New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R.) was not extended an invitation to address this year's Conservative Political Action Conference because his position on gun control leaves him with a "limited future" in the Republican Party, a "CPAC insider" told The National Review Tuesday. But Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, said instead it was Christie's advocacy on a Hurricane Sandy relief bill, and more broadly what he saw as his less-than-conservative record, that led him not to be invited to the annual meeting.
“We felt that the governor’s tone and attitude regarding this relief bill, which was really a pork bill, did not justify an invitation to the conservative conference and we took a pass this year,” Cardenas said, according to The Washington Times.
Cardenas told the National Journal that based on Christie's conservative record over the past year, he didn't make "the all-star game."
“CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes; you get invited when you have had an outstanding year,” Cardenas said in an email to the National Journal. “Hopefully he will have another all-star year in the future, at which time we will be happy to extend an invitation. This is a conservative conference, not a Republican Party event.”
The National Review reported Tuesday that the decision may also reflect how Christie is viewed within the party.
Christie has a “limited future” in the national Republican party given his position on gun control, the source tells National Review Online. As a result, the CPAC insider says, the focus of this year’s conference, “the future of conservatism,” made Christie a bad fit.
Christie, the source adds, is simply not a conservative in the eyes of organizers.
The origins of the comment were questionable, coming from one source who would only speak anonymously, inspiring speculation about whether the commenter is a high-level official at the American Conservative Union or a junior staffer.
But, to the extent that this kind of thinking begins to pervade the conservative base of the GOP, it has to worry the New Jersey governor if he holds any ambitions for 2016.
A host of other potential Republican 2016 candidates are slated to speak at the event, including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The lineup even includes former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, for whom Christie delivered the keynote address at last year's Republican National Convention.
New Jersey has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, including an assault weapons ban, and Christie has said he supports present laws. Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he told Fox News there needs to be a "large, national discussion" that includes gun control, but he also essentially expressed disagreement with President Barack Obama's approach.
Christie enjoys a high approval rating in the state of New Jersey but has often found himself at odds with national Republicans in recent months. He notably showered Obama with praise in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the week before the 2012 presidential election, and recently slammed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his caucus over the hurricane relief bill that followed -- actions cited by Cardenas as the reasoning behind leaving Christie out of CPAC this year.
On Tuesday, Christie also became the eighth GOP governor to back the Medicaid expansion under Obama's Affordable Care Act.
This story has been updated to reflect later comment from Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC.
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"It's Not My Time" (3 Doors Down)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/04/chris-christie-2012-decision-_n_993910.html" target="_hplink">(Oct. 4, 2011) --</a></strong> Christie announced that he will not run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, vowing that "now is not my time." He quipped to New Jersey residents "whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me."
"Need You Now" (Lady Antebellum)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/11/chris-christie-mitt-romney_n_1005601.html" target="_hplink"><strong>LEBANON, N.H. (Oct. 11, 2011) --</strong></a> After dismissing calls to run for president himself, Christie endorsed Romney, telling the GOP that he is the candidate we need now.
"How Do I Live" (LeAnn Rimes)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/07/chris-christie-town-hall_n_1133756.html" target="_hplink">WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (Dec. 7, 2011) --</a></strong> At a local town hall, Christie did not take kindly to a <a href="http://videos.nj.com/star-ledger/2011/12/video_chris_christie_asked_if.html" target="_hplink">constituent's question</a> about how his administration conducts these types of meetings. He showed the individual little mercy, going "if I plant questions, why the hell did I call on you?"
"Can You Feel The Love Tonight" (Elton John)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/chris-christie-mic-checked-occupy-wall-street_n_1136762.html" target="_hplink">(Dec. 8, 2011) --</a></strong> Occupy Wall Street protesters interrupted Christie during an appearance in Iowa, making him a target of the movement's "mic check" trend.
"Shut Up" (The Black Eyed Peas)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/chris-christie-warren-buffett_n_1294579.html" target="_hplink">(Feb. 21, 2012) --</a></strong> In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Christie had some choice words for Warren Buffett, surrounding the billionaire investor's desire to be taxed at a higher rate. "Just write a check and shut up," he remarked.
"American Idiot" (Green Day)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/christie-argues-with-veteran_n_1334963.html" target="_hplink">(March 9, 2012) --</a></strong> Christie argued with a former Navy SEAL over the New Jersey's plans to reconfigure public universities. The result? Some fire from the governor's tongue, as he called the veteran an "idiot."
"Call Me Maybe" (Carly Rae Jepsen)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/chris-christie-talks-vp-p_n_1423271.html" target="_hplink">(April 13, 2012) --</a></strong> Throughout Mitt Romney's run for the White House, Christie made it known that he was open to a vice presidential nod (should Romney ask him).
"Rocky Ground" (Bruce Springsteen)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/chris-christie-sleeping-bruce-springsteen-_n_1438337.html" target="_hplink">(April 19, 2012) --</a></strong> Christie vehemently denied reports that he was sleeping at a Bruce Springsteen concert in New York City. <em><strong>
"I Don't Really Care" (Waka Flocka Flame)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/chris-christie-jimmy-kimmel_n_1465608.html" target="_hplink">(April 30, 2012) --</a> Christie responded to jokes comedian Jimmy Kimmel made about his weight at the 2012 White House Correspondents Dinner, throwing Sofia Vergara into the mix. "I figured I was in the zone of danger," he said.
"Ready Or Not" (The Fugees)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/chris-christie-gop-keynote-convention_n_1774525.html" target="_hplink">(Aug. 14, 2012) --</a></strong> After entertaining the idea of running for president and making Mitt Romney's short list of VP candidates, Christie was named the keynote speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention. "I'll try to tell some very direct and hard truths to people in the country about the trouble that we're in and the fact that fixing those problems is not going to be easy for any of them," he told <em>USA Today</em>.