Published December 23, 2015
The following is a keynote address that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave at the Republican National Convention on August 28, 2012.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Thank you!
Thank you! Thank you all very much. Thank you.
Well, this stage and this moment are very improbable for
me, a New Jersey Republican.
Delivering the keynote address to our national convention.
From a state with 700,000 more Democrats than Republicans.
A New Jersey Republican stands before you tonight proud of my
party, proud of my state, and proud of my country.
Now I am the son of an Irish father and a Sicilian mother.
My dad, who I'm blessed to have here with me tonight, is
gregarious, outgoing, and lovable. My mom, who I lost eight
years ago, was the enforcer.
Now she made sure we all knew who set the rules. I'll tell
it to you this way, in the automobile of life, dad was just a
passenger. Mom was the driver.
Now they both lived hard lives. Dad grew up in poverty.
And after returning from Army service, he worked at the Breyers
Ice Cream plant in the 1950s. Now with that job and the G.I.
bill, he put himself through Rutgers University at night to
become the first in his family to earn a college degree.
And our first family picture, our first family picture was
on his graduation day with my mom beaming next to him, six
months pregnant with me. Now mom also came from nothing. She
was raised by a single mother who took three different buses
every day to get to work.
And mom spent the time that she was supposed to be a kid
actually raising children, her younger brother and younger
sister. She was tough as nails and did not suffer fools at all.
And the truth was she could not afford to. She spoke the
truth, bluntly, directly, and without much varnish. I am her
I was her son as I listened to ``Darkness on the Edge of
Town'' with my high school friends on the Jersey Shore. I was
her son when I moved into that studio apartment with Mary Pat to
start a marriage that's now 26 years old.
I was her son as I coached our sons, Andrew and Patrick, on
the fields of Mendham, and as I watched with pride as our
daughter Sarah and Bridget, marched with their soccer teams in
the Labor Day parade.
And I am still her son today as governor, following the
rules she taught me, to speak from the heart, and to fight for
your principles. You see, mom never thought you would get extra
credit just for speaking the truth.
And the greatest lesson that 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.
Now she said to always pick being respected. She told me
that love without respect was always fleeting, but that respect
could grow into real and lasting love. Now, of course, she was
talking about women.
But I have learned over time that it applies just as much
to leadership. In fact, I think that advice applies to America
more than ever today.
You see, I believe we have become paralyzed, paralyzed by
our desire to be loved. Now our founding fathers had the wisdom
to know that social acceptance and popularity were fleeing, and
that this country's principles needed to be rooted in strengths
greater than the passions and the emotions of the times.
But our leaders of today have decided it's more important
to be popular, to say and do what's easy, and say yes rather
than to say no, when no is what is required.
In recent years -- in recent years we as a country have too
often chosen the same path. It's easy for our leaders to say,
``Not us, not now'', in taking on the really tough issues. And
unfortunately we have stood silently by and let them get away
with it. But tonight, I say enough.
Tonight, I say together, let's make a much different
choice. Tonight, we are speaking up for ourselves and stepping
up. Tonight, we're beginning to do what is right and necessary
to make America great again.
We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other
down and work together to take action on the big things facing
America. Tonight, we will do what my mother taught me. Tonight,
we are going to choose respect over love.
See we are not afraid. We are taking our country back
because we are the great-grandchildren of the men and women who
broke their backs in the name of American ingenuity, the
grandchildre of the greatest generation, the sons and daughters
of immigrants, the brothers and sisters of everyday heroes, the
neighbors of entrepreneurs and firefighters, teachers and
farmers, veterans and factory workers and everyone in between
who shows up, not just on the big days, or the good days, but on
the bad days, and the hard days. Each and every day. All 365
You see, we are the United States of America.
Now -- now -- now it is up to us. We must lead the way our
citizens live, to lead as my mother insisted I live, not by
avoiding truths, especially the hard ones, but by facing up to
them and being better for it.
We can't afford to do anything less. I know this because
this was the challenge in New Jersey. When I came into office,
I could continue on the same path that the wealth and jobs and
people leaving our state. Or I could do the job the people
elected me to do, to do the big things.
Now, there were those who said it could not be done, that
the problems were too big, too politically charged and too
broken to fix. But we were on a path we could no longer afford
to follow. Now, they said that it was impossible -- this is
what they told me -- to cut taxes in a state where taxes were
raised 115 times in the eight years before I became governor.
That it was impossible to balance the budget at the same
time with an $11 billion in deficit. But three years later, we
have three balanced budgets in a row with lower taxes. We did
They said it was impossible to touch the third rail of
politics, to take on the public-sector unions and to reform a
pension and health benefits system that was headed to
bankruptcy. But with bipartisan leadership, we saved taxpayers
$132 billion dollars over 30 years and saved retirees their
pensions. We did it.
They said that it was impossible to speak the truth to the
teachers' union .
They were just too powerful. Real teacher tenure reform
that demands accountability and and ends the guarantee of a job
for life regardless of performance, they said it would never
happen. But for the first time in 100 years, with bipartisan
support, you know the answer. We did it.
