The 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has a star-studded list of speakers. The event will feature senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), governors Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Rick Perry (R-Texas) and Scott Walker (R-Wisc.), House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, and even the esteemed Dr. Ben Carson. Noticeably absent from the list is New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
Fittingly enough, this falls directly within Christie's plan to show himself as a solutions-based leader that does not allow the well being of his constituents to be sacrificed by political pandering.
According to sources, Christie was not invited because he did not fit into CPAC's 2013 theme, "the future of conservatism." The source stated that Christie had a "limited future" in the Republican Party because of his positions on gun control. Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union (the organization that hosts CPAC), defended the decision stating, "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."
I'm glad that there are political leaders outside of my home state of New Jersey that care about my state's wellbeing. However, it does seem a little illogical that Cardenas would say that our state can "ill afford" to expand Medicaid, yet should not push for disaster assistance from the federal government that is months overdue. If CPAC legitimately thinks that Christie's embrace of President Obama in the face of Hurricane Sandy cost Mitt Romney the election, they are clearly not very dedicated to promoting a GOP that will be electable in 2016.
Christie has the pleasure of being a Republican governor in a primarily blue state. A pleasure because he provides Washington, in light of their inability to reach a compromise on the sequester, and conservatives and liberals alike nationwide an example of how to work across the aisle.
At a speech in Montville, Christie stated, "I am not going to compromise my principles, because that is who I am, and that is why you elected me. But there is always a boulevard between getting everything you want and compromising your principles. There is always some space there, and the job of a governor or any executive is to find that space."
CPAC made a terrible miscalculation by not inviting Christie. Conservative political commentator Charles Krauthammer, and Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) are among the many conservatives that have slammed CPAC because for their brash overreaction. Nevertheless, if Christie plans to run in 2016, not being invited to CPAC provides him a perfect platform to present the values that he has stood for all along. The conservative elite and politics will not determine his ability to govern or change the future of the United States. It will be his dedication to his principles and his desire to reach solutions that will hold the true future of conservatism in America.