(West Des Moines, IA) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took aim at potential Iowa Caucus rivals while speaking at the Polk County Republican Spring Dinner at the West Des Moines Marriott. Christie, not happy with the reforms made to the Patriot Act by Congress, told the group of 116 present the changes made America weaker.
Christie is on a two day visit to Iowa that also included stops in Ames on Thursday. On Friday he is taking part in a town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids.
Not mentioning U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) by name Christie criticized what happened in Congress. “What happened these past two weeks in Congress with our intelligence capability has made America weaker and more vulnerable to terrorist attack from places all around the world and from homegrown terrorists right here in our own country. Now you’ll hear these folks who have never done a lick of this work in their life pontificate to you from the floor of the United States Senate and some ridiculous subcommittee room somewhere on Capitol Hill about all their great ideas about intelligence and civil liberties,” Christie said.
Christie stated that he is the only one in the national conversation that has actually done the work involved in protecting the homeland.
“I was U.S. Attorney for seven years. I was nominated by President Bush to be the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey on September 10, 2001, and the next day one of those planes left from an airport in my state. More people died in my state than any state in America other than New York,” Christie stated.
He reminded the group what was at stake by sharing about loss his family and friends experienced on 9/11.
“A dear friend of ours, in our parish, in our hometown was in the Trade Center that day and was killed. My oldest son’s best friend’s dad was in the Trade Center that day and was killed. We went to those funerals, but more importantly we watched their children in our town, in our house for the last 13 years live their lives without their father. Every year on his father’s birthday, my son’s best friend posts a picture of his dad. He was eight-years-old when he died. He posts a picture of dad on his Facebook page, and all it says underneath it is ‘I’ll never forget you,'” Christie added.
“Unfortunately politicians in this country have forgotten, and when you take away tools from our intelligence community, and say that Congress can’t possibly do your oversight job or the Justice Department can’t prosecute people who have broken the law in the intelligence community, you are throwing your hands up in surrender rather than fighting to protect the homeland,” Christie remarked.
“I’ve done it. I’ve reviewed applications of the Patriot Act. I’ve reviewed applications of the FISA court. I have prosecuted terrorists and put them in jail in New Jersey. It can be done while protecting people’s civil liberties, and it must be done while protecting people’s civil liberties in this country,” Christie shared. “What we have done and what Congress has done in the last two weeks has taken tools away from those people who are entrusted with the protection of our lives, and then they brag about it. They send it out on the internet and they send out fundraising, fundraising solicitations to raise money off those speeches and then brag about how much money they raised by scaring people about their civil liberties. It is disgraceful and it is dangerous.”
Christie also challenged President Obama on his foreign policy and questioned his leadership.
“This is a President who said to the dictator in Syria, ‘If you use chemical weapons on your people, we will take you out.’ Then he used chemical weapons on his people and slaughtered his own people and the President of the United States said, ‘never mind,’ and when that vacuum was created, when American leadership was promised and then withdrawn, who entered the vacuum to fill it? Vladmir Putin,” Christie remarked.
“You see I know some Americans are weary of being perceived that America should be the world’s policeman, and I don’t believe we need to be the world’s policeman, but we do need to be the world’s leader. We do need to be the world’s leader,” Christie added.
Christie said Putin wouldn’t have to wonder what he thought. He also said that he would not negotiate with Iran until they recognized the United States and Israel’s right to exist.
Being direct Christie blasted the teachers’ unions for being responsible for the United States ranking 27th in math and 20th in Science among 34 OECD nations.
Christie stated, “we have an educational system in this country where we care more about the comfort of adults than we care about the God-given potential of children. We are being overwhelmed by the educational establishment in this country run by the teachers’ unions who dominate education across this nation in order to promote the worst of their profession, not the best.”
He noted that more money is the only solution offered by teachers unions for the problems schools face. He noted several examples in New Jersey where schools were spending $27,000 per student plus and still had lousy results. He also encouraged competition in education touting school choice.
Christie did not bring up the controversial Common Core State Standards or his decision to move New Jersey away from Common Core while at the same time keeping the state’s Common Core-aligned assesment, PARCC.
Christie left right after his speech and didn’t take any questions from the media or voters. Christie kept the audience engaged, and he was well received.
“I thought he did a great job. I think he really connects with the people in the audience. I loved his response on foreign policy. I think he is really knowledgable on that, I thought that was demonstrated tonight,” Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds told Caffeinated Thoughts. Reynolds said she liked his ability to community and tell stories to make a point, but also the fact he is direct.
“I appreciate his forwardness. I think Iowans want to know where these candidates stand. We have a great group of candidates. We are really fortunate to have the quality of leaders that we have running to potentially be the next President of the United States,” Reynolds added.
Reynolds told Caffeinated Thoughts that she doesn’t plan to endorse a candidate and she wants Iowa Republicans to stay engaged.
“We have so many good candidates. We really just tell them to keep coming to Iowa, to travel the state, talk to Iowans, talk to about your vision and your solutions to get this country back on track. What I’ve seen, Iowans are holding back. They really taking this seriously and they know this is important and that we can not get it wrong this time. So I think they are going to continue to ask the tough questions, they are going to engage, they are going to pay attention. The crowds we see showing up is really reflective of that, and that is encouraging to me. We need everybody participating, we don’t need anybody sitting out,” Reynolds shared.
“I especially like his emphasis on national security and what we have to do to defend our country and our liberties,” Iowa Republican Committeeman Steve Scheffler told Caffeinated Thoughts. “I think that was a good emphasis because my personal view is if we don’t have our freedoms protected all of the other issues that I’m concerned about and you’re concerned about whether it is life or marriage or regulations it becomes irrelevant if ISIS is on our shore. So I think he did a good job and I also liked his emphasis on talking about the abuses of the teachers’ unions and that educational choices is an important thing. I was happy to see him emphasize that too.”
“I always like hearing from the governor. He has a great way of presenting himself to people in terms that he is direct, straightforward, blunt. He’s not going to sugarcoat things. He also has a great command on a lot of the issues and he talked about a few of those tonight. Certainly our national security and foreign policy that the Governor talked about, he hit a home run on those areas,” Polk County Republican Committee Chair Will Rogers said to Caffeinated Thoughts.
Jenifer Bowen, the executive director of Iowa Right to Life shared with Caffeinated Thoughts that she was able to meet with Christie and was “pleasantly surprised.”
“I knew on the life issue he had done a lot of great things in New Jersey like defunding the abortion industry. But to hear him both on the life issue and the threats that our world is facing right now he exceeded my expectations. I think he is somebody to pay attention to,” Bowen stated.
Christie currently polls 8th according to Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa Caucus polling with 4.2%.
Listen to his full remarks below: