He offered implicit rebukes of former President Donald Trump’s style throughout his speech, arguing that voters want someone to fight for them “but in a way that doesn’t hurt their ears.”
Christie defended his credentials as a Trump supporter at the gathering of some of party’s most influential donors and bundlers. The line of Trump backers, he argued, is one that forms “behind me.” But he noted that voters will only want to associate with a party that wins: “And winning campaigns are always the campaigns that look forward and not backwards” — arguing that the party must move beyond the debate over the 2020 election results in order to engage voters more effectively.
“We can no longer talk about the past and the past elections — no matter where you stand on that issue, no matter where you stand, it is over,” Christie said. “And every minute that we spend talking about 2020 — while we’re wasting time doing that — Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are laying ruin to this country. We better focus on that and take our eyes off the rearview mirror and start looking through the windshield again.”
“What suburban voters want is a government that is honest, and truthful and efficient and not wasting their money and not wasting their time. They wanted to be sane and rational,” he said.
He argued the most effective message for Republicans in 2022 will be to focus on the challenges of the “hard-working, working-class taxpayers in this country,” the burdens of inflation and the idea that government “can’t be the thing that continues to drive costs and take more money out of people’s pockets.”
“These are the things that we have to stand for as Republicans,” he said.
“People want us to be direct with them. They want someone to fight for them. But they want them to fight in a way that doesn’t hurt their ears. And you all know what I mean by that. We can’t dismiss any aspect of our electorate. We have to listen to all of them. And we have to speak to their dreams, their hopes, their aspirations for the future,” Christie said.
“If we don’t do that, then we won’t once again win back the votes that we began to win back in Virginia and New Jersey last Tuesday night,” he continued, referencing Republican Glenn Youngkin‘s victory over former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Virginia and a closer-than-expected governor’s race in New Jersey.
Throughout the Virginia gubernatorial campaign, Youngkin walked a fine line, keeping Trump’s base engaged without alienating the voters who were repelled by the former President in recent elections.
And while Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy prevailed in New Jersey this week, he narrowly defeated Republican nominee Jack Ciattarelli, who followed a similar playbook as in Virginia, keeping Trump at arm’s length and instead hammering Murphy over taxes and what he argued were the dire effects of the Democrat’s pandemic response on businesses.
“We have extraordinary opportunities over the next few years, our opponents have once again overreached, misunderstood the American people. And we now have to work to lay out an alternate vision. One that’s about tomorrow, not about yesterday. One that’s about their hopes and their dreams, and not about someone else’s hopes and dreams. Not about the people who stand behind these podiums, but the people around this country working hard right now,” Christie said Saturday.
“That’s what we need to do. And it’s not flashy, but it’s tough. And you need someone who’s willing to fight to be able to do it, and not fight for themselves first, but fight for this country first.”