BOSTON — Gov. Chris Christie, saying it’s time to get over 2012 and begin working toward 2016, told Republicans on Thursday that the party could learn from what he has done in New Jersey.
Sounding more and more like a presidential candidate for 2016, the blunt-spoken governor told a closed-door Republican National Committee meeting that he has won strong support from minority groups, labor unions and voters of all stripes because he stood up to Democrats, held firm to conservative policies and convinced voters that he does what he says.
“Let’s not forget something: This is New Jersey,” Mr. Christie said. “This is not, you know, the heartland of Republican politics.”
He said Republicans cannot get mired by purity tests in primaries only to have a backlash with the broader electorate on Election Day.
“I think we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors. College professors are fine, I guess. They basically spout out ideas that nobody ever does anything about. For our ideas to matter, we have to win. Because if we don’t win, we don’t govern, and if we don’t govern, all we do is shout into the wind.
“I am in it to win,” he said.
The meeting is the RNC’s third since the disappointing 2012 election, when President Obama easily won a second term and Democrats picked up seats in both chambers of Congress.
Since then, Republicans have been soul-searching over how best to bolster the party’s national brand — in particular among the minority voters who flocked to Democrats in recent elections.
Working to combat the notion that the GOP is too old, too male and too white, the RNC on Thursday showcased the youth and diversity of some Republican “Rising Stars,” including T.W. Shannon, Oklahoma’s first black speaker of the House, and Harvard-educated New Hampshire state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, whose father is Spanish-American.
RNC leaders continued to drill home the message that the party is expanding outreach efforts like never before, including in the minority communities where voters played major roles in Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 victories.
The party has hired 157 outreach workers across the nation and hopes to have hundreds on the ground for the 2016 election.
“We are doing things that have never been done before in our party,” Mr. Priebus said.
“It is one thing to hire some folks down the hall and try to engage. It is another thing to go into the communities and hire people in Cleveland, from Cleveland, to work in Cleveland,” he said. “That’s the difference between what has been done in the past and what we are doing now.”
Mr. Christie, though, was the main attraction Thursday, and he touted his record in New Jersey as a model for other Republicans. He said he has opposed tax increases, cut spending and taken on public employee unions.