Christie: GOP needs to be for something

He wasn't invited to the Conservative Political Action Conference last year, but in 2014, the crowd cheered for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). (The Associated Press)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said in his CPAC address that Republicans need to talk about what they're for rather than what they're against — playing up his achievements and those of  several other GOP governors and contrasting them with the gridlock in Congress.

“Our ideas are better than their ideas, and that’s what we have to stand up for,” Christie said.

Christie wasn’t invited to CPAC last year after his election-eve embrace of President Obama following superstorm Sandy in 2012. While the conservative crowd isn’t necessarily his base — Christie is more allied with the GOP establishment and has criticized tea party and libertarian Republicans in Congress on Sandy aid and national security — Christie was greeted with respectful applause as he took the stage and as he left.

Throughout his speech, Christie contrasted GOP governors with what’s happening in Congress, accusing those in Washington of being more interested in publicity than accomplishment. As mentioned above, Christie hasn't been able to tangle with congressional Republicans, whom Democrats have labeled “obstructionists” for standing resolutely against Democratic legislation.

“The most dangerous 10 feet in Washington D.C. is between anybody who wants to start talking and a camera,” Christie said, borrowing from a popular Washington joke about the oft-interviewed Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Back home, Christie is currently dealing with continued questions about what he knew and when in regards to a political plot to create a traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J. Christie has firmly denied any knowledge or involvement.

Christie didn’t mention the controversy in his speech, instead focusing on pushing for Republicans to be proactive and making a particular case for strong national security that is respected worldwide.

He said Washington’s failure to accomplish things also hurts the country in that regard.

“If we want to once again lead the world, it is not just about the might of our arms, it’s about us making ourselves once again an example of how a free, open society that … treasures liberty over all else can govern itself in an effective and functioning way,” Christie said.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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