By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
You remember it, Save Jerseyans: one of the more intense moments from last week’s GOP debate transpired when Rand Paul rapped Chris Christie for his infamous Halloween “hug” with President Obama in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy…
Well, Chris Christie was more than glad to led Greta Van Susteren correct the Senator during a multi-segment interview on Thursday evening.
“You mentioned President Obama – you’re going to get something now you’re probably not going to get from the media often. You’re going to get it from me. That hug, that picture – I looked at it last night and I probably said ‘hug’ a million times on the air, I thought it a million times. I look at the picture – that’s no hug,” Greta apologized to the Governor. “I’ve got to say I’m sorry about the hug.”
“Well thank you Greta, I appreciate that, and you know what – it’s a handshake, as you can see, and I think that’s what civilized people do when someone comes to your state to offer help. You shake their hand and you welcome them, which is what I did. And as I told you before when we discussed this, I wouldn’t do anything differently that I did that day,” responded Christie, who went on to mention his campaign efforts on behalf of the Romney ticket.
The full transcript is below the fold…
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Thanks for coming to New Jersey, Greta. I appreciate it.
GRETA: Governor, I’ve been to a lot of bars for a lot of candidates, I was with Senator Lindsey Graham in a bar in South Carolina shooting pool. But I have to tell you I think you win. I think the beach, I think you win the best bar location.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I’m happy to have won that one, being here at the Beachcomber, it’s a great spot, it’s a beautiful spot in New Jersey.
GRETA: Indeed it is, alright let’s talk top of the news. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a lot of conversations, you were a United States Attorney, a federal prosecutor back before you were governor, what is your thought about how this should be investigated? Or should it be investigated?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: It has to be investigated. First off, let’s remember, that David Petraeus was prosecuted for this, Sandy Berger was prosecuted for this and pled guilty to these charges, so we need to investigate it thoroughly. I’m really glad the FBI has now gotten themselves involved in this, and I think it’s really important. And what we already know is that Secretary Clinton hasn’t told the truth.
GRETA: How do you know that?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well because she’s contradicted herself overtime.
GRETA: Not a faulty memory?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, I mean listen, it’s not the truth, now whether she lied is a different story. But the truth has not been told and it hasn’t been consistent. The FBI needs to look into this, there is absolutely sufficient evidence to warrant investigation, and let’s see where it heads. But I think that Secretary Clinton has not been forthright, and that’s not right for somebody who has been Secretary of State for this country, and now is running for president.
GRETA: Would she have been better to turn over that email server from the beginning?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I said it to my staff at the time. When she first had this problem I said what she should do right now is turn over the server, let the law enforcement look at it. If she’s got nothing to hide, turn the stuff over, she would have been much better off. But, you know I’m not the manager of her campaign. But I’ll tell you this, it makes people wonder again, and we see this reflected in the public’s attitude. I want folks who are watching this program, close their eyes and think about what a Hillary Clinton presidency might look like. If this is the way she’s dealing with this problem. It’s not right.
GRETA: How do you know it’s not just the political opponents going after her? I mean, this is political year.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: It is, but this is not a political issue. It’s become a political issue, because of the way Secretary Clinton has handled it. But the fact is, if people have questions you should be forthright about it. First off, why did she even have a private email server? And why was she doing all of her business through her private email server? Greta, I was in federal government for several years, I was not permitted to do work through my private email, I had to do it through my public email. We had to use that – that email system, it had to be accessible to my bosses at the Justice Department. Why should the standard be any lower for the Secretary of State of the United States, who in fact was dealing with even more confidential and classified information than I was as U.S. attorney? It doesn’t make any sense. So let’s start off with that. What was she up to, and why was she doing that? Now she’s being, you know, not transparent at all in fact. Essentially she’s being forced to turn this email server over to the government.
GRETA: Where do you draw the line in terms of privacy for the Americans. You had quite a dustup at the debate with Senator Rand Paul. You guys have a very different view, very interesting verbal discussion.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yeah, well listen, the problem with Senator Paul is that he’s never done this and he doesn’t understand it. When he makes the ridiculous statement that ‘I want to take more information from terrorists and less from innocent people.’ How do you know, Great? And then he yells ‘Go get a search warrant!’ Well that’s not the way it works.
