Chris Christie, the larger-than-life governor of New Jersey, will deliver the keynote address to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., later this month, the GOP's top official announced Tuesday.
Governor Christie considered his own run for the presidency but, after less than three years in office, decided against it. Still, in his short time in office, Christie has built a national profile as a sharp-tongued reformer who was able to work with New Jersey’s Democratic-run legislature in cutting the state budget and curtailing public-sector unions – all without a blowup like what happened in Wisconsin.
Perhaps most important, Christie is a compelling, charismatic speaker with a message of fiscal responsibility who knows how to get roars from a crowd. His selection as keynote speaker may signal that his party sees a stellar future for him. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, it was Barack Obama’s keynote speech as an Illinois state senator and US Senate candidate that put him in the national spotlight.
“I’ll try to tell some very direct and hard truths to people in the country about the trouble that we’re in and the fact that fixing those problems is not going to be easy for any of them,” Christie told USA Today in an interview published Tuesday.
He said he will cite his experiences in New Jersey as evidence that “the American people are ready to confront those problems head-on and endure some sacrifice."
Christie told the newspaper that he’s already on the fourth draft of his speech, and has been “grinding away at it” since Republican candidate Mitt Romney asked him to deliver the keynote address. The New Jersey Republican and former federal prosecutor is known for his girth, as well as a combative, entertaining style – at times dressing down voters in public. But he is popular, even among some Democrats, as a truth-teller willing to take on tough budget issues. His job approval rating in New Jersey is above 50 percent.
"Chris Christie has proven how bold Republican leadership gets results. He has fearlessly tackled his state’s most difficult challenges, while looking out for hardworking taxpayers. He is a leader of principle and conviction," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.