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What Does Chris Christie Really Want To Accomplish With Keynote? [AUDIO]

Party loyalists are hoping New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s keynote address at the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month will help propel Mitt Romney to the presidency.

Governor Chris Christie
Governor's Office, Tim Larsen

Some wonder if Christie is really just hoping to set himself up for a White House run of his own in 2016.

“We have to assume that this keynote speech is going to be the opening shot of the ‘Christie for President’ campaign for 2016,” says Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker. “It’s huge. It’s absolutely huge. This is the kind of thing that launches presidential campaigns.”

If the Garden State Governor does have designs on the White House, Baker thinks the convention address must strike a balance being someone who is plausible as a presidential hopeful with someone who has stature and dignity with someone who can be hard-hitting on the issues that are very important to the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Baker says, “It’s going to be a very, very interesting minuet for a guy his size.”

Baker says Christie has the chance to grab and hold the national spotlight if he knocks his speech out of the park, but he also says even the best public speakers can crash and burn.

The professor adds, “I think he has to be very careful about sarcasm. That’s something that doesn’t play particularly well. It’s something he uses a lot in New Jersey.”

After he was formally announced as keynote speaker early yesterday morning, Christie said in a statement, “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.”

Christie is nationally known for his blunt, direct and in-your-face style which plays very well in the Garden State. Political experts are mixed as to how blunt, direct and in-your-face he should be before a national audience.

“They (Republicans) want someone who is going to call the Democrats idiots and jerks and crooks,” says Hunter College political science professor Kenneth Sherrill. “I don’t think they can find somebody better or a more blunt and direct style than Governor Christie’s. It’s made for him.”

Rutgers political scientist David Greenberg disagrees.

He says, “I think Governor Christie really does need to tone it down both for New Jersey voters and also especially for the convention. His style, it plays well to the converted. If you’re on his side and you don’t like the people he doesn’t like you’re going to cheer him on because he speaks up, but if you’re trying to win over those independent voters, if you’re trying to re-fashion the Republican Party as less ideological, more centrist, he’s a tough sell.”

Sherrill simply doesn’t see things the way Greenberg does.

Asked if he thinks Christie needs to tone down the rhetoric, Sherrill doubles down on his initial thoughts by saying, “I think he should ramp it up. They (Republicans) want somebody angry and intense and that’s what they’ll get.”

“As Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has proven how bold Republican leadership gets results,” says Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “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.”

Democratic State Committee chairman John Wisniewski says, “Just as he has at Romney fundraisers and public appearances around the country, Governor Christie will go down to Tampa and tout a ‘Jersey Comeback.’ He’ll tell a national audience a fairy tale about New Jersey, giving himself credit for things he didn’t do and things that haven’t happened yet. Don’t be fooled. His ‘Jersey Comeback’ is a myth. His three years in New Jersey have been a disaster. If Mitt Romney thinks Governor Christie’s record should be highlighted as a model for this country, Americans should be very worried.”

“On Chris Christie’s watch, New Jersey has ranked 47th in the nation in economic growth and 47th in the nation in unemployment rate, while net property taxes for middle-class families have risen 20 percent,” says Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald. “It’s clear that Chris Christie, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are peas in a pod in fighting for massive tax breaks to millionaires while asking middle-class families to pay more. While it looks like his Tampa Try-Out Tour has finally paid off, Chris Christie’s selection as RNC keynote speaker sends the wrong message to America.”

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