Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was once a close adviser to former President Trump, told Republicans gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Thursday evening that the party must "face the realities of the 2020 election," discredit the "extremists in our midst" and "renounce the conspiracy theories."
While Mr. Trump remains popular among a significant segment of Republicans not yet weary of his false claims of election fraud, Christie addressed those who are.
"We need to give our supporters facts that will help them put all those fantasies to rest so everyone can focus with clear minds on the issues that really matter," Christie said. "We need to quit wasting our time, our energy, and our credibility on claims that won't ever convince anyone of anything."
"All this lying has done harm to our nation, to our party, and to each other," he said, and he sought to remind the audience of the Republican Party's values, which he listed as conservatism, faith, decency, integrity, freedom, liberty, competence and truth.
The former New Jersey governor, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and lost to Mr. Trump, was invited to speak as part of the library's Time for Choosing speaker series. Former Vice President Mike Pence appeared as part of the series, and former House Speaker Paul Ryan gave the inaugural speech. Ryan, too, slammed the former Republican president and the hold he has over the party.
"If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or on second-rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere. Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle," Ryan said, adding, "They will not be impressed by the sight of yes-men and flatterers flocking to Mar-a-Lago."
Christie also went after Republicans who indulge Mr. Trump's election claims, saying that "pretending we won when we lost is a waste of time and energy and credibility" while he urged Republican supporters to denounce the conspiracy theories and fight back against liberals with conservative ideas.
The former New Jersey governor derided GOP political operatives who he said are urging Republican lawmakers to nod and pretend to agree with the liars and conspiracy theorists. "And whatever you do, don't upset the truth deniers," Christie said.
No man or woman -- whatever wealth they've acquired or office they hold, is "worthy of blind faith and obedience," he warned.