Chris Christie will take over as the chairman of Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) on Thursday during the second day of the group’s annual meeting.
The job will give Christie a powerful platform to test his brash, bold leadership style on a national scale through RGA-related travels; it will also connect him with powerful, national donors and expand his Rolodex on the eve of what many expect will be a Christie bid for the White House.
"Everybody's excited, you know that I'm gonna take over the chairmanship and I'm getting good responses from donors and from my fellow governors,” Christie told NBC News on Wednesday night, following the first day of the RGA meeting
At the event, Christie focused on the job at hand: next year’s 36 governor’s races.
“Elect and re-elect Republican governors. That’s priority one, two, and three. That’s it,” Christie told NBC News. “You don't have any other agenda. The agenda is defend our incumbents and try to see if you can pick up a few seats. Although with 30 governors, there's not a lot of targets left, but we got a few."
Christie takes over just as the governor's association looks to temper the party in light of Washington's extreme conservatism.
“It is striking, this whole RGA event this week seems to be more about these governors desperately wrestling the party away from Washington,” NBC News White House correspondent Chuck Todd said on Morning Joe. “You can just feel the tension – how moderate in tone these governors were. It was like they were screaming at Washington, ‘boy, you guys really have just so messed up the Republican Party right now.’”
Host Joe Scarborough moderated an panel discussion at the RGA on Wednesday.
"I'm really excited about the future of the Republican Party because I don't know what that future is, but I do know this —it doesn't come out of Washington, D.C.," he remarked.
“Is there an alternative health care that particularly impressed you?” former senior advisor to the president David Axelrod asked Scarborough.
“What impressed me was generally the attitude I heard from what governor after another... Bobby Jindal saying “hey, we’ve got to take care of people with pre-existing conditions! We’ve got to make sure health care insurance is more affordable.”