Former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday hit Chris Christie, the Republican National Convention's keynote speaker, with liberal talking points about his state. Reading off a sheet of paper, the Good Morning America host recited, "You know, the Democrats are already ready for you to talk about the New Jersey experience. They're pointing out, ahead of your speech, that New Jersey is near the bottom of states in unemployment." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Stephanopoulos parroted, "Forty eight in unemployment. Forty seven in economic growth." Christie shot back, pointing out that in the last 12 months "we're ranked fourth in the country in terms of the number of private sector jobs that have been created, according to CNBC. That we've had 90,000 new private sector jobs created since I've been governor."
The co-anchor played up the danger the Republicans face from severe weather, wondering, "But how do they fire up the party while Isaac barrels towards the Gulf Coast?"
In an introductory segment, reporter Jon Karl pushed the same line, fretting, "What they're worried about is the image of it slamming the Gulf Coast as they have a big celebration here."
Stephanopoulos reminded Christie that "you could be taking that podium tonight" as Isaac makes landfall. "Have you had to adjust your speech," he questioned.
The ABC host has a habit of pushing Democratic talking points on Christie. On February 22, 2012, he took the governor's claims of a state-wide comeback and cited a 8.3 percent national unemployment level.
Stephanopoulos pushed, "Across the country, unemployment has gone from about 10.2 percent to 8.3 percent...The United States is on a comeback?"
Of course, unemployment on January 20, 2009 was 7.8 percent. An increase of .5 percent is a comeback?
A transcript of the August 28 segment can be found below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Balancing act. The Republicans ready to roll. But how do they fire up the party while Isaac barrels towards the Gulf Coast? We'll ask party favorite, Governor Chris Christie when we go one-on-one.
7:11:35 to 7:15:46 4 minutes and 11 seconds
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And with that, let's bring in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will deliver the convention's big keynote speech tonight. Good morning, governor.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Good morning, George. How are you today?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm doing well. Thank you. We just heard from Jon Karl. President Obama is going to be campaigning today. The convention is back to business. But you could be taking that podium tonight, just as Isaac is making landfall. Have you had to adjust your speech to take account of that?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: No. Not really, George. I think, you know, my speech has pretty much stayed the way it was intended to be. But we're all, obviously, looking very closely at what's going to be happening in the Gulf. And our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama to hope that any damage that may happen will be minimal and that there will be no loss of life.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of the party faithful are looking forward to a fire and brimstone speech from you. Is that what they're going to get?
CHRISTIE: [Chuckles] We'll see. Come tonight and watch, George. I'm not going to tell you too much about what we're going to do tonight, George. You know that I'll be talking about the New Jersey experience and what that means for the country, what it can mean and can promise for the country. There will be other stuff I'll be talking about, too. I'll be ready when I walk out on that stage tonight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the Democrats are already ready for you to talk about the New Jersey experience. They're pointing out, ahead of your speech, that New Jersey is near the bottom of states in unemployment. 48th in unemployment. 47th in economic growth.
CHRISTIE: Yeah. Except that in the last 12 months, George, we're ranked fourth in the country in terms of the number of private sector jobs that have been created, according to CNBC. That we've had 90,000 new private sector jobs created since I've been governor. And this is from a state where we've raised taxes and fees 115 times in eight years and had just stifled our economy. So, we're not going to turn that around overnight. But like I've said before, the New Jersey comeback has begun.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the big advantage the Republicans have coming into this presidential race is that two-thirds of Americans, according to our poll, believe America's going in the wrong direction right now. They don't think President Obama has done a good job on the economy. But they're far from sold on Mitt Romney and the GOP. Both Mitt Romney's personal brand and the Republican Party's brand is under water right now. How do you turn that around?
CHRISTIE: You start to turn it around tonight. Ann Romney speaking in prime time, my speech and you go to Paul Ryan on Wednesday night. And on Thursday night, Mitt Romney. Listen, I've always said this. You've interviewed me before about this campaign. Mitt Romney is going to have to win this campaign. And to do that over the next 70 days, he is going to have to let the American people see who he is. Put out a bold vision for the future. I remember. He's a challenger. You remember how this works, George. Challengers always get a late look. They know the incumbent. And they are trying to see if they trust the challenger to sit in the Oval Office.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You've pointed out in the past, that he's had a hard time connecting personally with voters. And the governor at least in interviews over the weekend, seems to suggest that he's not willing to show a lot more of himself. Is that a mistake?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, first of all, I saw those interviews. I don't think that's what he was really saying. I think you've seen him show a lot more of himself, even since Paul Ryan has joined the ticket. I think Paul has brought energy to the ticket. He's brought energy to Governor Romney after a long and arduous campaign. And so, I think the American people are going see a lot more of him and I think they're going to start seeing it tonight with Mrs. Romney, who, no one can speak better, more articulately out the man that he would be and the leader for our country, than Ann Romney. I think the fun starts tonight, George. I think the American people start to get a complete picture about who Mitt Romney is and why he would be a great president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The keynote is a big honor for you. But keynoters have had a mixed history. Some are forgotten. Others, like President Obama have gone on to be president. What's the one thing you want Americans to know about you when you finish your speech and step off that podium tonight?
CHRISTIE: George, I think if the American people watch tonight, leave the speech by saying, "Yup, that's him, that's who I heard about. Seems genuine to me," then I think I will have done my job for me. And if they say, I like the vision he's laid out for the country and for his party for the next four years, then I will have done the job for my party and my country. There's a bunch of things to accomplish tonight. And hopefully in the time allotted to me, I'll be able to do it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be watching, Governor. Thank you very much.
CHRISTIE: Thanks, George. Thanks for having me on this morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A big moment for Chris Christie. You know, a lot of Republicans wanted him to run for president this year.