Christie: GOP has a candidate problem, not a party problem

December 13, 2013

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), in a speech in Vermont this week, said the Republican Party's problems are about its candidates, not its party.

"There are some people running around the country right now saying that our party has a problem with its brand, that we're not relating to folks," Christie said Tuesday, according to video of a private event obtained by WPTZ-TV. "It's not our party's problem, it's our candidates' problem."

Christie added: "There is nothing that is wrong with the Vermont Republican Party that cannot be fixed by an outstanding Republican candidate for governor, for United States Senate or anything else."

Christie, who has earned some criticism from conservative groups for working with President Obama, among other things, also suggested that strong GOP candidates can triumph over intra-party opposition.

"There is no stranglehold that any party has over any state that outstanding candidates who are willing to work hard and open their heart to the public can't get looser," Christie said. "But it matters who you nominate, and it matters then how hard you work for that person once you give them the honor of being your nominee."

Christie made it pretty clear he believes he is one such candidate. Before making the previous quote, he talked at length about how appealing to new constituencies allowed him to win more than 60 percent of the vote in his reelection campaign in a blue state last month.

This message dovetails nicely with Christie's "just win baby" message in recent months — a message that sounds an awful lot like a pitch he might make to voters if he runs for president in 2016.

Gillian Brockell contributed to this post.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Philip Rucker · December 13, 2013