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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie On Barack Obama’s ISIS Press Conference Today

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The audio:


The transcript:

HH: I am joined by New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, to talk about the latter and about the atrocity. Governor Christie, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

CC: Happy to be back, Hugh.

HH: I’d like your reaction, I want the audience, if they’re just tuning in, to hear the President in context. This is the first thing he said, cut number 13:

BO: What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning, or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and protect our allies and people like France.

HH: And so the short version, Governor Christie, is this one, cut number 14.

BO: What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning.

HH: What do you think of that?

CC: …what an effective strategy is. He’s the one who admitted he had no strategy. He and Hillary Clinton have had no strategy for ISIS from the beginning. And this is a president who is living in a fantasy land. He sees the world as he wishes it were, not as it truly is. And if his comments on Thursday to ABC News, where he said that ISIS was contained by his strategy, and then we had hundreds of people killed and wounded within 24 hours on the streets of Paris, aren’t proof of the fact that this president has no idea what he’s talking about, then nothing else will be.

HH: He went on to say today, and I don’t have it queued up, so I’ll read it to you, Governor, but it’s accurate. You can trust me. We do have it? Okay, let’s play it for the Governor.

BO: And when I hear folks say that well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person whose fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who’ve benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution? That’s shameful. That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion. When Pope Francis came to visit the United States and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on all Catholic parishes just to admit those who were of the same religious faith. He said protect people who were vulnerable.

HH: What do you think, Governor Christie, about the President’s use of the Pope, and his misuse of what people have been saying about Syrian refugees?

CC: What’s shameful is that this president doesn’t understand that what the President’s first job is, is to protect the safety and the security of the American people. We need to start talking about what we need to do to act in the American interest. This president believes that global leadership is his fight on climate change while we have a quarter of a million people killed in Syria, and while we have now hundreds killed and wounded in the streets of Paris, atop of the things that have happened throughout his watch around the world on these issues. The misuse of the Pope and the mischaracterization is typical rhetoric from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to disguise the fact that they don’t begin to understand that our first job is to protect the homeland. They’ve missed that by not having a strategy on ISIS, by calling them the jayvees. They miss that by their hamstringing of the National Security Agency and what they participated in to weaken and demoralize our intelligence community. And now, believe me, there will be someone else to blame if there is an attack on American soil.

HH: The CIA chief, John Brennan today, Chris Christie, criticized, “hand-wringing over spying,” and said that restrictions on surveillance has made it harder to find terrorists. I happen to agree with him about that, but I don’t hear the President saying that.

CC: No. Well, the President refuses to say that, because this is a president who is often wrong, but never in doubt. And that’s, what I will remember of the Barack Obama presidency, when it is long relegated to the past, is he was often wrong, but never in doubt. And the fact is that Brennan is right, that our security is being threatened, and I said this back when this debate was happening on the floor of Congress, Hugh, and you’ll remember it, that I’m the only person in this race who’s had experience with these laws, who knows how they operate, who knows how to utilize them in order to prosecute and convict terrorists and catch them before they act. And I told the American people at the time it was a grave mistake, grave mistake to pull back on our intelligence capability. And it puts us at greater risk today from groups like ISIS and others.

HH: Now Governor Christie, you do have real world experience as a prosecutor, so I want to bring up to you, your competitor, Donald Trump, today issued another call, I’m reading from the New York Times, Alan Rappaport’s statement this afternoon, “Donald Trump issued another call for more scrutiny of mosques in the United States as fresh fears of terrorism spurred by the attacks in Paris dominated the presidential campaign. Mr. Trump, who said last month that he would be open to shutting down mosques as part of the fight against Islamic State militants, reiterated on Monday that the idea should be ‘studied’. ‘I would hate to do it, but it’s something we’re going to have to strongly consider, because some of the ideas and some of the hatred, the absolute hatred, it comes from these areas,’” he said on Morning Joe. Your reaction, Governor.

CC: We don’t need to do that, Hugh. What we need to do is to fully arm with every capability they need, our intelligence officers and our law enforcement officers to be able to catch folks who are planning and plotting attacks against the American public before they happen. And we did this in the post-9/11 era. And as I said over the weekend, Hugh, no one would have believed a week or so, or two or three after 9/11 that we would be able to prevent another mass attack on the American public. Everyone was expecting another attack. But it is because of the leadership that was provided by President George W. Bush, by Attorney General John Ashcroft, by Director Mueller at the FBI, and by the U.S. attorneys across this country and the brave agents across this country for those various agencies that were able to make sure that we didn’t have that happen again. And so we don’t need to close mosques. What we need to do is to make sure we’re getting every bit of intelligence we need to intercept these folks before they act. And I did this, Hugh. We operated the Fort Dix Six case, was a case of self-radicalized Muslim extremists from mosques inside New Jersey. And we were able to gather intelligence on their operations, and then able to intervene before they attacked Fort Dix.

