New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of the GOP's rising stars, brought down the house Tuesday night during his rousing keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Christie, who is known as one of the party's leading fiscal conservatives, spoke in bold terms about the choice voters will face this November when they go to the polls and vote for either for President Barack Obama, or Republican Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
Christie began by telling the story of his unlikely rise to the governorship of a Democratic-majority state after being raised by an Irish-American New Jersey working man and a "tough as nails" Sicilian mother in order to provide a personal touch and offer a segue into his discussion of policy, his vision for America's future, and his belief in Mitt Romney's ability to lead.
He went on to paint the picture of an America that has been run for too many years by weak, narcissistic politicians, and to proclaim that he ran New Jersey in a way that allowed him to balance the state's budget and to stand up to teacher's unions and "do the big things" he was elected to do.
"Our leaders today have decided it's more important to be popular. to do and say what's easy and to say 'yes' than to say 'no,' when 'no' is what is required," he explained. "It's been easy for our leaders to say 'not us, not now' when taking on the difficult issues. But I say enough ... Tonight we are beginning to do what is right and necessary to make America great again ... We are the United States of America. Now, it's up to us. We must lead the way our citizens live ... not by avoiding truths, the hard ones, but by facing up to them."
Christie made a stark distinction between the policies of Democrats and Republicans, declaring: "I know this simple truth and I'm not afraid to say it: Our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America."
The governor went on to explain that he believes Republicans are focused on cutting the size of government, while Democrats "believe the American people need to be coddled by big government."
He then ran through a list of GOP policy points, for example discussing testing teachers and other parts of the party's education agenda, saying "they believe in teachers' unions, we believe in teachers."
And toward the end of the speech he finally got to the man of the hour, a man he said America needs.
"I know Mitt Romney ... Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to ... fix our economy" and lead the nation, he said. "It is time to end this era of absentee leadership in the White House ... America needs Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in the White House."
And he made a John F. Kennedy-like plea to America to all come together to do what is needed to restore the nation's economy, which served as a lead-in of his discussion of "a second American century," which was a repeated theme of the windup of his speech:
"We all must share in the sacrifice, and any leader who tells us differently is simply not telling the truth."
Christie ended the evening by telling everyone to stand up, using that motion as a metaphor for his forthcoming call to everyone to band together to elect Mitt Romney and "stand up for American greatness for our children and grandchildren."
Christie, who has earned a lot of respect within his party for his work to balance New Jersey's budget, also took questions earlier Tuesday on CBS News about his plans for the speech and his and the Republican Party's vision for America. He said there is going to be economic pain in the nation's future no matter who lives in the White House in 2013 and beyond, but that Romney and the GOP's vision will limit that pain and allow for Americans to go back to work and expand industry and jobs:
"Listen, I think that everything's got to be on the table, and ultimately I think that that's where any leader who's telling you the truth is going to get to," Christie said. "They're going to get to the point where they are going to have to tell you everybody's going to have to hurt. But I think we also need to have growth, and the only way to have economic growth in this country is to get more money into the economy, and I think, and these Republicans believe, is that the best way to do that is lowering taxes, not by more government deficit spending."
Other key speakers scheduled to offer remarks over the next few days, besides Romney and Ryan, include Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Christie's remarks came just hours after Mitt Romney won a vast majority of the delegate votes in the official roll call, securing the presidential nomination in a formality months after he clinched it.
Romney dominated the final delegate count, taking 2,061 of the 2,286 available delegates, significantly more than the 1,144 votes needed to secure the nomination.
"On this vote, the honorable Mitt Romney has received 2,061 votes, more than the majority of those votes entitled to be cast at this convention," House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio told the crowd after the lengthy roll call finished.
KVR News reported that Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the only Romney rival who did not drop out and endorse him long ago, picked up 190 votes. Santorum picked up 9 votes, and former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota each got one vote, according to KVR News. Twenty delegates abstained from casting a vote.
The votes Ron Paul received came on the heels of an emotional day for Ron Paul backers, as earlier Tuesday a number of his supporters walked out of the Tampa Bay Times Forum in protest of rules changes that make it more difficult for an alternative candidate to get nominated at Republican National Conventions, according to The Huffington Post. Boehner was booed during a portion of his remarks Tuesday by RNC attendees who sought to protest the rules changes.