because you don't know what the candidate is going to do until you shine the spotlight on them," O'Connell said.

O'Connell, the GOP strategist, acknowledges there's always a risk in being too much of yourself on the campaign trail. But at the end of the day, he argued, "it's better to be too authentic than to be too plastic."

Read more from Ashley Killough at CNN

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Analysis & Political Strategy