Christie denounces 'absentee leadership' at keynote speech

TAMPA, Fla. - (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says it's time to end what he calls an "era of absentee leadership" in the White House.

Delivering the keynote address at the Republican National Convention, Christie aimed some of his remarks at President Barack Obama, saying, "Real leaders don't follow polls" -- but instead they "change polls" through the strength of their convictions. Instead of worrying about being popular, he said, leaders need to say "no" when necessary.

He spoke of his own experience in New Jersey -- cutting taxes, balancing the budget and taking on the public sector unions -- and said when faced with tough choices, people were willing to share in the sacrifice.

That record in New Jersey helped make Christie a hero to many conservatives, and helped earn him the keynote speaking slot that has been used by Obama and others as a stepping stone to a presidential bid.

Christie told delegates he doesn't want his children and grandchildren to inherit an "enormous government" that has taxed, spent and borrowed Americans into "second-class citizenship." Instead, he said, he wants them to see "a second American century" of strong economic growth, in which America and its values are examples for the world.

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