Christie raps potential 2016 rivals at Republican confab
August 15th, 2013
03:09 PM ET
12 months ago

Christie raps potential 2016 rivals at Republican confab

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET on 8/15

Boston (CNN) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie planted himself firmly in the Republican Party’s establishment wing Thursday with a pugnacious speech calling on his party to focus on pragmatism rather than ideology and crippling internal debates.

"We are not a debating society,” Christie told a lunchtime audience at the Republican National Committees summer meeting in Boston. “We are a political operation that needs to win."

Some of Christie’s remarks, relayed to a reporter by GOP officials who attended the closed-press event, were interpreted by many here as another jab at Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a potential rival for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Christie and Paul tangled earlier this summer after the New Jersey governor criticized Paul’s libertarian-tinged worldview as “esoteric” and “intellectual,” drawing a series of pointed rebukes from Paul and his allies.

“I am in this business to win. I don’t know why you are in it. I am in this to win,” Christie said at the luncheon, his first appearance a meeting of the RNC.

“I think we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors,” he said. “Now college professors are fine I guess. Being a college professor, they basically spout out ideas that nobody does anything about. For our ideas to matter we have to win. Because if we don’t win, we don’t govern. And if we don’t govern all we do is shout to the wind. And so I am going to do anything I need to do to win.”

Rand Paul adviser jabs 'content-free' Christie

Christie also appeared to rap Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another potential White House hopeful who made headlines in January when he implored the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.”

"I'm not going to be one of these people who goes around and calls our party stupid,” Christie said, a startling remark given that Jindal and Christie work hand-in-hand as chairman and vice-chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

“We need to stop navel gazing," he added. "There's nothing wrong with our principles. We need to focus on winning again. There's too much at stake for this to be an academic exercise. We need to win and govern with authority and courage."

Another Paul takes on Chris Christie

President Obama and Congressional torpor merited barely a mention in his remarks. Christie devoted the much of the speech to his record in New Jersey, highlighting efforts to fix a budget deficit and his noisy fights with teachers unions over pension reform.

“You got two choices as a governor,” he said. “You either sidle up next to them and whisper sweet nothings in their ear or try to hope they don't punch you. Or your second alternative is you punch them first.”

By most accounts, Christie’s remarks were met with enthusiasm by the nearly 200 state GOP chairmen, staffers and party insiders who attend these quarterly meetings to plot election strategy and hunt for business.

“It was really great,” said Indiana committeeman Jim Bopp. “Successful politics is a matter of heeding your principles, implementing them, but also being pragmatic about what you can accomplish and need to win. You can’t govern if can’t win.”

Cindy Costa, a national committeewoman from South Carolina, called the speech “amazing.”

“It was impressive. I forgot about the Obama bear hug,” said Tennessee GOP Chairman Chris Devaney, referring to Christie’s tour of the New Jersey coastline with President Obama just days before last year’s presidential election, a moment of bipartisan harmony that rankled GOP activists and top members of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Though he earned rave reviews from a range of party leaders, a handful of RNC members, including several Paul supporters, left unimpressed. One conservative on the committee who declined to be identified called Christie “a pompous ass.”

Others expressed admiration for Christie but wondered whether his brash northeastern brand could appeal in other regions of the country.

If Christie does seek the presidency, he would face the prospect of courting voters in Iowa and South Carolina, where Republican primary contests tend to favor candidates from the conservative wing of the party.

“He wouldn’t play too well where I’m from because we’re a little bit too conservative,” said Alabama GOP Chairman Bill Armistead. “He is probably a bit more liberal socially than some folks. That would cause some problems in Alabama. But everybody loves that he tells it like it is and doesn’t flinch at the opposition.”

Christie, who is carefully balancing his re-election campaign in New Jersey this fall with efforts to build a national profile ahead of a possible presidential bid, held a handful of private meetings with some party leaders at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, including one with fundraiser Spencer Zwick, the national finance chairman of Romney’s 2012 campaign.

Christie avoided reporters during his day-long visit and made his way into the hotel ballroom where he gave his speech through a back entrance, rather than face a pack of nearly two dozen reporters waiting for him at the bottom of an escalator adjacent to the meeting.

Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the RNC, declined to say whether the request to keep cameras out of the speech came from Christie high command.

“The event has always been closed press,” he said.

But when Spicer agreed to allow a single photographer into the speech to capture a still image of Christie, several reporters protested, prompting a heated argument between about the meaning of “closed press" with some prominent members of the Boston media.

Eventually, the photographer was allowed in, while the rest of the press waited outside for Christie to finish.


