Christie’s Tough Talk Shows GOP Divide

The party is split between those who want to win, and those who want to take a stand

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Josh Reynolds / AP

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks to fellow Republicans during the Republican National Committee summer meeting in Boston on Aug. 15, 2013

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie criticized some in the GOP on Thursday for emphasizing ideas over winning, turning heads with blunt talk interpreted by nearly everyone in the room as attacks on Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

But Christie’s remarks, during a speech at a Republican National Committee meeting in Boston, were more than a critique of his would-be 2016 rivals — they highlighted the battle lines in today’s Republican Party that cross ideology and region.

“We need to stop navel-gazing,” Christie said in the closed-door speech, of which attendees provided recordings to TIME. “There’s nothing wrong with our principles. We need to focus on winning again. There’s too much at stake for this to be an academic exercise. We need to win and govern with authority and courage.”

It’s increasingly clear, RNC members say, that today’s GOP is fractured most notably not by religious fervor, fiscal policy or libertarian commitment, but simply between those who want to win, and those who want to take a stand.

The divisions manifest themselves everywhere from primary fights that marginalize moderates to the halls of Congress, where a cadre of House Republicans have blocked nearly all legislation from proceeding this session. House Speaker John Boehner gave voice to those tactics last month in an interview with Face the Nation on CBS.

“We should not be judged on how many new laws we create,” he told host Bob Schieffer. “We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal.”

Former President Ronald Reagan is said to have coined the axiom, “The person who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20% traitor.” For Republicans, embracing that maxim is a life-or-death issue. The fight is for the identity of the Republican Party — whether it is a vehicle of ideological persuasion or winning elections — the outcome of which will determine the party’s electoral viability. Sensing trouble down the line at the RNC’s quarterly meeting, many members raised concerns with some in the party’s all-or-nothing approach.

Glenn McCall, the South Carolina national committeeman, told TIME he was frustrated by the House Republican approach — including the uncompromising stances taken by members of his own state’s delegation.

“I’m concerned about several of our Congressmen,” McCall says. “Trey Gowdy and Mick Mulvaney, really intelligent and thoughtful guys, and I don’t want to see them get disenchanted with that whole structure. You have ideas, and there’s just no motivation to move forward.”

“There are good people in Congress, but I don’t think we have enough folks putting forth good ideas,” McCall adds. “Yeah, they talk about them and go on talk radio. Put something out there. Put it in writing. Get support and push it through.”

On Wednesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took congressional Republicans to task for failing to offer up an alternative to President Barack Obama’s health care law instead of just repeatedly voting to repeal it.

“We are caught up right now in a culture, and you see it every single day, where as long as we are negative and as long as we are vicious and as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don’t have to learn anything,” he said, according to CNN’s Peter Hamby. “We have to do the homework.”

Christie followed that up on Thursday with the admonition that “we are not a debating society. We are a political operation that needs to win.”

“See, I’m in this business to win,” Christie added. “I’m in it to win. I think that we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors. College professors are fine I guess. Being a college professor is — they basically spout out ideas, but nobody ever does anything about them. 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.”

Iowa GOP chairman A.J. Spiker, a co-chair of former Representative Ron Paul’s campaign in his state, said the party’s divisions have moved beyond ideology to a debate over tactics.

“I wouldn’t say it is the liberty movement vs. the Establishment or Christian right vs. the Establishment,” he says. “It’s two camps: it’s the camp that wants the party to advance its principles, and it’s the camp that’s more interested in being elected and maintaining power.”

“There is a large segment of the Republican Party that wants us to stand up and show some bold leadership on these things,” Spiker adds. “The other side says we can’t or we’ll lose. I say if we can’t take stands, why were we sent here?”

McCall, speaking highly of the effort of the Senate Gang of Eight on immigration, said while the bill isn’t perfect, Republicans need to do something.

“I hope the House will take up their bill, or come up with their own,” he says. “Let’s do something.”

On the other side of the spectrum are Republicans who stand ready to oppose what they see as action just for the sake of action, a faction supporting Iowa Representative Steve King and his pitched opposition to immigration reform.

“If the House passes some kind of immigration bill that has a path to citizenship, it’s not going to be helpful at all,” says Iowa national committeeman Steve Scheffler.

Tut-tutting Boehner’s recent condemnation of King’s heated immigration rhetoric, Scheffler adds: “When he called out Steve King — it was just totally unacceptable to do that.”

