ICYMI: Christie has New Jersey GOP partying like it's 1988

In Case You Missed It, I hung out with the New Jersey delegation at the Republican convention in St. Petersburg/Tampa yesterday, and these people are pumped up. There are more Republicans from Jersey at this convention than at any since 1988 -- and for the first time since 1988, New Jersey has a good spot on the convention floor.

Why? Gov. Christie. Here's my story with The Big Tent's Tom Fitzgerald:

TAMPA - New Jersey arrived in Florida on Sunday, and it was immediately clear this wasn't Minnesota.

And not just because of the tropical storm looming off the coast. On a day when sandbags were piled outside the hotel housing the California delegation, and Red Cross volunteers were heading for the Gulf Coast from as far away as Philadelphia, the New Jersey Republicans here for the GOP convention that opens Monday were more numerous, more charged up, and more prominent than those who went to the 2008 Republican convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul. 

Bill Palatucci, the state's Republican national committeeman and Gov. Christie's confidant, said that the national party initially told him that 125 rooms would be reserved for the New Jersey delegation in a hotel shared with another state. After all, that's what New Jersey needed in 2008.

"We said: 'Have you heard of Chris Christie? Are you nuts?' " Palatucci recounted Sunday.

The surging national prominence of the governor (who will deliver the keynote address Tuesday), coupled with his early endorsement of Mitt Romney, helped land New Jersey not just a hotel to itself on the beach in nearby St. Petersburg but a prime spot on the floor of the convention hall.

During a welcome reception at the Sirata Beach Resort on Sunday night, Christie stood with his wife and elder daughter before a thrilled crowd of New Jerseyans. He credited New Jersey's newfound prominence to his exhortation last year that the state's county chairs wait for him before endorsing anyone in the GOP presidential primary.

"Let's all [endorse] together, and if we do, we're going to wind up reaping some benefits from it," Christie remembered saying.

"Well, let's see. How did we do? Well, we're front and center at the convention, and I'm giving the keynote speech. So there's something great about being unified."

Christie also built up some expectations for his speech.

"You don't know what's going to happen when I burst out of that gate at 10:30 on Tuesday night. . . . We're going to put on a great show for the American people," Christie said to cheers.

To read the rest, click here.