Every year, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) holds a yearly get together with a host of conservative politicians and activists to rally their members to their cause. It could be argued that CPAC is the “be there or don’t be square enough” event for all Republicans. So, one would think that any organization looking to spread their conservative political influence would want the most popular Republican in the country to be there, right? I mean, wouldn’t you give that person a prime speaking slot, if not build the whole weekend around that speaker? Well, you would be wrong.
Despite an approval rating north of 70% in a blue state and a widespread national profile, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie has not been asked to speak at CPAC. While this intentional oversight is instructive, what’s even more telling is who is speaking at the convention.
- Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich
- U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
- U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah)
- U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
- Mitt Romney
- Sarah Palin
- Texas Governor Rick Perry
- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)-Keynote speaker
- NRA Leader Wayne LaPierre
- Former U.S. Representative Allen West of Florida
Look at that list! It’s full of losers (Romney/Ryan/Gingrich/Perry/Palin), climate change deniers (Inhofe/Lee/Paul), labor haters (Walker and, well, all of them), Tea Partiers (other than Romney, pretty much all of them), gun nuts (Led by Wayne LaPierre and Rick Perry), and at least one person who is unstable if not certifiable (Allen West).
That’s right, Allen West, a man who could not hold his House seat in Florida against an unheralded opponent, who accused–sans evidence–over 80 Democrats in congress of being communists, and who left the military under a dark cloud thanks to firing his gun next to the head of an Iraqi detainee. West was charged with assault in military court and faced up to 11 years in prison for the offense. Somehow he squeaked out of that tight spot and was given an honorable discharge with full benefits.
So yeah, that guy gets to speak at CPAC, but the most popular and well liked Republican in the whole of the United States, who polls better than any other candidate against Hillary Clinton for 2016? That guy can stay home. What did Chris Christie do to deserve his snub? I think most of us know. After Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey shore, not only did Christie greet President Obama with a handshake on a New Jersey tarmac (Gasp!), but he doubled down by praising the President’s responsiveness to his state’s crisis (Super Double Gasp!). Furthermore, when Republicans in the House held up disaster relief funds for New Jersey, he let them have it, going as far to name names (I’m looking at you, John Boehner).
For his efforts on behalf of his state, Christie was rewarded with skyrocketing approval ratings in New Jersey and across the country. Not one serious media outlet does not have him on the shortlist of Republican Presidential contenders for 2016. Yet somehow, he doesn’t get an invite to the biggest Republican glad handing circle jerk of the year. Of course, looking at that list of speakers that CPAC has lined up, maybe Christie is better off. Perhaps this is some clever Machiavellian move by the hardest of hardcore conservatives to keep Christie away from the Republican clown show that will be on full display from March 14-16 to better set him up for the future. Yeah, sure, that’s the ticket.