79 comments
Arimathean
Arimathean

The problem is this: If moderates elect a moderate Republican, how can they be sure that the crazy wing of the right won't follow?  I don't feel like the same issue plagues moderate Democratic candidates.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Maybe Christie is the one with the principles...

marinskym
marinskym

A GOP vote is for the unholy alliance of evangelicals and neocons. I will never vote for them.

I believe in a wall between church and state, in reproductive freedom, that there is a scientific explanation for everything, and in universal healthcare.

To the religionists who have taken over the GOP, "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." - Seneca the Younger

chapalody
chapalody

Oh Christie wants to win now does he? Romney wanted to win too didn't he? Did Christie think about winning when he agreed to walk with Obama on the beach after Hurricane Sandy. Was Christie thinking about winning when he said the heck with the presidental elections. Now that Christie has a new attitude and tone toward his party and embraced by the MSM it's all about winning. Christie talks about his record? How has his record help this country. Remember when Christie couldn't jump in front of the camera fast enough to tell everyone Obama gave him everything he wanted and then months later the people were still homeless, hungry and cold. I guess Christie didn't think anyone with a video would film any of that. One McCain is enough.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

The real sadness is that big money and big mind control religion has people believing (literally) that the GOP is credible political party while the Left withers on the vine. This country has no balance left at all. Nobody cares about massive poverty, nobody cares about the disintegrating standard of living, nobody cares that all labor (90% of the population) has been systematically disenfranchised with destruction of unions and the perverse notion of "at will" non-contractual employment, nobody cares about the assault on public education by big business and big religion to re-enforce the grip of the economic super elite, nobody cares about the total class warfare victory of the economic super elite who have established a perpetual Feudalistic economic aristocracy (see destruction of public education and unions) with the worst social mobility in the Western World. The hallmark of America, social mobility, is dead. Instead this Fascist nonsense peddled by the GOP and the commercial press suppresses any questioning of this decaying system.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

So the GOP wants to take a stand. How much damage must be wreaked on this country by their Fascist policies before the people stand up to them and throw them out?

orangeplasticfish
orangeplasticfish

Republicans, God will judge you by what you stood for, not by what principles you sacrificed to win an election. Remember, the most important thing in your life is your personal salvation, not wining elections.

Cyssi
Cyssi

While I like him more than most of the rest of his party Governor Christie unwittingly expressed what I see as the gop's overwhelming and increasingly unsurmountable shortcoming. "..I'm in this business to win." and "We need to be focused on winning..."  Do I hear a , "We need to focus on what is best for America and her citizens." ??? No, they never mention anybody's interests EXCEPT for the gop's. Hello, gop???  Corporate America + gop + 53% of our population, THAT alone is where the gop's interests/ concerns/ loyalties  lie.

mikeheart1981
mikeheart1981

This is one of the more interesting articles I've read. These comments are in the midst of the Republicans continuing to try to repeal so-called Obamacare. I wonder how people will react during the election. I'm guessing those of us who are on the Left and want healthcare are unlikely to vote Republican. And if the Republicans are even slightly split, then they will lose seats again.

artmsllro7
artmsllro7

The difference between Republican's and Democrat's is that the Republican's are Hell bent on screwing over the masses in favor of the ultra wealthy, while the Democrat's simply negotiate the terms of the screwing.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

I'm curious how can Rand Paul be a Libertarian when he wants to dictate to people about abortion and gay marriage?

drudown
drudown

No undecided voter should ever, ever indulge the fiction that the GOP's purported struggles are anything other than self-aware GOP candidates such as Christie knowing full well that the People do not "buy" the lobbyist-driven agenda to cut services that advance the public's general welfare, job creation and- most notably- allow for greater consumption. For every after-tax dollar the People spend on Health Care, education, or other necessary services...one less dollar is circulated in the larger economy. That's the problem with the "no new taxes, ever" policy- it will ultimately lead to less consumption and less economic growth. 

Notably, Christie's ostensible adversary Rand Paul just lies through his teeth about his purported Libertarian ideals- like he is going to have the ability much less will- to extricate the Armed Services from Arab occupations abroad. Sure, right.

