When Gov. Chris Christie takes the podium tonight to deliver the keynote address, it will be a much anticipated moment in the New Jersey delegation. Some of the delegates told us they’re excited.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am and how excited the whole delegation is to hear the governor,” said Republican State Committee Chairman Sam Raia. “That’s why our hotel is full. We have over 600 people that came down for this speech and everyone’s excited.”
Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman said he can’t wait to hear what Christie will say. “I’m sure everybody’s going to be very impressed,” he said. “As a New Jersey delegate and a Republican, I couldn’t be prouder to have our governor as the keynote speaker.”
In a private, no-cameras briefing with New Jersey reporters yesterday, Christie said there will be some things new in his keynote speech and some familiar. He said the Romney campaign has read the speech but didn’t change a word or comma. He showed it to a tight circle of fewer than 10 people he said so he wouldn’t be bombarded with suggestions.
Christie said he’s not worried about coming off as too combative. He said his number one priority, is sounding like himself.
Christie said the Romney campaign didn’t even make any suggestions for themes in the speech but several delegates we spoke to would like to see some things.
“I just want all of America to hear what we hear on a daily basis,” said Virginia Haines, Republican National Committeewoman and former New Jersey Lottery director.
Former Gov. Tom Kean who delivered the keynote in 1988 said he’s excited too. “It’s very rare that a state gets a keynote speaker,” he said. “How many have we had? Two in the last century? So this is a big deal and I’m very proud of the state and I’m very proud of Chris Christie.”
This is only the second Republican Convention Christie has attended. The other was the year 2000. In 2004 and 2008 he was U.S. attorney and couldn’t attend. Twelve years ago he could walk the floor unrecognized. Tonight he’s giving the keynote.
Senior Political Correspondent Michael Aron reports from Tampa.