Beyond chatter about his recent weight loss, it's been a little while since we've seriously checked in with Chris Christie's presidential ambitions, so let's see what he's up to. Oh! oh. Christie will be speaking at a "pro-family" conference full of "values voters" later in June, so we guess he is still running for president. According to Politico's Wednesday report, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will also be there to get some backup for his Senate campaign, as will old values voters event standbys Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, and Phyllis Schlafly.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference is one of the typical pit stops for potential candidates who need to court conservative evangelical support. They announced Christie's participation on Wednesday with a short statement touting his "aggressive reform agenda to restore integrity and accountability to state and local government." The comments on the Facebook announcement were, well, less than enthusiastic.
So Christie has some work to do on this particular group of voters: in October, the New Jersey governor wasn't even invited to the annual Values Voter summit, another key stop for presidential wannabes. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were all there, The Hill reported.
However, there's a reason Team Christie might think this will work. The Values Voter summit was pre-Bridgegate. As it turns out, Christie's appeal to Tea Partiers — largely synonymous with the Religious Right — actually bumped up a bit once he started facing increasing scrutiny from the press over the bridge scandal. While the poll isn't nearly enough to prove causality, the implication is that Christie became the enemy of the Tea Party's enemy once the scandal became a big deal.
Christie's record on the sort of "values" issues that the Faith and Freedom Coalition's audience cares about is mixed at best. He withdrew his state's defense of a same-sex marriage ban last October, while stating that he remains personally opposed to same-sex marriage. On the other hand, Christie also won a "Father of the Year" award from the Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council on Wednesday.