The decision not to invite New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the Conservative Political Action Conference undermines the annual event's credibility, a New York Republican lawmaker said on Friday.
"That's a suicidal death wish," U.S. Rep. Peter King said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
Al Cardenas, chairman of the group which runs CPAC, said he did not invite Christie back to the event this year because the governor had not held conservative positions in recent months.
Specifically, he said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," because of the $60 billion Superstorm Sandy relief bill he supported and a temporary, federally funded expansion of Medicaid in New Jersey.
Christie is the eighth Republican governor to sign onto the Medicaid expansion, but only for the first three years when it is funded fully by the federal government.
"Let me be clear: Refusing these federal dollars wouldn't mean they would not be spent," he told lawmakers last week.
Cardenas said he hoped Christie "gets back to the old form so we can have him again next year."
For his part, Christie dismissed any notion it was a snub and said, "It's not like I'm lacking for invitations to speak around the country."
But King suggested the move "writes off CPAC as a serious force."
"You have a governor who is conservative - he's balanced the budget, he's taken on public employee unions, he's pro-life -- and yet, he has a 74% favorable rating in a Democratic blue state," King said. "So here's a person who has shown that blue collar conservatism works, that it appeals to working men and women, that it appeals to women - and these are the areas that we've been suffering.
"If you can't accept Chris Christie as a conservative then you're really just asking for another election loss in 2016 and it makes us look crazy in the eyes of the American people," he continued.
King also explained further his criticism of Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, who voted against that post-Sandy aid package yet recently held fundraising meetings in New York.
"Senator Rubio voted against it," he said. "Never came to New York to inspect the damage, never spoke with Governor Cuomo or Mayor Bloomberg or, as far as I know, with Governor Christie. He just voted no, as if this is accepted policy that Republicans, national Republicans can vote against New York."
Rubio declined to appear on the program to discuss King's comments, including those King made in a Thursday email to supporters, where he described Rubio's pitch in no uncertain terms.
"[T]o have the balls to come in and say, 'We screwed you now make us president?'" he wrote.
Rubio is from Florida, a state that has received federal storm relief aid, he pointed out. Some Republicans considered a portion of the billions in the Sandy aid package to be pork and initially blocked the full bill from passing.
"This isn't looking for a bridge or a tunnel or a special project," King said. "This is life and death we're talking about."
A conservative should be able to endorse spending such as aid relief, he said, but some approach politics in "a very puritanical" way.
"I'm pro-life, I'm conservative, but I also understand that I don't believe that I have a Biblical knowledge of all the issues facing the country," he said. "The idea is to make government work the way Ronald Reagan did."