From our breaking news page:
TAMPA - Hours after his turn in the national campaign spotlight as Mitt Romney keynote speaker, Gov. Chris Christie was talking up his friend again Wednesday morning as the Pennsylvania's delegation's top breakfast guest.
The previous night, Mr. Christie had concentrated on a hard-edged policy assault on the administration while Ann Romney sought votes through a depiction of her husband's human side. Wednesday, it was Mr. Christie who focused on the People Magazine side of the effort to sell the new nominee.
He had the Pennsylvanians laughing as he described Mr. Romney's interaction with his rambunctious children on the October, 2011 visit to his New Jersey home that led to his early endorsement of the New Jersey governor.
In his telling, the Christies were hosting Mr. Romney and the woman who preceded him on stage Tuesday night, when, "out of the corner of my eye, we see like a little flash.''
It was his 11-year-old son on roller blades, charging straight at the future nominee. Braking to a sudden stop just short of the would-be president, the boy engaged him in a conversation on hockey and sports, before shrugging off one of his questions -- "I don't know; see you,'' -- and abruptly wheeling around and heading off. Then it was the Christie's daughter who showed up, performing cartwheels and luring the candidate out on to the back yard lawn to supervise more of her amateur gymnastics.
"I tell you that try to make this point -- what struck me after those ten minutes of terror was the Mitt Romney was completely comfortable with children,'' Mr. Christie said. "This is a real guy, this is a real father ... an incredibly involved grandfather ... you can't fake that.''
Mr. Christie agreed to publicly endorse the candidate the next week and has been a frequent campaigner for him ever since, culminating in the prime time speaking role the previous night.
Mr. Christie urged the Pennsylvanians, along with the New Hampshire delegates who joined them for the breakfast, to bring their states in for the GOP. But of his own state, he acknowledged, "Let's be real, it's not happening in New Jersey.''
"But you, the citizens of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, you can make a difference,'' he said. "If Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, on Jan 20, we're going to be in Washington D.C. watching Mitt Romney take the oath of office.''
Earlier, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor, made a similar appeal to the party activists, although, in week that's seen some debate over whether Pennsylvania remains a true swing state, he had a fairly measured assessment on where Pennsylvania stood on the list of electoral battlegrounds -- "maybe the 14th, 15th, 16th state in there.''
No Pennsylvania Republican gathering would be complete without a reference to President's Obama's oft regretted observation about voters who cling to guns and religion, and Mr. Sununu did not disappoint.
"Do you remember that obnoxious remark from an obnoxious, obnoxious president?'' he asked rhetorically.
By James M. Perry
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey gave a really good keynote speech at last night's Republican convention but Ann Romney talking about the man she's loved since they were high school sweethearts gave a better one.
"It was a terrific one-two punch," PBS's Jeffrey Brown said from the convention floor, and so it was.
Mrs. Romney, dressed simply in a red dress, was relaxed, funny, and convincing in telling of her husband, Mitt, their six children and 18 grandchildren. It's quite possible, I think, that she's a better natural politician than Mr. Romney, who sometimes seems as staged as Al Gore.
"Tonight," she began, "I want to talk to you about love." But she also wanted to make it plain that she believed women make the world go round. "You (women) are the best of America," she said. Hear her roar. She talked about how poor she and Mitt were when they were first married. but that was a little disingenuous. Their parents were wealthy and there never was any worry that she and her husband couldn't pay the rent or put food on the table. She even dealt with the fact that she and Mitt are now so wealthy that most of us aren't able to grapple with their circumstances -- multiple homes, a garage with elevators, twin Cadillacs. There's probably nothing they want they can't afford. But that's the kind of life that comes to families like hers when they're successful. "Mitt Romney was not handed success," she said. "He built it!," which, not so coincidentally, was the theme of the early-evening program. "Do we want to raise our children to be afraid of success?" No! the crowd roared.
She said her husband is warm and loving and that he still makes her laugh. She mixed that in with a curious line. "What Mitt and I have," she said, "is a real marriage," as if anyone doubted it. Maybe, I thought, it was a subtle way to take a stand against single-sex marriages. Maybe not.
Chris Christie is a natural too. His style is personal and up close. You could be in the neighborhood bar in Jersey, having a beer with him. He made the Republican case for Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, but seemed to be having more fun talking about his own record of success in New Jersey. He said he's cut spending and takes, balanced the budget, and taken on the teachers' unions, some of the things that politicians have grappled with in Washington without success. He noted that he couldn't have done what he's accomplished in New Jersey without bipartisan support. He meant that Democratic legislators came over and voted for his programs. Maybe, he seemed to be suggesting, we ought to be able to do that in Washington.
He also seemed to be calling on politicians to show more guts, to stop being paralyzed on the need to be loved and re-elected. "Tonight," he said, "choose respect over love." In other words, choose Romney. He had some good, probably canned lines. "They (the Democrats) believe in teachers' unions. We believe in teachers." Or, "Real leaders don't read polls. They change polls."
All in all, though, it was a good speech, although I think he might have had some congratulatory words for Mrs. Romney, who had preceded him to the podium.
The two speeches were so good that I wonder if they might not pose a challenge to Mr. Ryan tonight and Mr. Romney tomorrow night. Can they do as well as Ann Romney and Chris Christie? I doubt it.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, will be contributing regular observations for post-gazette.com during the two political conventions. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.
See earlier columns:
Super Pachyderm: Tampa has been called the strip club capital of America but not even this city can handle the influx of delegates looking for a lap dance. They are busing in strippers from out-of-state to handle the crush, including a Sarah Palin look-alike. I just hope Newt Gingrich keeps his clothes on!
Thousands of journalists are covering the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., but few have great views of the podium.
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