Has New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie now positioned himself as the candidate of pragmatism who wants to win — read that as “expand the Republican base” — and in effect defend the Republican establishment that talk radio and Tea Party types attack? It sounds that way and, as usual, he is not mincing words:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie planted himself firmly in the Republican Party’s establishment wing Thursday with a pugnacious speech calling on his party to focus on pragmatism rather than ideology and crippling internal debates.
“We are not a debating society,” Christie told a lunchtime audience at the Republican National Committees summer meeting in Boston. “We are a political operation that needs to win.”
Christie’s remarks, relayed to a reporter by GOP officials who attended the closed-press event, were interpreted by many here as another jab at Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a potential rival for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
Christie and Paul tangled earlier this summer after the New Jersey governor criticized Paul’s libertarian-tinged worldview as “esoteric” and “intellectual,” drawing a series of pointed rebukes from Paul and his allies.
“I am in this business to win. I don’t know why you are in it. I am in this to win,” Christie said at the RNC luncheon.
“I think we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors,” he said. “Now college professors are fine I guess. Being a college professor, they basically spout out ideas that nobody does anything about. For our ideas to matter we have to win. Because if we don’t win, we don’t govern. And if we don’t govern all we do is shout to the wind. And so I am going to do anything I need to do to win.”
By most accounts, Christie’s remarks were met with enthusiasm by the nearly 200 state GOP chairmen, staffers and party insiders who attend these quarterly meetings to plot election strategy and hunt for business.
The CNN article quotes Tennessee GOP Chairman Chris Devaney say he was so impressed “I forgot about the Obama bear hug.”
But Rush, and Ann, and Sean, and Glenn and a lot of conservative bloggers won’t. But at least by this appearance it’s clear Christie is not alone out there. He threw red meat to the party of the Republican Party that’s out red meated by the party’s far right:
And he took a swipe at Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal who has been zig zagging about whether he supports a Republican Party makeover to attract more voters. At one point earlir this year Jindal had said the Republicans need to “”stop being the stupid party.”
“I’m not going to be one of these people who goes around and calls our party stupid,” Christie said, a startling remark given that Jindal and Christie work hand-in-hand as chairman and vice-chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
“We need to stop navel gazing. There’s nothing wrong with our principles. We need to focus on winning again. There’s too much at stake for this to be an academic exercise. We need to win and govern with authority and courage.”
And winning means defending principles, making affirmative policy suggestions and not sounding like a Sean Hannity show re-run — and talking to and winning over more Americans that are currently members of the Republican conservative base choir.
Christie sounds like he’s trying this newer tune.