Gov. Chris Christie today brushed off a snub from an influential conservative group that did not invite him to speak at its conference next month, calling the controversy “small stuff.”
“I didn’t know that I hadn’t been invited to CPAC until like two days ago when I saw it in the news,” Christie said in response to a question at a town hall meeting in this heavily Republican Morris County town…
“Listen, I wish then all the best. They’re going to have their conference, they’re going to have a bunch of people speaking there. That’s their call… It’s not like I’m lacking for invitations to speak around the country.”…
“I can’t sweat the small stuff,” he said. “I’ve got a state to rebuild.”
While some Republicans are still angry at Chris Christie for praising Barack Obama before the election, Mitt Romney isn’t among them.
Romney, whose supporters and aides were furious that Christie complimented the president’s response to Hurricane Sandy, has given the maximum contribution possible, $3,800, to the New Jersey governor’s reelection bid, a source familiar with the donation said.
At the same time, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader who pushed to get the Sandy aid bill to the floor for a vote after it was tabled by House Speaker John Boehner, has added his name to a Christie fundraiser in Virginia Thursday night and hosted by Gov. Bob McDonnell, the source said…
“A guy like Christie can really go and sell the conservative message,” [Peter King] said, adding that too many presidential prospects are being pushed to “go and kiss the ring of CPAC” and take certain stands in that process.
“To my knowledge, CPAC has always invited Republicans regardless of ideology and they lose credibility by ignoring someone of Gov. Christie’s stature,” said Mike Dennehy, a New Hampshire-based GOP strategist.
Others supported it.
“The essential element that’s missing in the Acela corridor kerfuffle on Christie not being invited to CPAC is the ‘C’ in CPAC stands for ‘Conservative,’” said Florida-based operative Rick Wilson.
“You have a guy who stung the base very badly in the closing days of the 2012 election and who last week says he agrees with Cuomo 98 percent of the time. He’s done some fine work in New Jersey, but he’s also handled relationships with the base with what a lot of conservatives view as contempt. On guns, global warming and a host of other issues, he’s not exactly asking for an invitation to the dance.“
I have no beef with conservatives who say they couldn’t support Christie for president. I have no quarrel with those who mount strong, principled arguments against some of his actions; indeed, I share more than a few of their criticisms. But I am alarmed and slightly perplexed by the “he’s dead to us” posture many conservatives have adopted toward the truculent governor. A bit of perspective is in order. New Jersey isn’t purple. It isn’t even light blue. It is a deep blue state. Last year, it was one of only a small handful of states where Barack Obama actually expanded his victory margin over 2008. The voters of New Jersey chose to return perenially-embattled liberal Senator Bob Menendez to Capitol Hill…by a 20-point margin. And New Jerseyans haven’t elected a Republican US Senator since the Nixon era. This represents exceptionally hostile terrain for any Republican, let alone a quasi-conservative one (and no, Christie didn’t actually say he agrees with Andrew Cuomo on “98 percent” of issues). And yet…
This country is in grave trouble, and the Left is ascendant. The center-right coalition simply does not have the luxury of engaging in internecine pissing matches, pardon my language. Enough with the internal expulsions, name-calling, bans and retaliatory boycotts. The American Idea is worth fighting for, but that imperative task is made nearly impossible when conservatives — broadly defined — insist on endlessly fighting each other.
National Republican committeeman for New Jersey Bill Palatucci, a Christie ally, declined to comment on the CPAC snub, but rejects the premise that Christie has been rebuffed by conservative elements of the party. He points to the governor’s high approval rating and record of cutting taxes and dramatically reducing the size of the state government.
“I’ve been all over the country with the governor and his reception with conservatives, with others, has been very, very positive,” Palatucci said. “It’s an ongoing process. When folks look at the larger picture and accomplishments, they’ll find an executive who’s got real accomplishments to point to.”…
“Fundamentally, what people are pointing to as the problem is what’s fundamentally wrong with the far right of the conservative movement anyway. They’ve sort of forgotten to realize that brand of politics is not working. It has no traction and no success,” said Lisa Camooso Miller, past Republican National Committee communications director and New Jersey Republican state committee political director. “I suspect the approval ratings for the people who disapprove of [Christie] are quite a bit lower than his. He’s governing. He’s doing the job he was asked to do.”
Christie has the sort of common touch that is the rarest (and most valuable) gift in a politician. Take the clip below — from a Montville, New Jersey town hall meeting — where Christie gives his answer to a little girl’s questions about the best part of being governor…
Now, imagine Mitt Romney having that same conversation. You can’t do it. Christie gives off the “normal guy” vibe better than anyone else — up to and including Marco Rubio — who is operating on a national stage for Republicans at the moment.
And, that matters when it comes to running for president. A lot.