Republican leadership has said they want to broaden their base in light of a poor performance last year among minorities, women and youth voters. But Al Cardenas, head of the American Conservative Union, acknowledged on Thursday that the party isn't necessarily for everyone.
Cardenas made the remarks just before the annual Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off in Maryland.
"I'm a firm believer that if the Republican Party's going to have success, it's going to do so by being a conservative party and not a home for ah, for everybody," said Cardenas, who is serving as CPAC chairman. “And that's how you grow. You grow your tent by convincing others, and persuading others, that yours is the way, and you build your tent by reaching out to the new demographics of America not with a watered down version of who we ought to be but with a true, real, solid version of who we are."
Cardenas was asked why popular New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie wasn’t invited to the event, which is largely seen as a stepping stone for GOPers considering a presidential run.
"This year, for better or for worse, we felt like he didn't deserve to be on the all-star selection, and for decisions that he made," he said. "And so hopefully next year he's back on the right track and being a conservative."
Cardenas allowed that Christie is “a popular figure, but everyone needs to live by the parameters of the movement."
Speculation has swirled that Christie was snubbed at CPAC for praising President Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy during the presidential election.
Also not on the invitee list was Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Shortly after the Republicans’ loss last year, McDonnell argued his party must find a way to broaden its base of voters, especially among women and Hispanics, by showing that the GOP message is one for “people of all stripes.”
For more on CPAC, tune into Hardball tonight at 5 and 7 p.m. ET. We'll have Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union and msnbc political analyst Michael Steele, former RNC chairman on to weigh in.