Could Chris Christie's hug derail his political ambitions?

Chris Christie attempts high five resulting in group hug Image copyright other
Image caption Chris Christie (right) attempted a double high-five

That awkward moment when your high-five isn't returned.

It happened to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie - @GovChristie on Twitter - who was left hanging after a Dallas Cowboys win on Sunday.

The governor's name has been trending continuously since Sunday night along with a vine of the cringey moment.

It has led some political commentators to claim it's damaged his chances of becoming a Republican presidential candidate.

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Helen Munro, managing director of the Whitehouse Consultancy, a London-based PR agency for politicians and public servants, says: "You would expect a potential presidential candidate to command greater attention in these situations, however it is unlikely that this would manifest in the end of Mr Christie's presidential aspirations.

"Of course, world leaders need to look appropriate, but voters also want to see they're individuals.

"Mr Christie is caught up in the exuberance of the moment and most people would relate to that."

And some posters agree with that perspective:

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But political blogger Mark Yzaguirre, who writes for publications including the Huffington Post, says the clip may have hurt the governor's electoral appeal exactly because of his desire to come across as an everyman.

"He's trying to portray himself as a candidate of the people more than (former Republican presidential candidate) Mitt Romney can. When you're an everyman candidate, to be filmed hugging the owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the owner's box, well it doesn't look good does it?"

Some constituents also took umbrage at the governor's sporting allegiances. New Jersey is home to two professional American football teams - the New York Giants and the New York Jets - and also contains a sizeable contingent of fans of the nearby Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas, on the other hand, is about 2,500 km away. There were also evergreen jibes about the governor's substantial weight.

The governor's brother Todd quickly came out in defence of Chris, posting the following on Facebook:

"To all those non Cowboy fans who have their panties in a ringer because the Governor of NJ is a Cowboys fan---GET A LIFE !!! The Gov has been a Cowboys fan for his entire life and ALL of you would sit with the owner of your favourite team in a heartbeat if given the chance ... And for every calorically challenged FB person who posts about the Gov's weight--forget the magic mirror and look at yourself. Weight posts---really?"

The bad news for Chris Christie is that even if he does manage to win the golden ticket to the White House (he says he will decide early this year whether to run in 2016), there will be plenty more opportunities for socially awkward moments.

Awkwardness in itself is no barrier to becoming president. The 37th US president, Richard Nixon, was the epitome of a socially awkward leader. When a policeman was knocked off his motorcycle by the presidential motorcade, Nixon apparently asked him how he liked his job, in an attempt to show compassion.

Awkwardness can befall even the most socially gifted. Barack Obama abnormally lost his cool during an unfortunate three-way handshake at the G20 summit in Brisbane.

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President Putin was snapped in a finger pointing encounter with Tony Abbott, also at the G20 summit.

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And let's not forget the Thai prime minister head-patting strangeness that we reported on in November.

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Maybe we just have to live with the fact that sporting victories can animate the most unlikely of people and world leaders aren't immune to celebrating either. Remember this from Chelsea's Champions League win over Bayern Munich?

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But there is an upside for the governor. As CBS St Louis radio presenter Greg Hewitt said: "At least they're not talking about that damn bridge anymore." - a reference to allegations that the governor closed a key crossing into New York City to punish a political opponent.

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Political blogger Mark Yzaguirre said the best thing the governor could do for himself now was to laugh it off.

"When his brother came out and defended him, he didn't say it was trivial, because he knows it matters. They care about this and because it's on social media it is not going to go away. This clip is going to be replayed and replayed until the election," he says. "In the next few days Christie should post a response to all the memes. He could do one of him dancing around with someone else."

Let that be a warning: more Chris Christie dancing clips could be on the way.

Reporting by Sitala Peek

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