Christie Returns to National Stage at Conservative Confab

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) -
Gov. Chris Christie speaks Thursday at the CPAC conference. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Gov. Chris Christie speaks Thursday at the CPAC conference. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Returning to the national stage for the first time since the bridgegate scandal erupted, a determined New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that Republicans must “take on” the media directly as they work to improve their image ahead of the midterm elections.

Christie showed flashes of the fighting spirit that has defined his political career in a 15-minute speech to conservative activists gathered in suburban Washington, earning a standing ovation when he finished.

“The fact is, we’ve got to take these guys (the media) on directly,” Christie said at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He called on GOP and tea party leaders alike to “start talking about what we’re for and not what we’re against.”

“Please, let us come out of here resolved not only to stand for our principles, but let’s come out of this conference resolved to win elections again,” he said.

Conservatives have been reluctant to embrace Christie, who wasn’t invited to last year’s gathering in part because of lingering resentment over his embrace of President Barack Obama days before the 2012 race.

American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas suggested that conservatives might be warming up to Christie because of the perception that the media is “ganging up on him unfairly.”

“Most conservatives, whether Chris Christie is their favorite candidate or not, frankly feel compelled to reject those who are going after him for political motives,” he said. “Chris Christie has a wonderful opportunity to make the case to the activists who are here.”