BOSTON -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie received a warm welcome from fellow Republicans on Thursday with a spirited challenge to the GOP to do what it takes to win elections.
The Garden State governor, who is considered a top-tier challenger for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, dismissed some of the party's internal battles as little more than academic.
"I think we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors. Now college professors are fine I guess. Being a college professor, they basically spout out ideas that nobody does anything about," Christie told a closed-door meeting of the Republican National Committee, according to GOP officials in the room. "For our ideas to matter we have to win. And if we don't govern all we do is shout to the wind, and so I am going to do anything I need to do to win."
Christie also said: "I am not going to come and call you the stupid party. The election is over and we need to move on."
Those comments have been interpreted as jabs toward fellow Republicans Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator, and Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana. Both Paul and Jindal are viewed as fellow contenders for the GOP nod in 2016, and have offered different perspectives on what the party needs to revitalize itself. In Jindal's case, he said last year that Republicans must "stop being the stupid party."
Paul, by contrast, has sought to advance a libertarian strain of conservatism by criticizing President Barack Obama's counterterrorism and national security practices. That led to a public back-and-forth with Christie, a proponent of broader latitude in combating terrorism and other national security threats.
That the New Jersey governor's speech was well-received was made more important by its audience: members of the RNC, a group of influential party leaders whose support for various candidates could shape the race for the Republican nomination in 2016.
Cindy Costa, a national committeewoman from South Carolina, called Christie's speech "very powerful."
"He shared some of his personal life story that was very compelling and very precious and it just really warms you to him," she told NBC News. "I honestly went in there not feeling like I was was much of a Christie supporter and now I totally support this guy."
But Christie's pugnacious attitude has not always won over every voter (or every Republican). Though Paul has made public amends with Christie over their recent spat, going so far as to offer the governor a beer, some of the Kentucky Republican's supporters made their distaste toward Christie known.
Jeffrey Larson, the chairman of the Texas Republican Liberty Caucus who sported a "Stand With Rand" pin on Thursday, called Christie's remarks "very sincere," even though the governor's comments didn't sit particularly well.
"Some parts of it did appear to be a bit self-serving," he said. "It's legitimate to tell an audience if you're running for office who you are because you have to sell yourself, but the extent to which he took it really struck me as starting to borderline arrogance a little bit."
Michael O’Brien contributed to this story.