(Photo: Office of Chris Christie / Tim Larsen)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told "CBS This Morning" that the "biggest challenge for Gov. Romney to be elected president is for people to look at him and say, 'OK now we know him, and we trust him."
With the general election drawing closer, the coming days are critical for Mitt Romney, the Republican Party's presumptive presidential candidate, who is still trying to make inroads with middle class Americans and with women voters.
But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie believes it is not too late for the GOP's candidate, who he said can and will defeat President Barack Obama. Christie, who will deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention later Tuesday night, said it is just a matter of Romney letting Americans get to know him better.
Haven't Been Introduced To Romney Yet
For Romney, it is a matter of public perception, as polls show that Obama's edge over Romney isn't a wide one. The former governor of Massachusetts is known by his colleagues in politics, but largely a cipher to the public, Christie acknowledged. "I think amazingly for folks like us we have been living this for a year and a half or more, but for the American people, they have not been," Christie said Tuesday during an interview on "CBS This Morning."
"And so I think they haven't been introduced yet to Mitt Romney, amazingly," he added. "This next 70 days is going to be Mitt Romney, if he chooses to, opening himself up and introducing himself to the country because everything else -- resume, condition of the country, the president's performance -- goes in his favor."
Obama's Slight Lead In Polls
If Christie's hunch is correct, then closing the lead Obama has in the polls could be easy for Romney.
Real Clear Politics is showing Obama with a 1 percentage point lead over Romney's 45.7 percent in the general election poll. In a similar poll, CBS News also shows Obama barely edging Romney 46 to 45 percent.
The perception among some Americans is that if elected president, Romney, a man who is estimated to be worth $250 million, will favor the wealthy over the middle class. When compared to Obama, who didn't grow up with wealth, the view is that the president better understands the economic woes of the middle class.
ABC News poll shows that 58 percent of registered voters think Romney will do more for the wealthy, while 32 percent believe the same for Obama. Obama has a major lead of 61 to 27 percent among voters who think the president is friendlier and more likeable than Romney.
Handle Middle-Class Problems, Win The Election
But Christie thinks likeability is something that can be solved. On "CBS This Morning," Christie said all Romney has to do is "be himself."
"I think what people are starving for more than anything else right now from our political leaders is authenticity," Christie said. "And I don't think they have a particular thing in mind about what they want that person to be. They just want to know who that person is, really is inside. And I have said all along the biggest challenge for Governor Romney to be elected president is for people to look at him and say, 'OK, now we know him, and we trust him."
Christie agreed with the host, however, that Romney won't get elected president until Americans trust he can handle middle class problems.
"Conventions are always huge for a challenger, because they're the ones introducing themselves," Christie said. "We are not going to learn anything new about Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention that we don't know from watching him campaigning for two years for the presidency and then been president for four years. No light bulbs are going to go on and say, 'Oh I never knew that about the president.' That will happen, I believe on Thursday night, when Mitt Romney is up on that stage. I think people will see things and hear things that are going to open their eyes."
What To Expect At RNC
Talk wasn't all about Romney, though, as Christie has his own fame. He is one of the Republican Party's rising stars and was rumored to be among Romney's choices for running mate before the selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as vice presidential candidate.
An energetic and lively speaker, Christie is delivering one of the most important speeches of the night. The message, he said, will include him laying out the vision for the party and the country over the next four years, what it means to be a Republican and what a Romney-Ryan win could mean for America.
"I just have to be me," Christie said. "And I think if I come out here tonight, if everybody walks away from the speech saying, 'Yeah, that's the guy I thought he was,' then I'll be OK."
Watch the "CBS This Morning" interview below:
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