NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
GOFFSTOWN, NH – Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sharply criticized Donald Trump’s praise of Vladimir Putin last month when the former president called the Russian leader a “genius” and a “savant” for having launched the murderous invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
In a speech in New Hampshire on Monday, Christie asked “do we want to send words of admiration to someone [Putin] who, as we speak this morning, is directing the slaughter of women and children in Ukraine without any conscience? »
CLICK HERE FOR FOX NEWS LIVE UPDATES ON THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE
And the former two-term Republican governor stressed that “words matter to everyone. Words matter. And those words from the people in our party who called him [Putin] “genius” and “very shrewd” are broadcast again and again on Russian television to justify and support a dictator who sends his soldiers to the slaughterhouse in Ukraine. »
Christie, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate who is pondering another race, made the comments as he headlined the first edition of “Politics and Eggs” in the 2024 election cycle. The lecture series at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College over the past two decades has become a must-stop for White House hopefuls visiting the state that for a century held the first primary on the presidential nominating calendar.
And in an exclusive national interview with Fox News minutes after the event, Christie was even more blunt about Trump’s comments.
CHRIS CHRISTIE’S HEADS TO NEW HAMPSHIRE – ANOTHER SIGN THAT THE WHITE HOUSE RACE IS HEATING
“I think those remarks are dangerous. They’re not just wrong, they’re dangerous,” Christie said.
And he said Trump’s comments about Putin would likely come back if the former president ran for the White House again, noting that “everything we do in our public life is fodder for potential campaigns. That’s an adult sport and you have to be prepared to face up and defend or apologize for what you’ve said in the past.”
Trump created a firestorm last month with his comments about Putin. And days later, during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, Trump again underlined his stance toward the Russian leader, telling the crowd that Putin was “smart.” .
But Trump also argued that he had been “tough” on Putin during his four years in the White House and repeatedly asserted that Russia would not have invaded Ukraine if he was still president. In recent weeks, the former president has also called horrific images of Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians a “holocaust”.
SWIPING AT TRUMP, PENCE SAYS NO PLACE IN GOP FOR PUTIN’S ‘APOLOGUES’
Christie isn’t the only high-profile Republican politician considering a run for the White House in 2024 to criticize Trump over his comments about Putin. Earlier this month, former Vice President Mike Pence made headlines when he told a Republican National Committee of Major Donors rally in New Orleans that “there is no There is no place in this party for Putin apologists. There is only room for champions of freedom.”
Christie, in his speech, also took aim at fellow Republicans who in the past have questioned the continued need for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the decades-old military alliance between the United States and many European countries.
“For those who said that NATO was an antiquated organization that we should consider withdrawing from, I wonder what those same leaders are thinking today, when NATO has brought the world together to impose sanctions on Russia in a way that has almost never been done in the history of the world.”
The former governor, who is known as one of his party’s best communicators, has also repeatedly targeted President Biden over the Russian attack on Ukraine and the administration’s energy policy.
2021: THE Trigger Year for the 2024 PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Christie claimed that ‘when Joe Biden decided to stop arming Ukrainians in January 2021 when he took office, that was a huge mistake, because it was a signal to Putin that we don’t care’ . He also argued that the president is now “running like crazy to try to catch up” but is “failing”.
He also offered that “Joe Biden isn’t bullying anybody. Does anyone in this room look at President Biden and say ‘don’t mess with him.’
Christie, an outspoken critic of the GOP chairman on Sunday talk shows, also claimed the country’s energy policy under Biden “is a national embarrassment.”
“Under the last administration, we had energy independence in this country, and we gave it up,” the former governor charged. “We need energy independence that includes a lot of alternative energy, but only when our technology is there and developed. Should we continue to invest in it as a country – absolutely. It’s smart to do that. But it’s stupid, damn stupid, to give up fossil fuels when you’re not there yet.”
Christie also said “I can’t imagine” Biden, 79, running for re-election in 2024. “I don’t see him. I don’t think he’ll be up for that.”
HALF OF AMERICANS DON’T THINK BIDEN WILL RUN AGAIN IN 2024: POLL
He predicted that the president would “take a beating mid-term. Everyone would start beating him then, that he’s an ineffectual party leader.”
And he said it was possible Biden would announce late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2023 that he is not running for re-election.
Trump remains hugely popular and influential with Republican voters and politicians as he continues to play the kingmaker role in the GOP and repeatedly teases a 2024 race.
But Christie predicted that Trump will have rivals for the nomination if he does eventually run.
“No one is going to give the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 without a contest. It just won’t happen. And it shouldn’t happen. No one deserved a bye in my opinion.”
But he warned that “if they’re going to get into a primary fight with Donald Trump, they better be ready because it’s not going to be Tiddlywinks.”, it won’t be softball, it will be hardball.”
Christie – who after his own 2016 presidential campaign crashed and burned after a sixth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary became the first of the contenders to endorse Trump – noted that “I was the first person to my party to endorse Trump.”
CHRIS CHRISTIE PUSHES POST-TRUMP VISION FOR GOP
And he pointed out that “I am someone who supported the president and the former president and many policies that he fought for when he was president”.
But pointing to Trump’s repeated and unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” and riddled with “massive voter fraud”, he pointed out that the former president “got the election totally wrong. There is no no evidence the election was stolen. None. No. even stolen from one state, let alone the six states he would have needed to overthrow the election.”
And Christie again stressed that “we must as a party move forward. We cannot look back. We cannot be a party of revenge and vendettas. We cannot be a party of settling scores for me .We’ve been a part of creating opportunities and inspiring us.”
But he noted that “I can’t imagine a scenario in which there aren’t meaningful attempts at discussion and denial of 2020 in 2024 if it’s [Trump] In the race. So all these people now who say they could run for president and maybe do and are on the fence about this, it’s time to get out of the fence. If you think it was stolen, what are you doing here? Why are you running?”
CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST FOX NEWS REPORTS FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Christie also took aim at other potential 2024 GOP candidates who said they would not run if Trump ran again.
“For those people who say, ‘I’m going to defer to someone else to run for president,’ I think that says a lot about you as a potential candidate,” Christie told Fox News. . “Because if you think you’re good enough to be president but you don’t want to run if somebody else does, in this case Donald Trump, well, I think you shouldn’t run. worry about running at all, whether he’s a candidate or not. don’t.”
Christie also said he would return to New Hampshire later this year to campaign for Matt Mowers, a Christie campaign alum who later worked on the 2016 Trump campaign and served in the State Department during the administration. of Trump who is now running for Congress for the second time in a row. in the granitic state.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FOX NEWS APP
Asked about his own timeline for making a decision on a presidential election in 2024, Christie told Fox News he would “make a decision between the end of the year and the end of the first quarter of 2023.”
But in a telling moment while appearing on ‘Politics and Eggs’, Christie said: “My dad will be 89 next month and he says he’s ready. If he’s ready, I might have -be hard to say no to him.”
Fox News’ Paul Celeste contributed to this story