New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is running for re-election this year, and many believe the Republican is positioning himself for a presidential bid in 2016. If that's the case, the nation's most popular governor is probably doing himself a big favor by distancing himself the conservative wing of his party.
At least for now.
Christie wasn't invited to the nation's largest and most important gathering of conservative Republicans, the Conservative Political Action Conference, this year. And congressional Republicans still livid over the governor's withering criticism in 2012 are defending the snub.
Al Cardenas, who heads the American Conservative Union, told POLITICO he didn't feel Christie was in "top form."
"Governor Christie was invited to CPAC last year because he did a great job in N.J. facing up to the teachers unions, balancing the budget and cutting debt," Cardenas told the news outlet. "This past year he strongly advocated for the passage of a $60+ billion pork barrel bill, containing only $9 billion in disaster assistance and he signed up with the federal government to expand Medicaid at a time when his state can ill afford it, so he was not invited to speak."
"Hopefully he will be back in top form next year. We would be delighted to invite him again in that case," Cardenas told POLITICO.
Christie told his home-state newspaper The Star-Ledger that he wasn't bothered by the snub. Nor should he be.
"Listen, I wish them all the best. They're going to have their conference, they're going to have a bunch of people speaking there. That's their call," Christie told the newspaper. "It's not like I'm lacking for invitations to speak around the country."
"I can't sweat the small stuff," he said. "I've got a state to rebuild."
Good for Christie.
Americans are clamoring for their elected officials to put policy over party. Christie did exactly that when he toured his storm-ravaged state with President Barack Obama just before the 2012 presidential election, a move that angered Republicans including GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
The idea of placing policy over party is, apparently, a concept that continues to elude folks like Cardenas and his fellow movement conservatives. So be it.
If Christie decides to run for president in 2016, he will naturally be forced to make amends with conservatives during the Republican primaries.
But 2016 is a long way off. Americans are tired of partisanship. They want to solutions to some very big problems.
Christie knows this. His already soaring popularity is likely to continue growing - with or without CPAC.