GRETA: Why can’t you get a search warrant?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Because if you don’t have probable cause you can’t get a search warrant. Let’s remember something we had, pre-9/11, we had folks over here who had no apparent terrorist ties, but were getting phone calls from people who did have terrorist ties, from out of the country. If we had had the NSA program then, we very well could have matched these phone numbers up, that would have then given us probable cause to go after folks who are here in this country before 9/11. I don’t know if that would have prevented 9/11, but it would’ve given us a much better chance than the one we had. Senator Paul doesn’t understand this. Because when you’re in Congress – and this is why the American people have no respect for Congress –
they don’t have to do anything. They are not responsible for anything. I was a U.S. Attorney post-9/11, I was responsible for protecting the lives of our citizens and when you have that responsibility, and I will tell you this, as President of the United States there is not a one step within the law that I wouldn’t take to prevent the killing of one American and that is the difference between me and Senator Paul.
GRETA: All right, you mentioned Congress. Congress there is a lot of gridlock in Congress, if you’re President you have to work with Congress. And they can be very annoying to a President. Could you work across the aisle with Democrats in Congress or even sort of the institution of Congress because they seem to be in a logjam?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Listen, they can’t be any more annoying than the Democratic New Jersey legislature which I have been dealing with for 6 years and we’ve –
GRETA: So how do you do it?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, listen you develop personal relationships with these folks and, the fact is, that is what Ronald Reagan did with Tipp O’Neill and if you look at the personal relationships that I have with folks here in New Jersey, we don’t always agree, but we know each other. We know each other well. We spend time with each other and then when we give each other our word, we keep it. And the Senate President in this state, I know his wife, I know his children. He knows my wife and my children. I know the Speaker and his family. This is important to do and this President has spent no time doing that. That’s why there is gridlock in Congress. Can you imagine that just a few weeks ago was the first time John Boehner ever rode on Air Force One? It’s ridiculous. You know, the President has to develop relationships, personal relationships, with these folks. That’s what I have done in New Jersey, why we’ve gotten property tax cap done in this state, while we’ve gotten tenure reform done, while we’ve gotten pension and benefit reform done with a Democratic legislature. We cut taxes $2.3 billion with a Democratic legislature. We cut spending $2.5 billion, all with a Democratic legislature because we have personal relationships. We don’t always agree, but I’ll do the same exact thing as President of the United States.
GRETA: Alright, you mentioned taxes, you signed the tax pledge, no new taxes if you’re President of the United States. Governor Bush has not signed it. Do you worry that if you become President there may be a moment where you have to raise taxes – all of the sudden the military needs a bigger budget or there is some catastrophe like something here and we have to provide an incredible amount of national aid to help the beaches of New Jersey.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I’m not worried about that because I have done it in New Jersey. I’ve vetoed every –
GRETA: But with federal aid, you’ve gotten federal money…
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, sure. Every state gets federal money but the point is we also spend, most of the money we spend in our state is state money and what we’ve done in New Jersey is. I came in with an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget and you know what we did, we said no. We said no to new taxes, each and every time. We vetoed 5 income tax increases, vetoed 2-business tax increases and we’ve cut spending. We cut spending $2.5 billion Greta, over where it was eight years ago.
GRETA: So, who is unhappy, who is unhappy if you cut taxes and you cut spending? Somebody has got to be unhappy in this state.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, a lot of people are unhappy because we cut or eliminated over 800 programs and we have 9,500 fewer employees in state government today than we did the day I became Governor.
GRETA: So, who is unemployed?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, listen; a lot of state, public workers who used to have jobs, no longer have jobs. Now a lot of that was attrition and not layoffs, but we didn’t replace them. We made the government smaller and everyone of those 800 programs that I cut or eliminated had a constituency, but when you’re the leader, when you’re the governor, you have to be willing to stand up and say no. Otherwise, we’ll have our hand in your pockets every five minutes and, remember, in New Jersey, before I became Governor, 115 tax and fee increases in the eight years before I became Governor. Since I have been Governor, no tax increases. That’s because I made hard choices. It’s the same hard choices that we have to make in Washington and I’ll do the same thing there.
