Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said on Sunday that the U.S. should provide Israel with “everything that it needs to be able to take whatever actions it needs to take” in the wake of a large-scale attack by the militant group Hamas that shook the country and the region.
Christie, a former New Jersey governor, told ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos that his top priorities if he were president would be engaging allies in the region, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to keep the conflict from spreading and to serve as a “sounding board” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help him “think through the ramifications of every step they’re going to take to defend themselves and to try to do the best they can to eliminate the leadership of Hamas.”
Christie, a former ABC News contributor, also called out the dysfunction in the U.S. House of Representatives, where a small group of Republican lawmakers last week voted along with the Democratic minority to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy, leaving it without a way to pass legislation, including foreign aid.
“What I would be doing is making sure, one, that Israel has everything that it needs to be able to take whatever actions it needs to take. And this is the problem with not having a speaker right now,” he said.
“The actions taken by some members of my party were wholly irresponsible without this going on,” Christie said. “They’re now even putting a brighter light on the irresponsibility of not having someone in place.”
Christie also dismissed as “sophistry” some GOP members of Congress floating Trump’s name as the next House speaker — despite Republican conference rules that would prohibit that, given the criminal charges Trump faces. (He denies wrongdoing.)
“This is them doing what they know Donald Trump likes, which is kissing his rear end in public,” Christie said.
He declined to endorse either of the two candidates to succeed McCarthy as speaker — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise. But he called Scalise a “responsible, good guy.”
Separately, asked by Stephanopoulos about Trump’s “stranglehold” over the conservative base, Christie — a vocal Trump critic who continues to trail him in the polls — slammed the Republican National Committee, which he accused of “carrying Donald Trump’s water” after stopping a Fox News debate between Christie and fellow candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.
The party had said candidates aren’t allowed to participate in non-sanctioned debates.
“More information is better than less, and by trying to restrict how much we can interact with each other, just only on those debate stages, I think it’s a mistake for the party, near-term and long-term, to do that,” Christie said.
But he noted that despite the widespread support from the party Trump has seen, he believes progress is being made against the former president in some early primary states. Trump, for his part, has dismissed Christie as a “failed” candidate and governor.
“This is going to take some time. It’s patience and persistence to put forward the message that he cannot win a general election,” Christie said, echoing what has been his case against Trump. “He doesn’t deserve to be the nominee of this party based upon his conduct in office and his conduct after office.”
“I’m making that argument all over the country, but particularly in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and I’m hearing people respond to it,” Christie added. “But we’re not going to see it show up in polls until much later, I suspect, if not as late as election night.”
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