TAMPA - Gov. Christie rallied the faithful this morning, delivering speeches to the California and North Carolina Republican delegations that featured a pretty dang good Southern accent, a picture of him on a surf board and a behind-the-scenes look at how he became the first governor in the country to endorse Mitt Romney.
He also gave the crowds what they came for: Some Jersey-style tough talk.
The endorsement story goes like this: Mitt and Ann came to the Christie's house in Mendham for lunch last October, after Christie decided not to run for president himself. Christie's son, Patrick, now 12, rollerbladed through. Then came Christie's daughter, Bridget, now 9, doing cartwheels.
Christie said Mitt was wonderful with the kids. "I watched the real Mitt Romney," he said. "You can't fake it with children...you could tell this guy has been an involved father and an involved grandfather...in the end what matters most is what kind of person is sitting behind that desk."
Christie was sold.
"What do I need to get you to be part of our team?" Romney asked.
"Nothing. I'm in," Christie responded.
"It's Christmas in October!" Romney said.
Christie was introduced to the California delegation by former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who was once defended from a heckler by Christie. "I was just thrilled to death to be defended by Chris Christie," Whitman remembered.
Christie explained what happened: "You got a bully in the room you got two choices, either sidle up next to him or punch him in the face. I punched him in the face first."
These folks from around the country eat up the Jersey Tough Guy shtick. At a breakfast for the North Carolina delegation, Christie warned the North Carolinians to work hard for Romney -- or he'd be back.
"Now I don't want to get all nasty this early in the morning," Christie said to cheers. "But it's up to you. Literally, the presidency is up to you...You don't want an angry Chris Christie coming back to North Carolina."
He then made a reference, perhaps, to the Mafia. If North Carolina doesn't vote Romney, he said, "we're going to give you some Jersey-style treatment. You don't want that now."
As for the Southern accent...Christie said former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour came up to one of his people on the convention floor Sunday. He said Barbour, through a Southern drawl, advised that he "be Chris" during his keynote.
"Well that's what I'm going to be tomorrow night, don't you worry," he said.
The crowd did not seem worried.