What They’re Saying About Christie’s Keynote Speech


Yi! News did not receive press passes to this year’s RNC, so we’ll leave it to the “experts” to let us know how Governor Chris Christie did last night. Here’s what some of them had to say in the hours after the keynote speech was delivered.

  • “Christie’s approach was a marked departure from previous Republican keynote addresses, which have often featured a rising politician willing to blast the Democratic nominee. Christie, for his part, did not mention President Obama by name. Instead, his 2,600-word speech introduced the country to his singular brand, which blends a brusque rhetorical style with a reform agenda…Ultimately, however, the speech was about a philosophy of leadership rather than the ascent of Romney or specific policies. People respond to conservative ideas, he said, but Americans need to elect a president who can communicate those ideas, not only on television but also on Capitol Hill.” – Robert Costa, The National Review
  • “It was a different address than many had been expecting. Christie spent less time selling Romney as a candidate and a potential president, and more time defining the way he sees the party’s future — in strokes related to fiscal conservatism. He mentioned Romney several times in the latter part of the speech, but not for the first 15 minutes or so…It was a reminder that Christie, who many Republicans had hoped would run this time and is a much-discussed candidate for 2016, is still seen as one of the future leaders of a party that believes this is a winnable election, but has hoped for Romney to wage a different, more aggressive campaign.” – Maggie Haberman, Politico
  • “[Christie] did not lash out in personal ways at Mr. Obama, hardly mentioning the president by name. Instead, Mr. Christie reserved his sharp words for a tough contrast between the Republican approach to solving problems and a Democratic approach that he said would continue to fail to turn around the American economy and the country’s broken political system…Primarily, the speech offered a challenge to the country to change course from an administration that he said was letting the nation’s economy drift. He said the status quo must change, and he praised Mr. Romney as the right man to take the country in a different direction.” – Michael Shear, The New York Times’ Caucus Blog
  • “[I]t was Christie who helped inject some much-needed energy into an arena that had been surprisingly subdued through the early evening. He came on stage punching the air. He clapped as he approached the lectern, returning the welcome he received from the delegates as if to say: Wake up, Republicans. He demanded that they stand up, and they did…He argued that it’s better to be respected than loved — which is one way to persuade voters to back a Republican nominee who trails the president in likeability. He said the campaign should be about big things — just what the Romney team has tried to argue at the same time it has been thrown off stride by smaller matters. He called the election a test of whether Americans are ready to hear the truth about the nation’s future and he said he is confident that those who challenge the voters will be rewarded. He said his record in New Jersey proves that point.” – Dan Balz, The Washington Post
  • “Political pundits noted that Christie’s speech was almost entirely about himself, with heavy emphasis on ‘I,’ while many on Twitter wondered if it wasn’t Christie himself who was vying for the White House. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow called it ‘an act of political selfishness.’ But a senior adviser to the Romney campaign tells POLITICO tonight that Gov. Christie was right on message: ‘Gov. Christie did exactly what we asked, which was lay out the problems facing the nation and close with Governor Romney as the solution,’ the senior adviser said.” – Dylan Byers, Politico’s On Media Blog
  • “The speech was touching at times, with personal moments that were unquestionably genuine. The delivery was smooth, and the home crowd gave him standing ovations when he hammered home conservative principles. But this was not the home run that Chris Christie had hoped for. The cheer for Anne Romney was louder, and lasted longer. As talented a speaker as Christie is, the town hall is his forum, and improvisation is his game. In this setting, he was good but not great.” – Tom Moran, The Newark Star-Ledger
  • “Christie ended the evening with his powerful and rousing call to American greatness, his summons to us to face up to the truth and to do our duty. Christie’s strong speech framed the choice in this election, and made clear which choice was to be preferred – and he did so, impressively, without appearing at all harsh or mean. In fact, he never mentioned President Obama by name. Christie managed to be at once polemical and positive – no easy feat.” – William Kristol, The Weekly Standard
  • “Christie, who stormed onto the stage clapping like a football coach in the fourth quarter, and delivered a gut-busting rebuke to the nation’s political leadership and to a self-indulgent culture…Christie explained how his mother, who died eight years ago, ‘told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected.’ He used that as an analogy for how he thinks the GOP must not shrink from offering solutions to the nation’s biggest problems – debt, deficits and a sagging entitlement state – that might be unpopular. ‘Tonight, we are going to do what my mother taught me. Tonight, we are going to choose respect over love,’ he said.” – Jon Ward, The Huffington Post
  • “These were speeches geared beyond the hall, to suburban women or swing voters, independent voters. Christie really did deliver that message when he talked about principled compromise, when he appealed to people who hate politics right now and hate Washington right now, about what will be said about this generation dealing with the kind of problems the country faces.” – David Gregory, NBC News