Rand Paul is George W. Bush redux. Seems like an "ordinary guy" that you might relate to...but the "lock step" mentality of the post-Reagan GOP would prevent him from ever changing anything...even if he wanted to.


sacredh
sacredh

" It’s increasingly clear, RNC members say, that today’s GOP is fractured most notably not by religious fervor, fiscal policy or libertarian commitment, but simply between those who want to win, and those who want to take a stand."

I like their stand. I like us getting the White House as a result even better. They can have all the moral "victories" they want. It will hand the Supreme Court to the democrats on a silver platter.

GoOg
GoOg

With our ever expanding government, we need People to fight the good fight that downsizes an ever bloated and overspending black hole.  Liberals claim they love Big government.  When they run out of the money and they lose the Freedom to choose,  they will feel the same ill effects of their choices just as well as the Republicans.  This is the first society where the People had the right to choose their own destiny and they really do not grasp how precious it really is.  In the end and only then will they see the folly of their ways.  

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

@Cyssi 47% of our population - that is how many people the GOP can fool. Still having trouble with the rest of Lincoln's saying.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@mikeheart1981  

And in the meantime, the Black community will kick their teeth in for the third straight election. Lately, they haven't been to happy about the attempts to make voting more difficult.

Add to that, the fact that almost half of all black American voters are conservative, and you have to wonder who's doing the math over there.

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

@artmsllro7 Now, that's one of the more interesting distinctions between the parties I've heard in a long time.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

@mantisdragon91 He isn't. He is total phony. He serves his rich masters and the Church establishment bent on mind control. There is a ounce of freedom in his entire political body.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

@mantisdragon91  

I'll turn over control of my body and most personal decisions over to the government right after Rand Paul does.

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

@mantisdragon91 Just like his dad he's a republican. He holds libertarian views in financial issues (i.e. federal taxes are the worst of all evils and must be abolished, as must all programs which depend on federal funding, e.g. FBI, FDA, NASA) but is socially conservative (opposing gays, abortion, immigration reform, affirmative action, and environmental protection, and favors prayer in school).

Libertarianism is simply egoism elevated to moral imperative, and I'm not sure if the Pauls variant is better or worse for society, but I do think that even socially conservative GOP'ers should think long and hard about what these stances mean, for them personally and for society. 

BobJan
BobJan

@drudown Rand Paul is not a real person. He is a hologram that spouts nonsense and people out here in TV land believe he is right. Are there any countries that are practicing "Libertarianism"? I don't think so. It's just a word that's thrown out there but can't work if it's tried. Paul wants smaller government? Well then, he should quit his senate seat and it will be smaller and we won't have to pay him for doing nothing.

mikeheart1981
mikeheart1981

@GoOg I'm a liberal and I don't understand anything you've written. Really.

BobJan
BobJan

@GoOg So I assume that you want Rand Paul thrown out on his rear end because he gets paid for doing absolutely nothing. It would be different if he was making a difference but he's just "orating" and at the end of the day he does nothing. Just like his Dad. Suck's the Government "teat".

swagger
swagger

@GoOg"Liberals claim they love Big government"

hilarious.  i have never ever heard that from a liberal.  you must be talking about policies the majority wants and voted for when they twice elected what you love to call the black devil communist muslim anti christ leading us into the pit of hell while taking away your guns president of all the united states.

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

@GoOg Are you aware that the federal debt is decreasing, and is decreasing faster than it did under Clinton?

tom.litton
tom.litton

@GoOg I've never heard anyone claim they love big government.  What people love are the services government provides.  That isn't a liberal thing.  There are very few people that don't at least appreciate most of them. 

I get that it's a trade off.  And i understand those that would rather have less services and less taxes/more choices.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing.  However, there are too many republicans that don't seem to ignore basic economic and scientific facts.  It's as if they believe they can change reality by believing really really hard.  You can't run a country like that (at least not well).  Until that changes, i can't find myself supporting any republican, even though the Obama administration is starting to scare me with the NSA thing and the drone strikes on american citizens.

drudown
drudown

@GoOg 

You erroneously presuppose the Bush Administration did not create a larger government than in inherited. Worse still, you imply that it is anything other than the GOP's "no new taxes, ever" policy that hasn't created the uncompromising budgetary shortfall we find ourselves in.

