New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 28, 2012. AP Photo.
The GOPs "Night of a Thousand Speeches" Tuesday, as the Atlantic Wire put it, delivered on its promise of glitz and flash. Speaker after speaker rallied an already electric crowd, and some even managed to sneak in a poignant moment here and there. But how did headliners Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie do?
Ann Romney's task was clear: portray Mitt's softer side, according to Chicago Sun-Times reporters in attendance (full speech text).
She was personal and embraced with gusto her task of humanizing Romney, de-emphasizing their enormous wealth and depicting her husband of 42 years as a man so humble he will not brag about himself.
So she did it for him.
From NPR's Mark Memmott:
From the occasional shouts of "We love you, Ann!" to the huge cheers for her applause lines, it was obvious the crowd was with her. And when she ended by saying "you can trust Mitt," she might have delivered one of the most helpful lines her husband's campaign could ever have crafted.
Reaction to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's keynote address (full text) was more mixed.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Natasha Korecki, also in attendance for his address, said Christie succeeded at firing up the GOP base.
His booming voice carrying easily through the stadium, the bombastic Christie repeatedly had the crowd on its feet. "Real leaders don't follow polls," Christie implored. "Real leaders change polls." Christie took on themes that ran throughout the day: the power of strong women and strong families. The danger of big government.
The speech was light on references to Mitt Romney himself -- as many Twitter users noted during the address. But Politico's Maggie Haberman the speech received more as a roadmap for the party.
Christie spent less time selling Romney as a candidate and a potential president, and more time defining the way he sees the party's future -- in strokes related to fiscal conservatism. He mentioned Romney several times in the latter part of the speech, but not for the first 15 minutes or so.
A number of Republicans praised the speech in private conversations, saying it presents a roadmap for the party. Christie's aim, others insisted, was to use his state as a model for how Romney and others can wage tough fights.
Others criticized Christie's messaging, warning that solutions to America's problems would be "painful" and that voters need to "share in the sacrifice."
Christie: "Our problems are big and the solutions will not be painless." But I'm thinking: Whose pain? Whose gain?— Mark Brown (@MarkBrownCST) August 29, 2012
Said the Washington Examiner's Byron York:
The lines were particularly appealing to Republicans who stress the entitlement reforms and spending cuts in the Romney-Ryan economic plan. There's pain ahead, they say, and voters need to get used to the idea. But a lot of voters are already in pain. And all Americans have had a pretty painful decade.
The Hill's Christian Heinze rated the speech even lower -- grading it a "D," and saying "he wasn't tough and resolute, and that's exactly what Romney needed."