OXON HILL, Md. – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave a rousing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference today taking on President Obama while stressing his own conservative credentials.
Christie’s signature tough talking style was on full display when he took on Obama asking, “Mr. President, what the hell are we paying you for?”
“Leadership,” Christie said, “is not about standing on the sidelines and spit-balling.”
Christie also spoke about foreign policy, again attacking the president: “We need to make sure we say we are for America being a leader in the world and we are for a strong national defense, not one that allows other countries to run us over all over the world.”
Christie, a possible 2016 presidential contender and the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, offered shout-outs to several other GOP governors — including some who could be presidential rivals — like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Notably he left off Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who took the stage shortly after him.
Christie spoke to the hundreds of conservative activists just a year after being snubbed by the organization and got an enthusiastic reception, a far cry from last year when the organization made the decision to not invite the New Jersey governor, despite his rising star status.
(Christie didn’t mention last year at all, but did note his appearance at a previous CPAC event in Chicago in 2012).
Last year’s CPAC snub was seen as punishment for what some Republicans saw as his overly affectionate reaction to Obama’s response to Superstorm Sandy that slammed into New Jersey just weeks before the November presidential election. Christie’s decision to publicly shame House Republican leaders who chose to delay recovery funding, as well as expanding Medicaid in his state, didn’t help either.
Christie appeared at this year’s conference as the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal continues to engulf him and his administration.
Brigid Harrison, political science professor at Montclair State University, said for Christie this year “addressing CPAC provides a welcome diversion and it enables him to refocus his energy on the national spotlight and instead of the parochial politics that has been his life for the past 10 weeks.”
“I think that where the governor feels the most comfortable is with his own political party and particularly with ideologues because his defense has been this is a Democratic witch hunt and that he is a victim of the liberal media,” Harrison, a longtime Christie watcher, told ABC News.