WASHINGTON >> New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered his Republican Party a prescription to win: show up.
Christie, fresh off a 22-percentage point win for re-election, said the GOP must go into Hispanic and black communities, talk with seniors and campaign in traditionally Democratic-leaning areas. It’s what helped him become the first New Jersey Republican in a quarter century to capture more than 50 percent of the vote.
It also has done nothing to tamp down chatter about a 2016 presidential bid, something many have encouraged.
“I know everybody is going to be speculating about what may come in my future and lots of other people’s future in our party. But the fact is, I am focused on being the governor of New Jersey and being the chairman of the Republican Governors Association,” Christie said on “Fox News Sunday,” one of the four television news shows he appeared on today. “And I think those two jobs will keep me pretty busy over the next year.”
It’s the year after that dominates conversations among Republican operatives, donors and rivals.
Asked directly whether he would serve all four years of his second term, which starts in 2014, Christie hedged: “Listen, who knows? I don’t know.”
Republicans are searching for a candidate who is true to the party’s beliefs, can appeal to voters in swing-voting states and can help the part win the presidency for the first time since 2004.
Christie’s win on Tuesday made him an appealing option.
“I got 61 percent of the vote in the state of New Jersey in a blue state that had just re-elected Barack Obama a year ago by 17 points,” Christie said. “That was nearly a 40-point turnaround between voting for a Democrat at the top of the ticket and voting for a Republican.”
Christie attributed his win to reaching out to traditionally Democratic demographic groups.
“Getting 51 percent of the Hispanic vote, I’m very proud of that,” he said. “Because I’ve worked hard with the Hispanic community to let them see how our policies can help their families. I’ve worked hard with the African American community. I’ve worked hard with seniors and students.”
Christie said the reason for his win was simple: better-than-average showing at the polls from minorities and Democrats.
“If you want to win a vote by that kind of margin, if you want to attract the majority of the Hispanic vote, if you want to nearly triple your African American vote, you need to show up, you need to go into those neighborhoods, you need to campaign in places,” Christie said.
Exit polls say Christie also carried one-third of Democrats and two-thirds of those who called themselves independents.
That’s not to say Christie is a natural fit for the GOP. He has favored an overhaul to the nation’s immigration laws that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. He is not opposed to some gun control measures. And he’s been critical of some of the tea party’s most popular figures in Washington.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a 2012 presidential contender who is weighing another White House campaign, said voters would have to judge Christie’s record as he visits early nominating states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
“Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?” Perry said in an interview taped during a visit to Des Moines, Iowa. “We’ll have that discussion at the appropriate time.”
Christie spoke to “Fox News Sunday,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Christie and Perry appeared separately on ABC’s “This Week.”