GRETA: What about, what do you think Governor Bush’s isn’t signing it? All the candidates, the most of them, have signed it. Why is Governor Bush backing out?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, I don’t know. You have to ask him. Well, the fact is, I have no problem signing it because it’s the way I have conducted myself as Governor for six years, so I know it can happen so I have no problem with signing it. I don’t know why he is evading it. He’s clearly evading it and if that means, in the back of his mind, he’s thinking he might want to increase taxes at some point as President, that is something that needs to be fully discussed now, while he is running for President, not afterwards when he becomes President. You know, we can’t have a situation like Hilary Clinton, where she says she’ll get back to us on ISIS in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. She won’t answer on Keystone pipeline until after she is elected. We need to know now. We bought a bumper sticker seven years ago for hope and change. We can’t buy a bumper sticker this time. That’s why I have been detailed and specific, more detailed and specific, than any candidate in this race, with real plans about the direction I will take America.
GRETA: Recently, you said in an interview with Laura Ingraham on radio that – correct me if I’m wrong – you want to take another look at the 14th amendment that’s been in affect since about 1868, that if you’re born here in the United States, you’re a citizen.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: What I said was, I think you have to take a look at all of that, in the context of immigration reform. If we’re going to do complete immigration reform, then everything needs to be looked at, examined through a 21st century lens, not through a 19th century lens. And that’s all I was saying that day, to make sure we evaluate everything based up on the economic conditions in our country and the law enforcement conditions in our country.
GRETA: So you’re not looking to repeal the part that if you’re born here in the United States, necessarily, you’re not going to be a citizen under a president Christie?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I’m not looking to repeal it, but what I want is a complete review of everything. And it needs to be considered, everything needs to be considered. If we’re going to make the immigration system that’s currently broken work, we not only have to secure borders, but we have to figure out what type of legal immigration do we want to have in this country as well. I want to continue to have legal immigration. My grandfather was born on the boat between Sicily and the United States, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and he came here – and two generations later, his grandson is running for President of the United States. I want that to continue in this country, but the only way it’s going to continue well is if we have an immigration system that everybody supports, and that means that everything’s got to be on the table for the conversation.
GRETA: In you’re speech on your announcement for President – you said that the Americans are angry. Some people say that the reason that Donald Trump is so popular in the polls so far – and it’s very early on I admit it – is that he’s tapping into some anger with the American voters, at least the GOP voters who are polled. What do you think about this?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Listen I think they’re angry with government. And they’re angry with the ineffectiveness of congress and the ineffectiveness of this President, but I think the overwhelming feeling that I’ve detected in America – and I went to 37 states last year, Greta, as chairman of the Republican Governors Association electing 31 republican governors – was anxiety. I mean, they’re worried about their children’s futures – do you know for the first time, our generation believes that our children, the majority of us believe that our children will have a worse life than we’ve had – that’s not what should be happening in America. And that’s because of failed leadership in the Oval Office, failed leadership in Congress, failed leadership in Washington – we need to bring optimism from the states back, and that’s why we need a governor as President and I think I’m exactly the kind of tough, straight-talking Governor that we need to be President of the United States.
GRETA: I think people would say you’re tough and straight-talking, I’ve got to give you that one.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think so. Alright.
GRETA: I don’t think there’s much dispute on that. But everyone who comes to Washington wants to see change, and you talk about failed leadership – Republicans, Democrats, presidents – everybody comes with high ideals and really good ideas. What happens?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think what happens is they get often get consumed by the city. They get consumed by the city and the attitude in the city. And I think you need a governor who’s actually had real success in his state and real authority. And I’ve had real authority in my state. This is the strongest governorship in America. I’ve had to make real decisions and tough decisions. Hard choices. People are fed up with handing this over to Congress for them to do, and a President who’s essentially been an absentee in the Oval Office in terms of leading.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think he’s a professor, Greta. This is not a leader, he’s a professor. And he likes to pontificate. But leading means really, really hard and difficult choices that this President has been unwilling to make. And by the way, his Secretary of State is going to be the third Obama term. She’s moving further and further left everyday and she’s unwilling to make even hard decisions now. She won’t tell us what she wants to do with ISIS, but ISIS was created on her watch. She won’t tell us what she’ll do on the Keystone Pipeline, yet that’s been held up on her watch. So, you know, we don’t need the same kind of failed leadership in Washington. Hillary Clinton will be a disaster for this country the way Barack Obama has been. We need a strong tough Governor, who can go in there and work with the other side, but also stand strong and make hard choices when they need to be made.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes.
