We're here at National Harbor just outside of Washington where we are live blogging from CPAC - the Conservative Political Action Conference.
CPAC is the premiere conference of its type in the nation - an annual conclave attracting thousands of ardent patriots, all here to advance the conservative cause.
Right now we are waiting for Chris Christie to take the stage for what is expected to be a candid conversation with radio host and commentator Laura Ingraham.
If you are a frequent visitor to this blog you know that we follow Governor Christie and have followed him even before he was fist elected to office. So, as always we're looking forward to hearing from him today.
Governor Christie is now part of a crowded field of possible GOP presidential candidates and sometimes it can all seem a bit confusing. But, think of it this way: The Republicans have a large, strong field of emerging leaders, many of who are relatively young. Meanwhile, the Democrats are stuck with the same old, tired faces: Hillary, Biden, Reid, Pelosi, etc. It's quite a contrast.
Governor Christie looks good in a blue suit and light blue tie today and he seems relaxed and amiable.
Christie says he's here to say "I'm still standing" regardless of what the media say about him and his presumed campaign for the presidency. And he reiterates that he's also focused on running New Jersey. He begins by bashing the New York Times (which he says is in his backyard) by saying that if you don't bend to their way of thinking, no matter how much they might seem to like you at the start, they will eventually trash you. So, he doesn't seem surprised that his media reviews are now not as glowing as they once were and he says he doesn't change his views to fit the moment.
Now Chris Christie defends his social conservative credentials and repeats that he's pro life and that he has taken strong conservative positions in New Jersey on this and other issues. He says that when people describe him as "hot tempered" they miss an important descriptive word and the word is "passionate." He says he's passionate about what he believes in and by the way, has no regrets about some of the things he's said because "sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up."
He says he's tough at times because you have to be tough to "negotiate from a position of strength. That's when you can bring people together," he adds "when you negotiate from strength."
He disputes Jeb Bush who called illegal immigrants "entrepreneurial." Christie says "the most entrepreneurial people are here right now, they're Americans."
He says Americans want opportunities for careers for themselves and their children.
He's asked about his low rating in national polls and replies: "Is the election next week" and adds: "If "If I decide to run, I won't to it on the basis of polls taken 20+ months before the election." Christie declares and he then notes that at this time in 2008, the nominees "were supposed to be Giuliani and Hillary. You see how that turned out."
He says the GOP has to start fighting for ordinary, hard-working Americans who haven't gotten a cost of living wage increase in 15 years.
Christie is interrupted by lots of applause from this audience. He's playing well here -- far better than some people might expect. The crowd likes him. They're cheering him on.
But now Carly Fiorina has come on and the crowd is roaring and she's giving them red meat and she's going after Hillary Clinton - Big Time!
"She tweets about women's rights in this country but accepts money from other countries that deny women the most basic human rights," she says of Hillary.
She makes pithy, cogent points and calls for a radical simplification of the tax code, among other things.
She's got a great voice -- powerful and modulated without being shrill. Her style and mannerisms are superb. She's poised, confident and quite convincing.
Of women she says "we are not a special interest; we are the majority of the nation." And she adds: "I'll say this, if Hillary had to face me in a debate, she'd have a hitch in her swing,"