The Myth Of Money In Politics


As we get closer to November’s presidential election, there has been increased interest in campaign finance law. What was once the bane of most political science majors’ existence is now suddenly a popular topic in both the media and even pop culture. Campaign finance law has earned a byline in a seeming majority of major news outlets’ election stories, and was the subject of an episode of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom weeks ago.

For most folks, their knowledge of an otherwise obscure topic centers on the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee. As the popular narrative goes, Citizens United was a controversial ruling engineered by Republican-appointed justices to give their political allies a leg up in elections. It supposedly led to a flood of outsider money into elections, thereby corrupting politicians and helping Republicans win a historic majority in the 2010 midterm Congressional elections. President Obama went so far as to criticize the Court’s decision in his first State of the Union address:

 “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections.”

First, let’s acknowledge the president’s misreading of the case. Citizens United did not allow corporations to spend without limits; corporations (and individuals) may only donate a set amount of money to an individual candidate or political party, per the 2002 McCain Feingold campaign finance law. Nor, despite the claims of even respected news outlets such as Politico, did the case foster the creation of “super PACs”. A subsequent court ruling did this (SpeechNow.org v. FEC). Citizens United really just allowed for independent organizations (be they corporations, nonprofits, media outlets, etc.) to make unlimited independent (i.e. not tied to a candidate or party) expenditures. Such protections even cover CNN and The New York Times from potential prosecution for political speech. (Shapiro)

 The broader arguments against money in politics flow from some logical assumptions. We don’t want our politicians to simply be instruments of big corporations, and allowing anyone to spend as much money as possible on elections may do this. But the problem isn’t really that there’s too much money in politics. It’s that politicians control too much money.

Americans spend more money on chewing gum than we do in all federal elections. For the amount of areas under government control, I’d argue that we’re not spending enough. (Using OMB data, the nonpartisan FactCheck.org estimates 2010 government spending as nearly 25 percent of our total GDP.) As rational actors, and with so much of our time and money subject to government control and or confiscation, we really should be more interested in politics. As the Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus notes:

 Our political parties no longer fight over simple regulations of interstate commerce and tariffs, we fight, on a national level, over the nature of American health care and how we will educate our children. How could these fights not be schismatic, vicious, and underhanded?

With this much at stake, the money will come into politics somehow. Past attempts to legislate money out of politics have failed. Consider the very notion of a “super PAC.” PACs (political action committees) were started by labor unions as a way around the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which forbade unions and corporations from spending money on elections. So instead of giving money directly to candidates and political parties (who are easier for regulators to identify and scrutinize), the money dispersed between more sources that were tougher to regulate. Oops.

But even if it were possible to effectively regulate political spending, would we want to? If you’re one of the majority of Americans who disapproves of Congress’ performance, the answer should be “no.”

The whole concept of campaign finance reform has largely been advanced by insiders and current officeholders. Money spent on campaigns generally helps to provide information about candidates, be it good or bad. More spending means more information, and more information means more accountability. This is not good for Congressmen who would prefer to coast to 30+ year reigns full of influence peddling and largesse.

Finally, money isn’t everything in elections. Scores of candidates have been badly outspent and gone on to win major elections; Ted Cruz’s GOP Senate primary victory over lieutenant governor David Dewhurst (who outspent Cruz by a 3-to-1 margin) is an example from only one week ago. Corporations, in general, don’t give a ton of money to candidates…doing otherwise would alienate large chunks of their client bases.

Campaign finance limits are relevant in very narrow, specific cases. Shapiro (cited above) has some great insights as to when and where this should happen; he essentially argues for disclosure requirements for particularly large donations. Such limits are reasonable and should be the starting point for any discussion of the regulation of political speech. Banning spending from persons or organizations who disagree with you? Probably not a wise goal of election law.


“Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom: One-Sided Politics Will Not Save Us from Politics”, Trevor Burrus

“3 Reasons Not to Sweat the Citizens United Ruling”, Reason TV

“Why Citizens United Has Nothing to Do with What Ails American Politics”, Ilya Shapiro

A Guide To The 2012 RNC


The Republican National Convention is upon us and Mitt Romney’s time has finally come.  The RNC is a celebratory but serious four-day event filled with three days of speeches from Republican Party leaders culminating in the Republican Presidential nomination of Romney.  After a long and hotly contested primary period where Romney was constantly pressed and challenged by his rivals, the RNC will serve as both a validation of Romney’s candidacy and an outlet for the American people to hear and understand his vision for the nation.

Though Monday officially marked the beginning of the convention, Tuesday’s “We Built It” day is the true start of the events.  With a focus on President Obama’s claim that “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” Tuesday’s speeches will likely stress the American ideals of individualism, smaller government and reduced regulation in the private sector.  The speaker list is long, featuring  Congressional leaders and Republican governors in key swing states. But the two most important speeches will be delivered by Ann Romney and the RNC’s keynote speaker, New Jersey Governor and Seton Hall School of Law alumnus, Chris Christie.

Expect Mrs. Romney, a gifted orator, to personalize her husband, helping Americans understand who Mitt is away from the campaign trail.  Mrs. Romney will also likely attempt to appeal to women and tell them that if Romney is elected, their interests would be safely protected under his administration.  Women voters always play a key role in presidential elections and Mrs. Romney’s speech will aim to close the gap between Obama and her husband.

Gov. Christie, a rising star in the Republican Party, will almost certainly go on the offensive as only he knows how.  Never one to shy away from controversy, expect Christie’s speech to present harsh truths about President Obama’s administration that the media tends to downplay.  Look for Christie to highlight how smaller government is successful as long as the person in charge is willing and unafraid to make tough and unpopular decisions.  Finally, expect the governor to speak to Romney’s background as a successful businessman who will make the tough decisions to fix the broken American economy.

Wednesday’s “We Can Change It” day marks the official rise of Paul Ryan as the future of the Republican Party.  While the speaker list is impressive [former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2008 nominee Sen. John McCain (AZ) and Govs. Bobby Jindal (LA) and Susana Martinez (NM)], the night will be about the vice presidential nominee.  Officially announced as Romney’s running mate only a few weeks ago, Ryan is considered to be one of the most knowledgeable and informed Congressman regarding our country’s budgetary, fiscal and healthcare issues.  Already proven to be an adept public speaker, Ryan’s speech probably will attempt to explain to Americans the stark contrast between the Romney-Ryan ticket and the Obama-Biden ticket. Ryan likely will focus on how Romney’s ideas and solutions  will bring America closer to its founding principles of smaller government and individualism, and that four more years of Obama will lead the country down an unprecedented path of “debt, doubt and despair.”

Thursday’s “We Believe in America” promises to be an important and historic day for the Republican Party. In the 7 p.m. hour, Newt Gingrich, Romney’s fiercest rival during the primary season, will lend his support to Romney.  Gingrich’s support is important, as his followers represent a portion of the party Romney struggled to connect with during the primaries.  During the 8 p.m. hour, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will re-emerge on the national political scene, delivering a speech specifically focusing on the importance of fixing the educational institutions in the United States. To begin the 10 p.m. hour, Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) will introduce Romney. Rubio is Republican Party’s new leader amongst the Hispanic-American population and represents an important link between America’s fastest growing population and the party.

After Rubio’s introduction, Romney will step up to stage and deliver the most important speech of his lifetime.  While Romney undoubtedly will stress the differences between his and Obama’s vision for America, the most important objective for Romney is to relate to the American people. For the better part of a year now, Romney has been unfairly cast by the media as out of touch with the common American, more or less because he is a self-made millionaire who does not need to work two jobs while struggling to live.  Romney’s speech will surely appeal to the Republicans in attendance and watching at home, but it is the degree to which his words connect with independent and undecided voters that will ultimately determine the success of his address.