GRETA: What are you going to do about ISIS?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Listen a few things. First off, I’d have a strategy and here it is. We’ve got to work with the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Saudi’s and the Emirates. We need to get them the best equipment we can get them from the military perspective, we need to train their folks all the way down to the battalion level, we need to make sure we get more intelligence capability in the Middle East and give them the right places to target ISIS, because they’re in Syria, they’re in Iraq, they’re all over the Middle East. And lastly, we need to give them the air cover along with their air force to be able to soften the targets up for them to move in. I don’t think right now we need boots on the ground against ISIS.
GRETA: Why? Because they’re winning. ISIS appears by – most people think ISIS wins. And most Americans, when you look at the polls, want us to do something about ISIS. Then when you suggest boots on the ground, then nobody wants to go. Not nobody, but a significant number do not.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well remember, I said we don’t need them on the ground right now. I think first, the people in the region – it’s their neighborhood – and we don’t do well by occupying their neighborhood unless it’s absolutely necessary. We saw that in Iraq so let’s let them fight first. Let’s give them the equipment that they need and the training they need, the intelligence they need, and the air cover they need to be successful. If it turns out that it’s not successful – that ISIS continues to advance and win, well then, we’d have to consider putting American boots on the ground.
GRETA: How long are you willing to wait?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well listen, unfortunately I’m not going to be President for another 17 months or so. So I’m going to have to wait at least that long, but once I get in, I’d give our military time to evaluate what’s happened over the last 17 months and then to give me an evaluation of whether they think we’re doing well. If we’re not then we’d have to consider boots on the ground then.
GRETA: And I didn’t mean to suggest this is an easy issue or that I know the answers. It’s enormously complicated what to do there.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: It is, and that’s why I think, working with our allies, listen, we have a lot of repair to do on those relationships with the way this President has stuck it to the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Emirates, the Jordanians, on this Iranian deal – which is a nightmare and the worst thing that I’ve seen this President do in 7 years – we’re going to have a lot of rebuilding of those relationships to do. One of the ways to do that is empower those folks to fight the fight they want to fight, which is against ISIS; they do not want a theocracy taking over their countries. So let’s empower them, let’s train them, let’s equip them and let’s give them the intelligence they need. We do that, let’s see how they can bring the fight to ISIS and if they can bring it well, great, if they can’t then the American people will have to be there to help defeat this force, because if we don’t, they’ll come here.
GRETA: You mentioned President Obama – you’re going to get something now you’re probably not going to get from the media often. You’re going to get it from me. That hug, that picture – I looked at it last night and I probably said “hug” a million times on the air, I thought it a million times. I look at the picture – that’s no hug. I’ve got to say I’m sorry about the hug.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well thank you Greta, I appreciate that, and you know what – it’s a handshake, as you can see, and I think that’s what civilized people do when someone comes to your state to offer help. You shake their hand and you welcome them, which is what I did. And as I told you before when we discussed this, I wouldn’t do anything differently that I did that day. I acted as a principled leader for the people of my state who had suffered the worst natural disaster in our state’s history and the second worst in American history. You know, we lost 365,000 homes in 24 hours. We’re still rebuilding as you can see here, nearly 3 years later. And so I appreciate the apology. I wouldn’t do anything differently. I would welcome the President of the United States no matter what party they are in – but nobody except for Paul Ryan worked harder for Mitt Romney than I did, and our country would be a heck of a lot better right now if Mitt Romney were President of the United States and I’d be thrilled if he was.
