(CBS News) CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Conference. It's a crucial event for some Republicans testing the presidential waters. But this year, one of the most prominent names in the GOP is not on the list: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Speaking at this year's event is a who's who of GOP leadership, including early favorites for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. But one frequently mentioned frontrunner won't be there. Christie, the popular politician known for his quick wit and blunt style, has not yet been invited even though he was a featured speaker at last year's event.
In today's political landscape starkly divided along party lines, Christie has angered some conservatives who see him as too cozy with Democrats.
Rush Limbaugh said in a radio broadcast on October 31, "New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has decided to play the role of a Greek column today for President Obama."
When Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey's coastline, Christie praised President Barack Obama's quick response only days before the election. Christie said in Atlantic City, N.J. at the time, "I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and for the people of our state."
In January, Christie blasted the Republican-controlled Congress, charging it was GOP leaders who were tying up relief funds, saying, "Sixty-six days and counting. Shame on you. Shame on Congress."
After the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, he took on another conservative sacred cow: the National Rifle Association. When the gun lobby ran an ad saying, "Are the president's kids more important than yours?" Christie defended Mr. Obama, calling the attack "reprehensible."
And on Sunday night, Christie once again incited his party's conservatives when he was photographed sitting next to first lady Michelle Obama at the Governor's Ball.
Watch the video above for Elaine Quijano's full report.
Even a 74 percent approval rating may not be enough to get him invited to CPAC's party.
It's "heartburn" about Christie and his cozying up to the president, CBS News political director John Dickerson said on "CBS This Morning."
For more with Dickerson on Christie and who else may be in trouble with Republicans, watch the video below.
Dickerson added: "But it seems a little bit inside baseball because the conservative movement and the Republican Party are going through a redefining period. Inside baseball can sometimes be interesting. These little decisions end up meaning a lot when we get around a presidential race. One of the things the conservatives and Republicans are wrestling with is do they dispel sinners and heretics, which is what Chris Christie might be here -- people that haven't kept the faith -- or do they change to bring in more people, and that's the tension here. Christie's quite popular here, you could imagine supporting him because he reaches out to a larger group of people."
At CPAC, it's all about principle -- not necessarily money, Dickerson said, adding: "Conservatives want to stick to the principle. The Republican Party has different imperatives, has to get people elected. It bends on principle and gets into the messy politics part. At CPAC, they try and deal just with principle."