TAMPA, Fla. – New Jersey’s delegation to the Republican National Convention was already primed for a big night, with Gov. Chris Christie set to deliver the keynote address Tuesday.
But at just past 5:40 p.m. local time came a bonus: The Garden State’s delegates were the ones that boosted Mitt Romney “over the top,” as the moment when he officially clinched the presidential nomination was called.
In recent conventions such a distinction is usually reserved for a state of special significance to the nominee, either his home state, or a key battleground. New Jersey hasn’t produced a president since Woodrow Wilson, and hasn't been contested in presidential races in two decades.
New Hampshire, where Romney launched his candidacy and where he owns a lakefront home, put Romney just shy of the threshold.
“I guess they didn’t have the count right,” former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean joked after the vote on the floor. “It’s fun to be the state to put somebody over the top.”
Kean, who himself delivered the keynote address for Republicans at the 1988 convention, said it really was “New Jersey's night.”
“There are more people from New Jersey who’ve come to this convention than I’ve ever seen come to a Republican convention,” he said.