HH: Now Governor Christie, I’m of the opinion that the attacks in Paris has fundamentally changed not just the war on the Islamic State and how it will be conducted, but also the presidential campaign in the United States. Do you agree with me?

CC: I hope so, Hugh, because I’ve been saying right from the beginning of this campaign that the single most important issue is the safety and security of the American people, and waking up to the fact that we are becoming a complacent nation against potential attacks from outside forces against us. And I had some on that stage, you know, pooh-pooh that. And that’s not the way we should be dealing with this. You know, I had some people who talk about civil liberties, and I believe in our civil liberties just as much as anyone else. But I said at the time you can’t practice your civil liberties from a coffin. And the fact is that the American people need to know that their president is going to protect their safety and security first and foremost. An able, experienced and tested president can do that, while also protecting their civil liberties.

HH: Now Governor, if I had my own way, I’m back on December15th in Vegas asking questions, and again in February asking questions. If I had my way, I’d ask every question about national security. You know, it’s not up to me. But what do you think about the relative importance that has been given thus far to national security and defense issues in these debates versus, well, other interesting, but nevertheless not the same order of magnitude questions?

CC: There just hasn’t been the right type of emphasis on that. If you go back and look at the debates that have happened already, Hugh, the early one on Fox News and the next one on CNN, the only time there was really discussion of those issues in those first two debates was when the moderators were attempting to pit me against Senator Paul, and wanting to see the two of us argue Senator Paul’s isolationist, anti-intelligence point of view, and me to offer the experience I’ve had as a prosecutor as a proof point as to why we should have to do things in a way that helps to prevent attacks against the homeland. We need to have more conversations about this, and more discussions, and we don’t need just a canned 60 second speech that someone’s memorized. We need to actually be finding out what experience you have.

HH: I would, I would point out I did bring up Syria with Governor Bush and Senator Rubio and Mr. Trump.

— – – – —

HH: Let me move to the likely main candidate in November, Hillary Clinton. She was on Saturday night. You gave this speech on Syria that went round the world viral. Hillary was, meanwhile, dodging and weaving on the stage. This one was quite the takeaway, Governor Christie, cut number 12.

JD: Would you suggest that kind of activism take place at other universities across the country?

HRC: Well John, I come from the 60s, a long time ago. There was a lot of activism on campus – civil rights activism, anti-war activism, women’s rights activism. And I do appreciate the way young people are standing up and speaking out.

HH: Is that the right answer for right now, Chris Christie, that I’m from the 60s and this is all good, that the silliness here, the absurdity there, meanwhile, Paris is in flames?

CC: Well, Secretary Clinton loves to revisit her past, her past of radical, liberal activism on campus. And if you listen to her answers on Saturday night, no one could make heads or tails of them. It’s not our fight, but there has to be American leadership. She wants to have it both ways, because she is stuck between having to run against a socialist who she’s afraid to lose to, having lost to someone who’s much more, who is seemed more liberal than her eight years ago, and knowing that the American people do not want to hear that claptrap. What they want to hear is if they have a strong, steady, experienced president who understands that the most important job is to protect the safety and security of the American people. And Mrs. Clinton does not have the first idea, having been a part of this administration, about how to do that. And what she gives are the typical political answers that you heard on Saturday night. On the one hand this, and on the other hand, that. Well, you don’t get to do that when you’re president of the United States, Madame Secretary. You have to make decisions. And I’m someone who’s made them both as a prosecutor and as a governor, and I will not be afraid to make them as president of the United States, with my one guiding principle being protecting the home and the homeland of the American people.

HH: Let me play for you one more Hillary clip, Governor Christie, from Saturday night where she’s talking about Syria and the authorization for the use of military force that is currently extant, cut number 10.

JD: A couple of days ago, you were asked if you would declare war on ISIS and you said no. Would you, what would you say now?

HRC: Well, we have an authorization to use military force against terrorists. We passed it after 9/11.

JD: And you think that covers all of this?

HRC: It certainly does cover it. I would like to see it updates.

JD: If you were in the Senate, would you be okay with the commander-in-chief doing that without coming back to you?

HRC: No, it would have to go through the Congress, and I know the White House has actually been working with members of Congress. Maybe now, we can get it moving again so that we can upgrade it so that it does include all the tools and everything in our arsenal that we can use.

HH: So Governor Christie, that is a very confused answer. This very day, in a 2013 email, it was revealed from Huma Abedin to another State Department staffer urging her to brief the Secretary because, “she’s often confused.” She was awfully confuse on Saturday night about the AUMF. She was for it before she was against it. What did you make of that answer?

