York: Ann Romney shined, Chris Christie fell short

Byron York, who will help the John Locke Foundation preview the November election during a Sept. 19 panel discussion in Raleigh, devotes his latest Washington Examiner analysis to the two main speeches Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention.

Mrs. Romney succeeded in conveying to the audience in the hall — and, the campaign hopes, to the millions watching on television — her love for her husband, her belief in his essential goodness, and, perhaps most importantly, her implicit faith in his abilities. “This man will not fail,” she assured the audience near the end of her speech. “This man will not let us down.”

Mrs. Romney clearly believes that if she were flying in a plane, and the pilot died from a heart attack, Mitt Romney would find a way to land the plane safely. She wanted to communicate that faith to the audience, and she did.

The campaign enjoyed less success with the convention’s keynote speaker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie had his moments — perhaps his best came when he said the country requires “leadership that you don’t get from reading a poll.” “You see, Mr. President,” Christie continued, “real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.”

Overall, though, Christie’s address, which focused largely on his own accomplishments in New Jersey and was light on attacks on President Obama, failed to convey the spirit — the essential Christie-ness — that millions have seen in YouTube videos of the New Jersey governor in action. Watching Christie’s speech was a reminder that most, if not all, of the great Chris Christie moments we’ve seen have been spontaneous encounters between Christie and others, usually hostile encounters in which Christie flamboyantly puts down some jerk who was unwise enough to take him on. What Christie is not as famous for is the big set-piece speech, and that was his task Tuesday night in Tampa.

Perhaps the Romney campaign, unbeknownst to Christie, should have paid someone to heckle him midway through his speech. Then the audience might have gotten a glimpse of the Chris Christie they know and love.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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