June 20th, 2014
10:01 AM ET
4 years 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. Like Fat Men

    Chris Christie is cute.

    June 20, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. John

    If GOP manages to overturn Roe vs. Wade, it will have huge financial implications....In fact according to the CBO, this one occurrence is the single biggest threat to deficit explosion, bigger than healthcare and social security combined...Why because US population would expand by an additional 14% over the next 50 years, and this group would have the highest % of unwanted children born of any socio economic group on record....In fact, more than 25% of these births would face a life of government dependence.......Aside from the massive personal invasions of privacy, making abortion illegal would probably become the single biggest government expense over the next 50 years...Someone with common sense must address overcrowding of our world as a real potential problem.

    June 20, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wake Up!
    Did you hear his poll numbers have gotten so low he might not get reelected???😚😒😚😒
    No third-term smackdown for the Rethuglikkklans? No more Birthers (shout out to {R} complected Cruz...not)?
    Say it isn't so?!

    June 20, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. JohnRJohnson

    "LIFE" is 100% experiential. Where there is no consciousness or self-awareness, there is only tissue. A body can be clinically alive but without consciousness. We call this PVS - Persistent Vegetative State. Many people have created Living Wills, in which they ask that their body not be kept alive by heroic measures if they are in a PVS. This is honored in all states. Therefore, even the most conservative states acknowledge that "LIFE" requires consciousness. So Chris Christie's remarks about pro-life are without meaning and actually contradict the most commonly held conception (no pun intended) of what LIFE requires. All fetuses which have developed to the point that they can hear and feel and respond to stimuli are protected under existing law. Christie's statement is pure political grandstanding and an overtly self-serving effort to appeal to the most reactionary segment of his political party.

    June 20, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Sniffit

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

    Teatroll Rosetta Stone says: "I believe that in order to get elected I need to make you think I'm going to abuse my power as POTUS to restrict women's rights to choose."

    June 20, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. t

    .........and the far far radical right continues in its self extermination.............never to win another national vote....

    June 20, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. PJ

    There are so many questions about the bridge closing yet to be answered. I don't believe he didn't know what was happening. He is too much of a bully to allow something like this to happen without his approval. He gave the nod to someone.

    June 20, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. JohnRJohnson

    just saying -

    Did you not get to keep your widdle doctor, baby? Guess how many did? About 98% of the population. Wonder why you were targeted.

    June 20, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. patNY

    NJ – still the highest property taxes in the country and unemployment way above national average.

    June 20, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. Mark

    Tony D, Christie is NOT doing great. He lost the market who gave him a big win in NJ, those being Dems and moderates. So now he tries to align himself more to the right, however, that group considers him a RINO. The Tea Party will destroy him should he make it to primaries. As well, his economic policies have proven to be a disaster. Investigations are ongoing and most likely will be for some time. The fact the Feds are taking their time is not a good sign if you understand how federal investigations take shape. A Grand Jury has been called. His support for the people like Samson will prove to be his demise. An administration based on intimidation and cronyism has been revealed regardless the outcome of the bridge scandal. His handling and misuse of Sandy funds is a disgrace to his administration and the people of NJ. So no, this is not a good day for Christie as he speaks to a group who distinctly disagrees with many of his policies.

    June 20, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. cf

    Another Republican claiming to be pro-life "from the womb until natural death" yet would happily kill thousands of people by cutting affordable healthcare, gutting food stamps and social programs, etc. The family of the woman who died because EMTs couldn't get to her in time due to Christie's vindictive bridge closure might disagree with the claims that he is "pro-life."

    June 20, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    Every time I see that photo I wonder if he went on to take a bite out of the mic.

    June 20, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  13. cf

    It's complete hypocrisy to claim to be a conservative who wants "a small government that stays out of people's lives and choices," yet you want the federal government to monitor every pregnancy in the country and tell women they can't make their own choices with their own bodies.

    June 20, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |

    they're not pro-life. You know what they are? They're anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman. They don't like them. They don't like women. They believe a woman's primary role is to function as a brood mare for the state.Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren't they? They're all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you're born, you're on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don't want to know about you. They don't want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you're preborn, you're fine; if you're preschool, you're funked.

    June 20, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |

    Fat boy can forget about it. Really can't wait to see Kevin McCarthy,Thom Tillis,Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Karl Rove,Lindsey Graham,John McCain,Hayley Barbour,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down. Straight no chaser. Hillary will drink to that.

    June 20, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Sniffit says:
    June 20, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm
    Every time I see that photo I wonder if he went on to take a bite out of the mic.

    ☺️☺️☺️ Probably!!!!πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

    June 20, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. chris

    So Chris Christie is prolife, I say " AMEN" to that, but what is this Faith Collatoin thing. Only Repubs. on speaking list? I read, Judge not least ye be judged. Repubs are very Judgementel, So this group can't be CHRISTIAN only wanting to haer HATERS speak. Prolife but everything else. HATE GAYS , HATE AMERICANS OF COLOR , HATE WOMEN , HATE THE POOR, even HATE THIS COUNTRY. this whole group needs to be shown the door in NOV.

    June 20, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Anastasia Beaverhausen

    No one cares what he thinks.

    June 20, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. Marie MD

    Those christians sure know their family values, don't they?
    Liars, cheats, perverts, johns, the list goes on and on.

    June 20, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Kimo

    I feel sorry for anyone who is so consumed by hate that they cannot allow themselves to say something good about a political opponent. The GOP has been taken over by zealots.

    June 20, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. asdrel

    I don't know who all of the other eight potential candidates from the GOP might be, but I hope that Chritie runs and gets the nomination. That way I can hope that if a Republican wins in 2016 (and since over the past 100 years or so it frequently happens that the when one party holds the office for eight years then it changes) that we will have a president who is reasonable, willing to work with others, and does not dogmatically follow a knee-jerk right-wing agenda. Unfortunately, given that the GOP seems to ever increasingly demonize people like him, he will be buried by the far right early in the process.

    June 20, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  22. yeah

    I think he ate the message.

    Better yet, ate the baby... dingo

    June 20, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Even he knows his career is gone so he might as well try to raise monry for the GOP. That's how he got his job in the Prosecutor's office. He's hoping for some patronage job because he's proven his failures as the Gov.

    So Chris, how about actually spending some time in NJ as the taxpayers are paying you.

    June 20, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. pjr

    This country will pay for the unborn blood that has been shed.

    June 20, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. linda123

    Christie is unelectable for the simple reason that he is FAT. That may be unfair, but it's reality.

    June 20, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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