On Saturday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took a veiled shot at potential 2016 competitor Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) while speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“It’s time for us as a party to stop killing each other,” Christie said, according a Politico report. “I’m not in this business to have an academic conversation. I am not in this business to win the argument. I’m in this business to win elections. And here’s why – because when we win elections, we get a chance to govern and we get to mold and shape the future of our state and country. When we lose, we don’t.”
Cruz often says to Republicans, “first you win the argument, then you win the vote,” and Christie’s words seem to be a direct reference to Cruz’s argument that Republicans do not win national elections with watered down candidates and policies.
Though Christie said his more moderate brand of politics wins elections, that has never been the case on the national level for the GOP. Ronald Reagan won two terms running on bold conservative policies after moderate Gerald Ford lost in 1976. George H.W. Bush won in 1988 when he ran for Reagan’s third term and lost in 1992 when he ran as a patrician moderate who broke his promise of “no new taxes.” Bob Dole lost in 1996 as an establishment candidate while George. W. Bush won two terms with the strong support of the Evangelical base. In 2008 and 2012, Republicans nominated the candidates the mainstream press insisted had the best chance of winning the general election in John McCain and Mitt Romney, respectively, and they got smoked.
Christie and Cruz would be potential competitors in 2016, with Christie in the pale-pastel establishment side of the bracket and Cruz on the bold conservative side.