Under Chris Christie's leadership, the GOP gubernatorial campaign arm won key races
The success comes as Christie prepares for a potential presidential run
His work as chairman helped him lay a solid foundation for a national campaign of his own
He talked about Election Night in five interviews Wednesday morning
Gov. Chris Christie granted interviews to all five major news networks Wednesday morning, reveling in the thumping Republican governors gave Democrats on Election Night.
As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Christie helped raise $106 million over the past year and made public appearances with candidates in 26 states, on top of fundraisers and other RGA events in 10 others.
Republicans picked up four Democratic-held governorships and held on to key competitive states.
“I love that map this morning,” the New Jersey Republican said on Fox News, with a slightly raspy voice. “It looks absolutely fabulous.”
For Christie, the night represented a high point after months of controversy surrounding his office’s involvement with the Bridgegate scandal and budget woes in New Jersey. The victories gave him fresh momentum and leadership bona fides as he prepares for a potential presidential run.
lt also capped off a year of political growth and learning how to be a “team player,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.
“Part of the midterms was about widening his political appeal – it was about collecting chits from donors and activists,” he continued. “But it was also about demonstrating to fellow Republicans that you can play nice with others in your own party.”
Post-midterms, Christie was strategic in trying to keep the candidates in the spotlight Wednesday morning, saying on NBC that “the candidates deserve the credit – it’s always about the candidates.”
But Phil Cox, the executive director of the RGA, was less bashful, telling reporters on a conference call that Christie “deserves an immense amount of credit for the leadership he provided.”
Cox also argued that the expanded red map puts the GOP in a strong position for 2016, with Republicans still at the helm in presidential battleground states like Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. And Cox predicted “a number of Republican governors” will likely run for president.
For his part, Christie tried to appear no more closer to making his own 2016 decision.
Pressed by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” to elaborate on the public pressure he’s facing to run, Christie didn’t budge, saying only they he’ll make his decision “based on my own time table and not on anybody else’s.”
Asked how he can say no to 2016 after having a successful year, Christie replied: “I don’t know that you’d say ‘no’. But I haven’t said ‘yes.’”
“That’s a big difference,” he added.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Christie said the past year of traveling gave him and his family a better feel for what a national campaign would be like. But Christie said it’s not fair yet to say he’s closer to a 2016 run.
“It’s fair to say that what I’m looking for is a nap,” he said.
Christie also used the morning shows to defend his tough-guy personality, a trait that was on full display last week when he blew up at a heckler who interrupted him at a Superstorm Sandy event, commanding the man to “sit down and shut up.”
Democrats–and some Republicans–pounced on the episode to further paint Christie as a bully. But the second-term governor said Wednesday he has no regrets and brushed off criticism that he needs to tame his temperament.
“Why would anybody think that what I did last night wasn’t controlled, first off? Why would they think that I didn’t do exactly what I wanted to do?” he said on CNN.
As he has several time this year, he hit back against those who say his style won’t play beyond his home state of New Jersey.
“I’m going to be myself. If I decide to run for something and that’s not good enough, then that’s not good enough,” he said. I’m not going to change who I am–not for anybody.”