I’m not sure Gov. Christie can stand the heat of a national campaign. Any thoughts?
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, fresh off a landslide reelection victory earlier this month, says if being himself “is not good enough in any other election I might someday pursue,” he will just find another job.
Republican Christie, who won reelection in blue New Jersey by garnering a broad coalition of support, said he didn’t feel like he had to do any further outreach to his fellow party members who see him as a moderate unable to tap into the conservative base.
“I don’t feel like I have any fence-mending to do or anything like that,” he said during a public interview on Monday at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington. “I am going to be me. And if I ever decide to run for anything again, if being me isn’t good enough, then fine, I will go home. This isn’t my whole life.”
After his electoral victory in New Jersey, two possible Republican contenders knocked Christie for being a moderate who couldn’t deliver the same results on the national stage.
“I think the Republican Party is a big party, and we need moderates like Chris Christie who can win in New Jersey,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer after Christie’s reelection. “What that means about the national party, I’m not sure there’s an answer.”
“I think we need to understand that some of these races don’t apply to future races. Every race is different – it has a different set of factors – but I congratulate (Christie) on his win,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.
Though Christie did not mention those critics by name, he did say the idea that he should be criticized for winning votes in constituencies that haven’t supported Republicans in the past is “completely crazy.”
“In other words, the better you do, the more voters you attract, the more diverse voters you attract, the more suspect you are,” Christie said. “There is a winning formula, let me tell you.”
Throughout the event, which saw CEOs from around the country in the audience, Christie moved between criticizing President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress. When asked about dysfunction in Washington, Christie continued to tweak Congress and Obama.
“Members of Congress, members of a state legislature, they don’t have a responsibility to lead and they always have an excuse,” he said, while also telling the audience that Obama deserves just as much blame for not doing enough interfacing with those GOP leaders.
In November, Christie steamrolled Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, winning over 60% of the vote. The governor beat his female opponent among women by 16 points, he won self-described moderates by more than 20 points and he won three in 10 self-described liberals.
Since winning a second term, Christie’s name has been atop most lists as possible Republican presidential nominees in 2016. Christie hasn’t shied away from being included on 2016 lists, especially after he won key demographics in his reelection.
In interviews after his win, Christie wouldn’t commit to serving out his term as governor of New Jersey – something he couldn’t do if he won the presidency in 2016.
“Who knows? I don’t know,” the governor told ABC. “I didn’t expect to be sitting here four years ago. Nobody can make those predictions.”
On top of talking politics, Christie touched upon policy, too.
The governor called education reform the “defining issue of our time” and said that one of the most important things he did as governor was take on the teachers union.
“The education system in our country, while there are successes, is in the main failing (for) many, many millions of families,” he said, portraying Republicans as the party aiming to change that and Democrats as those who support that “status quo.”
As is the case with every interview, Christie was also asked when he would decide about running in 2016 “when I have to.”
“When you make decisions before it is the right time to make them, you increase geometrically the chances to screw that decision up,” he said. “That is not something want to screw up.
And as the governor was leaving the event at the Four Season in Washington, CNN asked him whether he could see himself calling the nation’s capital home for four years.
“No, I’ve got New Jersey, so I don’t need D.C.,” he said with a smile. “But thank you.”