Gov. Chris Christie rallies conservatives at Conservative Political Action Conference
Related mediaGov. Chris Christie speaks at CPAC
EDISON - Gov. Chris Christie was back in the national spotlight Thursday, speaking in front of conservative voters at their annual conference.
Many saw the speech as a chance for the former presidential front-runner to get his name back in the mix when it comes to picking a nominee for 2016.
It has been a series of highs and lows for New Jersey's governor. He won re-election last fall, but now faces a headline-making scandal.
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The governor's message at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, was that it was time to win.
"The reason we have to start talking about what we're for and not continue to rail against what we're against is because of one reason," Christie says. "Our ideas are better than their ideas and that's what we have to stand up for."
Christie reiterated familiar themes like lower taxes, smaller government and free markets.
The governor did not mention the Bridge-Gate or Hoboken Sandy aid scandals, but state politics expert Patrick Murray thinks those controversies still loomed large.
"Now that he's under attack, and many conservatives see this as a political witch hunt, it's almost as if he's one of them now," Murray says.
"We are for America being a leader in the world and we are for a strong national defense, not one that allows other countries to run us over all over the world," Christie says.
A swing to the right isn't the bipartisan message the governor ran on for re-election, but experts say it could be what voters will hear a lot of before 2016.
State Democratic Chairman John Currie offered this response: "Truthfully, we rarely see Governor Christie because he has taken up residence in a state of denial. If he cared about New Jersey, he would be addressing the problems affecting middle class families, many of which he created, and answering questions about the scandals engulfing his office."
Experts say Christie will need CPAC support if he wants to run for president.