Will Chris Christie get a second act?

Story highlights

  • The Republican Party's convention is taking place this week in Cleveland
  • Errol Louis: Christie tore into Hillary Clinton with gusto during his convention speech

Errol Louis is the host of "Inside City Hall," a nightly political show on NY1, a New York all-news channel. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)N.J. Gov. Chris Christie's speech to the Republican National Convention proved he might have made a good vice presidential pick for Donald Trump, especially when it comes to the traditional vice presidential role of savaging the opposition.

Christie tore into Hillary Clinton with gusto on Tuesday night, leading the assembled delegates in a mock prosecution of Clinton for the "crimes" of pursuing foreign policies that failed to bring peace to the Middle East, stop the rise of ISIS, contain aggressive Russian President Vladimir Putin or topple the dictatorial Castro regime in Cuba.
Chris Christie and RNC crowd: Hillary Clinton is guilty
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    Chris Christie and RNC crowd: Hillary Clinton is guilty


Chris Christie and RNC crowd: Hillary Clinton is guilty 02:58
Christie then proceeded to criticize Clinton's diplomatic efforts in Libya, Nigeria, Syria, Russia and Cuba, arguing in each case that she was too soft on dictators and terrorists.
    "She fights for the wrong people. She never fights for us," Christie said. "We don't need to disqualify Hillary Rodham Clinton from being president of the United States. The facts of her career disqualify her."
    Over and over, Christie asked the delegates if Clinton should be found guilty or not guilty. The crowd yelled its condemnation, and several times broke out in extended chants of "Lock her up!"
    That's excessive, of course -- pursuing an unwise diplomatic strategy isn't a crime -- but the scene was a reminder of Christie's background as former U.S. attorney for New Jersey.
    Having the high-profile ex-prosecutor as an ally -- he's leading the transition team that will assemble a potential Trump presidential administration -- validates Trump's recent claim that he's the "law and order" candidate following the death of five Dallas police officers during a peaceful rally.
    CNN Opinion commentators on the RNC

    Introducing Trump at a July 11 rally in Virginia Beach, Christie referred to Trump as "a president who once again will put law and order" at the top of his issues list.
    Christie also says his years as a prosecutor included a dedicated battle to convict terrorists -- although, it must be noted, the Daily Beast claimed in December 2015 that Christie puffed up his record prosecuting terror suspects in post-9/11 New Jersey.
    Christie on vice president snub: 'Over it'
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      Christie on vice president snub: 'Over it'


    Christie on vice president snub: 'Over it' 00:49
    One clear win from Christie's prosecutorial record is a successful set of cases brought against corrupt New Jersey officials (many of them Democrats), placing him solidly in line with Trump's frequent claims that the entrenched political system is rigged.
    Another Christie strength is his recent turn as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Christie's aggressive fundraising and nationwide campaigning helped Republicans capture and keep a number of states in 2014 -- including battleground races in Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida.
    His drive, aggression and tell-it-like-it-is political style put Christie on the Romney campaign radar four years ago, and he was treated as a rising star at the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, Florida. Although Romney finally settled on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan -- and this year, Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence over Christie -- the New Jersey governor connected with Republican delegates in a way that takes some of the sting out of his local troubles.
    The Washington Post reported that Christie's absence from New Jersey last year while he was campaigning for president, his frequent departures now to campaign for Trump and looming headaches from the Bridgegate scandal have sent his approval rating sinking to an all-time low of 29%. His attorneys have battled with federal prosecutors on whether Christie must surrender phone records to the scandal that closed down the George Washington Bridge.
    Christie's absence even led to Democrats in the state legislature to introduce legislation to force Christie out of office. If passed, the bill would have forced a statewide official to resign if he or she were seeking national office.
    New Jersey residents don't seem to like when he is in town, either. Half a dozen local newspapers called for Christie to step down this March following his endorsing Trump and another clash with the media. (When asked why he wouldn't answer off-topic questions during a press conference, he responded, "Because I don't want to.")
    And Christie's biggest Achilles' heel might be his economic record. The state has been relentlessly downgraded by rating agencies, with Standard & Poor's in March designating New Jersey's credit-rating outlook from "stable" to "negative" following disputes over transportation funds and public union entitlements.
    But those problems are a world away from Cleveland -- where, for a few minutes at least, Christie was in his sweet spot, doing political combat and warning that a Clinton presidency would have "all the failures of the Obama years, but with less charm and more lies."
    That's the kind of talk that made Christie a rising Republican star. A Trump victory would mean a second act for a political leader still hoping to make it on the national stage.