TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention later this month in Tampa, Fla.
The Republican National Committee made the official announcement Tuesday morning.
“As governor of New Jersey, 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,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “He is a leader of principle and conviction, and I am excited to hear him address the Republican National Convention as our keynote speaker.”
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Now, the governor will be selling the national ticket of Romney and Ryan.
“It is an honor to be able to address our party and our nation in just a few short weeks. The challenges we face as a country are great and require the honesty and boldness of the Romney-Ryan team,” Christie said in a statement. “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 has long been a rising star in the Republican party.
He endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last year and has been traveling around the country campaigning for Romney ever since.
“American cannot survive another four years of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is the man to lead America and we need him now,” Christie said last year.
National Republicans were attracted to his hard-charging style and his fiscal conservatism, but Christie said he had a job to do in New Jersey.
“For months, I’ve been adamant about the fact I would not run for president,” he said. “My language is clear and direct, my answer has always been ‘no.'”
But Christie’s charisma has also come with a dose of brashness that sometimes has him clashing with constituents and reporters. Garden State voters have seen the movie and they know how it can often end. The following are quotes the governor has thrown out there in the past year-plus:
“She should be really embarrassed at what a jerk she is for saying something like that.”
“Get the hell off the beach.”
“Why don’t you guys take the bat to her.”
“It’s none of your business. I don’t ask you where you send your kids to school. Don’t bother me when I send mine.”
What Christie brings to the table are his skills at budget cutting, dealing with a legislature where both houses are controlled by Democrats and his tight-fisted approach to the unions.
“Chris Christie is a national leader in the Republican Party. His leadership proves how the common-sense principles of reducing spending and cutting taxes works in New Jersey and will work for America,” RNC Chief Executive Officer William Harris said in a statement.
“I think it’s going to be very important that he project a very bold vision. We saw that in 2004. Barack Obama did that for the Democrats and I suspect Gov. Christie is going to use that same stage to project a vision at the national level,” Seton Hall University political science professor Dr. Heath Brown told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer on Tuesday.
It’s no surprise that New Jersey union officials take a dim view of their governor’s new national platform. Bob Master is with the Communication Workers of America, which represents 40,000 state employees.
“The track record for Gov. Christie in New Jersey exemplified exactly what’s wrong with the Romney-Ryan program, which is that trickle-down economics actually only works for the people at the top,” Master told CBS 2’s Kramer.
As for New Jersey voters, they appear split on Christie making the speech.
“I think he’ll help with the message. He’s a good man and he knows how to speak,” said Chuck Azarow of Fort Lee.
“He’ll say it loud and it’s unfortunate because that’s his most accomplished way of dealing with politics and government and people,” added Howard Rose of Teaneck.
“I think he’s going to be able to rally people. I think we are very stagnant. I think we are bored and tired. We need energy again,” said Jacques Alliman, also of Teaneck.
“I’m not voting for Republicans under any circumstances,” said Nanette Badian of Hackensack.
“I think he jazzes ‘em up,” added Pat Newman of Lyndhurst.
The keynote speech is the highest profile spot for someone not accepting the party’s presidential or vice presidential nominations. The slot has launched many political figures, including Obama, who was the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention in 2004. Four years later, he won the White House.
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