Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an Americans for Prosperity (AFP) event in Washington, D.C., titled: “Defending the American Dream”.

What I found most enlightening at this AFP event was a commitment to what should be Republican principles, but which Republican leaders in New Jersey, seem to have forgotten or are just ignoring.

Among the people speaking at the “Tribute to Reagan Dinner” event were, among others, Fox News Contributor Laura Ingraham, Republican Congressman Mike Pence and Dr. Jim Miller, former Reagan budget director.

Clearly, if the Republican Party is to survive both nationally and or in states like New Jersey, it needs to start acting like an organization that knows how to frame a message, organize and energize large numbers of people with the ability to move an agenda in a positive, proactive direction. That has to start from the top, and right now becausethe lack of leadership from the NJGOP is appalling.

At this event, people had lots of questions about New Jersey. One of the more interesting questions was one I received came from a gentleman that I sat with during dinner. He asked about some of the consultants who are running the Republican gubernatorial campaign.

He wondered why the campaign was pouring money into such a disjointed message and why, incredibly, they seemed on the path to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I told him that these are the same people who ran the Giuliani campaign into the ground and then were hired by the McCain campaign. We all know how those campaigns ended.

How much does the truth hurt? Even my fellow columnist, Alan Steinberg has come to the conclusion that the Christie campaign is in deep trouble and is now predicting a Corzine victory. Seems that the warnings I had written about months ago were prophetic.

Following is part of what I wrote in a column on February 11, 2009:

“Mr. Christie’s evasive answers to questions may be able to get him a nomination, but when it comes to a General Election, people are going to pay a great deal more attention.”

I further wrote about property taxes: “The voters want – and need – to know what you are going to do about them. In the General Election, the question is going to be a great deal tougher and subjected to a lot more scrutiny.”

And finally, I wrote:It is a great sound bite to say you are going to gut COAH. However, the voters are going to want to know how this will be accomplished within the framework of the law and recent court decisions. While it is obvious that the current attempt to implement the program is wrought with problems and intrusive on suburban communities, how will Mr. Christie make it better for the state?”

At the AFP event, the Republican message of smaller government, lower taxes and more personal responsibility was echoed repeatedly. This is the message I heard for two solid days, with specific ways to achieve those goals. It is a message that is sorely lacking from the NJGOP.

The morning session on the second day at the AFP Summit included Senator Jim DeMint, Larry Kudlow, CNBC & CEO of Kudlow and Co. Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal. The speakers further included Tim Phillips, President of AFP, Phil Kerpen, Director of Policy, AFP and finally former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich who produced and lead the GOP back to prominence with his Contract with America. My suspicion is that today’s NJGOP would reject that document as too Republican. Unlike the NJGOP, AFP is clearly in line with the RNC Platform and they are not ashamed of it.

The NJGOP would have been totally out of place at this event, because they are now acting more like they are ashamed of being Republicans in the first place.

The most recent Quinnipiac Poll shows Christie at 41 percent and Corzine 40 percent. On September 1st, Christie had a 46-30 percent lead over Corzine among independents, with 16 percent for gubernatorial candidate Christopher Daggett. As of September 30th, it was 45-32 percent in Christie’s favor, with Daggett holding on to his 16 percent. Why?

How else can you explain the effect of following statement from NJGOP Chairman Jay Webber relative to the question of adopting the RNC Platform? He said, “This doesn’t help Chris Christie because Chris Christie isn’t out there running as the Republican candidate.”

Is it any wonder why even ardent supporters such Alan Steinberg not only see what is happening, but are writing about it in spite of some not-so-veiled threats they are receiving from leaders of the NJGOP.