Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making the case that his political success in a Democratic-dominated state can offer lessons for his party and also potentially be translated to the national level.
As he pursues a re-election bid hes favored to win in November, were going to learn things this year that were going to be able to apply to the races were going to have in 2014 and beyond, he told the Republican National Committee in Boston on Thursday in a speech recorded by Bloomberg News.
Christie, citing his endorsements from trade unions, also said Republicans should try to pit private-sector and public-sector unions against each other.
We as a party better get smart on this issue because those men and women who work for those private-sector unions know that the way they get to work and make more money and put food on the table for their families is private-sector job growth, he said.
We as a political party have an opportunity to drive a wedge in the union movement. And the laboratory where that is happening right now is in my state.
Christie, 50, left some in the room with the impression that those lessons also could be translated to 2016, when hes viewed as a potential presidential candidate.
I took all that to mean, Im going to run in 2016 and Ive demonstrated a winning formula. If you want to win and dont just care about ideology, Im your candidate, Steve Munisteri, the Republican chairman in Texas, told reporters after the speech.
Christie made his remarks to Republican leaders seeking to revamp their policies to better appeal to minorities and women.
If we dont win, we dont govern, Christie said. I am going to do anything that I need to do to win.
Christie, who defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine in 2009 to win his first term, argued that some in his party seem more interested in debates than election victories.
I think we have some people who believe our job is to be college professors, he said.
The governor took a veiled shot at one of his potential rivals for the 2016 Republican nomination, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who in a speech early this year called on the party to stop being stupid.
I know there are a lot of different opinions in this party and thats good, Christie said. We want to have a lot of different opinions. But Im not going to be one of these people who come and call our party stupid.
Citing endorsements hes received from Hispanic and black groups in his re-election bid, Christie said Republicans can make gains among demographic groups that have trended toward Democrats.
You dont have to sacrifice your base voters to win Latino votes, he said.
You dont have to sacrifice your base voters to win a share of African-American votes. You dont have to sacrifice your base voters to be able to win the building trade votes. You dont have to sacrifice your base voters to close a gender gap and turn it in the other direction. You dont have to.