Christie to deliver GOP convention keynote speech

If you were expecting a convention where Republicans just sang kumbayah and hoped Americans liked them for the passivity, think again.  The Republican organizers have tapped Chris Christie to set the tone for the convention, and the first-term governor of New Jersey plans — to no one’s surprise — an “emphatic” 20-minute keynote speech on opening night (via National Journal):

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the keynote address that launches the Republican National Convention in two weeks, telling USA TODAY he plans to make an “emphatic” argument on behalf of GOP approaches and shared sacrifice to face the nation’s biggest challenges.

In an interview Monday, Christie said his 20-minute speech will focus more on making the case for electing Mitt Romney than the one against re-electing President Obama. And he promises the words will be his own: He’s already on the fourth draft of the speech, “grinding away on it” over the past few days since Romney asked him to fill the high-profile role.

In another big nod to the future of the Republican Party, the presidential nominee will get an introduction from another fast-rising freshman star, Senator Marco Rubio:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will introduce Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention when the former Massachusetts governor officially accepts his party’s presidential nomination later this month in Tampa, a senior Republican official told CNN.

Rubio, who was elected in 2010, is well regarded by conservatives and tea party activists. Earlier this year, Romney had said that he was looking at Rubio as possible vice presidential running mate. Romney, instead, chose Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan this weekend to join him on the GOP ticket.

Conventions usually like to emphasize continuity from grand traditions in both parties.  It’s telling that the Republican convention organizers are assigning key roles to people who represent the future rather than the past.  Contrast that with the Democratic convention, which will have Bill Clinton on hand to formally nominate Barack Obama — giving everyone an opportunity to remember the vast gulf in economic outcomes between the last two Democratic presidents.

Republicans will have plenty of older hands on board for prime-time speeches, including the previous presidential nominee, John McCain.  But the emphasis on the youth movement in the GOP with these two high-profile assignments cannot be a coincidence.  While Democrats celebrate their past, Republicans are looking to the future — and giving their future some key roles in the present to launch that future now.