New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie painted a bleak picture of America’s standing in the world on Sunday, blaming the Obama administration for making the country appear weak by not defending the nation’s values in other parts of the globe.
“No one understands any longer who America stands with or against,” he argued. “No one really understands exactly what we’ll stand for – and what we are willing to sacrifice to stand up for it.”
Christie said it’s time for the country’s leaders to “stop singing a happy tune” about the country’s condition. “It is time for us to tell the truth about that condition and then to begin taking the hard and firm actions that are necessary to fix it,” he continued.
The Republican governor made his remarks at a gala hosted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s “This World: Values Network” in New York. Major Jewish figures, including Israel’s ambassador to the United States, as well as mega GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, attended the dinner.
If there was any doubt that Christie didn’t line up with the more hawkish wing of the Republican Party, he firmly quashed those doubts Sunday night. Christie, who’s seriously considering a run for president, argued U.S. leaders needs to re-establish America’s reputation as a strong enforcer of freedom and promoter of prosperity, even if that requires “sacrifice.”
“We need to stand once again loudly for these values, and sometimes that is going to mean standing in some very messy, difficult places and standing strong and hard for those things that we believe in,” he said. “And it will mean sacrifice from the people of our country.”
Christie cited both domestic and foreign policy concerns as reasons for what he described as the country’s deteriorating status. At home, he blasted Washington for partisan gridlock on fiscal issues.
“We are and have become a dysfunctional government that even our own people snicker, laugh at, ignore and are disgusted by,” he said, adding there was a time when developing democracies wanted to emulate America’s government, but that is no longer the case.
On international affairs, the governor referenced issues in Syria, Russia and Iran as three foreign policy areas in which the Obama administration has failed to show strength and credibility.
He said America “is no longer sending clear signals to the world – consistent signals.”
“Signals like the ones Ronald Reagan sent when he was president as to who our friends are and that we will stand with them without doubt, and to who our enemies are, who we will oppose regardless of the cost,” he continued.
Christie’s remarks solidify his stance on national security issues as the Republican Party is knee-deep in an ideological fight over foreign policy. That debate has perhaps played out most visibly between Christie and another potential 2016 contender, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who’s trying to woo the broader Republican base with his libertarian-leaning, non-interventionist views.
Christie’s speech was widely anticipated in the Jewish community because the last time Christie appeared before a Jewish audience, he made a major blunder by referring to the “Occupied Territories,” a term Israel and its allies don’t use.
Many Israelis don’t consider the territories to be occupied, but rather say Israel has a legitimate claim to the land. Palestinians, along with the United Nations, consider the West Bank to be Palestinian but under military occupation by Israel.
In a private meeting later with Adelson, the GOP donor, Christie said he “misspoke” and that he didn’t believe the West Bank is “occupied” by Israel. While Christie didn’t mention Israel in his speech Sunday, he made it clear that the United States should more overtly align with its allies, and he singled out Iran as a “terrorist state” with nuclear capability.