The speech, which presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney asked Christie to give, will be televised at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to an estimated 30 million to 40 million viewers. It is by far the biggest speech of Christie's political life and will last about 20 minutes, ending in time to cut to the local news at 11 p.m.
The governor told a boardwalk audience in Sea Isle City that he planned to talk about the people who influenced him as a leader. He told reporters at his next stop at the Braca Cafe that he would cite examples of how New Jersey has rebounded during his tenure, though he would steer clear of the phrase "New Jersey Comeback," which has become a lightning rod for Democrats to attack his economic policies.
Christie, in his third year as governor, is a prolific fundraiser who has become a darling of the party. He declined to launch his own bid for president, though some wealthy and influential Republicans urged him to do so, and he repeatedly said he was not interested in becoming Romney's running mate.
Christie, 49, said he had been practicing the speech with a teleprompter at Drumthwacket, the governor's official residence, before heading south for a meet-and-greet with residents at the shore. He said another rehearsal day is scheduled Friday. He and his family leave for Tampa, Fla., where the convention is being held, on Sunday.
Few people have been privy to drafts of the speech, which now number 10. Christie said he's been writing it with help from communications director Maria Comella and input from two longtime trusted friends, former law partner Bill Palatucci and economic adviser Bob Grady.
The governor's wife and four children will be in the audience for the speech, as will his father and brother, Todd Christie, a Republican delegate. Most of his senior staff members also will be there.
Christie said his calendar was originally kept clear for Tuesday, but he rejected the idea of sitting around all day and waiting for his moment to arrive.
"I don't do well not doing anything," Christie said. "I'll be batty by the time I get out there."