TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Today's White House must think it is better to be popular than to be tough and say "no," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Republicans in Tampa, Fla.
"I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved," Christie said in the keynote address Tuesday at the Republican National Convention when Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin were officially nominated as the party's ticket-toppers.
"Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say 'yes,' rather than to say 'no' when 'no' is what's required," the blunt-talking governor said. "In recent years, we as a country have too often chosen the same path."
Christie said he was his mother's son as governor because he follows the rules she taught: "To speak from the heart and to fight for your principles. She never thought you get extra credit for just speaking the truth."
But the most important thing she taught him was making the right choice between being loved and being respected.
"She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting -- but that respect could grow into real, lasting love," Christie said.
While she may have been talking about women, Christie said that lesson applies to leadership.
"In fact, I think that advice applies to America today more than ever," he said.
America has stood silent as leaders kick the can down the road, Christie said, "But tonight, I say enough."
"I say, together, let's make a much different choice. Tonight, we are speaking up for ourselves and stepping up," the man once on the short list of vice presidential candidates said. "We are beginning to do what is right and what is necessary to make our country great again."
People must demand that leaders "stop tearing each other down, and work together to take action on the big things facing America," he said.
"Tonight, we choose respect over love," Christie said. "We are not afraid. We are taking our country back."
The nation's leaders must show by example the way citizens live.
"To lead as my mother insisted I live, not by avoiding truths, especially the hard ones, but by facing up to them and being the better for it," he said. "We cannot afford to do anything less."
America has never been a country that shies away from truth, Christie said.
"History shows that we stand up when it counts and it's this quality that has defined our character and our significance in the world," he said. "I know this simple truth and I'm not afraid to say it: Our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America."
He then outlined the differences between Republicans' and Democrats' views concerning the country's fiscal health and responsibility, seniors and entitlement programs, teachers and education.
"Their plan: Whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power," he said. "We believe that if we tell the people the truth they will act bigger than the pettiness of Washington, D.C."
"It's the power of our ideas, not of our rhetoric, that attracts people to our party," Christie said.
"We win when we make it about what needs to be done; we lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing."
"It doesn't matter how America reached this point," the governor said. "It doesn't matter how we got here. There is enough blame to go around."
Americans are running out of patience and want Washington to deliver, Christie said.
"We need politicians to care more about doing something and less about being something," he said. "Leadership delivers. Leadership counts. Leadership matters. We have this leader for America."
Romney and Ryan will lead with conviction, he said.
"It's time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House," Christie said.
To the skeptics, naysayers, dividers and defenders of the status quo, Christie said: "I have faith in us. I know we can be the men and women our country calls on us to be. I believe in America and her history."
But leadership is missing, he said.
"It takes leadership that you don't get from reading a poll," Christie said. "You see, Mr. President -- real leaders don't follow polls. Real leaders change polls."
It is the duty of Republicans to tell the American people the truth, he said.
"Our problems are big and the solutions will not be painless. We all must share in the sacrifice," Christie said. "Any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the truth."
Americans have a choice about which path to take, he said.
"Let us choose a path that will be remembered for generations to come. Standing strong for freedom will make the next century as great an American century as the last one," Christie said. "This is the American way. We have never been victims of destiny. We have always been masters of our own."
Christie pledged to stand with those willing to stand for America's future then called on the audience to stand up.
"If you're willing to fight with me for Mitt Romney, I will fight with you," Christie said with Romney and his wife, Ann, sitting in the audience. If you're willing to hear the truth about the hard road ahead, and the rewards for America that truth will bear, I'm here to begin with you this new era of truth-telling."
"And, together, we stand up once again for American greatness."