Now the disciples of yesterday's politics, they always
underestimate the will of the people.
CHRISTIE: They assumed our people were selfish. The
difficult problems, the tough choices and the complicated
solutions, but they would simply turn their backs. That they
would decide it was every man for himself. They were wrong.
The people of New Jersey stepped up. They shared in the
sacrifice. You know what else they did? They rewarded
politicians who lead instead of politicians who pandered .
But you know, we shouldn't be surprised. We shouldn't be
surprised, we've never been a country to shy away from the
truth. Our history shows that we stand up when it counts. And
it's this quality that has defined America's character and our
significance in the world.
Now, I know this simple truth and I am not afraid to say
it. Our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed
Let me be clear with the American people tonight. Here is
what we believe as Republicans and what they believe as
We believe in telling hardworking families the truth about
our country's fiscal realities, telling them what they already
know, the math of federal spending does not add up.
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 this government.
Want to know what they believe? They believe that the
American people want to hear the truth about the extent of our
fiscal difficulties. They believe the American people need to
be coddled by big government. They believe the American people
are content to live the lie with them. They are wrong.
We believe in telling our seniors the truth about our
overburdened entitlements. We know seniors not only want these
programs to survive, but they just as badly want them secured
for their grandchildren.
Our seniors are not children.
Here's what they believe. They believe seniors will always
put themselves ahead of their grandchildren. And here's what
they do. They prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with
misinformation for the single cynical purpose of winning the
next election. Here is their plan. Whistling happy tune while
driving us off a fiscal cliff as long as they are behind the
wheel of power when we fall.
Now, we believe that the majority of teachers in America
know our system must be reformed, to put students first so that
America can compete, that teachers don't teach to become rich or
famous. They teach because they love children.
We believe -- we believe we should honor and reward the
good ones, while doing what's best for our nation's future,
demanding accountability, demanding higher standards, and
demanding the best teacher in every classroom in America.
Get ready. Here is what they believe.
They believe the educational savages will only put
themselves ahead of children, that self- interest will always
trump common sense, they believe in pitting unions against
teachers, educators against parents, lobbyists against children.
They believe in teachers' unions . We believe in teachers.
We believe -- we believe that, if we tell the people the
truth, that they will act bigger than the pettiness we see in
Washington, D.C. We believe it is possible to forge bipartisan
compromise, and stand up for our conservative principles.
You see, because it has always been the power of our ideas,
not our rhetoric, that attracts people to our party. We win
when we make it about what needs to be done. We lose when we
play along with their game of scaring and dividing.
Make no mistake about it, everybody. The problems are too
big to let the American people lose. The slowest economic
recovery in decades, a spiraling out of control deficit, and an
education system that is failing to compete in the world. It
doesn't matter how we got here. There's enough blame to go
around. What matters is what we do now.
See, I know. I know we can fix our problems. When there
are people in the room who care more about doing the job they
were elected to do than they worry about winning reelection, it
is possible to work together, achieve principal compromise, and
get results for the people who give us these jobs in the first
The people have no patience for any other way anymore. It
is simple. We need politicians to care more about doing
something and less about being something.
And believe me, believe me, if we could do this in a blue
state like New Jersey with a conservative Republican governor,
Washington is out of excuses.
Leadership delivers. Leadership counts. Leadership
matters. And here's the great news I came here tonight to bring
you. We have this leader for America. We have a nominee who
will tell us the truth and will lead with conviction. And now
he has a running mate who will do the same. We have Governor
Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan to we need to make them
the next president and vice-president of the United States!
See, I know Mitt Romney, and Mitt Romney will tell us the
hard truths we need to hear, to put this back on a path to
growth and create good paying private sector jobs again in
Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to year to
end the torrent of debt that is compromising our future and
burying our economy.
Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to
end the debacle of putting the world's greatest care system in
the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats
between an American citizen and her doctor.
Now we ended an era of absentee leadership without purpose
or principal in New Jersey. I am here to tell you tonight, it
is time to end this era of absentee leadership in the oval
office and send real leaders to the White House. America needs
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and we need them right now.
We have to tell each other the truth, right? Listen, there
is doubt and fear for our future in every corner of our country.
I have traveled all over the country, and I have seen this
myself. These feelings are real. This moment is real,and it is
a moment like this where some skeptics wonder if America's
greatness is over. They wonder how those who have come before
the before us had in the spirit and tenacity to lead America to
a new era of greatness in the face of challenge, not to look
around and say ``Not me'', but to look around and say ``Yes, me.''
Now, I have an answer tonight for the skeptics and the
naysayers, the dividers and the defenders of the status quo. I
have faith in us. I know.
I know we can be the men and women our country calls on us
to be tonight. I believe in America and her history, and
there's only one thing missing now. Leadership. It takes
leadership that you don't get from reading a poll. You see, Mr.
President, real leaders do not follow polls. Real leaders