Gov. Chris Christie told Republican leaders his New Jersey successes were an
example of winning GOP support from female and minority voters in a blue state.
The party should follow conservative economic themes and the pledge of pragmatic governance, the one-term governor, who is often mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, told the Republican National Committee's summer meeting in Boston.
Christie -- who is up for re-election this year and leads Democratic challenger state Sen. Barbara Buono by at least 30 points in surveys -- pointed to polls and endorsements indicating he has backing from women and Latino and African-American groups.
"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 the African-American vote."
The governor's lunchtime address to the RNC's 168 members and other GOP operatives was closed to the press, but multiple guests in the hotel ballroom provided quotes and recordings.
The governor said a key accomplishment was breaking the back of the state's public-sector unions while at the same time wooing private-sector unions.
"We have an opportunity as a party to drive a wedge in the union movement, and the laboratory where that's happening right now is in my state," he said.
He said he'd won the endorsement of 24 building trade unions.
Christie took a swipe at potential 2016 GOP rival Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
"I'm not going to be one of these people who goes and calls our party stupid," he said, alluding to Jindal, the Republican Governors Association chairman, who told the RNC in January the GOP had to "stop being the party of stupid."
"There's nothing wrong with our principles," Christie said. "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."
While he spoke of Republican strengths, many party leaders were angry at Christie in early November for praising President Barack Obama and his response to Superstorm Sandy, which hit New Jersey a week before the presidential election.
Christie was one of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's leading supporters.
"Everybody, it's nine months now since the national elections! It's time to get over it, OK?" Christie said.
"Yes," a woman yelled, and the crowd burst into applause.
"For our ideas to matter, we have to win," Christie said. "Because if we don't win, we don't govern. And if we don't govern, all we do is shout into the wind. So I am going to do anything I need to do to win!"
Christie, who made no direct reference to running for president in 2016, took no questions from the audience or from reporters outside the ballroom.
But several in attendance said they thought he had an eye a White House bid.
"The emphasis was on electability," Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri told Time magazine. "And he made the case that he is electable, so I think you saw a foreshadowing of 2016."
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