ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called California Gov. Jerry Brown an "old retread" this morning, ripping into the Democratic governor in a speech to California's delegation to the Republican National Convention.
Christie, who will keynote the convention this week, told delegates at their beachfront hotel that New Jersey and California Republicans are alike, coming as they do from blue states.
"The message I want to deliver to California this morning is: There is hope," Christie told the delegates, some of whom had staked out positions near the podium more than an hour before Christie spoke. "Don't give up on the fact that California can be governed. You've seen it governed before, and you've seen it governed effectively."
Christie, a conservative star in the Republican Party, cheered the crowd by laying into Brown, California's 74-year-old, third-term governor.
"California made the bad choice by going with an old retread," Christie said. "Jerry Brown. Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old. And now I've got to sit at the National Governor's Association with this guy and have him come up to me and say, 'Gov. Christie, stop telling people that I want to raise taxes. I'm not trying to raise taxes.'
"And I said, 'Yeah you are, Jerry.'
"And he said, 'No, no, Chris, I'm not, I want to put them on the ballot and let the people decide.'
"Man, that's leadership, isn't it?"
Christie said 2012 could be a "launching point" for California Republicans, suggesting his election in 2009 is an indication the right Republican could succeed in a reliably Democratic state.
"What matters is leadership," Christie said. "What matters is who you vote for next time it comes around for governor. And Jerry Brown is going to establish an awfully failed record. He's already well on his way."
Christie, who has traveled to California to raise money for Mitt Romney, said he is struck by "how great the people of California are to me, how friendly and outgoing and warm everybody is to me, and what a great welcome I get whenever I come to California." He praised former California Gov. Pete Wilson, who was in the room, as a governor who "knew how to govern."
Wilson praised Christie, too.
"I think he's given tremendous leadership in what was supposed to be a hopelessly blue state," Wilson told reporters.
The speech cheered an early morning crowd of delegates still adjusting to the time difference between Florida and California. Following the address, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the House majority whip, had this to say about Christie's "old retread" remark: