When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote address at the Republican National

August 21 [Tue], 2012, 12:59
When New Arian Foster Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote address at the Republican National

Convention in Tampa, Fla., later this month, he will be stepping onto a national stage.

How well he performs could help determine his future role for the party and the nation.

People are already speculating about a Cabinet seat for Christie next year, if Mitt Romney

defeats Barack Obama, or a presidential bid in 2016, if Romney loses.

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told The

Hill that either prize is a real possibility.
“The keynote speech is a recognition that Christie is part of the Republican Party

leadership, and clearly he will be in the consideration for future leadership positions,”

Zelizer said.

He added that Christie is one of the “fresh voices” in the party, and that is one of the

main reasons Romney chose him to give the keynote and to be one of his surrogates ― to help

allay voters’ fears that Romney is an old-school Republican aristocrat.

That Christie’s fresh voice is often blunt, and his approach tends more to the pugilistic

than the aristocratic, are also attributes calculated to fire up the GOP base.

“This will give the country a chance to see the Christie leadership style up close,” said

New Jersey state Sen. Thomas Kean Jr., the Senate Republican leader and son of former New

Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean (R).

“He’s the same person outside the state as he is inside the state,” Kean said.

But does Christie’s political future lie within New Arian Foster Jersey or elsewhere?

Not all convention keynote speakers go on to higher political echelons. But the keynote

address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 introduced then-Illinois Sen. Barack

Obama to the nation, and served as a springboard for his successful pursuit of the


Not only does the prominence of the keynote address stoke existing speculation. Christie

himself has often fueled the fire with open-ended answers to inquiries about his

presidential ambitions, like the one he gave David Gregory on "Meet the Press" last year.

“I'm going to need a job, David, after 2013, you know?" Christie said. "And so whether it's

going to be being governor of New Jersey or do something else ... I'm working the rest of my

life anyway, so, it's going to be doing something, David, so maybe it'll be that, who


He has suggested that he wasn’t ready for a presidential run in 2012 but might be ready in

2016. When asked by USA Today if the keynote speech could serve as a launching pad for

presidential aspirations, Christie said, “It's not what you say, but what you accomplish."

The GOP is touting Christie’s accomplishments.

“His leadership proves how the common-sense principles of reducing spending and cutting

taxes work in New Jersey and will work for America,” Republican National Convention Chief

Executive Officer William Harris said in the release announcing Christie as keynote speaker.

Kean is unstinting in his praise.

“Tenure reform, pension and benefits reform, the merger of educational institutions, a

property tax cap, balanced budgets every year, and I could go on,” Kean said. “Just one of

those achievements would make any first-term governor justly proud, and he’s done all of

that and more in three years.”

Christie’s efforts have resulted in a 2 percent property tax cap enacted in 2010, a 2011

law requiring state union members to contribute more to their benefit packages and a law

signed in August of this year that increases the tenure time-standard for teachers from

three to four years.

But Democrats read the New Jersey story differently.

N.J. State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat and the Senate majority leader, said Christie’

s speech “will probably anger me.”

“He will probably present a fantasy version of what he’s done in New Jersey,” she said.

“It’s like Bush with his 'Mission Accomplished' banner when the mission wasn’t

accomplished. We have 9.6 percent unemployment in New Jersey, more than a percentage point

above the national average, and we are ranked 47th among the states in economic health.

“He talks about investing in the state’s future, yet he killed the Hudson tunnel project,

the largest investment in state infrastructure in the country,” she said.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), in a statement to The Hill, also posed doubts about Christie’s


“I’m pleased that he’s getting the moment in the sun. I don’t mean to sound churlish,

but I hope he doesn’t use the occasion to tout the great success that he has had in New

Jersey, because he hasn’t been that successful.”

The scrutiny into Christie’s record that would come with a presidential bid would perhaps

not be as intense if Romney wins this year’s election and offers Christie a Cabinet post.

Probably because of his background as a successful district attorney, his name has been

bruited about as a possible attorney general in a Romney administration.

“There’s conjecture about that,” Weinberg said. “There’s also conjecture that he could

take a job with Fox television.”

Weinberg and others cited another rumor that Christie might not seek reelection as New

Jersey’s governor.

She said Christie’s New Jersey policies have created “a house of cards, which is bound to

eventually fall apart. He may see that and not want to be around for it.”

Mike Ferguson, a U.S. representative (R-N.J.) from 2000-2008 and self-professed “good and

longtime friend” of Christie's, said that people who speculate about what the governor

might do in the future are missing the point.

“He stays focused on the job at hand, that’s his M.O.,” Ferguson said. “He will work

hard for Romney, but he will continue to be the best governor he can be for New Jersey.

Speculating on such things is difficult, if not impossible, because there are so many

factors. He knows you cannot plot a path that adheres to your own career’s best interests.

Rather, you serve as best you can in your position, and if opportunities open up because of

your good work, then you decide.”

Zelizer added that, while Christie’s fortunes could benefit from his giving the keynote

address, it “will not launch Christie’s national career.”

“That’s already been launched,” he said. “He already is a national celebrity.”
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