During a discussion on his show Friday, HBO host Bill Maher and his guests raked the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) over the coals for not inviting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to appear.
“Do they have a death wish?” Maher asked GOP strategist Steve Schmidt. “Do they want to win?”
According to Politico, Christie was not asked to participate because he publicly criticized House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other Republicans for opposing a relief package for New Jersey and New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy last year.
But the list of speakers who did get an invitation seemingly got chuckles out of Maher.
“The name of their theme this year is ‘America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives,’” he told Schmidt, who has called the event “the Star Wars bar” in the past. “And they invite Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry. That’s the next generation? That must curl your hair, if you had any.”
“On the inside,” Schmidt replied. “What I said was, the only thing this is missing is a couple of wookies walking around.”
The event, Schmidt said, is run by “the part of the Republican Party that explains why we’re at a 26 percent approval rating, nationally.” Without mentioning the organizers, the American Conservative Union (ACU), by name, Schmidt pointed out that they also excluded both black Republicans and gay Republicans from taking part.
“If Chris Christie’s the nominee of the Republican party in 2016, he totally changes the electoral map,” Schmidt said. “We haven’t won a state, with the exception of New Hampshire, since 1988 north of the Mason-Dixon line.”
The ACU’s dismissal of Christie, said California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), was also surprising because otherwise, he tends to follow the party line.
“He’s not pro gay marriage, he’s pro-life, he’s been a very aggressive anti-labor person, he’s been very aggressive in his budget cuts and deficit reduction,” Newsom said. “He’s been perfect on all of these conservative issues.”
“He’s a conservative,” Maher interjected. “Just like Chuck Hagel is a giant conservative. What is good enough for these people?”
Watch Maher and his panel discuss the rift between Christie and other conservatives, posted by Mediaite on Friday, below.