Matt Katz, New Jersey Public Radio
Updated, 12:45 pm
Hey Mr. President, "what the hell are we paying you for?"
That was among the many anti-Obama, strenuously conservative and combative lines that Gov. Chris Christie delivered today during a vital speech for him at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. Not invited to CPAC last year as quasi-punishment for his alliance with President Obama in the wake of Sandy, and wounded this year by the scandals enveloping his administration, Christie needed to come out as a flame-thrower to try to woo the core conservative base that he will need to mount a 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, praised several governors by name for their conservative principles. He noted, for example, that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's policies had led to a dramatic reduction in the teacher union rolls. But he also touted himself, referring to public employee benefit cuts in New Jersey, teacher tenure reform and his pro-life views.
On abortion, Christie claimed that Republicans are more tolerant than Democrats because Democrats have never had a pro-life speaker at their convention. But, in fact, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr., who is pro-life, spoke to Democrats in 2008.)
Christie said Obama had shown no leadership -- "what the hell are we paying you for?" -- while declaring that Republicans should beat Democrats because, simply, "our ideas are better than their ideas." Democrats are all about "the cold hard hand of government," he said.
Christie hit the right notes for the crowd, defending the Koch brothers, who are conservative financiers, from recent attacks by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "Harry Reid should get back to work and stop picking on great Americans."
He dipped into foreign policy: "We are for America being a leader in the world; we are for a strong national defense, not one that allows other countries to run us over all over the world."
And for his finale, Christie trashed the media: "We have to stop letting the media define who we are and what we stand for...The fact is that we have to take these guys on directly."
The governor left to a standing ovation.