In his keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that America faces tough challenges and stands in need of a president who is willing to be honest and lead.
Citing a lesson learned from his mother, Christie said that it's more important to be respected than it is to be loved, and that for too many years, leaders in the U.S. have chosen the easy path, saying "yes" when saying "no" is required.
"But tonight, I say, 'Enough,'" Christie said. "Together, let's make a much different choice. Tonight, we are speaking up for ourselves and stepping up. We are beginning to do what is right and what is necessary to make our country great again. We are demanding that our leaders stop treating each other down, and work together to take action on the big things facing America. Tonight, we choose respect over love."
Christie cited his battles in New Jersey, from battles over lowering taxes to taking on the teachers unions and reforming pensions, saying that those "impossible" reforms were tackled, and defeated. By making the hard choices, he said, New Jersey was able to see balanced budgets, lower taxes and pensions that were saved from the path of bankruptcy.
"The disciples of yesterday's politics underestimate the will of the people," Christie said. "They assumed our people were selfish; that when told of the difficult problems, tough choices and complicated solutions, they would simply turn their backs, that they would decide it was every man for himself. Instead, the people of New Jersey stepped up and shared the sacrifice."
Nobody should be surprised that Americans are willing to make hard choices, Christie said.
"We've never been a country to shy away from the truth. History shows that we stand up when it counts and it's this quality that has defined our character and our significance in the world."
Christie went on to compare the two parties, saying Democrats don't believe that Americans want to hear the truth, that they need to be coddled by the government and that seniors will put themselves before their grandchildren.
"We believe that if we tell the people the truth they will act bigger than the pettiness of Washington, D.C.," Christie said. "We believe it's possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for conservative principles. It's 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."
Blaming people over the problems isn't important — there's enough blame to go around, Christie said. Instead, Americans need to focus on electing politicians who care more about doing something and less about being something.
"Leadership delivers. Leadership counts. Leadership matters," Christie said.
It's time to end the era of "absentee leadership" in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House, he continued.
"I have faith in us. I know we can be the men and women our country calls on us to be," Christie said. "I believe in America and her history. 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 don't follow polls. Real leaders change polls. That's what we need to do now . . . We have never been victims of destiny. We have always been masters of our own. I will not be part of the generation that fails that test and neither will you. It's now time to stand up."