June 20th, 2014
10:01 AM ET
6 months ago

Chris Christie's big day

updated at 1:00pm ET Friday

Washington (CNN) - It's an important day for Chris Christie.

Of the nine potential Republican presidential candidates speaking at the fifth annual Road to the Majority conference, which is organized by Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, one may be in the glare of the spotlight more than the others. And that's Christie, the pragmatic conservative governor of New Jersey who's anything but a crowd favorite among some on the right.

Later Friday, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association heads to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire to help raise money for the GOP's leading gubernatorial contender in this year's election.

Both stops may give us some clues regarding just how serious Christie is about a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Christie's 'pro-life' message

The Faith and Freedom conference, a three day confab at a hotel in the nation's capital, is one of the largest annual gatherings of social conservative voters, who are a key part of the Republican Party's base.

Christie, who was well received by the crowd, touted his credentials on important social issues, and framed the issue of drug addiction and treatment in a social conservative way.

"I believe that every life is a gift from God that's precious and needs to be protected," Christie told the audience to applause.

Christie then discussed his pro-life stance in regards to drug addiction and treatment for non-violent offenders.

"When we say we're pro-life, we need to be pro-life for the entire life. We need to stand up for the hurt and the wounded," Christie said. "From the womb until natural death, we need to be there even for those who stumble and fall, to be there to lift them up. To me that's the true meaning of being pro-life."

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This was Christie's first address to a major gathering of social conservatives. Earlier this year he was well received at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the granddaddy of conservative gatherings. He wasn't invited to the 2013 edition of CPAC, in part because of his praise of President Barack Obama's response to Superstorm Sandy, which had caused massive damage in the Garden State.

In the most recent CNN/ORC International poll of Republicans' choice for the next nomination, Christie was at 10% among self-described moderates, but just 6% among those who labeled themselves conservative.

Christie's standing on the right

Reed, a longtime leader of the social conservative movement, said it's important for Christie to speak at the Faith and Freedom event.

"If he's serious about seeking the Republican presidential nomination, this is a constituency that he cannot ignore," Reed told CNN.

Reed pointed out that Christie does line up with social conservatives on many key issues.

"He's the first pro-life governor of New Jersey since Roe v. Wade. He's line-item vetoed state funding for Planned Parenthood every year he's been governor. He vetoed a same-sex marriage bill that the Democratic legislature sent him. And he's a faithful Catholic. We don't agree with him on every issue, but we wanted to give him an opportunity to share his story and make his case. I think people may be surprised at the reception he gets."

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Christie's appearance at the conference may be a signal that he's getting more serious about a 2016 run.

A GOP consultant with ties to the Christie camp said the governor's address is significant because it's a signal that "he's not ceding any ground with this constituency, so if he decides to do something in 2016, he going to compete with all the wings of the Republican Party, and that includes the conservative flank."

"It sends a signal that he's not going to back away from folks who do not necessarily agree with him on all the issues. One of the hallmarks of his political brand is the he's not afraid to engage with people who may not agree with him all the time."

Christie, along with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, is one of the two keynote speakers at the Road to Majority conference. The consultant, who asked for anonymity to speak more freely, added that's significant because it shows Christie can land an important speaking slot "even with a constituency that, at least on paper, doesn't line up with his views. That speaks to his political power, but also the interest in what he has to say."

Visit to key primary state

After his speech Christie heads to New Hampshire, where he'll raise money for Walt Havenstein, the leading GOP gubernatorial candidate to take on Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in November.

The visit is Christie's first since the 2012 election to the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House. And if he does run for the GOP nomination, winning the Granite State's primary may be crucial for Christie.

"New Hampshire is looking forward to getting its first look at Chris Christie in almost two years. Enthusiasm for his visit seems to be somewhat muted, but there remains a great deal of curiosity about him here as a future presidential candidate. More than anyone else, Gov. Christie's path to the GOP nomination in 2016 runs through New Hampshire, so leveraging early visits like this will be critical to his success," a veteran Granite Sate based Republican strategist told CNN.

While Friday's swing through New Hampshire is a quick one, Christie may be back soon again. GOP sources in the state tell CNN the governor may make a return trip to New Hampshire in July.

CNN's Ashley Killough and John King contributed to this report

 

soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. smith1

    this big mouth crude guy is just what the republican party needs. They aren't crass enough.?

    June 20, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    I'm just waiting for indictment day.

    June 20, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. Ol' Yeller

    "The Faith and Freedom conference, a three day confab at a hotel in the nation's capital..."

    Hey, next year you may be able to have this at a Federal prison. christie can speak dressed in stripes followed by walker in his stripes (and lipstick).

    I might pay to see that!

    Hey CNN... where is the story on the 4 indictments coming down on the christie aides? Which means, of course, 4 republicants with huge incentives to throw christie under the bus (like he threw them).
    I wonder if stripes come in extra extra extra jumbo?

    June 20, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. Marty

    I'm just not sure. Appears OK I kinda of like him, but I'm just not sure.

    June 20, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. g

    he would shut down all the bridges in Iraq

    June 20, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Silence DoGood

    He will appear at the "Faith and Freedom conference"
    -----------
    I wonder how many different Faiths will be represented and if all people's Freedoms will be considered?
    Why don't radical Christians just be honest? What are they ashamed or afraid of?
    Call it what it is: The Radical Christian Theocracy Movement conference.

