Okay. Maybe “heckled” was a bit strong. He got loudly catcalled by one young man at the Iowa Freedom Summit this past weekend, and he shut it down pretty quickly.
In fact, more surprising than the heckling was the fact that Iowa’s conservatives seemed oddly warm to the New Jersey Governor. When he was introduced, the gathered conservatives greeted the Governor warmly, and while his speech wasn’t a barn-burner, nobody walked out in the middle of it either.
Here’s a video of Christie and his heckler:
Some were actually surprised to see Christie attend the Iowa event that is known for their embrace of the GOP’s most conservative politicians. However, Christie wasn’t alone when it came to “odd fitting” conservatives at the event. (Donald Trump was also in attendance!)
Christie likely decided to attend the event in an effort to build up his credentials with the GOP’s conservatives. Christie is seen as an “establishment” insider whose strengths play best with the center-left of the Republican Party – meaning that he’ll likely be a favorite for the “BIG” GOP donors. Christie also damaged his image with conservatives after Super storm Sandy, when he chose to warmly embrace President Obama which seemed to hurt Mitt Romney’s chances at winning the White House in 2012.
With all of this in mind, Christie’s speech aimed at smoothing over the rough waters between him and the Party’s conservative base. He talked about his record of conservatism in New Jersey, he talked about his success running the Republican Governors Association, and he talked about serving the people instead of ruling the people.
Noticeably absent from his remarks were his anti-gun legislation in New Jersey, his softness on illegal immigration, his views on global warming and environmentalism in general, his decision not to fight Obamacare and several other major schisms between him and orthodox conservatism.
My sense of things, as they stand, is that the mountain is just too high for Christie to climb. He cannot win in 2016 without conservatives, and he is just too far to the center (or left) for conservatives to ever get their hearts into a Chris Christie candidacy. Who knows, maybe over the next year he’ll work hard, move right and all of his past sins will be forgotten… but I just don’t think it will happen.
Here’s Christie’s entire speech at the 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit.
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