Though widely perceived to be near the back of the 2016 presidential pack, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apparently gained some momentum over the weekend with what was described as a "standout" performance at Mitt Romney’s E2 GOP donor summit in Utah.
"People were very impressed yesterday with Chris Christie. They were impressed with Lindsey Graham. Those are examples of two candidates they hadn't seen much of," Spencer Zwick, Romney's long-time fundraising guru told The Salt Lake Tribune.
That was echoed by a half-dozen other attendees who spoke to the Tribune.
What made Christie so special? It wasn’t so much his stump speech as what several donors said was his blunt answers during the Q-and-A sessions and in informal conversations.
He made his standard point that he has taken on unions while winning consistently in a Northeastern, traditionally Democratic state. But he also went after Sen. Rand Paul on his security positions as well as criticizing the party.
Paul "has made America weaker and more vulnerable and he has done it for his own personal political gain and he has done it to raise money," Christie said at one point. The GOP, meanwhile, has alienated many groups that should be natural Republicans.
The party needs to win the heart of the American people, Christie said, according to the paper.
"If we do, our ideas have always been better, but we haven't gotten to our ideas often because we haven't won them here," Christie said, pointing to his heart. "We've got to crack our chest open and show them our heart and show them we understand who they are and we understand their anxiety and we understand they've been let down by a government that is so dysfunctional."
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