Charging out of last week's Republican National Committee meeting in Boston, Chris Christie's message was clear: The party needs to ditch fights over ideology and get back to winning elections.
"I am in this to win," the New Jersey governor told establishment Republicans. "I am going to do anything I need to do to win."
Christie aims to do just that in his home state, where he's expected to be easily re-elected in November.
But others see his winning attitude, popularity, and personal forcefulness as qualities that make him a possible favorite for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Christie says he's focused on his current job and plans to keep it. Growing outside expectations for a national candidacy bring positive attention that can amplify his message and agenda for the state.
But the leading edge of presidential politics -- welcomed by him or not -- also comes with new scrutiny and pressures that will test his ability to govern effectively if he is in fact positioning himself for a run -- and a win.
"The politics -- he got three big audiences he's got to be worried about: New Jersey, where you have a moderate to left-leaning audience. Soon, he's going to be worried about Republican caucus-goers (in Iowa). Going to be much more conservative. And then at the end, he's going to be worried about those swing voters," said Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, a Republican strategist and former George W. Bush campaign spokeswoman.
As governor, Christie finds himself in a far different position than other potential 2016 contenders.
Those in Congress flirting with presidential ambitions can posture, propose bills that go nowhere, and largely avoid accountability for a period of time, if they choose.
Those outside of government entertaining White House possibilities may have more room to position themselves; travel more freely to key states and otherwise test the waters without having to think twice about how a tweet, or a speech or a photo-op might play at home.
Christie must run New Jersey. He must make decisions that effect nearly nine million people - execute policy, sign or reject bills, and be a visible booster for a state where the economy continues to recover slowly and still feels the effects of Superstorm Sandy last October that devastated parts of economically vital Jersey Shore.
Though there is an upside that may favor winning.
Beginning with Thomas Jefferson, 17 governors have run for president and won, and two of the last three Republican presidents -- George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan -- were governors before they entered the White House.
Republican voters, too, seem to prefer candidates with Christie's background. One April poll showed 59% of GOP voters said they would prefer a governor as their party's nominee, compared to 23% who opted for a senator.
"As a candidate, it is probably helpful to be a governor," said John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. "You are making decisions, you are exercising leadership, in a way that you can't do if you are one person in a legislative body."
But the up and down nature of what Christie faces was clear over the past several days.
There was his speech in Boston, a largely positive moment for him.
Then it was back to business.
In the span of a few days, Christie approved edible forms of marijuana to be available to qualified minors, vetoed a weapons ban and decided to outlaw gay conversion therapy for minors in his state.
Each decision was viewed through a presidential political lens and presented complex challenges that impacted the lives of people in his state.
A centrist by comparison?
When Christie forbid gay conversion therapy for minors, many conservatives took to Twitter to critique the decision.
"The future Democrat president candidate?" asked Tom Orr. "If Chris Christie gets the Republican bid for President I will not vote Republican," tweeted Brian Vazquez.
For his part, Christie has been outspoken in favor of compromise and working with Democrats.
"We can stick to our principles and still come together to compromise," Christie said on Monday. "Compromise is not a dirty word. It is the way this country was built. And we need to get things done for the people that elect us."