GRETA: Obviously I don’t like to get it wrong, and I think at least I’ve been unfair to you in that so-called “hug.” That’s no hug.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Thanks Greta, I appreciate it.
GRETA: Thank you, Governor.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Thank You! Thanks for coming to New Jersey.
GRETA: What’s your strategy in terms of on the ground in Iowa New Hampshire and South Carolina, which are the first three big contests?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: It’s to do exactly what I do here and what I have done here for the last six years. Get on the ground and meet people. Talk to them and let them meet me. I have spent more time in New Hampshire than anybody in this race. Days on the ground in New Hampshire have been more than anybody else. We just made two trips to Iowa and making another one next weekend. That’s the way that you win these things Greta, you have see that happen before. You work hard and let people get to know you. That’s the strategy.
GRETA: What’s the relationship among the candidates? I think that it’s interesting that you all stand up on the stage and then afterwards you have to look at each other, after it’s all over, after you have said mean nasty things, then you’ve got to look at each other.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well listen a lot of us already have relationships, right? So there’s a bunch of governors and former governors up there that have worked with each other. So me, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich. We’ve all worked together overtime. So we have a good relationship. And I had one of the candidates say to me the other night who ran last time. And he said it’s made it a lot easier this time in terms of everyone getting along with each other because you guys get along with each other so well that it’s lowered the temperature among the other candidates. So I think so far it’s really good. Now, check back with me in December and we’ll see how it goes. But right now everybody is getting along well and I think part of it is because the governors know each other and we’ve set a different tone.
GRETA: Do you dare take a swipe at Trump? He doesn’t seem to take the first swipe but you take the first swipe at him, he’s going to nuke you.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well listen, the bottom line is this isn’t about Donald Trump it’s about me. And I’ve taken the position with the media – and I think Marco Rubio has done the same thing – I’m not going to answer every crazy thing that Donald says. I’ve known him for a long time. Longer than anybody, probably, on that stage. I’ve known him for 13 years. And Donald’s a great guy and a good person, but I just don’t think he’s suited to be President of the united states.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I don’t think his temperament is suited for that and I don’t think his experience is. He’s got great experience in doing things in business. But, I’ll give you a perfect example, if he doesn’t get what he wants from John Boehner he can’t fire him. You can’t say, ‘Mr. Speaker, you’re fired. Mr. Majority Leader, you’re fired.’ You have got to learn to work. And I just don’t think it best utilizes his skills. But I’m not going to respond to every little thing he says and that’s why you haven’t seen me do that. This is about me getting my message out to the American people not worrying about Donald.
GRETA: If you only have one thing to promote as president, you become president you get your legacy. What’s the one thing you want to leave at the White House?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: We have to make sure that American lives are safe and secure. That’s the number one job of the President of the United States, to secure the homeland and the lives of the people that you serve. And no one has the experience that I have in making sure that we fight terrorism. I’m the only one who’s investigated, prosecuted terrorism, sent terrorists to jail. We have to make sure that we keep our country safe and secure, that we make our homeland a place where folks can thrive and grow, create jobs, and not worry about their safety. Remember what it was like after 9/11, Greta. Everything that we believed in as a country was shaken to it’s core. That’s what an unsafe country can do. So I want to make my legacy as President of the United States to be securing the homeland and improving our relationships with our allies around the world and making sure our adversaries know the limits of our patience.
GRETA: Looking around here you have a lot of fans. That’s sort of like, I feel like –
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Hi guys.
GRETA: See that? It’s amazing, you’ve almost got a group of, almost a paparazzi of New Jersey people following you.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well the Jersey Shore is a great place for me. It always has been, because the people here know how hard I’ve worked for them. These folks down here who were devastated by Sandy the most understand how hard I’ve worked for them. I think that’s why I get the kind of reaction generally down here that I do. And I spent a lot of my youth on this boardwalk right here, Greta.
GRETA: And you’re probably not going tell us about all that, right?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think we’re both better off if I don’t.
GRETA: Probably much better off. Anyway Governor, always nice to see you. Thank you very much.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Greta thanks for having me on, I appreciate it.