Gov. Chris Christie, who has electrified GOP audiences in appearances across the country, will deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this month, party leaders will announce Tuesday. In a statement obtained by The Star-Ledger, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the brash governor, an early supporter of Mitt Romney, is the right choice to rally the party in the effort to defeat President Obama. "As governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has proven how bold Republican leadership gets results," Priebus said. "He has fearlessly tackled his state’s most difficult challenges, while looking out for hardworking taxpayers. He is a leader of principle and conviction, and I am excited to hear him address the Republican National Convention as our keynote speaker." He said Christie "will make the case for America’s Comeback Team" for the ticket of Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
The plum assignment caps Christie’s dramatic rise from outspoken Morris County freeholder and George W. Bush fundraiser to the nation’s most sought-after governor. The prime-time speech two weeks from Tuesday will showcase his talent for deftly pivoting from self-deprecating everyman to attack dog — a skill that has garnered him more than 5.1 million YouTube hits and the ire of Democrats across the country. "It is an honor to be able to address our party and our nation in just a few short weeks," Christie said in the statement. "The challenges we face as a country are great and require the honesty and boldness of the Romney-Ryan team. We have an opportunity in Tampa to make clear that if we tell each other the hard truths, tackle the big problems, and make bold choices, we will see America’s comeback."
Christie -- an early Romney backer -- will likely incorporate his penchant for amusing anecdotes and self-deprication into his address, the central theme of which will be a powerful indictment of President Obama's leadership. I suspect Christie's much-discussed remarks at the Reagan Library last year will be the template for his upcoming speech. Here's a flashback to what Christie told a packed house in Simi Valley in September:
In Washington, on the other hand, we have watched as we drift from conflict to conflict, with little or no resolution. We watch a president who once talked about the courage of his convictions, but still has yet to find the courage to lead ... And still we continue to wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office. We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things that are obvious to all Americans and to a watching and anxious world community. Yes, we hope. Because each and every time the president lets a moment to act pass him by, his failure is our failure too. The failure to stand up for the bipartisan debt solutions of the Simpson Bowles Commission, a report the president asked for himself…the failure to act on the country’s crushing unemployment…the failure to act on ever expanding and rapidly eroding entitlement programs…the failure to discern pork barrel spending from real infrastructure investment.
Now, seven years later, President Obama prepares to divide our nation to achieve re-election. This is not a leadership style, this is a re-election strategy. Telling those who are scared and struggling that the only way their lives can get better is to diminish the success of others. Trying to cynically convince those who are suffering that the American economic pie is no longer a growing one that can provide more prosperity for all who work hard. Insisting that we must tax and take and demonize those who have already achieved the American Dream. That may turn out to be a good re-election strategy for President Obama, but is a demoralizing message for America. What happened to State Senator Obama? When did he decide to become one of the “dividers” he spoke of so eloquently in 2004? There is, of course, a different choice.
His message in Tampa will be similar, I'd bet, but his audience and platform will be vastly larger. Good choice, GOP. Here's the video, for those who are interested. Ten bucks says he essentially re-purposes a large chunk of this script for his big night -- and why not? It's very effective:
Idea: Could the RNC plant obnoxious hecklers for this speech, just so Christie and do his thing and slam them? The place would go nuts.
UPDATE - For those who were wondering what Marco Rubio's RNC role will be, it's a big one:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month, while Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) will introduce Mitt Romney.