Christie tells CPAC crowd he shouldn’t be counted out

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

OXON HILL, Md. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sold himself to a room of conservative activists Thursday as a fighter who shouldn’t be counted out as he mulls a run for president in 2016.

The Republican, who has struggled in recent weeks to gain momentum, was interviewed by talk show host Laura Ingraham onstage at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. The three-day event features a parade of potential presidential contenders.

Christie has faced a slew of negative stories and a formidable fundraising challenge from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But he made clear Thursday he’s not dissuaded.

“Is the election next week?” Christie responded when asked about lackluster poll numbers.

“I’ll take my chances on me,” he added. “I’ve done pretty well so far.”

Christie, who has largely avoided publicly criticizing his likely rivals, also addressed Bush directly, arguing that while the son and brother of former presidents may have the support of certain power brokers, he has unique appeal to voters.

“If the elites in Washington who make back-room deals decide who the president’s going to be, then he’s definitely the front-runner,” he argued. “If the people of the United States decide to pick the next president of the United States and they want someone who looks them into the eye, connects with them and is one of them, I’ll do OK if I run.”

Christie also touted his conservative credentials and pushed back against perceptions that he is too brash for the Oval Office.