GOP Goes Big, Brash With Christie for Convention Keynote Speaker

Choice of brash N.J. Gov. Chris Christie ups ante, and very likely the volume, for August convention.

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By selecting brash-talking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as keynote speaker for the upcoming Republican National Convention, GOP leaders have doubled-down on the "go-big-or-go-home" approach to the November election.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney initiated the bold approach by picking Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a youthful economic intellectual leader among Hill Republicans, as his running mate.

"As governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has proven how bold Republican leadership gets results," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a release. "He has fearlessly tackled his state's most difficult challenges, while looking out for hardworking taxpayers. Gov. Christie will make the case for America's Comeback Team and will rally our party and country in support of the Romney-Ryan ticket."

[Read: Paul Ryan VP pick sets up Reagan-esque debate.]

Christie was an early endorser of Romney in the Republican primary earlier this year and was widely considered a likely vice presidential pick himself. He's been an extremely popular figure among Republicans nationally, thanks to his penchant for dressing down reporters and taking on New Jersey's teacher unions. He also has forged a close working relationship with Newark's Democratic Mayor Cory Booker and worked with a Democratically controlled Legislature to run the Garden State.

"The challenges we face as a country are great and require the honesty and boldness of the Romney-Ryan team," Christie said in a statement. "We have an opportunity in Tampa to make clear that if we tell each other the hard truths, tackle the big problems and make bold choices, we will see America's comeback."

[Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.]

Christie, speaking recently at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., chastised national politicians for not being more honest with voters about where they stand on issues.

"We shouldn't be listening to political consultants whispering in our ears … we should be telling people how we think and how we feel and let them judge us up or down," Christie had said. "You can't lead by being a mystery. You can't lead by being an enigma. You can't lead by being aloof. You can't lead by being programmed. I think you have to lead by being yourself and who you are and then people will trust you."

[10 things you didn't know about Paul Ryan.]

Romney, who has a reputation for drifting in the political winds, may have taken Christie's words to heart in selecting the budget hawk Ryan to join his ticket. While many Republicans talk in platitudes about making government cuts, Ryan penned a budget proposal that outlined the specifics of how to rein in government spending. In fact, it's something Democrats have been quick to point out to voters, demonizing Ryan's proposal to voucherize the Medicare system for future generations in an attempt to slow long-term costs.

It's also been announced that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another national conservative hero and rising star, will introduce Romney during the four-day convention that kicks off on August 27 in Tampa. Notable absences at the convention are former President George W. Bush, his vice president, Dick Cheney, and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at rmetzler@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter.

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