New Jersey governor and 2016 hopeful Chris Christie put on a strong showing in an interview with radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham today at CPAC, entertaining a conservative crowd that may have been wary of Christie’s more moderate brand of Republican politics.
Christie won over the conservative attendees from the get-go, cracking jokes about the media and more. The rounds of applause and laughs kept coming from the nearly completely full auditorium as he emphasized he recounted his battles with the state’s teachers unions and talked up his record in New Jersey. It was an especially impressive performance from a presidential contender whose star fell dramatically following the 2014 Bridgegate scandal, and has fallen further this year as Jeb Bush has snapped up some of the financial supporters Christie hoped to rely on.
Ingraham, a social conservative and immigration hawk, fired some tough questions at the two-term New Jersey governor. At one point, she listed words used to describe Christie — including “explosive,” “short-tempered,” and “impatient” — and asked how he would handle that image on the national stage. Christie said he likes to see himself as “passionate,” and won a round of applause with his case for a combative approach to politics.
“Sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up” — especially in Washington, he added.
When asked about the fact that polls have found him lagging much of the 2016 field, Christie shrugged it off. “Is the election next week?” he said.
With the auditorium nearly completely full, Christie left the audience with one last crowd-pleaser: He said he’d planned to give up the New York Times for Lent . . . only to have his priest tell him he had to give up something he’d actually miss.