New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) offered blunt remarks on Tuesday claiming that three of his major competitors for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination do not have the national security experience to run the country.
The comments at the Council on Foreign Relations come amid a new focus on terrorism in the Republican presidential race, which could offer a window for Christie to bolster his credentials and emerge from the bottom of the pack.
“We can’t afford to elect another president without the requisite experience that our founders enshrined in the Declaration and in the Constitution,” Christie said.
“We can’t abandon protecting America’s borders because the political heat gets too great, cannot cast a vote that’s subverts America’s national security and intelligence capability because its fashionable to do so at a time of seeming safety.
“That’s not the type of leadership America needs in a dark and a dangerous world.”
The comments appeared to be targeted at Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Rubio and Cruz appear to be especially ascendant in recent days, despite the continued dominance of Republican outsider candidates, billionaire Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Rubio and Cruz have both come under fire for their positions on immigration. Critics have called Cruz soft of the issue, and Rubio has been forced to turn away from his previous support of broad immigration reform legislation.
Cruz also voted for legislation this summer that would end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans' phone records, which goes into effect this Sunday. Rubio has repeatedly hit the Texan on the subject, sensing an apparent political advantage after the deadly attacks in Paris.
Paul is the Senate’s most prominent libertarian, yet he ended up voting against the bill this summer, called the USA Freedom Act, on the grounds that it did not go far enough.