HoLMDEL – Now Gov. Jon Corzine stands onstage in front of this PNC Bank crowd and almost immediately shares a memory of the small restaurant table meeting he had with President Barack Obama, back when Obama was a little known "lawyer with a funny name" and Corzine was serving as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Obama impressed Corzine, who backed him early in his U.S. Senate bid, and now it's Obama standing just off-stage – to back Corzine above this crowd of 17,500.
"Thank you for standing with me, God bless you,"shouts Corzine, charcoal suit, silver tie. "For almost nine years, it's been my highest honor, my greatest privilege to serve the State of New Jersey. Today, I couldn't begin to express how proud I am and how humbled to introduce our new president, Barack Obama."
"The roots of this crisisare in a series of decisions in Washington and Wall Street, but…this is our time of renewal and we will succeed, right?"
The crowd gives a sincere enough roar.
Universal healthcare. Energy. Jobs. Economic recovery plan.
"Greenhouse New Jersey's installed more solar panels in three years than any state in California," says the governor, and that gets rousing applause.
Republicans want to cut taxes, demolish government, criticize, and stem collective bargaining.
"They say they'll lay off 10,000 public employees but they won't tell you who, when or what consequences," says Corzine. "No-bid contracts for their friends, and tough talk for everyone else. I don't know about you, but I don't think that's the place we should go."
Paraphrasing the governor: the same people who so miserably failed in the White House now want you to hand the keys of the State House to them. The other side knows how to criticize, but they don't know how to lead.
"For those Republican critics who don't understand the meaning of the word leadership, I have some advice, take out your dictionary and look up the name: Barack Obama," says Corzine.
Obama trots out onto the stage a moment later and the men embrace.