At GOP debate, Christie keeps his focus on Clinton – NorthJersey.com

Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie answers a question during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa.



Governor Christie focused heavily on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in most of his responses during Thursday night’s Republican debate – even when he was asked about the George Washington Bridge scandal.


With the federal trial of former aides and appointees in the lane-closure case scheduled for March, Christie was asked if the Republican Party should take a chance on him. Christie said “sure,” because he hadn’t been found in three different investigations – including one commissioned by his office – to have had knowledge of the closures or approved them.


Then he moved on to New Jersey’s economy, then Clinton.


“I know why the Republican Party will want to take a chance on me, because they know that Hillary Clinton will never be prosecuted by this Justice Department. And they’re going to want to put a former federal prosecutor on the stage to prosecute her next September. And there is no one this stage better prepared to prosecute the case against Hillary Clinton than I am. I will be ready, I will take her on, and when I take her on I guarantee you one thing: She will never get within 10 miles of the White House. The days for the Clintons in public housing are over,” Christie said.


The debate covered a range of topics in two hours, from national security to immigration to foreign policy to the absence of the party’s front-runner, Donald Trump. As he has throughout his campaign, Christie narrowed his attention on Democrats.


When one of the debate moderators asked Christie about some of his rivals’ qualifications to be president, Christie instead turned to Clinton, a former secretary of state and U.S. senator whose husband was president for eight years.


Clinton has been embroiled in controversy over the use of a private server for emails, and is under federal investigation to determine if she violated any laws.


“She put America’s secrets at risk for her convenience. She put American intelligence officers at risk for her convenience. She put American strategy at risk for her convenience. Let me tell you who’s not qualified to be President of the United States,” Christie said, “Hillary Rodham Clinton did that to our country. She is not qualified to be president of the United States.”


Christie used his law enforcement experience as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey to separate himself from Clinton, as well as President Obama, in the wake of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack in December. Christie said people who were suspicious of the attackers is because of the climate fostered by Obama.


“The problem is that Barack Obama has made law enforcement the enemy. Hillary Clinton has made law enforcement the enemy. We are not supporting our law enforcement officers. It’s making everybody nervous to get out of their cars if you’re a law enforcement officer. It’s making people in neighborhoods nervous to go to law enforcement,” he said. “We will stop radical terrorist attacks in this country by supporting our intelligence community and our law enforcement community.”


Christie is polling near the bottom of the pack in Iowa ahead of Monday’s caucuses, the first vote in the 2016 race. But he’s expected to compete with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the so-called establishment vote – a label those candidates have been loath to accept in a contest dominated by outsiders and elected officials outside of the mainstream. Trump has served as the biggest example of voter frustration, dominating most polls since he launched his campaign last summer despite outlandish comments and rhetoric tinged with bigotry and misogyny. Trump skipped the debate Thursday night after a scuffle with Fox News, the network co-hosting the debate.


But Christie has been calling himself a disrupter who gets results. He used his experience as a Republican governor in a blue state as an example of how he can work across the aisle but do so in a way in keeping with his party’s principles.


“You can do both. There’s no reason you can’t stand for principles, go and fight for them and be able also to have to get things done in government,” he said.


As governor, Christie has vetoed funding for Planned Parenthood every year he’s been in office. While he said each time the vetoes were for fiscal reasons, he recently started to say it is because he is pro-choice. Planned Parenthood provide women’s health care services, including abortions. Christie said the federal government should not help fund the organization, either.


“When you see thousands upon thousands upon thousands of children being murdered in the womb, I can’t think of anything bigger than that,” he said.


Email: racioppi@northjersey.com

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