New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sought to inspire California Republicans Monday at the Republican National Convention.
“The message I want to deliver to California this morning is, 'There is hope,’” Christie told the beleaguered state party gathered at the TradeWinds Hotel in St. Pete Beach.
It's beleaguered not so much because of Tropical Storm Isaac — rain and high winds caused few problems in the area — but because the cash-strapped party holds no statewide office and GOP registration is falling.
California may have the largest delegation in Tampa, but it is one of the weakest state parties in the country.
“Don’t give up,” said Christie, pointing to his own election in an overwhelmingly Democratic state. “I know if we have a new president and vice president of the United States that they are going to make a huge difference for all 50 states.”
He also said that just because California is a Democratic stronghold, “that does not release you from your obligation” to help Romney-Ryan in swing states. “Get on the phone with your friends around the country.”
Christie, who will deliver Tuesday night's keynote address at the convention, also offered a few of his trademark anecdotes that delight Republicans. One featured a U.S. Marine who helped him oust Democratic stalwarts Barbra Streisand and her husband James Brolin from seats reserved for the governor at a White House event last year.
“Barbra Streisand was glaring at me, and I said, ‘Another badge of honor for a Republican.'” It was red meat for party activists who love to rail against "Hollywood elites."
“Chris Christie is a hero of mine,” said Lynn Haueter, chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Republican party. “Every time I hear him, I think, ‘I wish he were my governor.’”
Ana Helman, an alternate delegate to the convention, said Christie inspired her.
“He tells it like it is,” Helman said, adding that she’d take Christie’s advice to call her friend in the swing state of Virginia and urge her to work for Romney.
Later, California political strategist Jeff Randall, a senior adviser to Romney, said the bad weather continues to force changes to the schedule. A Monday night party has been canceled, and Tuesday's California brunch has been moved indoors.
"Thanks for being flexible," he said. "The operative word this week is 'fluid.'"