Christie, in return to late-night TV, talks 2016

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and Jimmy Fallon show of different 'Dad dances' on Thursday night's show.

Gov. Christie said Thursday on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that he would beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in a bid for president – “hypothetically.”

In his first foray back into the late-night television circuit since the Bridgegate scandal threatened to derail his national ambitions, the Republican governor, asked by Fallon whether he could win in a 2016 matchup with the former Secretary of State, said: “Hypothetically? You bet.” The audience applauded.

Fallon paused, then asked: “In a dance-off?”

“That’s what I was talking about,” Christie said. “What were you talking about?”

The interview was Christie’s fourth on shows with Fallon, who took over as host of The Tonight Show in February.

It was also the governor’s first late-night appearance since the George Washington Bridge controversy made national headlines – and got exposure on shows like Fallon’s.

In January, Bruce Springsteen – Christie’s musical hero – joined Fallon in spoofing the bridge scandal with a parody performance of “Born to Run,” featuring the line: “We’re stuck in Gov. Chris Christie’s Fort Lee New Jersey traffic jam.”

On Thursday, Fallon – who jokingly mumbled that he was “very sorry” about the spoof – went easy on Christie, praising the governor's response to the media attention amid probes by state lawmakers and federal prosecutors into the September lane closures that jammed traffic near the bridge in Fort Lee.

Christie, who fired a top aide over the controversy, has maintained he played no role in the closures.

“It just speaks volumes of you,” Fallon told Christie. “Good for you for staying in the ring and standing up.”

Christie, meanwhile, briefly poked fun at the controversy while dancing alongside Fallon in a segment titled “Dad Dancing.”

As Fallon did a dance move titled “This Bridge is Closed,” Christie shook his head and walked off stage.

The segment also included Christie playing air guitar and fist-pumping in a move billed as “Dance You Do at a Springsteen Concert.” (Also involved in the dance medley: chest-bumping, and at one point, a move with Christie pulling Fallon between his legs while mimicking “Dancing with the Stars.”)

At the start of the interview with Christie, Fallon commented on Christie’s apparent weight loss. “You look fantastic,” he said.

“I feel good,” Christie said. He said he had lost a “lot of weight.”

There was still a fat joke. Christie, recounting a recent trip to New York to receive a Father of the Year award from a parenting group, noted that only one of his four children attended.

“But, you ate the other three lunches,” Fallon said.

Christie responded: “You start off the interview with, ‘Oh you look great, how much weight you’ve lost,’ and it’s just what a putz you are that you go right to the weight jokes. Come on already.”

Earlier in the show, comedian Chris Rock got in a jab at Christie, saying the governor had closed a bridge.

When Fallon noted that Christie never said he was involved in the lane closures, Rock said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”