New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will speak to conservative activists Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, but don't expect him to pander.
Sources close to the governor indicate that Christie will tell the audience at the conference in a Washington suburb that conservatives need to stop letting the media define who they are by playing into the negative stereotypes perpetuated by Democrats.
Christie will likely remain true to his no-nonsense personality during his speech, drawing a contrast between an executive that gets things done versus the partisan dysfunction in Washington.
Christie's speech will take place after activists listen to a full slate of conservative members of Congress, beginning with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Christie will likely highlight the success of Republican governors around the United States, signaling them as a model for the future of the party.
Christie will speak as a conservative, sources close to the governor say, but will encourage activists to focus more on ideas over partisan rhetoric.
That draws a sharp contrast with grassroots favorites such as Cruz and Sarah Palin, who will likely fire up the crowd with red-meat conservative talking points.
Christie, however, will also likely employ some anti-Obama rhetoric in his speech. At a New Jersey town hall earlier this week, the crowd roared with delight when he suggested that if Americans wanted to change Obamacare, they should vote in a new president.
It will also be interesting to see if Christie has any hecklers in the crowd, and if he chooses to engage them. Media observers will be looking for any sign of dissent among conservative activists against the more moderate Christie.
Christie's embrace of President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy earned him a cold shoulder from the conservative conference in 2013, but it probably didn't hurt the governor's feelings as he was engaged in his plan for re-election in a Democratic state.
Thursday's speech will keep Christie in the headlines as a 2016 Republican presidential hopeful, but it's doubtful he'll win the CPAC straw poll on Saturday.