08/28/2012 02:05 pm ET Updated Aug 28, 2012

Chris Christie Keynote Speech: New Jersey Democrats Criticize Governor's Selection

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie looks over the podium during a sound check at the Republican National Convention in Tampa,
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie looks over the podium during a sound check at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

With hours to go before his Republican National Convention keynote address, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was described as a "bully" living in a "fairy tale" by home state Democrats Tuesday afternoon.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and state Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D), New Jersey Democratic Party chairman, used a conference call with reporters to poke holes in Christie's record, saying that he has not led the state to "The Jersey Comeback" that Christie has been touting. Citing unemployment numbers and property taxes, the pair tied Christie to soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), saying the three promote economic policies that will not help the country.

"Governor Christie will tell his fairy tale triumphs," Lautenberg said. "Don't let him fool America with his bluster."

Christie is expected to address Republican leadership and others during his speech. He has said he will not use the phrase "Jersey Comeback" during the keynote address, which is expected to be given Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. EDT. Christie has used "Jersey Comeback" in his town hall meetings around the state to promote his record, which includes setting a property tax cap, making changes to public employees pensions and cutting the state's budget. He also said he's focused on job creation.

Lautenberg and Wisniewski said that Christie is promoting economic themes similar to those of Romney and Ryan, including his stance against a millionaire's tax, which Christie opposed in New Jersey this year. Earlier this month, New Jersey GOP Senate nominee Joe Kyrillos, a close Christie ally in the state Senate, said he'd consider a millionaire's tax if elected.

Wisniewski and Lautenberg, a frequent Christie critic, said that there is no "Jersey Comeback" under Christie. They said state unemployment has risen to 9.8 percent under his tenure, which they said is the worst since 1977.

They also presented new economic statistics showing the change in jobs in the state -- unemployment has risen from the 19th highest in the U.S. when Christie took office to the fifth highest.

Wisniewski, an assemblyman from Middlesex County, claimed that Christie's property tax cuts have not been effective. He said that Christie has cut state rebates and state aid to schools and local governments, which have caused tax hikes. Christie has said in the past that he is transferring the rebate funds to cuts in tax rates.

"It's crazy for a Jersey leader to give the keynote speech," Lautenberg said. "It is all talk and no substance.

Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, said the pair's remarks ought to be ignored.

"This is just partisan blather and nonsense," he told The Huffington Post in an email. "No need to dignify it further."

The pair went after Christie's famed temper, with Lautenberg, who Christie called an "embarrassment" for accepting free tolls as a former Port Authority commissioner, describing the governor as a "bully" while Wisniewski addressed Christie's infamous incident on a Jersey Shore boardwalk.

"Even if you are walking by him on a boardwalk, you can't get a few feet without him attacking you if you disagree with him," he said.

Wisniewski said that while others have talked about Christie's close working relationships with Democrats in the state legislature, along with key Democratic power brokers statewide, he said that Democrats have been in the driver's seat.

Christie's top initiatives, including pension reform, a new higher education system, a property tax cap and teacher tenure reform, passed through the legislature with Democratic support. Wisniewski said that many of the initiatives were talked about by Democrats before Christie took office and that Democrats helped shape the final outcome away from Christie's proposals.

Wisniewski said on the call that he believes the speech is more of a way for Christie to position himself for higher office than it is to help Romney and Ryan win in 2012.

"Chris Christie is taking the stage in Tampa tonight to talk about his favorite topic -- himself," Wisniewski said. "It's not about Mitt Romney, it's not about Paul Ryan, it's even not about the Republican Party, it's about Chris Christie."



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