CC: Well, it’s typical Hillary Clinton trying to be on both sides of the issue. First, she’s trying to defend the fact that the President has not gone out and gotten the type of authorizations from Congress to make it clear that we’re at war with ISIS. On the other hand, she says that we don’t need it. Then she, then when asked well, are you okay with a president acting without Congress? She says well no, we have to go through Congress. Well, which one is it, Madame Secretary. She continues to want to have it both ways on every issue, Hugh, and that’s not what we need from a commander-in-chief. Believe me, we’ve had a hand-wringing, indecisive, lead-from-behind commander-in-chief that she worked for, for four years, and developed his foreign policy. That’s not the basis for a promotion. And that answer is a perfect example of why we need a president who is strong and tough and tested, and has made decisions, not someone who has taken instructions from the President’s staff and traveled around the world raising money for her husband’s foundation.

HH: So let me ask you directly on two issues. The Syrian refugee policy, what would Chris Christie’s policy be vis-à-vis, you know, there are hundreds of thousands of Syrians who would love to come to this United States. The President says let’s bring in 10,000. I’m not sure what your policy is. What is it, Chris Christie?

CC: I do not trust this administration to effectively vet the people who are proposed to be coming in, in order to protect the safety and security of the American people, so I would not permit them in.

HH: What if they were orphans under the age of five?

CC: You know, Hugh, we can come up with 18 different scenarios. The fact is that we need appropriate vetting, and I don’t think orphans under five are being, you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point. But you know, they have no family here. How are we going to care for these folks? The fact is you can come up with a number of different scenarios, Hugh. But in the end, I don’t trust this administration to effectively vet the people that they’re asking us to take in. We need to put the safety and security of the American people first.

HH: So that was clear. That’s just no admittees, and I appreciate clarity, and that’s your answer. The President never gives us clarity. Let me ask you about your answer, vis-à-vis ISIS. I had a retired Navy fighter pilot call me on Sunday and said we need Operation Rolling Thunder. That’s B-52’s, you know, drop your leaflets on Raqqa, tell the civilians to get out, but there shouldn’t be a Raqqa anymore. What do you think, Chris Christie?

CC: Listen, we have to take very aggressive steps. And by the way, Hugh, we need to also take them with our allies in the region. The reason our allies in the region are not acting as strongly as they should is because they don’t believe they can count on the American leadership to back them up. And so part of this is about an American president who says to our allies in the region we need to work together, and can say something with credibility, because they know we’ll be decisive, and he’ll keep his word. This president has no history of keeping his word, from the red line in Syria on forward.

HH: I know that, but as I argued to my friend, no, Americans don’t do that anymore, we did that in World War II. We did that quite often in World War II, but we don’t do it anymore. And I think the American people would support massive Desert Storm-like action before ISIS does this in the streets of Washington or New York again, don’t you, Governor?

CC: Well, listen, Hugh, I think what the American people will support is a president who is decisive and lays out a strategy and a rationale for the type of aggressive action that should be taken. And right now, we have none of that. And what they want is a president who can lay that out to them, and who has the experience and the temperament and has been tested, and has the experience to be able to do this. And unfortunately, I have no hope that this president will do this in the next 14 months, and I want the American people to know that when I’m elected president, I will go in there with all the experience I’ve got in my years as a federal prosecutor, prosecuting terrorism cases, we will lay out a specific plan to combat ISIS. We will inherit an even more dangerous world given the inaction of this president and his refusal to admit when he’s wrong, and he’s wrong on this, but that help is on the way, because we are going to have a president when I’m elected that is not afraid any longer to make decisions.

HH: And a last question, Governor. I don’t make the rules. I don’t know who’s going to be on the main stage. No doubt that you’re having the undercard debate helped you, because you had a lot of argument time before the American people at the last debate, the Fox Business channel. Do you expect to be on the main stage, and what do you recommend as a rules set for people who are making the rules?

CC: Well listen, I do expect to make the stage on December 15th. I look forward to answering your questions, Hugh, then. But what I’ll also say is I’m not the rule maker. But as we get closer now, you know, and you’ve been watching this presidential political game for a long time, for many cycles. What really comes to matter when we get now into December are not national polls where 400 people from around the country are being asked who they might like. What really matters is what’s going on in the early states, what’s going on in Iowa and New Hampshire. That’s the place where this field is ultimately going to be winnowed, not on the debate stage, not by some folks sitting in office buildings in New York City, and not by 400 people in a national poll, but by the actual folks who will caucus and vote in the first in the nation primary – in Iowa and New Hampshire. And so that’s where I think it should be determined. It’s let’s look and see who’s performing best in those places, and those are the people that should be on the stage. But quite frankly, the ones who do best in Iowa and New Hampshire are the ones whose campaigns are going to continue. And the ones that don’t are the ones who are going to go home.

HH: Governor Chris Christie, always great to have you, thanks for the clarity and the time. I appreciate it, Governor.

CC: Hugh, thank you for having me, and looking forward to seeing you again soon.

HH: See you in Vegas.

End of interview.


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