New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit with a speech designed to counter critics who question Christie’s conservative credentials.
“I have heard and read the conventional wisdom that somehow a guy from New Jersey would not be welcomed or understood at the Iowa Freedom Summit,” Christie said, “that somehow I’m too loud, that I’m too blunt and I’m too direct.”
Christie then cited the 11 times he’s visited Iowa in the past five years, at the invitation of the Iowa GOP, Governor Terry Branstad and Congressman Steve King, the host of Saturday’s event.
“Now let me ask you this: If I was too blunt, too direct, too loud and too ‘New Jersey’ for Iowa, then why do you people keep inviting me back?” Christie asked, as the crowd laughed. “And even more importantly if the values I’m fighting for every day in New Jersey and all across this country are not consistent with your values, then why would I keep coming back? I wouldn’t. I do because our values are consistent and we’re fighting together to make this a better country.”
Christie stood behind the lectern and flipped the pages of his prepared text as he spoke, but at the start of his speech, Christie was interrupted by a protester and it provided an unscripted moment.
“Don’t they know I am from New Jersey and this doesn’t bother me one bit?” Christie said, to cheers from the crowd as the protester was escorted out of the auditorium by security.
AUDIO of Christie’s speech
Christie was the next-to-last speaker of the day for the crowd who’d gathered in the historic Hoyt Sherman Place to hear from a handful of potential 2016 presidential candidates. Christie listed his campaign successes in New Jersey and told the crowd Republicans don’t have to back away from their pro-life stand in “blue states” like his own. He did not address the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal that involved his deputy chief of staff, but Congressman Steve King did bring up the controversy in his introduction of Christie. King praised the New Jersey governor for how he’s handled the media attention surrounding the bridge closure.