New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was his pugnacious self at the Conservative Political Action Conference, giving plenty of red meat and conservative lines to the crowd. In an implicit argument against future political opponents, he said that politicians in Washington just talk but that “Governors are about getting things done.” He blasted those who “stand on the sidelines and spitball,” and he made the case that Republicans must “talk about what we are for, not what we’re against.” There is the message for every governor running against every senator for the GOP presidential nomination. Instead, he argued that conservatives must be confident that “our ideas are better than their [Democrats’] ideas.” He proceeded to reel off accomplishments of several GOP governors in contrast to the “dysfunction” in Congress.
This was also a speech to remind attendees that he is conservative — pro-market and pro-life. He recounted his budget cuts ($2 billion less in spending than in 2008). Pointing to some diversity of views on abortion in the GOP he declared, after describing a reporter questioning the GOP position on abortion as intolerant, “They’re the party of intolerance, not us.” He, like others, carried a message of “opportunity,” deriding the president’s income-inequality focus in favor of “opportunity inequality.” That is an intriguing theme that deserves further detail. He even defended the Koch brothers, decrying Sen. Harry Reid’s attack on two hardworking Americans!
Interestingly, he also used the media feeding frenzy at home to boost his conservative street cred, declaring that the GOP should not allow the “media to define us.” Implicit in that is the challenge not to let the mainstream media pick the party’s nominee.
Christie also took a rare foray into foreign policy, arguing in favor of “America being a leader in the world” and “a strong national defense . . . Not [a country] that allows us to get pushed around all over the world.” That, in a nutshell, is how President Obama is unifying the GOP on national security.
Christie is still an impressive speaker who knows how to hold a room’s attention. If he is no longer the GOP front-runner, neither can he be ignored in 2016.