Christie says it’s time to move on from 2020, as top Republicans are optimistic about 2022 prospects

LAS VEGAS – After a strong performance in last week’s election, some of the nation’s top Republicans this weekend expressed newfound confidence that they were well placed to regain control of Congress next year and ultimately reclaim the House White.

Speaking at the annual Republican Jewish Coalition leaders’ meeting in Las Vegas, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, boasted that Democrats were “panicking” after losing the race of the governor of Virginia and almost failed in New Jersey. Ronna McDaniel, president of the Republican National Committee, called Tuesday’s strong performance a “tsunami” and “a forerunner of very good things to come in 2022”.

But under the bravado that runs through the Grand Ballroom Palazzo at the Venetian Resort, the GOP still sailed around the shadow of Donald Trump, the former president who plans to play a major role midway through next year and could run for the White House again in 2024. Virtually everyone who addressed the crowd praised Trump, who also spoke via video. But for the first time since the defeat in the 2020 election, he seemed to be relegated to the background as others urged the party to think about its future.

The Republican force in Virginia and New Jersey last week was fueled by candidates who deliberately kept Trump at bay and succeeded in transforming the rural conservatives who make up the former president’s base, while also appealing to voters suburbs who had abandoned the party in recent years. This could provide a model for the success of the GOP in future elections.

But Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who could run for president again in 2024, warned that would only happen if GOP leaders, including Trump, focused on the future instead of re-content the past, including the lie of the former president that last year the election was stolen.

Republicans have “extraordinary opportunities over the next few years,” Christie said, but only if they offer voters “a plan for tomorrow, not a grievance against yesterday.”

“We can no longer talk about the past and the past elections, no matter where you stand on this issue – no matter where you stand – it’s over. And every minute we spend talking about 2020, ”he said, was“ a waste of time ”. The party must “take their eyes off the rearview mirror and start looking through the windshield again”.

In an interview after his speech, Christie said he believed Trump’s role in the party going forward was “completely dependent on the president’s own behavior.”

“If the president wants to talk about the future and spend most of his time talking about the future and what he sees next, then I’m sure he will be a welcome voice in any kind of debate.” , did he declare. “But if all we’re going to do is talk about grievance politics and issue statements saying you’re canceling the 2020 election or Republicans shouldn’t be voting in 22-24, I mean, that can’t to be the chef of our evening. It just can’t.

The RJC event, dubbed “the call of the kosher cattle” by its organizers, provided an opportunity for candidates to pitch in to court some of the party’s biggest and most influential donors on stage and in private forums. . Beyond Christie and Cruz, appearances included former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Congressional and gubernatorial candidates also worked in the room, including retired footballer Herschel Walker, a Georgia Senate candidate, and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sonunu, who has been repeatedly asked to campaign for the Senate, which he is considering.

“We’re kind of the keepers of kosher nostra to run for on the road. You have to come here first and show us your stuff, ”said former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who sits on the group’s board of directors. “It’s really fun watching potential future candidates strut around, seeing what they got. They are going to improve, they are going to have to change. It’s years away. But this is how candidates improve.

But first, some of the participants pointed out, came to win next year.

“A lot of people have come here to audition,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “We have a very rich bench. We have a lot of energetic people. We have resumes that I think would qualify them to lead this nation. But none of that matters to me until you’re right in 2022. ”

With that in mind, some of these presidential candidates made sure to first stress the importance of next year’s elections. Pence was among those to receive the loudest applause as he was the keynote speaker on Saturday night, predicting the country was “only 12 months away from a big Republican comeback.”

“Here and now, from now on, we will all resolve to do our part to win back the House, the Senate, the governors across the country in 2022,” he said, offering no comment on the plans for his own political future. . “And we will reconquer this country in 2024.”

Others have focused on cultural warfare issues surrounding vaccination warrants and critical race theory, an academic framework that dominated the final weeks of the Virginia governor’s race. It focuses on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they work to maintain white dominance. In recent months, it has become a catch-all political buzzword for teaching in schools about race and American history.

DeSantis, who has proclaimed his “freest” state in the country, has denounced pandemic restrictions, including mandatory vaccinations, while South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, like others, has accused the administration of spinning. back to Israel.

“They are not just trying to discredit Israel,” she said. “They’re not just trying to fund Israel. They are not just trying to alienate Israel. They are trying to delegitimize Israel. And they question Israel’s right to exist.

And they highlighted lessons learned from Tuesday, including the importance of focusing on issues that matter to voters, including education.

“Virginia was won by parents. Virginia has been won by moms – frustrated moms outraged by the arrogance and condescension of Democratic school boards and a Democratic administration that despises them, ”said Cruz.

“You just woke up a whole bunch of moms,” echoed McDaniel.

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