“I’m shy. I don’t like to speak my mind.”
Gov. Chris Christie’s CPAC speech this afternoon was more than just a rally for conservatives: It laid the groundwork for a future presidential run.
His speech targeted key issues that conflicting factions of the conservative movement can agree on. He touted his strong pro-life streak, called the Democratic Party “intolerant,” and demonstrated his success as a fiscal conservative in New Jersey.
“Our ideas are better than theirs,” he said confidently.
Once he proved his conservatism to the CPAC audience, Christie focused on pragmatics:
We need to start talking about what we’re for….not what we’re against.
Not only are we against Obamacare…higher taxes…bigger government…more intrusion into our constitutional rights…but we’re for a free market society that allows your effort and ingenuity to determine your success, not the cold, hard hand of government to determine winners and losers, which is what this administration has been about.
Although he positioned himself with the audience on key conservative issues, he also took an implicit dig at likely presidential contenders who have argued against an overblown national security program and excessive intervention abroad:
We need to make sure that we are for America being a leader of the world, for a strong national defense, not one that allows other countries to run us down all over the world.
Christie is a favorite Republican establishment candidate for president in 2016. He has condemned the “libertarian streak” that has been channeling through the party mostly thanks to Sen. Rand Paul, a fellow 2016 frontrunner and Tea Party favorite.
He solidified the contrast between himself and other potential GOP presidential contenders (think: Tea Partier Sens. Cruz and Rubio), by pointing out that governors like himself, Walker, Kasich, and Scott “have done things, not just talked about them.” He spoke against a camera-addicted, dysfunctional Congress—of course, not mentioning anyone by name.
Christie presented his Jersey style as an alternative for the do-nothing attitude of Congress:
I went to the New Jersey firefighters’ convention…I tore up my remarks and threw them at the side of the stage…if we don’t change these pensions, you are not going to collect them.
Christie tried to persuade the audience that his brash attitude could actually be an effective method to anchor conservative policies into Washington. Sounds like a pitch for a presidential bid to me–but one that went over very well.