/ The Daily OrangeConservative
New Jersey governor emerges as key Republican leader during convention
Since “Jersey Shore” is ending after this season, Americans will soon shift their attention to a different party in the Garden State: the Grand Old Party.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will run for president someday. He was on Mitt Romney’s short list of running mates, and early on, conservatives longed for his name at the top of the ticket. In his Republican National Convention keynote speech, Christie sounded more like a nominee than a surrogate.
America saw Christie’s style in that speech: personal, passionate and pragmatic. Since 2010, New Jersey voters have seen the substance: balanced budgets, tax cuts and government reform.
Christie is slowly evolving into a national political figure, and voters of every political affiliation should be happy. Christie is the real deal, whether you agree with him or not.
Christie’s personality comes from a solid, middle-class upbringing. He shared one of his mother’s lessons at the Tampa, Fla., convention — a lesson that guides his governing principles and attitude toward politics.
“She told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected,” Christie said. “She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting, but that respect could grow into real, lasting love.”
Christie commands respect because he believes in common sense. Real, lasting common sense.
Christie is a Republican, but doesn’t march lockstep with any particular segment of the party. He’s battled draconian teacher unions and supported the concept of medical marijuana.
Christie won Tea Party acclaim for promising not to raise taxes. He ridiculed that same group for its intolerant treatment of Muslim Americans. Christie took a tough stand against organized crime, but supports expanding casino gaming and legalizing sports betting in his state.
He’s made some people unhappy in his tenure as governor, opting for determined leadership over popularity.
That’s the key to Christie: Even if you don’t love him, you have to respect him. The people of New Jersey sure do, as his latest approval ratings are in the mid 50s. As Christie pointed out in his convention speech, that’s in a state with 700,000 more Democrats than Republicans.
Plus, Christie works his magic in a ruthless media environment. John Heilemann called it “a culture that pines ardently for authenticity and then punishes it cruelly.” The media respects, even admires, Christie for having a genuine personality. Not unlike Ronald “Jelly Bean” Reagan or Bill “Bubba” Clinton.
His nomination for president would also signal a change in the Republican Party.
Christie isn’t an evangelical Christian or a businessman. He’s not from the South or Midwest. Christie is a Republican governor of a liberal Northeast state. Conservatives love him. Mitt Romney lives vicariously through him.
His nomination would also bring an end to many of the cheap shots Republicans have to deal with on the campaign trail. Christie exhibits neither elitism nor anti-intellectualism — clashing adjectives opponents use to describe Republican candidates.
Christie is blue collar in every sense of the term. Political pundits frequently tell us his oval waistline will keep him out of the Oval Office. I don’t buy it. Once the media leaves the confines of Manhattan and the Capital Beltway, they’ll see that normal Americans could care less.
Those normal Americans will soon have a new favorite New Jerseyan. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Snooki, Soprano or Springsteen.
Jared Kraham is a senior political science and broadcast journalism major. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @JaredKraham.
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