Newly reelected New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took a victory lap on Sunday morning, in effect positioning himself as a 2016 GOP frontrunner while distancing himself from the far right wing of the Republican Party.
Christie, who appeared on NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Fox News Sunday and CBS's Face the Nation, neither confirmed nor denied that he would enter the 2016 GOP presidential sweepstakes. That's been his message the last few months; but after his definitive victory in the Garden State on Tuesday, there's even more attention focused on his future.
"Listen, who knows," Christie said on This Week. "I don't know. I'm going to continue to do my job and finish the job [as governor of New Jersey]. But everybody who is trying to figure out what life is going to bring you a few years from now - I didn't expect to be sitting here four years ago. So, nobody can make those predictions."
He also used the Sunday morning shows to distance himself from the failed 2012 Romney campaign, while at the same time expressing gratitude and support to Mitt Romney himself. He took pains to separate himself from the Tea Party movement that propelled the GOP into control of the House in 2010. In recent weeks, Tea Partiers have come under fire by more moderate factions of the Republican establishment.
Christie adopted a tone that was nearly opposite of that of the far right, hawking his crossover appeal.
"I got 61 percent of the vote... in a blue state that had just reelected Barack Obama a year ago by 17 points," Christie told David Gregory on Meet the Press. "That was nearly a 40-point turnaround between voting for a Democrat at the top of the ticket and voting for a Republican. And, you know, getting 51 percent of the Hispanic vote, I'm very proud of that, because I've worked hard with the Hispanic community to let them see how our policies can help their families."
He also used his victory lap to take a shot at the Romney campaign team, which reportedly considered Christie unsuitable as a running mate.
"First off, political advice from people who ran the Romney campaign is probably something nobody should really give a darn about, so let's start with that," Christie said on ABC. "But secondly, all these issues have been vetted and if I ever run for anything again, they'll be vetted again."
Shortly after Christie’s reelection win on Tuesday night, members of the Tea Party took potshots at him. Texas Governor Rick Perry, a darling of the far right, made what is quickly becoming a familiar argument: Christie can win New Jersey, but that doesn’t mean he can win over the national Republican Party.
“Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?” Perry said in an interview conducted earlier this week and shown Sunday on This Week. “We’ll have that discussion at the appropriate time."
Perry also took the opportunity to hint at the possibility of his own second presidential run. His 2012 campaign ended with an embarrassing series of gaffes, most notably when he couldn’t remember the third government department that he would eliminate if elected president. Apparently, those embarrassments haven’t scared him off another run.
“Second chances are what America has always been about,” he said.
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