The White House on Monday slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for criticizing President Obama’s record on criminal justice reform.
Press secretary Josh Earnest called Christie’s claim that Obama does not support police “particularly irresponsible,” suggesting it's an attempt to “turn around” his struggling presidential campaign.
“They’re not surprising for somebody whose poll numbers are closer to an asterisk than they are double digits,” Earnest said.
The war of words between the White House and Christie comes ahead of the president’s visit to the Garden State to promote his effort to overhaul the criminal justice system.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Christie suggested anti-police sentiment has contributed to an increase in violent crime in some major U.S. cities — and said Obama shares blame for the problem.
“We have liberal policies that tie the hands behind the backs of police officers and then when incidents happen, accuse them of misconduct first and then do the investigation later,” Christie said Monday. “And you've got a president of the United States who does not support law enforcement. Simply doesn’t.”
Christie said Obama is coming to his home state to “take credit” for its falling crime rates “because it’s one of the few places in the country where that actually is happening when he has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Obama and civil rights leaders have said there is no evidence of a new, nationwide violent crime rate or that police are shirking their duties.
“We do have to stick with the facts,” Obama told the International Association of Chiefs of Police last Tuesday in Chicago. “What we can't do is cherry-pick data or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or to feed political agendas.”
The president is visiting Newark, N.J., to discuss ways to help ex-convicts turn their lives around and re-enter society. He will visit a substance abuse treatment center that aids former prisoners and hold a roundtable discussion at the city’s Rutgers University campus.
Christie is hosting an event in Camden, N.J., focused on public safety. He plans to hold a town hall meeting and discussion with law enforcement officials.
The New Jersey governor currently sits in 10th place in the GOP presidential primary, polling at 1.8 percent nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.