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Christie On Keynote Address At RNC: ‘I’m On Lockdown, Baby’

N.J. Governor Ready To Give Nation His 'Hard Sell' On Candidate Romney
Chris Christie (Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Chris Christie (Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork) – With Isaac moving away from Tampa, the Republican National Convention is finally in full swing. Taking center stage on Tuesday night will be New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

On Tuesday morning he checked out the podium where he was to deliver his keynote address. As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer found out, Christie’s speech means a lot for him and a lot for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The reintroduction Romney started in earnest Tuesday. He chose his wife, Ann, and the Garden State’s pugnacious governor to do the honors. It’s the yin and the yang, the soft touch and the tough love.

“I’m on lockdown, baby,” Christie said Tuesday morning. “I think what you want to lay out is the vision for our party and our country for the next four years,” he said. “What does it mean to be a Republican and what will that mean over the next four years after Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are elected — what will Republican governance look like and what will it mean for the people of our country.”

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

But the Republican governor said his party shouldn’t have to shift its message to win over women voters. A new CBS poll shows Romney trails President Barack Obama by 10 points among women.

“I think there’s a fallacy about having to cater to a particular sector of the electorate,” Christie said. “I think it’s condescending to women to say we have to have a different message for women than we have with men. This is the message of out party. I’m going to lay out a message for our party tonight that I think will resonate just as much with women voters as it will with men voters.”

EXTRA: 2012 RNC Twitter Wall

The governor said he’ll also talk about “the New Jersey experience” and what it could mean for the entire country “in terms of governing and making hard choices.”

New Jersey voters however, said they don’t expect Christie’s speech will benefit the Garden State’s image.

According to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Tuesday, 46 percent said they think it will make no difference while 14 percent said the speech will hurt the state’s image.

“I just have to be me,” Christie said. “I think if I come out here tonight and if everybody walks away from the speech saying ‘yeah that’s the guy I thought he was’ then I’ll be OK.”

As far as Mitt Romney is concerned, Christie said the presidential nominee will need to “be himself” in order to gain the support of the American voters.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

And as Mitt and Ann Romney arrived in Tampa for their party’s nominating convention, Christie talked about why the Republican convention will be much more critical to the Romney campaign than the Democratic confab will be for President Barack Obama, who has been in the public eye for years.

“There won’t be anything new, a light bulb isn’t going to go on and you’ll say ‘Oh I never knew that about the president.’ That will happen, I believe, on Thursday night, when Mitt Romney is up on that stage. I think people will see and hear things from him that’ll open their eyes,” Christie said.

Ann Romney will also speak Tuesday and confirmed her husband will be at the convention to hear her speech. While Christie’s job is to provide the “hard sell” of Mitt Romney, her job is the “soft sell,” humanizing her husband in a way only a wife can.

“It’s going to be fun for him to be there,” she told reporters Tuesday morning. “I think you will see that my speech is heartfelt.”

Mitt Romney originally wasn’t able to attend his wife’s prime-time speech, but Ann Romney said changes in the convention’s schedule made it possible.

Ann Romney, who on the plane to Tampa passed out cookies she baked, said that in addition to talking about the man she loves she wants to leave the American people with a message.

“How important this election is going to be and how important it’s going to be for them to consider the right things to make their right decisions,” she said.

Ann Romney joked that because the hurricane forced a shortened convention schedule her speech had been reduced to a “tweet live.”

The convention had to be condensed into three days because of Tropical Storm Isaac. Monday’s session lasted only 32 seconds.

The delegations from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have sent some people home to prepare for the storm.

Meanwhile, President Obama is breaking with tradition and will be heading out on the campaign trail in Iowa and Colorado.

Historically, the opposing candidates take a break from campaigning while the other side holds its convention, but the Obama campaign sees this as an opportunity to get face time with voters in key battleground states.

Romney is scheduled to speak at the convention on Thursday.

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