As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tries to overcome conservative skepticism about his record, he's finding a new ally in convincing the base he's not all that bad: the media.
The revelation that Christie's top aides improperly closed traffic lanes in an act of political retribution has damaged his reputation and led pundits to question his electability. But to many rock-ribbed Republicans at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, the press's withering scrutiny of the governor's role in "Bridgegate" makes him a sympathetic figure — just the latest in a long line of GOP leaders to bear the unfair attacks of a biased media.
The changed attitude was apparent at this week's conference, an event that only a year ago snubbed the blue-state Republican over his chumminess with President Obama and outspoken criticism of congressional Republicans looking to tighten spending for Hurricane Sandy. This year, Christie spoke and delivered a well-received speech that ended with a standing ovation among the thousands who packed the room.
In interviews, many CPAC attendees cautioned they're still wary of Christie's moderation on issues like gun control and his past chummy relationship with Obama. Few named him their top 2016 choice. But several attendees offered that Christie has an opportunity to repair some of the damage done to his relationship with conservatives, thanks to the media's incessant focus on the governor.