So far, the GOP convention has not gone according to script. Part of the reason for that is Tropical Storm Isaac and the havoc it is wreaking along the Gulf Coast. Another sub-plot that is working against Republicans is the incipient revolt against rules changes regarding delegate selection at the state level. While a compromise was reached with a leader of one of the factions that opposed the changes, no one consulted the Ron Paul delegates about it and it is likely they will try to register some kind of protest during the proceedings.
The atmosphere surrounding the convention is not that of a boisterous, confident, GOP marching to victory — yet. That may change tonight when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie mounts the stage to give his keynote address.
With one speech, the GOP convention can get back on track — if Christie performs up to expectations.
Republicans are counting on New Jersey’s tough-talking governor to, at least for a night, replace Tropical Storm Isaac on Americans’ radars with his own brand of gusty rhetoric.
With Chris Christie set to deliver the Republican National Convention keynote late Tuesday night, it’s up to him to revive the storm-delayed affair. He’ll have to be delicate — not exactly his strong suit — but the party is also relying on Christie to serve up a rousing speech that will demand national attention and rally voters around soon-to-be-nominee Mitt Romney.
The GOP governor reportedly has been crafting and rehearsing a “very direct” speech for Tuesday night in Tampa that will relate “hard truths” about the state of the country. The governor has been making the rounds in Tampa already, with casual talks to various delegations in advance of his keynote address.
Storm or no storm, there is little doubt that the no-nonsense Christie can be direct. A bigger question among Republicans is whether what works in New Jersey can be employed to the same effect in making the case for the party’s presidential candidate.
John Brabender, a longtime strategist for former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, expects Christie will come out swinging.
“He’s got two speeds — turbo and super turbo,” Brabender told FoxNews.com on Monday night. “He doesn’t have a modulated speed.”
Brabender also said Christie, Romney and the rest of the Republican Party know it’s the governor’s job to “get people fired up.”
“He’s our cheerleader,” Brabender continued. “And he won’t be shy about making the case that Barack Obama didn’t make the decisions he needed to. This will be a pay-per-view event.”
One of Christie’s best efforts was this speech given at the Reagan Library last year:
As with most large men, television seems to squeeze Christie into the frame, which takes away some of his imposing presence on the stage. But make no mistake about it — Christie can deliver the goods. If he performs up to expectations, it will energize the convention and put Romney on track to deliver his own barnburner on Thursday night.
More from Bridget Johnson: Govs. Christie, O’Malley Take Their Bare-Knuckle Brawls to Tampa