Chris Christie’s landslide reelection in New Jersey raised his standing in the entirely speculative 2016 presidential race, and also gave rise to a new round of accusations that he isn’t conservative enough to win over the Republican base. Speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council conference, Christie said Monday night that he doesn’t feel he needs to do any “fence-mending” with his party – particularly because they need him more than he needs them. “I am going to be me,” said the governor. “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.” Underscoring his point, Christie went on to describe various problems facing the Republican Party, and the nation in general, which he just happens to have the solution to.
Christie, who won won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote and 21 percent of the African-American vote in the election, advised fellow Republicans, “We can’t get the percentage of the Hispanic and the African-American vote that we got nationally and continue to think we can be a successful national party. We have to do better.” He also touted his ability to work with a Democratic legislature, reiterating that D.C. should be taking cues from New Jersey. “It’s about human relationships,” said Christie. “The fact of the matter is that nobody in this city talks to each other anymore.”
While Christie said Washington is full of “absolutists” and “parties have equal blame for what’s going on here,” he reserved special criticism for President Obama. When asked who’s to blame for the gridlock, Christie said, “First and foremost it’s the president because if you are the executive, you’re the one in charge of making that happen,” adding that it’s no “newsflash” that Obama “has not developed the relationships” with lawmakers from both parties that are necessary to “be a consensus builder.”
Christie also went off on Obamacare, saying “is wrong, it’s a failure, it’s the most extraordinary overreach of government power in the history of our country – and it’s being run by people who have never run anything.” (He claimed he couldn’t begin to explain how he’d replace it with only sixteen minutes left in the interview.)
Perhaps realizing that he was endangering the delicate balance in the the love-hate relationship he’s cultivated with Obama, Christie wondered if all this talk about 2016 is hurting the president’s feelings. “We’re three years away from the presidential election. In this sense, I feel bad for President Obama,” Christie said. “He just won a year ago, and everybody’s like, ‘Who’s next?’ There is work to be done in this country. As we shove him out the door, we minimize his ability to be an effective executive. We shouldn’t do that.” So no matter how many times Christie very obviously positions himself for a presidential run, please don’t talk about 2016.