YesterdaysWine
YesterdaysWine

@GoOg So I assume you're against adventurist wars that waste trillions? And a bloated defense establishment in general? You also seem to misunderstand the nature of democracy. When people vote to spend money, they have made a choice. Because it's not your choice doesn't mean a choice hasn't been made. 

sacredh
sacredh

@tom.litton, I'm a liberal, a socialist and an atheist. They could be engulfed in flames and they wouldn't believe me if I told them that they were on fire. I'd have to say "Benghazi" or "IRS" before they'd even look. 

GoOg
GoOg

@tom.litton @GoOg Economic facts tom?  Here is an economic fact we are out of money and 17 trillion dollars in debt.  Yet the liberals want to keep borrowing from China.  Not for long.  

GoOg
GoOg

@drudown @GoOg Well Dru when you have an overspending entitlement society that the liberals have created and never can be removed until it is in utter ruin.  Medicare/Freddie Mac for example and an entire host of other entitlement programs.  It could also be the billions that we are spending on propping up the economy too.  But you may want to stick to that no new taxes theory.  When there is only 50 percent of the population working for the other 50 percent moochers.  

GoOg
GoOg

@YesterdaysWine @GoOg Yeah those horrible adventurist wars.  Where 3 thousand of our own People were killed in buildings.  You do not seem to understand tyranny where you are losing your right to choose and especially when you have an executive branch that is running amuck.  Ask Detroit how they are liking the choices the Democrats are making.  

manlyman
manlyman

Liberal, socialist, atheist. Yeah we know sacred, we know...

manlyman
manlyman

Pulled us out? Wow! When?

BobJan
BobJan

@mantisdragon91 @reallife @jmac @GoOg @tom.litton @sacredh Brings to mind the Terry Shiavo fiasco that occurred back in the days of GW Bush and his republican led Congress. Bill Frist, medical doctor and political hackster said that when viewing the tapes of Terry Shiavo he could tell that she was able to recognize people that came into her room. And he diagnosed her through viewing a recorded tape while he was in the Senate. She turned out to be blind and he made a complete fool of himself. He was at the time the Senate majority leader.  I ask America, all 300+ MILLION of us how we feel having an incompetent inbecile in charge. And it's not only Bill Frist but all 535 of the "incompetent" imbeciles that we elect and that they all kneel at the "ATM's" put next to the offices of each of these people in Congress to vote as they're told. And we all think that the person we elect does a good job for us and that the rest are just a bunch of paid off hacks. Truth be told is that all 535 of them are bought and paid for and we're all duped into thinking that our one and only Congress person cares about us. LOL. They don't care if you live or die. They're just looking for their next handout. "After the votes are counted, the voters don't count". Rand Paul,   Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and the rest could care less about any voters.

jmac
jmac

@GoOg @jmac @tom.litton @sacredh We're all going to be like Detroit if Republicans get away with stopping  reform of  the economic policies that almost took us to another Great Depression.   As it was, it was Bush jr who took us to the Great Recession.  You know that, right, GoOg?    (With voodoo/Ayn Rand economics he learned as a youngster (in defiance of Daddy and in praise of Coolidge).    You know Obama pulled us out, right?  

Or did you miss that economic information on Drudge and Fox?  

GoOg
GoOg

@jmac @tom.litton @sacredh I am going to be laughing when idiots like yourselves are living in a USA that is like Detroit but I am sure you will find a way to blame others.  Enjoy!!!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@GoOg @tom.litton Is that why the GOP doesn't really support start up but mostly people who got their money from their parents?

GoOg
GoOg

@tom.litton @GoOg Gee that's great tom.  My kids really have something to look forward to.  As usual the liberals are looking to the future.  Or it could be they live for the moment and spend like there is no tomorrow.  For all of your pompous attitudes, Liberals are really clueless about how difficult it is to make it in this world and become successful. 

YesterdaysWine
YesterdaysWine

@GoOg @tom.litton You actually know how much of the debt is held by China? Do you know how much we hold of China's debt? I didn't think so. 

tom.litton
tom.litton

@GoOg @tom.litton This is exactly what i'm saying.  Your ignoring economic reality in favor of something you only wish were true.

Our finances are expected to be stable for the next 20+ years according to the CBO. 

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

@reallife @YesterdaysWine @GoOg Detroit and many other manufacturing-based cities have been in decline for a long, long time, longer than 25 years. I was in Detroit back in the mid-70s and it was already a dump.  White flight, expansion of suburbs, businesses moving out to the suburbs, then the long, slow decline of our manufacturing base have all taken their toll. It's not Democrat or Republican thing specifically regarding cities. The cities were left with the poorest citizens, who are often poorly educated, so their tax bases dried up. We need to seriously start working on a strategy to stop the bleeding of jobs to cheap labor markets, and also get people prepared for the jobs of the future or it's really going get ugly.

