BY the looks of things here, Chris Christie was having so much fun, at least for a while. As the New Jersey governor roller-balled his way through Tampa last week, his tough-guy shtick (his YouTube-immortalized reputation for beat-downs of hecklers, reporters and teacher-union types) was as basic to his persona as perma-tan is to Snooki’s.
Likewise, as fans of his beloved Bruce Springsteen demand “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road” at concerts, people expect Mr. Christie to play to the combative type. He does not disappoint, delighting groups of delegates by threatening to “come looking for them” in the event that Republicans do not perform well in their states. He trashed his 74-year-old Democratic counterpart in California, Jerry Brown, as “an old retread” and stood proudly by as Meg Whitman, the Republican who lost to Mr. Brown, told a meeting of the state’s delegates a story about Mr. Christie’s confronting a rude protester at one of her campaign events.
“You have two choices with a bully,” Mr. Christie said, explaining his actions to the crowd in a default voice that resembles someone trying to shout over a vacuum. “You can either sidle up to them or you can punch them in the face. I like to punch them in the face.”
This pretty much distills Mr. Christie’s approach to politics as well as the tenor of the current campaign. It made Mr. Christie, other than the two guys on the ticket, “the biggest get of the week for anyone,” said the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who was the master of ceremonies at the California breakfast
But O.K., enough about Chris Christie. He would like to talk now, if that’s O.K., about Mitt Romney.
Recall that Mr. Romney is the actual nominee of the Republican Party. It can be easy to overlook this when you watch Mr. Christie campaign on behalf of Mr. Romney because Mr. Christie typically first spends several minutes talking about himself, his record, his family and the general wisdom of “how we do things in New Jersey.”
He displayed this trait vividly last week while headlining a procession of heat-lamp breakfasts, activist confabs and beach parties, as well as in a keynote speech in which Mr. Christie expended 1,800 words and 16 minutes of me-talk before spitting out the name of the soon-to-be-standard-bearer.
So after enduring a few days of criticism about what some had dubbed his “me-note” address, Mr. Christie was careful not to forget Mitt, this despite the heavy burden he himself lives with as such a prime source of interest and desire. This week, after all, is about the current standard-bearer, the former governor of Massachusetts, what’s-his-name. Mr. Christie wants to talk about that guy.