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“The Jersey Comeback” gets the Bronx Cheer

Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, Kelly Ayotte

Tonight’s GOP Convention keynoter is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a conservative many in the Republican Party had hoped would run for president instead of Mitt Romney.  Fox News and other conservative media hype Christie’s budget-cutting Jersey’s budget back to fiscal health, yet Princeton economics professor and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman shows that Christie’s record and rhetoric are more Tony Soprano than anything else.

From Krugman’s column:

If there is a distinctive feature to New Jersey’s belt-tightening under Mr. Christie, it is its curiously selective nature. The governor was willing to cancel the desperately needed project to build another rail tunnel linking the state to Manhattan, but has invested state funds in a megamall in the Meadowlands and a casino in Atlantic City.

Also, while much of his program involves spending cuts, he has effectively raised taxes on low-income workers and homeowners by slashing tax credits. But he vetoed a temporary surcharge on millionaires while refusing to raise the state’s gasoline tax, which is the third-lowest in America and far below tax rates in neighboring states. Only some people, it seems, are expected to make sacrifices.

But as I said, Mr. Christie talks a good (and very loud) game about his willingness to make tough choices, making big claims about spending cuts — claims, by the way, that PolitiFact has unequivocally declared false. And for the past year he has been touting what he claims is the result of those tough choices: the “Jersey comeback,” the supposed recovery of his state’s economy.

Strange to say, however, Mr. Christie has told reporters that he won’t use the term “Jersey comeback” in his keynote address. And it’s not hard to see why: the comeback, such as it was, has hit the skids. Indeed, the latest figures show his state with the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation. Strikingly, New Jersey’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate is now significantly higher than the unemployment rate in long-suffering Michigan, which has had a true comeback thanks to the G.O.P.-opposed auto bailout. 

The keynote address says a lot about a party and the direction it’s headed.  Bill Clinton gave a terrible keynote address in 1988 and managed to secure the nomination in 1992.  Mario Cuomo’s “bleeding feet” speech propelled him to fawning desire by Democrats for a Cuomo presidential run (which son Andrew Cuomo might provide in 2016).  And Senate candidate Barack Obama delivered a stirring speech in 2004.

Does anyone remember who delivered GOP keynotes before?  Rudy Guiliani (a noun, a verb and 9/11) did in 2008.  Democrat Zell Miller delivered a firey speech against John Kerry.  In 2000, it was a combo of John McCain and Colin Powell (who now supports Obama).  In 2000, the Democrats fired a blank in a keynote from Harold Ford. In 2008, Virginia Governor Mark Warner was a bit of a dud too.