Christie raps potential 2016 rivals at Republican confab
August 15th, 2013
03:09 PM ET
8 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. Veeblefester

    Christie is a lying, hypocritical bully. He's the PERFECT Republican candidate.

    August 15, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. Hogan's Goat

    "Rand Paul is the future of the GOP." Yeah, you said it. Unelectable Paul is their future. He will be the Next Mitt. And then, maybe, they can get down off the racism horse and act like Americans again? Or leave; didn't that Limbaugh guy move to South America after Obama was reelected?

    August 15, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Scott Cagle

    He is such a man. I wish I was a real man. My wee wee is so my that my wife Candace has men like Christie satisfy her since I can't. Its sad really but what can I do. I am not a real man.

    August 15, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  4. Chris Vaccaro

    Watching the Republican party implode is one of the best spectator sports around, especially during the NFL offseason. The only way the GOP even manages to hold on to so many House seats is thanks to the greatest redistricting effort in the history of the United States.

    August 15, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. dina

    I didn't read a thing about Christie telling the GOP to stop being the party of stu pid. As long as they keep denying climate change, pandering to red necks, trying to stop people from voting, badmouthing teachers and the educated in general, and spending all their time on tax breaks for the wealthy and doing whatever they can to sabotage Obama, they will keep turning America off. off. off.

    August 15, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  6. MB Seattle

    The GOP does not have ideas. They will not win the White house next term. The Democrats need to work at the state level to reclaim congress. We need a functioning two party system.

    August 15, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    President Obama seeks to implement the policies that a majority of Americans voted for TWICE, and he's labeled a dictator by the GOP.

    Christie actually bullies people, and the GOP calls him a "leader."

    Any wonder why the GOP keeps losing?

    August 15, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. Skeptic

    It's far too early to be obsessing over the 2016 elections. But at this point, Christie would be a far better GOP candidate than Paul. Paul is an extremist, and would scare too many voters away.

    August 15, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. ART

    The Gop couldn't find their way out of a paper bag, and as you can see with followers like dirt grub (appropriate moniker) they will lose again and again. You cannot try to pacify those idiots in your party who are dumber than dirt.

    August 15, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. JLS1950

    I don't know about "college professors"... I always thought most Republican ideologues would make better Science Fiction writers.

    August 15, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "When is Christie going to finally realize he is a Democrat?"

    When are YOU (and others) going to realize that Christie saying one nice thing about Obama and incurring the wrath of the radicalized RWNJ Teatrolls does NOT make him a Dem and that his fiscal and social policies throughout his tenure as NJ's Governor have been akin to the claptrap the GOP/Teatrolls are spewing at us every day. He's a conservative and a disaster and his policies show it. Don't be fooled by the MSM's attempts to paint him as a moderate. HE'S NOT.

    August 15, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Gargelygoop

    Please, These people and their version of governance. OMG how sad? What’s even worse, All these people that think for one second that party politics will represent the interests of themselves or any of the people of this Country. Just the structure alone undermines this supposed democratic republic down to a rope and pony show. Or if you’re not one of the rodeo clowns types then how about Smoke and Mirrors. They'll make any prosperity wither and die while at the same time being completely oblivious to the consequence of their deliberations. We all know we need hard reform, It seems that a lot of you just don't seem to understand that political reform is the first step to getting our country back to at least some semblance of its original intention. The lib-con agenda is ruining the future of the entire world. I guess that’s why our foreign policy has made us hated worldwide and appears to be getting worse rather than better. These jokers that keep chasing political dominance are retarded when it comes time to render any proper solution and as long as the fools keep supporting them. They will continue to pursue their egos.

    August 15, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. kirk

    See I'm still crazy guys.now give me some Koch cash Dr.spikes, seems so simple, but evidently not.sigh

    August 15, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. Hogan's Goat

    "Both will continue wasting huge amounts of money on big defense programs, big welfare programs." Because defense is silly and people's welfare is unimportant, right? I guess government seems simple to you. Ever run a business with more than a thousand employees? Elected to office?

