According to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, drug education and treatment are two issues which fall under the “pro-life” banner. Christie made the remarks Friday to a gathering of conservative Christians while speaking at a “Road to Majority” gathering sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He further stated that people cannot be pro-life only as it pertains to life in the womb.
Christie, a former prosecutor, focused on the subject of drug addiction during his talk and said that violent drug dealers deserve prison terms. However, Christie feels that those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses should be provided with the necessary tools to deal with addiction.
Governor Christie was met with applause when he said that people should take care of their fellow citizens from the time they are conceived until they die a natural death. When someone stumbles and falls, Christie said others need to be there to help them put things back together. He said this, to him, is the true meaning of pro-life. He also told the audience that sometimes a pro-life stance can be a messy business and is very difficult at times.
In addition, Christie said that those who call themselves pro-life need to battle for education as a result of believing that life is precious. To that end, he said more vouchers and charter schools are necessary. Further, Christie said that teachers need to be held to the highest standards possible and that great teachers should be rewarded and the ones who are not performing according to those standards should be fired. The potential of every student, Christie said, should be the priority in every classroom.
This speech marked Christie’s first major oratory at a gathering of evangelicals. The goal of the event is to build a conservative majority that is pro-family. According to event organizers, over a thousand evangelical leaders were participating in the conference. One of the main focuses of the conference is to rally religious conservatives who vote in preparation for the forthcoming midterm elections and the 2016 election for president.
Christie was just one of many well-known names on a very packed agenda. Besides Christie, participants at the conference also heard from the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, and Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky (who is widely known as a spokesperson for the Tea Party). Both Ryan and Paul are considering a run for the White House in 2016. The scheduled speech comes at a very important time for Christie as he seeks to broaden his political potential and works to recover from a political retribution scandal in his own state.
At one point, Christie was considered as having the highest potential to be a front runner for the Republican presidential nomination. This was true throughout most of last year. However, his popularity drastically dropped nationwide after a disclosure that some of the top staff in his office had closed lanes of traffic on the George Washington Bridge in a supposed effort to discipline a Democratic mayor who had refused to endorse Christie’s gubernatorial campaign. For his part, Christie has denied being involved at all but that did not stop the issue from continuing to hang over him at the event on Friday. Well-known radio host Michael Medved was the speaker after Christie and, upon taking the lectern, made a lighthearted joke about some in the audience being tardy as a result of bridge closings.
Christie addressed a different challenge as governor while at the conference: working with a Democrat-dominated legislature. He said that he long came to an understanding that he will not always get everything that he wants, but knows that a true leader still seeks to figure out a way to get things done.
Christie says he believes that people in New Jersey and across the country are growing weary of a government that is constantly at odds with one another while getting nothing done and allowing the country to remain in gridlock. He was also critical of the current administration, saying that President Obama and his policies are having an adverse effect on the influence of America around the world. He also pointed out that Israel, who used to count on America as an ally, is no longer convinced it has the support of the United States. Christie says that Israel needs to count on America as an ally and know that it will fight for them.
Some of those in attendance felt that the speech was all about testing audience reaction while considering a possible run for President. Many there told reporters that they considered him a controversial leader, but one who can also be effective. Another attendee went as far as to compare him to former president Ronald Reagan. Some have referred to him as being a fist in a velvet glove and one who will do more than just play a political game.
Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum was also present at the conference. Santorum is said to be one of the most well-known faith-based conservatives in the Republican party and used his time on stage to focus on current challenges to the United States economy. According to Santorum, the biggest challenge is the diminishing number of stable homes where both parents are present. Santorum referred to the home as the first economy. He said it was sad that there are people in the Republican Party and the conservative movement who are not willing to fight for the rights of family or for the institution of marriage.
Since 2012, Santorum has maintained that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because the Republicans put too much emphasis on business rather than the problems of average Americans. He said that the Republican Party needs to lay out a new agenda that speaks to all sides of the economy.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky scolded the Obama White House for providing arms to Syrian rebels. Paul said that most of these weapons are eventually given or sold to Islamic groups who have the goal of killing Christians. He said the largest majority of Syrian Christians are on the opposite side of the war.
Also speaking was Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California and the recently elected majority leader of the House of Representatives. McCarthy told about his rise from a small business proprietor operating a delicatessen to representing his constituents in Congress. McCarthy acknowledged that many citizens were frustrated and assured that many Congressmen are hearing about the frustration. He assured the audience that unification will occur and the country will eventually turn around and be on the economic road to success.
Many issues were brought up by aspiring Republican presidential candidates. Christie hopes the expansion of the definition of pro-life will help increase their chances in the 2016 presidential campaign.
By Rick Hope