At a Republican National Committee meeting, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made it clear that he was giving serious consideration to running for president in 2016 and laid down some ideas about what his thinking is going into the campaign.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laid out his ideas for saving the Republican Party at a gathering of the Republican National Committee on Thursday, in remarks that offered sharp criticism of rival Republicans and a window into his own potential 2016 platform.
Christie spoke at length about his record in New Jersey, emphasizing accomplishments like teacher benefit reform and bringing down the Garden State's budget deficit. Christie's remarks were closed press, but multiple guests provided quotes and recordings.
"He was highlighting his record in New Jersey, what he has next for his campaign, and his plans for his second term," said former Romney strategist Russ Schriefer.
According to several sources, Christie's remarks included jabs at least two other potential 2016 candidates.
"I'm not going to be one of these people who goes and calls our party stupid," he said in a rebuke to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Jindal made the charge in November and again to the RNC in January, when he encouraged the party to overhaul its messaging and tactics after the 2012 defeat. "We need to stop navel gazing," Christie said. "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."
Christie also appeared to slam Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, with whom he publicly battled last month over the GOP's foreign policy direction.
"We are not a debating society," Christie told the 168 members of the committee and other Republican operatives gathered for lunch in a Boston hotel ballroom -- a remark received as a continuation of their feud. "We are a political operation that needs to win."
"See I'm in this business to win," he continued. "I'm in it to win. I think that we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors. College professors are fine I guess. Being a college professor is -- they basically spout out ideas but nobody ever does anything about them. 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 into the wind."
Christie's criticism doesn't resolve anything. His pragamatism may be attractive to many, but there are legitimate questions about how exactly the GOP might "win" in the first place. And is his idea of "principles" universally accepted by most of the party?
Christie touted his record in New Jersey, as he should. But he apparently gave precious little information about what he considers Republican principles, of which he sees "nothing wrong."
I have a feeling there is a great divide between the Christie pragmatists and the Rand Paul true believers on just what constitutes GOP "principles." But that's why you have primaries. And Christie better be prepared to fight for whatever his notion of GOP principles might be.