    August 15, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Durundal

    "Govern with Courage"

    - Like it takes any courage to legislate when you know that the rest of the population can do nothing to stop it. Try talking to all the conservative ideologues enacting their little backwoods theocratic wet dreams. Yep, real big men. Mavericks. More like a bunch of half in the bag old people who are pouting because they feel they shouldnt have to keep up as the world turns

    August 15, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. SeaChris

    Christie might be this country's last chance for a decade or two for a viable second party in America. 2020 and it's census will hit the GOP like a brick (it's a presidential year, no mid-term anger there); and America will be a one party country. Not even a liberal like myself wants to see that happen.

    August 15, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. Lee

    I think I speak for all democarats when I say, please do not nominate this guy for office. Stick to innefective, offputting policies and constant infighting. An attractive inclusive figure might actually get close to winning a presidential election.

    August 15, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  18. Steveo

    So Christie is in it to win! Hillary had the same belief in 2008, as did Obama! NOBODY runs for any type of office or seriously contemplates running without the belief they are in it to win! Whether confidence or arrogance, NOBODY enters any race to lose!

    August 15, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Realitycheck101

    Sooooo sorry Gov Christie but your party is 2 shallow to vote for an obese man as their parties candidate. That, plus your from a known liberal state that people in large parts of the South and Mid-West consider "Evil". Reality check time, some of our fellow Americans haven't evolved past the last century so I put your chances of even coming close at less than 20%. Keep on keeping on BigBoy, maybe you'll realize who and what really runs the GOP (China) ha,ha,ha.......

    August 15, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. FLATTY

    RINO thy name is Christie. He'll do anything to win....including being a Democrat.

    August 15, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. rick7809

    Christie is making way too much sense for the right wing GOP trolls to listen to him.

    August 15, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Susan StoHelit

    In it to win isn't impressive. For ideas to matter, they have to be retained even when they are not popular. He was much more interesting when he was a Republican who didn't care about ideology and was willing to say the truth, even when it was that a Democratic President was doing a good job. To be just a poser who does and says what will let him win is not interesting.

    August 15, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. mass_opiate_or_opiate_of_masses?

    "There's nothing wrong with our principles..." AAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHH. As an independent, I would LOVE to vote GOP in 2016 just to have a changing of the guard. But WOW, when you have done absolutely NOTHING, NOTHING in FIVE YEARS, NO IMMIGRATION REFORM, NO FURTHER WORK ON HEALTHCARE EXCEPT REPPEALS, NOTHING ... AT ALL!!! OH MY GOD YOU CAN'T EVEN PASS A COMPREHENSIVE FARM BILL. There is something wrong with you, and you have to re-evaluate your principles. Your principles should be small government, and free economy. You should be about small business becoming big business. You should be about supporting rural residents. But you aren't. You should be against government regulating gay marraige, but you are for it. I love my guns, I go to the range often, I think the rich shouldn't have the pockets taxed off of them. I work in the energy industry and gosh darnit, drill baby drill, but for HEAVANS SAKE, TAKE YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND!!!!!! I don't want another democrat president in 2016, please, please, don't make me vote DNC, for the love of everything American, just get your act together, admit that you have some serious problems, and then FIX THEM.

    August 15, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. Antipolitics

    He is not getting nominated. The Tea baggers will not let him get the GOP ticket. So he can shout and scream all he wants, once brain whacked by Fox, remain brain dead for ever.

    August 15, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. Nate

    unfortunately the Dems will win anyway, the number of uniformed voters is past the tipping point. The media has lost all shame in it's bias. Those intellectual Dems have their agenda and are happy to use racial divide and class warfare to convince the sheep that they too are democrats. I work with people who no zero about politics and thought Romney was evil thanks you the media...

    Guess what dems, you have all the power now, our future is in your hands. Go ahead and bleed us dry, disregard our morals, take our freedoms, spy on us, attack your opponents with the IRS. Your utopia is here, isn't it wonderful? You own this and the coming disaster that will be worse.

    August 15, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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