Gov. Christie to deliver GOP keynote, Rubio to introduce Romney

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., later this month.

“As governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has proven how bold Republican leadership gets results. He has fearlessly tackled his state's most difficult challenges, while looking out for hardworking taxpayers,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, in a statement announcing the selection.

“The challenges we face as a country are great and require the honesty and boldness of the Romney-Ryan team,” Christie said in the statement, calling the invitation “an honor."

Reports also said freshman Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would introduce Mitt Romney before the presumptive nominee's own speech.

Christie and Rubio are both prominent Romney surrogates who were rumored to be on the vice presidential shortlist, and rising stars in the GOP.

Christie said in an interview with USA Today that he intends to present an “emphatic” case for the Republican approach to turning around the nation’s economy.

Christie told the paper he was already at work on his address, crafting a fourth draft and “grinding away on it.”

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“I'll try to tell some very direct and hard truths to people in the country about the trouble that we're in and the fact that fixing those problems is not going to be easy for any of them,” said Christie.

“The American people are ready to confront those problems head-on and endure some sacrifice,” he added.

Reports last year said high-profile GOP donors had approached the New Jersey governor and urged him to enter the party’s primary himself. Christie, though, eventually endorsed Romney in October.

He repeatedly said he was not interested in the running-mate slot, but would consider if the party’s standard-bearer offered him the post. “He might be able to convince me. He's a convincing guy,” he said of Romney in May.

The keynote slot is a prime spot for rising stars, and asked about a possible 2016 GOP presidential bid, Christie said he hoped he would “come back at the next convention renominating President Romney and Vice President Ryan.”

But he left the door open to further speculation, saying, “It's what I accomplish or don't accomplish as governor that will be the springboard or not for me.”

Christie and Rubio will be joined by many other prominent speakers at the GOP convention, in Tampa, Fla., including Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Rubio, a Cuban American, is seen as a key national figure who can bolster the Romney campaign with Hispanic voters, who hold sway in many swing states.

Rubio campaigned with Romney on Monday in Florida and is scheduled to visit Texas on Wednesday to raise funds for the campaign.

Christie was elected New Jersey’s governor in 2009 when he upset incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. His high-profile battles with the state’s Democratic lawmakers over the budget made him a popular figure with the GOP’s conservative base.

He has campaigned for Romney and last month defended the presumptive GOP nominee’s campaign from critics who said it was losing traction against President Obama. Christie told Fox News in an interview that Romney was “running a good campaign.” “He's focused, he's confident, and I don't think there's any time to change right now," he said.

This story was updated at 7:16 a.m.

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