For as much shit as Christie gets about being abrasive, he's very good at reaching across the aisle.
The biggest problem with the conservative party isn't that there are people in power who aren't principled enough. It's that they've become so principled that they don't realize that you have to give a little in order to take a little. The Republican party needs a conservative version of Bill Clinton. Think Christie can do that, even if it's couched in a tough skin vs. a slick salesman approach.
Also... Christie is one of the next wave of conservatives, in my opinion, who can appeal to the religious right/neocons without taking on too many positions that piss off moderates.