President Obama carried Middlesex County (NJ) last year by more than 80,000 votes. But in 2009 Chris Christie carried this county by 5,000 votes.
That's the cross-party power of Chris Christie -- his ability to attract Democrat and independent voters.
And if you don't think the GOP doesn't need this talent then you're sadly misinformed.
Anyway, Christie has just accepted this county's GOP nomination and he's at the podium predicting that he will win the county by an even larger margin this time -- a much larger margin.
Christie is now joking that a Middlesex County resident is running against him as the Democrat nominee for Governor (a virtual unknown because the party could find no one else) and now Christie is saying of his opponent "you don't want her anywhere near the Governor's office" and he says "she was Jon Corzine's budget architect. We got rid of those Corzine people four years ago and we don't want that gang back again."
Christie says that in all four years of his governorship so far the state has spent less money than Corzine & Co. spent in one year (2008).
Christie says that for the first time ever, over a four-year period "income taxes have not gone up for the people of New Jersey and they won't go up as long as I'm Governor."
Now, he's talking about public employee pensions and benefits and he's extolling pension and benefit reforms that he has enacted that will save more than $130 million for New Jersey over the next 30 years.
His message to his opponent and the Democrats: "Stop using the people's money for your own gain." He's referring to benefits for big unions and other interest groups -- the payoff for continuing support.
Christie says the way to make property taxes go down in the state "is no mystery. You spend less. That's how you do it; spend less."
He notes that in the first full year that his property tax cap is in effect property tax increases have been slowed from seven to eight percent a year to little more than one percent and he pledges to work to reverse property tax increases in the next four years.
He goes through his litany of accomplishments against great odds in a Democrat state.
"I told you," he tells the crowd "that I would turn Trenton upside down. Well, I've got it by the ankles now, and we're still shaking."
This is a tough-talking speech by the Governor but toward the end of his remarks he turns heartfelt and tender.
He talks about superstorm Sandy (October 29) and how he resolved to commit himself to the rebuilding of New Jersey and to the well-being and livelihood of the state and its people.
He says that this isn't just a job now -- this is his mission. He says he's doing it for future generations.
He talks about a call that he received on the night of the storm from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who told him "this is why they hired you. Do your job and don't forget the people."
Christie says that during the entire Sandy crisis he vowed to spend half of every day (16 to 18 hour days) with the people of New Jersey -- listening to them; understanding them; helping them. He says that being with the people gave him the strength to continue to do the job.
That's the mission.
And he says he will pursue this mission "no matter what."
He says if he has to fight with members of his own party in Washington to do that, he will do it and he will get the job done. The crowd yells its approval. He says he will fight with anyone he has to fight with to get the job done.
"I know how hard you've had to work," he tells the people in the hall. "What you've got, you've earned with your sweat, your ingenuity and your heart. It's not been given to you by government. It's something you've earned. And I value that," Christie says. "I treasure that."
He says he "dragged his wife (Mary Pat) kicking and screaming from Pennsylvania" to his native state of New Jersey to begin their life together.
Mary Pat came from a family with 10 children -- "a family that was used to struggle," he explains.
And then he tells the story about his mother-in-law. It's a familiar, real-life story about a mother-in-law's skepticism about her son-in-law and whether or not he would actually make something of himself and provide for a better life for her daughter.
We've run a video of this story as Christie tells it, here on the blog. Christie tells the story with a combination of bluntness and jocularity.
This has the audience chuckling and applauding.
He says that after the video of the story appeared, his mother-in-law called him about telling the tale and he says that when she called "he did what any true, brave son-in-law would do; I let the call go to voice mail."
And then he says that when he listened to the message his mother-in-law was actually calling him to tell him that when he told the story he got her age wrong. "I'm 84," she said. "Not 86. Please get my age right."
Christie says being the Governor of New Jersey "is the greatest honor I've ever had in my life" and he vows to continue fighting for the people. "Maybe you can tell," he says. "I really like this job. I love it and I'm honored to continue to do it."
This is a classic from-the-heart speech to people that Christie knows well and understands.
It's clear that he not only means to win (and he's well-positioned to do that) but he means to win re-election big. He's already campaigning as if he's in the fight of his life.
Then, the Governor wades into the crowd and spends plenty of time surrounded by a huge crowd. People are tugging at him, shouting over the heads of others, hugging him. And he knows many of these people by name. He jokes, takes pictures with them, signs autographs. He's in his element -- at home with the people of New Jersey.
And we're reminded again that so much of politics comes down to this -- that so much of it is still retail; the person-to-person; face-to-face; up close and personal stuff. This is to say the least, reassuring.
Side by side with the Governor in the middle of the crowd we see people reach out to him, ask about his family, thank him for his service. He stays and continues to chat, laugh, reach out to people. And he seems to gain energy from all of it. He's renewed. These people are like a B-12 shot for him. They urge him onward.
And one can't help but thinking that this is a snapshot of what lies ahead -- but on an even broader scale.
Keep a close eye on New Jersey, folks.
History is being made here.
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