Covering a conference is hungering work if you forget breakfast, and the Road to Majority conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition was no exception. It was time for lunch as I approached the exit. The doors were closed and, reaching to open them, I was stopped by a big man in a suit stepping in front of me.
“You don’t want to leave,” he said. “Governor Christie is about to make news. You shouldn’t go.”
With no inclination to argue and some interest in what Christie would have to say—would he announce his presidential bid? Would he fold in the face of mounting corruption allegations? This will be unfortunately nothing, won’t it?—I returned to my seat and waited for The Governor to make his way to the podium.
There was no news in the speech. It was a well-tailored campaign barn burner twelve months early, aimed right at the fervent conference attendees. Christie opened by establishing his pro-life record, narrating his campaign to conquer New Jersey, recounting his mastery of the legislature, proud to be compared to Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte. He said conservatives needed to tell the truth, and do so boldly, like him. It was all very brash, very loud, very tan, very New Jersey, and very Chris Christie.
Sobering a little, he extensively quoted John Paul II’s condemnation of the “culture of death” and call for a “culture of life.” Christie said the pro-life movement should move beyond just protecting life in the womb and seek to promote full lives for the living. That meant, to him, clinical treatment for non-violent drug offenders, considering addiction a disease, contributing to education, employment, health care, and all parts of the human community. Conservatives aren’t pro-life enough, he declared, if they only protect the unborn.
He returned to the theme of honesty and complained that poor communication means “your friends don’t know who your friends are, and your enemies aren’t sure they are your enemies.” He called for conservatives to help him make it clear to the world who America’s friends and enemies are. Israel needs to know America will always support her, and Iran, North Korea, and terrorists everywhere need to fear America. Current unrest in Iraq, according to Christie, is obviously Obama’s fault because of his handling of the Syrian civil war.
It was a stump speech, but a good one. It was well-delivered, articulate, substantial. There were moments for everyone in the broad conservative camp: a pope, ending the drug war, and invading other countries. He didn’t make news, but I’m glad I didn’t leave.