Filed under: Chris Christie • RNC
soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    Unfortuantely for Christie, the GOP is little more than a debate society: their concept of government is idealized, designed to meet the needs and aspirations of the Heritage Foundation more than it is to meet the needs of its people. They fight the same battles over and over again, failing to recognise that they need to provide policy alternatives that are not Right-wing social and cultural engineering. They need to stop needlessly demonizing working people and families in this country as being welfare dependents with their hands out, and to once again use the language of an optimist like Reagan, not the pessimism and hate of Limbaugh. They need to stop being the party that wants to entertain themselves rather than govern, and that dealing with problems means compromise and respect so solutions can be implemented with confidence. I don't know if Christie is up to the job, or if anyone really is in the GOP.

    August 15, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    Stay on your knees big boy, you may not be much, but you're the best they have. Can't wait to see what Curley top has to say.

    August 15, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "We need to stop navel gazing. "

    Sorry, you made that bed, now you have to lie in it. Enjoy your Astroturf Frankenstein circus...cuz when it's finally over, all that will be left is cleaning up the elephant poop.

    August 15, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. Wake up People!

    To all the dems believing Christy wasn't the typical republikkkan...... You know who you are. Those asking him to change parties.

    I hate to say I told you so but......

    I told you so!

    August 15, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. Bartq

    He's like a rotund Knute Rockne giving an inspirational speech to people who will not win. Very exciting.

    August 15, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  6. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The Guns Over People Shutdown Government tea potty have already given Christie an F on his purity test. Can't wait to see the GOBP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats Mitt the twit style.

    August 15, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  7. Eric

    "we are a political operation that needs to win"

    no, you, as a politician, might feel you need to win. I don't care about people winning, I care about ideas winning. And since you just said you don't see any reason to debate good ideas, I can't trust you.

    just another career politician that feels the need to win at any cost. had enough of those kinds.

    August 15, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. John Doe (Jane's Husband)

    Actually, you need to govern in a way that includes all of the people of the country and not just your party. When your party can stop telling everyone how they're under siege and going to take back America with 'real american values' from those who don't know what 'real american values' are then you'll be on the right track. No one living here wants to be told we don't belong, don't do it the right way and don't really stand for the red, white and blue when we live here, die here, pay taxes here and do our best to be good people just like you. There's more to America than just God, Guns and The Founding Fathers.

    August 15, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. jennifer in Houston

    He's a breath of fresh air..

    August 15, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Mike Mentges

    Democrats are idiots. Christie is a democrat. Do the math. Rand Paul 2016 to restore America to what its founders intended not what the democrats want.

    August 15, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. bcw

    Stop hating Obama and start thinking about what the American majority people needs. JOBs JOBS JOBs

    August 15, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. Edward

    I hope an old photograph is being used here. Otherwise, Mr. Christies' body is not responding to the stomach binding he had. Come to Canada Governor. See our healthcare system. Have your work done here and you will lose the weight for you family. You will avoid diabetes and heart disease. We practice preventive medicine. We do this kind of stuff all the time.

    August 15, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. Pete in Guilford

    “I am in this business to win. I don’t know why you are in it. I am in this to win,” Christie said at the RNC luncheon."

    It should be all about doing what is good for the people of the United States of America, not just winning. Winning is necessary do do that, but the people and the country what's important—and THAT'S why one should run.

    August 15, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. hugh merrill

    I am afraid the republicans will do anything to win including preventing poor folks and folks of color from voting! they sure can not win on ideas they have non worth while.

    August 15, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Jimmy

    Can anyone say White House aspirations? Christie is chomping at the bit.

    August 15, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. teomakzia

    Actually, should it not be that you are in the business of doing the people's business. Why do I try to fool myself with such foolish thoughts. Of course, all the GOP cares about is wining, even at the cost of the individual citizen.

    August 15, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Jason

    I think GOP needs a new pledge: To burn down America if even one of their requirements are not met

    August 15, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. George

    Sure wish these politicians would stop being in it to win and realize they are in it to make a difference and create a better and more stable country. Your job is not politics, its the American people as a whole. Your job is not your base its the American people as a whole. Stop this in it to win it stuff and start compromising and looking at whats best for all our people and the security, safety and overall health of our country. End this me, me, me stuff and learn that its all of us not just you, you, you.

    August 15, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. Stan

    Christie is someone who can't be trusted, even by his own party.

    August 15, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  20. remember

    All about me .WIN WIN WIN I need to WIN?
    Not help the country but
    I am in this business to win

    August 15, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. alex

    So in essence, he will lie, cheat and misrepresent his intentions to win. Sounds like a solid candidate for the Republican party.

    August 15, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. jerems

    Oh don't worry! These nit wits will lose over and over again in the coming years. Rand Paul? Is this a joke? The GOP is doomed for many years to come, I think.

    August 15, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Gurgyl

    This guy has no chance with GOP thugs party–so only I advised him to change the party–he can be after Hillary in the line. Learn from wise.

    August 15, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. Renee Marie Jones

    Interesting. Christie admits that he does not care about the American people. He just wants to "win."

    August 15, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. jed clampett

    I think Dick Cheney should run for GOP presidential candidate. I heard he has a new heart.

    August 15, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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