GoOg
GoOg

No it has not. You have vehicles that are overpriced and still has to have subsidies to survive. Bad ideas and at what cost to the taxpayers of this country?

GoOg
GoOg

Obstruct job growth? That would be your over regulating, over taxing liberal government.

mikeheart1981
mikeheart1981

@GoOg @drudown @YesterdaysWine  

GoOg, don't you recall the Republican fervor against helping the automakers? It turns out that the government bailout really did work for them, which undoubtedly saved many jobs in Michigan and vicinity.

manlyman
manlyman

A typical know-it-all nawthenah who in reality couldn't hit his own ass with either hand. I think the yeast flies have gotten into your yesterday's wine.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@YesterdaysWine @GoOg Yesterdasys, that trillion was just what was spent (and unfunded because Bush wouldn't increase tax revenue to cover it).  Estimates of the total costs of Iraq ALONE go upward of 10 trillion dollars over the next 20 years.  That includes what's been spent so far.  And that's 2 1/2 times what world war two cost us.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@GoOg @YesterdaysWine Wrong. They still have the power to obstruct job bill after job bill, which they seem delight in doing. And as for abusive nature remind us again which party is pushing to disenfrachise voters and to dictate when you can and can't have kids and who you can and can't marry.

GoOg
GoOg

@YesterdaysWine @GoOg Wow rambling man.  I do not have to go to Fox to see the businesses going defunct everyday due to poor leadership in this Country.  Blame the Republicans if you want but at the moment they really have no power.  You forget at the beginning of Obama's term they had everything.  The house the senate and the Presidency.  Why did that change if things were so great?  Because a lot of People knew the abusive nature of the Democrats unfortunately in 2012 they voted for continued failure.  Speaking of dumb asses it seems for someone that lives in Manhattan you are clueless as hell.  

GoOg
GoOg

@drudown @GoOg @YesterdaysWine Whats wrong Dru?  I thought the Democrats were the People's party?  How come you are not concerned about the 100s of thousands of Iraqis that were killed by their own leader?  Also according to our intelligence Dept.  There were weapons of mass destruction.  Haha you said lied.  You want to talk about lying look at your own snake of a leader.  

reallife
reallife

@YesterdaysWine@GoOg"The city of Detroit has been on a decline for at least 25 years."

make it 50 years dumbas$, all under democratic administrations

no wonder

 


YesterdaysWine
YesterdaysWine

@GoOg @YesterdaysWineI don't need a dumb ass giving me a dumb ass lesson. I'm from Manhattan. And if you think that Iraq had ANYthing to do with 9/11 I have a bridge I want to sell you. Afghanistan was at least semi-justifiable. But really, a trillion dollars to do a half-assed job there? WWII cost this country $4 trillion dollars (in 2009 dollar) and we took out two really dangerous, terrifying powers. In 3-1/2 years, no less. The question of fighting terrorism isn't the issue here. The issue is HOW to do it. But a dumb ass can't quite grasp that sort of nuance. As to comments like, "An executive branch running amuck," stroke yourself with your hysteria. It's absurd. The city of Detroit has been on a decline for at least 25 years. The key to its demise is the implementation of so-called "right-to-work" laws that drained jobs from fair, good wage states to backwards states who want workers to be slaves to the factory owners. Detroit. Jeesh, get a brain, bubba. And read a real book instead of something from Fox publishing. 

 

drudown
drudown

@GoOg @YesterdaysWine 

Ps. as an aside, I'm sure the people of Detroit are far happier with President Obama using federal funds to help "save" the Auto Industry in Detroit rather than the GOP leaders that asserted it should let the "market" take care of itself. 

Maybe you should watch the documentary 'Gasland' and hold the "free market" principles face to face? The republican voters that were living in PA and TX where dangerous "fracking" went forward? They were all displaced. 

"After the event, even the fool is wise." - Viscount Symonds

Well, except those unduly influenced with a financial bias. They dispense lies.

drudown
drudown

@GoOg @YesterdaysWine 

Guess what? 

Bush/Cheney LIED about 9/11 and those 3,000 people killed having some direct nexus to Saddam. These claims proved to be false.