ASBURY PARK, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie says he's excited — but not nervous — about giving the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, but he wasn't giving any hints Monday about what he plans to say.
The rising GOP star did say he was on his seventh draft of the address, which he's scheduled to give at 10:30 p.m. Aug. 28. And, he said he's been sharing drafts and soliciting feedback from a handful of intimates besides his immediate family who know his voice and can tell him if he's strayed.
"That's what I care about more than anything else — I'm more looking to them to say, does this sound like me," said Christie, 49.
The governor, just back from a week's vacation, fielded questions about his role at the convention for the first time since being tapped for the top speaking slot by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Christie, who was in Asbury Park for a press conference and walk on the boardwalk, said he spent a lot of time last week working on the speech he'll deliver in Tampa, Fla. The outspoken governor said the Romney campaign has not made any suggestions about its tone or substance, and has not asked him to amp up his Jersey-fresh persona or turn it down.
"I don't think he picked me because he was hoping I would show up and be somebody else," said Christie. "I don't think they have any expectation nor have they requested that I have a personality-ectomy between now and the convention. They know what they're buying."
Christie said Romney never spelled out why he chose the first-term governor to deliver the keynote, but Christie said he thinks it's recognition of his accomplishments in New Jersey.
"I think the reason I was picked ... was because of the job I'm doing here," Christie said. "If you're not doing a good job, I don't think they want to put you in front of a national TV audience as the person who's going to layout the vision for the Republican Party for the next four years. So I hope it's because of the things I've done here and what that could mean for the rest of the country."
Christie said he learned he would be keynoter — and not the VP nominee — on Aug. 10, the day before Romney's announced Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. Christie said he received an email from Ryan as he was flying home from a campaign event in Montana asking him to call when he landed.
Christie said he was not disappointed or relieved about not being named to the Romney ticket.
"I told people all along I didn't want to be vice president," Christie said. "It was always my choice in the end. It's like getting asked out on a date — you can say yes or no. So, I don't know what I would have done if he'd asked me."