May 18, 2015 9:23 PM

Steinhauser: Christie touts policy, not politics; questions rivals

NH1 Political Director -

HUDSON – Chris Christie says the times are too serious to be merely talking about campaign politics.

While he didn’t take a direct shot at his likely rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, the New Jersey governor and all but certain White House candidate told NH1 News that “they’re all going to have to make their own decisions about how they engage in a national conversation but to me the times are much too serious and the problems are much too big for us to be talking about horseracing and fundraising and all the rest of that.

“We have to be talking about the things the American people care about and make the country better. That’s what I’m going to be doing. I can only control what I do, not what anyone else does,” Christie added.

Christie spoke one-on-one with NH1 News on Monday, a couple of hours after he gave what his campaign billed as a major address on foreign policy and national security. It was the third straight week Christie traveled to the first-in-the-nation primary state to give a policy speech.

In his muscular address at Prescott Park in Portsmouth, Christie defended current National Security Agency practices and called for expanded government surveillance operations. And he railed against critics of the NSA program, saying ‘too often, the loudest voices in the debate about how to keep our country safe are driven by some purist, theoretical vision of how we should manage our intelligence efforts.”

Asked if that was a criticism directed at Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who’s made opposition to NSA monitoring of the phone records of Americans an integral part of his 2016 GOP presidential campaign, Christie said “it’s not to anyone person in particular. It’s to anyone who believes in this kind of theoretical view of things. We can protect civil liberties and protect the homeland at the same time. And if there’s anybody who believes you can’t, I did it as U.S. attorney and I think it needs to be done. We need to give U.S. attorneys and law enforcement these tools.”

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who’s also launched a White House campaign, has argued that with foreign policy shaping up to play such an important in the 2016 election, a senator who deals with such issues every day would be a stronger nominee than a governor.

Christie pushed back against that sentiment, saying “we had the experience of having a one-term U.S. senator in the White House for the last six and a half years and I don’t think it’s made our foreign policy any better at all. Fact is we need somebody who knows how to make decisions and how to run things and that’s a governor.”

“This is no shot at Marco. I like Marco and think he’s a good guy, but the fact is I think the kind of experience you have as a governor is the best kind of experience to prepare you to be president,” Christie added.

Christie’s visits to New Hampshire come as he tries to get beyond the George Washington Bridge scandal, which politically wounded him over the past year and a half. He says he’s been exonerated and isn’t frustrated that it keeps coming up in conversation.

Christie told NH1 News that “folks will understand that an internal investigation, an investigation by my very partisan Democratic legislature, and now an investigation by the independent U.S. attorney’s office has all come to the same conclusion that I absolutely nothing to do with this and folks will come to that conclusion themselves.”

“It just takes time. There’s plenty of time for that all to get cleared away and I don’t’ get frustrated about it all. You can’t get frustrated about the things you can’t control,” he added.

At a town hall meeting at a VFW post in Hudson, Christie was asked about another controversy.. the one surrounding Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email account during her tenure as secretary of state during President Obama’s first term.

Christie said “I think we have to look into it. And it has to be gotten to the bottom of, because in the end I don’t know what happened and I’m not accusing anybody of doing anything illegal. But we don’t know and that’s what investigations are for, to figure it out.”

He also said there was a double standard at play here.

“I think this kind of thing shows the bias that exists in certain elements of our society and the coverage of what goes on because if a Republican had been involved in this kind of thing, let me tell you… it would have been craziness,” Christie added.

Christie appears to be moving closer and closer to launching a presidential campaign after his state’s legislative session concludes.

Asked if there’s anything that would prevent him from running, Christie told NH1 News that “I think if I didn’t run the only reason would be personal. If we decided Mary Pat and I decided that as a family this is not something that we wanted to do.”


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