TODAY   |  February 27, 2013

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie snubbed by CPAC

Chris Christie is riding high on a 74 percent approval rating for his work as New Jersey governor, but fellow Republicans did not invite the 2012 GOP convention keynote speaker to speak at this month’s annual CPAC gathering. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> new jersey governor chris christie , a new battle today. this time, he's at odds with his own party. andrea mitchell is here to explain that. good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt. 74% approval rating in new jersey. that's the envy of his fellow governors. that does not seem to matter to the republican party 's conservative leaders. the latest sign that chris christie won't bow down to hardliners, his annual budget speech, signing on to obamacare, eighth republican governor to accept the plan.

>> it's simple. we're putting people first. which is why after considerable discussion and research i have decided to participate in medicaid expansion under the affordable care act .

>> reporter: that follows a very public embrace when the president pledged federal aid after superstorm sandy the week before the election.

>> i cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and for the people of our state.

>> reporter: romney supporters were furious. later, christie railed against house republicans for shelving a disaster relief bill.

>> shame on you. shame on congress.

>> reporter: now a snub from the political conference, inviting every national republican to speak except the keynoter of the 2012 convention, chris christie . christie turned down the group's invitation two years ago. they see a bigger problem, the party's refusal to broaden its base.

>> if the republican future does not include a place for people like chris christie , the republican party don't have a future.

>> reporter: the white house isn't doing christie any favors with republican hardliners, seating him this week in the place of honor, next to the first lady at the black tie dinner for governors. chri christie 's speech could help him.

>> he is up for re-election and the idea of national conservatives giving him a hard time doesn't hurt with moderate voters in new jersey.

>> if christie wants to run for president in 2016 , he will still have to figure out how to get through the primaries without making peace with his party's right wing. natalie?

>> andrea mitchell , thanks.