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Christie Confirmed As Keynote Speaker

Chris Christie has been announced Tuesday as the keynote speaker for the Republicans’ national convention later this month where he will be called upon to rally the convention in support of the Romney-Ryan ticket.

Governor Chris Christie
Governor Chris Christie (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

“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. He is a leader of principle and conviction, and I am excited to hear him address the Republican National Convention as our keynote speaker. Governor Christie will make the case for America’s Comeback Team and will rally our party and country in support of the Romney-Ryan ticket,” said Chairman Reince¬† Priebus.

 

Christie, who considered a 2012 presidential bid of his own before endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is already at work on his speech to the convention in Tampa, Florida and is looking forward to the occasion.

FULL COVERAGE: 2012 Presidential Campaign

“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. 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,” said Governor Christie.

The scheduling decision was first reported online by USA Today early Tuesday and confirmed by Republican officials directly involved in convention planning.

“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 announcing his speech. He said he will describe his experiences in New Jersey as evidence that “the American people are ready to confront those problems head-on and endure some sacrifice.”

KEYNOTE CAN LEAD TO BIGGER THINGS

Barack Obama delivers a keynote address during the 2004 Democrat National Convention in at the Fleet Center in Boston.
Barack Obama delivers a keynote address during the 2004 Democrat National Convention in at the Fleet Center in Boston (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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, most notably a little-known state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama in 2004. Four years later, he won the White House.

Christie, already a favorite among fiscal conservatives for his tough talk and take-no-prisoners persona, will find a national introduction of sorts in Tampa and, perhaps, offer the opening steps toward a presidential run in 2016 if Romney loses, or in 2020.

 

The 49-year-old former prosecutor has shown little sign of his influence waning, and he has left the door open for a White House run of his own.

Responding to a question about a 2016 presidential bid, Christie told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was “going to need a job” after 2013. He added, “So maybe it will be that. Who knows?”

CHRISTIE A “NATIONAL LEADER IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

The Tampa Bay Times Forum, host of the GOP National Convention
The Tampa Bay Times Forum, host of the GOP National Convention (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Christie became the first Republican elected New Jersey governor in a dozen years when he defeated Democratic millionaire and ex-Wall Street executive Jon Corzine in 2009. Christie was among the most sought-after guest stars on the GOP speaking circuit and spent much of the recent years traipsing from Connecticut to Michigan and Illinois, appearing in Oregon and Minnesota to endorse fellow Republicans and elevating his own national profile.

“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,” said Republican National Convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris.

Many in the party hoped he would mount a last-minute effort to get on the 2012 ballots. He weighed it and in October 2011 earned headlines when he declared with finality that “now is not my time” to run for president, dashing the hopes of Republicans still searching for someone other than then-front-runners Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Christie had insisted for months that he wouldn’t run. But then came an intense weekend of reconsideration before he made a firm announcement at a news conference at the New Jersey Statehouse. His decision effectively made the campaign between Romney and the rotating cast of anti-Romneys who rose and fell as each primary came and went.

In leaving the 2012 melee, he said he wasn’t seeking the job of vice president.

“I just don’t think I have the personality to be asked,” he said. “I’m not looking for that job.”

But, apparently, he wasn’t opposed to going to Tampa to deliver a speech that may rekindle buzz about his own presidential ambitions.

“It’s what I accomplish or don’t accomplish as governor that will be the springboard or not for me,” he told USA Today. “It’s not what you say but what you accomplish.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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