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Gov. Christie was flying home from out west, where he had been raising money for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, when he got an e-mail from the candidate himself.
Call me when you land, Romney told Christie.
“And so when I landed I called him,” Christie said today. “He told me that he decided to go in a different direction for vice president, asked me if I would be willing to do the keynote address [at the Republican convention]. I told him that I would be.”
That was Aug. 10, the night before Romney announced U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
On a sunny Asbury Park boardwalk, before dozens of mostly pro-Christie beachcombers, Christie this afternoon held a news conference in which offered his first public comments about being passed over for Romney’s running mate.
I asked him specifically whether he was disappointed about not being tapped for a job that could have put him one breath from the presidency.
“I told people all along I didn’t want to be vice president,” he said.
So was he relieved?
Nope, not that either.
“It’s like being asked out on a date — if you’re asked you don't have to say yes,” he said. “I don't know what I would have done if he had asked me.”
And to the thrill of the crowd, he added: “I love this job and I have no interest in heading off to Washington DC.”
Christie said he's on the seventh draft of his keynote speech, which will air a week from Tuesday at 10:30 pm. He’s shown it to a small circle of four insiders, plus his family, to make sure it’s authentic. “Does this sound like me?” he asks.
Christie wouldn’t detail what he’s going to say, but he told the crowd to “watch New Jersey on national television tell the rest of the country how to run government.”
Christie took a walk on the boardwalk, raspberry smoothie in hand, after the news conference. He posed for several pictures, shook hands and ignored at least one heckler who said: “Right-wing bigots don’t belong in Asbury Park!”
Ignoring the heckler was notable. In Seaside Heights lats month, Christie appeared to go after someone who yelled something at him while he walked along eating an ice cream cone. The governor’s reaction, caught on video, ended up on the front of the gossip site TMZ.com.
Pundits speculated that may have been one reason why Romney didn't tap him for the veep gig.
But Christie said he hasn’t been told to cool his personality for the big speech.
Without saying whether his speech is being vetted by the Romney camp, Christie said “they know what they’re buying.”
“I don’t think they have any expectation nor have they requested that I have a personality-ectomy by next Tuesday,” he said.