    June 20, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    And that's Christie, the pragmatic conservative governor of New Jersey who's anything but a crowd favorite among some on the right.
    -----------------------------
    I don't understand what's not to like about Christie for conservatives. He's been a perfect servant of the rich and powerful during his time as governor. If they don't like him because of Sandy, then they're denying the reality that Mitt Romney came across as an inferior candidate.

    Romney's misleading Jeep ad did more to hurt him than any handshake with Pres. Obama ever could. Mitt's poll numbers began a nose dive with the release of the ad, and the campaign subsequent insistence that it was accurate and that Jeep was lying when they said none of it was true. Besides, the only people who got upset with Christie for the handshake were people who would be voting for Romney, anyway. So, how could the handshake possibly have hurt his chances to win? It couldn't, and it didn't. Only people in denial, looking for an excuse and someone else to blame, would think otherwise.

    June 20, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. Hey Chris,

    Gluttony is a sin!

    June 20, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. Ol' Yeller

    @g

    he would shut down all the bridges in Iraq

    No... just the access lanes of the cities where the Mayor had the audacity to not endorse him.
    Huge man with a huger ego.
    Which is all the better... tighter fit in that cell.

    June 20, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Pardon me, but looks as if Christie is actually GAINING weight after his surgery.
    What gives?

    June 20, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Obama lama drama

    go Christie! When they make fun of your weight its because their self conscience about themselves!

    June 20, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  12. S.B. Stein

    I hope that people see Christie for who he is - an ideologue loudmouth that has ability to alienate anyone who disagrees with him. If Christie can't stick by his word that he would pay money into the pension system as a part of a contract, then I don't think that he would follow through on anything else.

    June 20, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  13. LR

    Go ahead and pretend all is well, Christie. You're in for a rude awakening real soon and I can't wait.

    June 20, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. Thomas

    Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition ?
    Ralph Reed worked for team Abramoff by mobilizing Christians opposed to gambling to shutter casinos. The only hitch: Reed was usually paid by other casinos who had a financial interest in eliminating their competitors.

    Institute, alma mater of Karl Rove, Ralph Reed.

    Conservatine snake charmers .

    June 20, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Al-NY,NY

    why is he wasting his time going before the Inquisition crowd? He's not nearly fanatical enough for this bunch of zealots.

    June 20, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition ,

    Will Karl Rove be there charming snakes ?

    June 20, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Herbal Tea

    The longer he is the Gov. of NJ with a poor record of accomplishments (Job Growth, State Budget, Sandy Aid, etc.) the less likely of his chances in national politics.

    June 20, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Obama lama drama says:
    June 20, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm
    go Christie! When they make fun of your weight its because their self conscience about themselves!

    I hope you think the same when they make fun of President Obama..

    Maybe they're "self conscious" about why President Obama can't wear skinny jeans.😊😊 Or envious.😜😜

    June 20, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    When they make fun of your weight its because their self conscience about themselves!
    -----------------------------------------------------
    How is remarking that someone is gaining weight equated to making fun of his weight?
    Furthermore, you might want to be a little more SELF-CONSCIOUS about your spelling.
    Yes. I'm making fun of you now.

    June 20, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. greyhackles

    Interesting: not a single mention of Scott Brown...

    June 20, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Wake Up!
    Folks are nervy around here aren't they mami?! Lol!
    Meanwhile...where is our sister-friend Lynda from Minnesota?
    You know that my "trolling" time around these parts is limited these days, so I can't search the site high and low trying to locate her.
    You both be safe, enjoy Red Meat Fridays and the rest of your weekend!

    June 20, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. Robert N. constant

    Chris Christie has betrayed and abused the people of New Jersey. He has withheld Super Storm Sandy money from jurisdictions where mayors will not support his cronies' projects. He took revenge on the people of Fort Lee and closed down traffic lanes on the GW Bridge to get revenge on the mayor. He bullied representatives of the State Education Association. He has repeatedly lied and underfunded State Pension plans to divert funds to his pet projects. It goes on and on and on. It was this guy who lobbied so Bernie Madoff could run his Ponzi scheme unregulated. Google "Chris Christie mafia" and you will get to see the tip of the iceberg.
    If there is anybody who is unworthy to be President of anything it is Chris Christie.

    June 20, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. ritmocojo

    Every time the gov comes to the dinner table the cost of groceries goes up in Joysy.

    June 20, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    If Christie is pragmatic, I look forward to seeing him win a basketball dunking contest with Lebron James.

    June 20, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. just saying

    S.B. Stein
    I hope that people see Christie for who he is – an ideologue loudmouth that has ability to alienate anyone who disagrees with him. If Christie can't stick by his word that he would pay money into the pension system as a part of a contract, then I don't think that he would follow through on anything else.
    ---

    I hope that people see Obama for who he is – an ideologue loudmouth that has ability to alienate anyone who disagrees with him. If Obama can't stick by his word that if I liked my doctor, healthcare plan and hospital I could keep all of them and save $2500 a year, then I don't think that he would follow through on anything else.

    June 20, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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