In his keynote address on the first night of the 2012 Republican National Convention, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered a fiery defense of conservative governance and principles. Notably, though, he barely spoke about Mitt Romney's record or principles; instead, he devoted much of his speech to laying out his own governing philosophy, accomplishments, and personal biography.
"The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected," said the famously combative governor. "She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting—but that respect could grow into real, lasting love."
In fact, from his opening line on, Christie dedicated a significant portion of his speech to establishing his biographical working class bona fides. Such a speech, highlighting his own attractive qualities as a presidential candidate, could leave him well positioned for a presidential run in 2016 if Mitt Romney loses the general election.
That would also explain by Christie spent so much time highlighting his record as New Jersey governor. "They said it was impossible to touch the third rail of politics," he said at one point. "To take on the public sector unions and to reform a pension and health benefit system that was headed to bankruptcy. [But] with bipartisan leadership we saved taxpayers $132 billion over 30 years and saved retirees their pension."
New Jersey voters "rewarded politicians who led instead of politicians who pandered," he added, presumably including himself among the politicians who led.
Though Christie did praise Romney as someone who "will tell us the hard truths we need to hear," he declined to go on the attack against Barack Obama, as many earlier speakers had done. In fact, he did not mention Obama's name once during the entire speech. "It doesn't matter how we got here," he said instead. "There is enough blame to go around."
On Monday, the New York Post reported that sources had told them Chris Christie turned down an opportunity to be Mitt Romney's running mate because he thought Romney might lose. Last month, he said he would "certainly think about" running in 2016 if Romney was not the incumbent president.
Following Christie's speech, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow called it, "One of the most remarkable acts of political selfishness that I have ever seen."