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“I’d love to say I missed you, but I didn’t.”

And with that jab to close out an hour-long press conference on Friday, it was clear the gruff, no-nonsense, tough-talking Chris Christie was re-emerging after a damaging few months that may have derailed his White House hopes.

In his first face-to-face with reporters since scandal ensnared his administration in early January, the Republican seemed at home and girding for a fight, launching barbs and smirking at the press from behind his podium.

The New Jersey governor and onetime presidential frontrunner spent two months on the ropes and largely silent. With his head down and out of the spotlight, he conducted only necessary business as head of the Republican Governors Association and for his own state.