New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attacked the media as he returned to the national stage for the first time since a political retribution scandal erupted in his home state.

The Republican governor faced conservative activists gathered in suburban Washington on Thursday. He said his party must stop letting the media define the GOP and what it stands for. But to do that, he said Republicans must start talking about "what we're for and not what we're against."

The comments came at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day event that brings together hundreds of conservative activists, opinion leaders and a host of prospective Republican presidential candidates.

Conservatives gave Christie a standing ovation before and after his speech.