New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made the case that his electoral success in a Democrat-dominated state can offer lessons for his party and also be translated to a national level during a speech today to the Republican National Committee.
During his re-election bid this year “we’re going to learn things this year that we’re going to be able to apply to the races we’re going to have in 2014 and beyond,” he said in a speech in Boston today recorded by Bloomberg News.
“I’m in this business to win,” Christie said. “I think we have some people who believe our job is to be college professors.”
Christie, 50, suggested those lessons also could be translated to 2016, when he is viewed as a potential presidential candidate. The Republican Party, after its demoralizing loss to President Barack Obama in 2012, is seeking to revamp its messaging and policies to better appeal to minorities and women.
The governor took a veiled shot at one of his potential Republican rivals, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who once called on the RNC to stop “being the stupid party.”
“I know there are a lot of different opinions in this party and that’s good,” Christie said. “We want to have a lot of different opinions. But I’m not going to be one of these people who come and call our party stupid.”
Citing endorsement he’s received from Hispanic and black groups in his re-election bid, Christie said Republicans can win back demographic groups that have trended toward Democrats in recent elections.
“You don’t have to sacrifice your base voters to win Latino votes,” he said. “You don’t have to sacrifice your base voters to win a share of African-American votes. You don’t have to sacrifice your base voters to be able to win the building trade votes. You don’t have to sacrifice your base voters to close a gender gap and turn it in the other direction. You don’t have to.”
Christie also cited his endorsements from trade unions.
“We as a party better get smart on this issue because those men and women who work for those private sector unions know that the way they get to work and make more money and put food on the table for their families is private sector job growth,” he said. “We as a political party have an opportunity to drive a wedge in the union movement. And the laboratory where that is happening right now is in my state.”
Christie said college professors can offer ideas, although they can’t make them reality. “If we don’t win, we don’t govern,” Christie said. “I am going to do anything that I need to do to win.”
Known as a sometimes unconventional Republican, Christie also appeared to be working to mend his relationship with his party, spending roughly a half-hour after his speech shaking hands and posing for photos with RNC members. His popularity has grown nationally, even as he’s angered parts of the party base.
That ill-will has come in part from high-profile appearances with Obama and former President Bill Clinton and offering praise for both Democrats.
In June, Christie appeared on stage in Chicago with former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting. Christie in late May also appeared for the second time with Obama for a tour of the New Jersey shore to inspect the recovery from last October’s Hurricane Sandy.
The governor drew criticism from some in his party immediately after the storm by praising Obama’s handling of the initial federal response — which some said gave the president a pre-election boost in his race against Republican nominee Mitt Romney. And at year’s end, some party colleagues were aggrieved when he criticized U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and his fellow Republicans in the chamber for delays in approving federal storm assistance.