Christie to headline National Republican Congressional dinner
BALTIMORE -- House Republicans have tapped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to serve as the headliner for their annual spring fund-raising dinner, continuing to raise the national profile of the tough-talking prosecutor-turned-governor.
The National Republican Congressional Committee will announce later Friday that Christie will deliver the keynote speech at the committee's annual spring gala, scheduled for March 30 at the National Building Museum.
"Governor Christie has become a highly regarded Republican since winning his gubernatorial race in 2009, and we are excited that he will be joining us in March," Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), NRCC chairman, said in a prepared statement.
The news comes as other high-profile Republicans court the newly powerful House Republican Conference on the second day of their retreat on Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Friday morning, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich delivered a breakfast address to the lawmakers. Always brimming with ideas, Gingrich devoted a good portion of his talk to rhetoric about national greatness and the effort to cure Alzheimer's disease, according to Republicans present.
At lunchtime, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) will be part of a governors' panel, expected to be a free-wheeling discussion of their states and how they've approached everything from budgets to health care.
Gingrich and Barbour are considering 2012 presidential bids. Christie has denied any interest in the race, but his name has also been floated as a potential vice-presidential nominee.
Christie, a former U.S. attorney in the Bush administration, has gained nationwide attention for his tough approach to cutting state spending and his blunt deliberations with public sector unions that he says have driven the state into massive deficits. It will be the second time in recent months that House Republicans have turned to Christie, who made a closed-door address to the GOP conference in September.
At that time, according to GOP aides, he talked about how he handled his state's budget crisis last summer, then joined with now-House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in jokingly threatening Republican lawmakers who don't donate more money from their campaign accounts to the NRCC.
His critics say that Christie is full of tough talk but lacks the substance to truly deal with the state's problems. Most recently, Christie drew attention for declining to return to New Jersey over the holiday break during a snowstorm that blanketed some regions with up to 30 inches of snow. Christie remained in Disney World, in Orlando, with his family on a long-planned vacation. The state's Senate president served as acting governor.
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