After months of seeing the "Bridgegate" scandal sink his poll numbers and threaten his political future, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pitched himself Saturday as a wiser politician who has learned not to get too "comfortable."
“For me, it’s about me being a lot more questioning about things that are going on, not to just trust on longterm relationships or past performance, and about sending very clear signals," he said at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas, where billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and other GOP donors gathered. "To the extent that you ever do become comfortable, you put yourself and the trust that people have given to you at risk."
It was the Republican governor's first speech since his own internal review cleared him of connection to the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal. Christie, who serves as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, pitched himself as a no-nonsense supporter of conservative candidates.
“I’m not in this business to have an academic conversation, I’m not in this business to win the argument. I’m in this business to win elections,” Christie said. “What we stand for in 2014: Winning."
Christie has been on a quest to get back on offense. On Friday, he stood up to reporters' questions, returning to the sort of brash confidence that characterized his first term as governor.
When asked Saturday how he would turn the GOP into a more appealing party for working-class voters—and how he could turn the GOP into the “party of Bruce Springsteen”-- Christie spoke of his biggest success: winning in a blue state.
“I don’t have to speak theoretically or hypothetically, I just did it,” he said, touting his 2012 re-election victory with 61% of the vote and strong minority support.
"So if we want to be successful in a state like that, we have to reach out to everyone," he added.
Adelson, a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and the owner of the casino that’s hosting the festivities, is the weekend’s unofficial host and its most influential attendee. The billionaire businessman who poured nearly $100 million into GOP campaigns in 2012 is undoubtedly eying the field this weekend, with speakers like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
On Friday, Christie dodged questions on whether he would meet with Adelson personally.
“I don't know if I am having a private meeting with Sheldon and Miriam or not. I haven't looked at my schedule yet for tomorrow,” he told reporters at a press conference Friday in New Jersey.