POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Christie Speaks at Conservative Political Action Conference

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Unlike other speakers at CPAC, Gov. Chris Christie was interviewed by conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, who noted he’s had a tough couple of weeks in the media.

“I think Gail Collins, is a liberal columnist, just savaged you today. And said you’re toast, your campaign is over,” Ingraham said.

“I’m from New Jersey. I have the New York Times in my media gaggle every day. And when you do things like I’ve done in New Jersey, take on a lot of these special interests frontally, that they support, they just want to kill you,” Christie said.

Ingraham read off some one-word descriptions of Christie: “Explosive, short-tempered, hothead, impatient. And that’s just what your friends are saying. Bad temperament. The presidency.”

Christie replied, “There’s one word they miss. The word they miss is passionate.”

“But sit down and shut up?” she asked.

“Yeah, well, sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up,” said Christie.

Christie talked about being pro-life in front of this crowd of conservative activists, and about his turning against core curriculum standards in education.

But what he was really selling the notion that he can be the one to break Washington D.C. gridlock.

“Just like Ronald Reagan did, when you stand up firmly for your principles, then you’re in a position to negotiate and break that logjam. I’ve done that in New Jersey with a Democratic Legislature, so if I decided to do something else with a little more difficult group in Washington D.C., they have to know you’re willing to fight but also that you’re willing to talk,” Christie said.

Seton Hall political science professor Matt Hale sees Christie as a northeast moderate trying to win over hard-core conservatives.

“He has spent a lot of time talking about his bipartisan ability. He’s talked about reaching across the aisle. I think it’s important to remember, a lot of the conservative base has no intention of reaching across the aisle. They don’t want to go to the other side. They want to make sure the conservatives stay conservative,” Hale said.

Ingraham noted Christie has dropped to just 5 percent in the latest poll.

“How do you overcome that deficit? It’s a pretty big deficit,” she said.

Christie replied, “Is the election next week? If I decide to run for president, I’m not worried what polls say 21 months before we’re gonna elect a president of the U.S. If I decide to run, let me tell you one thing, I will run a hard, fighting campaign where I will fight for the hard-working taxpayers of this country. I’ll take my chances on me. I’ve done pretty well so far.”

Christie was “on” today and got a good reaction from the crowd. Whether that translates into conservative support is the question and the challenge.