Admittedly, these are the opinions of only a modest sample of the most dedicated social conservative activists, including a good number of evangelical Christians who might be more sympathetic to a candidate like former Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the 2012 Iowa caucuses with support from influential pastors, or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the son of a Baptist minister and a practicing evangelical.
But there is harder evidence that Christie has problems with Republicans outside of New Jersey. A Gallup poll released earlier this month pegged Christie's approval rating among national Republicans at just 58 percent, and almost a quarter of Republicans view him unfavorably.
"This may reflect that Republicans are paying close attention to Christie's overall political positioning, and some in the party may be displeased with Christie's high-visibility public appearances with President Barack Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy at the New Jersey shore, including one just before last November's presidential election," Gallup pollster Frank Newport wrote about the poll.
Getting a thumbs-up from nearly two-thirds of national Republicans might not seem like a problem for Christie. But politicians -- especially those who hope to survive the obstacle course of a presidential primary fight -- are generally expected to have deeper appeal within their own party's ranks.
Hillary Clinton, for instance, has a 94% favorable rating among Democrats, Gallup recently found.
The picture in New Jersey, where Christie is expected to cruise to victory in November over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, differs markedly for him.
Almost 90 percent of Republicans in the state view their governor favorably, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released on Friday, and more than 80 percent of New Jersey voters think Christie will be re-elected.
And yet not a single person among the more than two dozen conference-goers interviewed Thursday and Friday named Christie among their top choices for president in 2016. The names that most frequently surfaced were those of Paul, Rubio and Walker, who, like Christie, were absent from the gathering.
A number of conservatives here said flatly they would never vote for Christie.
"Sorry, can't go that way," said Nancy Schultz, a Republican from Orlando, Florida. "He's not pure enough on the founding principles."
Elizabeth Creamer, a resident of Clearwater, Florida, had a similar take.
"I've heard he's in with the president and he supports what he does, and you see him walking around with Obama and you see him consorting with Obama a lot," Creamer said. "I don't know where he stands."
LaDonna Ryggs, a Republican activist from South Carolina, said Christie has time to repair his image, but she doubts that he will have much appeal in her state, which holds one of the pivotal early presidential primaries every four years.
"After the election and the things that happened, I think a lot of people probably blame him for it," Ryggs said. "I don't blame him. I don't think it was his fault. But you still hear it from a lot of people. The way I look at him is, he sells in New Jersey. And what you have to be there is a whole lot different than what sells in South Carolina. I don't know that he will be popular in South Carolina."
A few people here had a more pragmatic perspective.
Eric Lupardus, the 25-year old Missouri native, said Republicans should be willing to support candidates who aren't down-the-line conservatives if they want to win.
"I hate the argument that if we want to win we have to pick someone who we don't necessarily agree with, but that's the world we live in," he said. "So I would rather have Chris Christie and have him be my friend half the time, than have a Democrat as a president. I would certainly vote for him."
"I don't think we should shoot for the middle," Lupardus said, with a pained look on his face. "But we need someone with broad appeal, because we've lost the last two times and we need a win."