Presidential races

Emboldened Christie goes on the attack

Greg Nash

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is rising in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, swiped at his GOP rivals and sought to frame himself Thursday to a group of Jewish Republicans as the party’s most experienced national security hawk.

Christie needled businessman Donald Trump for using incendiary rhetoric.

{mosads}“Sometimes the harshest words are the most entertaining,” Christie said. “Sometimes the harshest words are the ones that make us laugh and keep the television on. But when you’re a leader, you need to be blunt and direct but know where the line is. There have been some … who have gone for the entertainment value over being a leader.”

Christie swiped at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition presidential forum earlier in the day and is also rising in polls, for voting to end the USA Patriot Act, which authorized the National Security Agency’s meta-data program.

“The fact is that America today is weaker and less prepared to protect our citizens than we were seven years ago, and I’d like to blame all of this on Barack Obama,” Christie said. 

“But we have had Republicans who were complicit in the weakening as well. Republicans who stood on this stage today and said they were for a strong America, yet voted this summer in Congress to weaken America. Voted to take away tools from the intelligence community that permits us to connect the dots.”

Christie sought to diminish Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has similarly sought to highlight his foreign policy bona fides as he, too, rises in the polls.

“These acts of terror are not theoretical to me,” said Christie, a former U.S. attorney. “It’s not something I was briefed about by briefers in the basement of the Capitol.”

And Christie unloaded on his longtime nemesis, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for arguing that the government needs to pull back on its cyber-snooping over privacy concerns.

“Sen. Paul will come out here next and say he wants more information from terrorists and less from innocent people,” Christie said. “Here’s my question: How do you know? … Terrorists don’t wear sandwich boards that say ‘I’m a terrorist.’”

Paul canceled his appearance at the RJC forum at the last minute because of votes in the Senate but may appear later in the day.

After struggling for much of the year, Christie is getting a second look from many Republicans.

He has staked his campaign on winning New Hampshire, and last weekend landed endorsements from the state’s most influential newspaper, as well as several other influential figures in the state.

A Public Policy Polling survey released on Thursday found Christie surging from ninth place into fourth place.

Christie was well-received at the RJC forum on Thursday, using the mass shooting in California to warn of the grave danger the nation faces from terrorists.

“As we stand here today for the first time since 9/11 I think we will have to confront the loss of life on American soil to terrorist conduct,” Christie said.

“I am convinced that was a terrorist attack, and the president continues to wring his hands and say ‘we’ll see,’ but those folks dressed in tactical gear with semiautomatic weapons came there to do something,” he continued.

“Every place in America is a target for a terror attack. We need to come into grips with the fact we’re in the midst of the next world war.”

Christie recounted the story of how he didn’t know whether his wife, Mary Pat Christie, had survived the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

“I had three questions,” he said. “What will I do if I’ve lost my best friend? What will I tell my children? And am I really ready to be a single parent?”

And he focused heavily on his experience prosecuting terrorists as a U.S. attorney, noting that he had a strong relationship with FBI Director James Comey and would be ready to work with him again in the fight against terror on day one of his administration.

“As a nation we’ve become complacent and soft and unwilling to do the difficult things that need to be done … to protect the lives and security of the American people,” Christie said. “That’s exactly what I’ll do when I take my hand off that Bible.”

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Marco Rubio Rand Paul Ted Cruz

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