TAMPA---Chris Christie lived up to his billing as a hard-nosed, blustery Jersey Boy Tuesday night by delivering a tough conservative call to arms at the Republican National Convention, urging Americans to accept the sacrifices that will be needed to restore the country's greatness.
"Now we must lead the way our citizens live," said Christie, the governor of New Jersey. "To lead as my mother insisted I live, not by avoiding truths, especially the hard ones, but by facing up to them and being the better for it."
Sometimes scowling, at other times pointing his right index finger at the audience for emphasis, Christie argued that, "Our problems are big and the solutions will not be painless. We all must share in the sacrifice. And any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the truth."
As the convention's keynote speaker, Christie's role was to play the stubborn truth teller and argue that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is willing to adhere to principle and make the hard decisions, rather than sway with the political winds, as Democratic critics portray him.
"We have a nominee who will tell us the truth and who will lead with conviction," Chistie said. "And now he has a running mate who will do the same. We have Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, and we have to make them the next president and vice president of the United States."
For his part, Christie offered himself as an example of the kind of leadership the country needs. He said he has practiced what he preaches as governor of New Jersey, restricting expensive pension and health benefits for the powerful public-sector unions, limiting tenure for teachers who don't do their jobs effectively, and at the same time cutting taxes and balancing the state budget.
Christie said Romney will take similar tough but necessary approaches as president.
"With $5 trillion in debt added over the last four years, we have no other option but to make the hard choices, cut federal spending and fundamentally reduce the size of government," the governor said.
Christie also spoke emotionally about his parents, attempting to connect with less-fortunate Americans and contradict the image that Democrats project of many Republican leaders—including Romney—as privileged and isolated Brahmins.
"I am the son of an Irish father and a Sicilian mother," Christie said. "....They both lived hard lives. Dad grew up in poverty. ...Mom also came from nothing." He added: "She spoke the truth—bluntly, directly, and without much varnish. I am her son."