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‘Hurricane’ Christie Arrives, Rallies Delegates Ahead Of RNC Keynote Address

Tells Floridians ‘Get The Hell Off The Beach’ As Tropical Storm Isaac Approaches
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) walks the floor before the start of the abbreviated first day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) walks the floor before the start of the abbreviated first day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork) – Tropical Storm Isaac all but wiped out the first day of the Republican National Convention.

Party chairman Reince Preibus gaveled the GOP’s big party to a halt just minutes after it got underway Monday afternoon.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

Republicans did unveil a new national debt clock to highlight their criticism of the economy under President Barack Obama and to prepare for the high-profile speeches beginning Tuesday night.

That’s when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the convention’s keynote speech, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

As of 5 p.m. on Monday, presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney still had not arrived in Tampa so the biggest GOP star in attendance at the time seemed to be Christie. He was everywhere. Kramer even saw two Christie highway billboards, but while he’s a talkative guy there were some topics he’s clammed up on.

“They brought me down here on Sunday just to make sure if there were any idiots on the beach I’d tell them to get the hell off,” he said.

Isaac was just one of the topics “Hurricane Chris” was only to happy to talk about as he did star turn after star turn at the convention.

One topic was off limits — headlines in New York that Christie didn’t seek the vice presidential nomination because he didn’t think Romney would win, and that Romney would have wanted him to quit being governor if he was number two on the ticket.

Although their boss was initially publicly mum, his aides privately denied the story.

“You can say the Christie team is aggressively batting the story down,” said an aide, adding it was “completely not true.”

At around 5 p.m. Christie met with print reporters to deny the story, but he barred cameras and tape recorders.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports Gov. Christie debunked stories that he didn’t want the VP job

The story claimed Christie would have had to quit as governor to run nationally because of campaign financing rules. Many Republicans weren’t buying it.

“That’s not Chris Christie. This kind of environment gets a lot of stories. I’m sure it’s being denied. I’m sure it’s not true,” NYGOP Chairman Edward Cox said.

“As far as I know, Paul [Ryan] was the best choice. Paul Ryan was the first choice. Governor Christie is giving the keynote and that’s it,” Rep. Peter King of New York added.

Pundits say Christie might have been a better number two for the GOP ticket.

“Chris Christie in the short run would have been a better plan because we wouldn’t have been sitting in Florida, the elderly capital of the world, talking about Medicare.” Hofstra University professor Larry Levy said.

As for the keynote address, it’s a speech that could be a springboard to higher office for New Jersey’s chief executive, but Christie seems to be approaching it with all the confidence he is known for.

Kramer: “So, I want to ask you are you nervous?”

Christie: “I’m not. No, I’m not nervous.”

Kramer: “How many times have you practiced the speech?”

Christie: “Probably about seven or eight times, seven or eight times. I will practice a few more times when I’m here.”

Christie has been mobbed wherever he goes. Delegates want their pictures taken with him, a hand shake, a kiss, and even a quick touch, a connection. And he seems to have an unlimited reservoir of energy for it.

He joked about his energy, talking about how it will be hard to wait until 10:30 Tuesday night to speak.

“They got to keep me busy on Tuesday night. I told the staff ‘keep me busy.’ I’ve got to wait til 10:30 Tuesday? Let me tell ya, you don’t know what’s going to happen when I burst out of that gate at 10:30 Tuesday night,” Christie said.

He was loathe to give out too many details. After all, he doesn’t want to step on his lines.

“I don’t want to give away anything,” Christie said.

Kramer: “Are we going to see the quintessential Chris Christie?”

Christie: “That will be for you to judge afterwards, Marcia. I only know one Chris Christie, but you all will be judging and talking about it afterwards, I’m sure.”

In fact, New Jersey Democrats plan to attack the speech even before he takes the floor. They’re planning a press conference 11 hours before Christie speaks.

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