“We don’t get to govern if we don’t win.” That’s the message New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie left with fellow conservatives at CPAC 2014, the annual conference that began in Washington Thursday. Their task now, he said, is to keep the House of Representatives, retake the Senate, and elect more Republicans to governorships.
To do so, conservatives will need to send a different message from the one that has allowed the White House and Democrats to portray them as roadblocks to progress.
“We’ve got to start talking about what we are for instead of what we’re against,” Christie said, adding that “our ideas are better than their ideas.”
“Republican governors across this country have stood up and done things, not just talk about them,” he said. “What you see in Washington [are] people who only want to talk. They can’t stop talking. ... This is what they’re about.”
Snubbed last year by CPAC, the largest gathering of the political right and far right, for praising President Barack Obama after Superstorm Sandy the year prior (just before the 2012 election), Christie was the most anticipated guest this year. His CPAC speech sought to rally the base by criticizing the president and the media.
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Christie didn’t mince words when bashing Obama on Thursday. He said that nearly three years ago, when a congressional "supercommittee" was set up to tackle the nation’s budget problems and failed, the president didn’t get involved because he knew what the outcome would have been.
“Man, that’s leadership. Isn’t it,” Christie said to a laughing audience. “You’re the leader of the government and you see something getting ready to go off the rails and what you decide to do is stay as far away from it as possible. My question now is the same question I had then, ‘If that’s your attitude, Mr. President, then what the hell are we paying you for? Leadership is about getting in and getting something done and making government work ... not about standing on the sidelines and spitballing.”
In his criticism of the media, Christie challenged conservatives to stop letting the media define who they are and what they stand for. “When we talk about what we’re for, no matter what state we’re in, our ideas win,” he told the crowd.
Christie, who is still facing questions about whether he was aware that members of his staff orchestrated a traffic gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J., to punish local officials, made no mention of the affair in his speech.