Columns

Christie: Muslim Americans are ‘Not Nearly That Sensitive’ on Syrian Refugee Issue

Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) criticized President Obama for standing on foreign soil and belittling governors across the country over the Syrian refugee issue, arguing that Obama does not listen to the majority of the American people.

“It is true today as well that we have a president who I believe no longer listens. He listens to a very small, insular group of people around him, and I’ve said this publicly before and I’ll say it again, that when I look back on this presidency I think it will be marked by one phrase more than anything else: often wrong but never in doubt. That’s a dangerous thing to have in a president of the United States,” Christie said at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“The president’s huge blunder, in my view, is going overseas and criticizing folks here at home who have raised genuine concerns about the safety and security of America under this policy,” he said, referring to the president’s determination to allow Syrian refugees in the United States.

A recent poll revealed that the majority of Americans oppose admitting Syrian refugees into the U.S.

Christie said the right path forward on the issue is clear.

“When the FBI director stands up and says that he cannot assure the American people that Syrian refugees can be effectively vetted, that ends the conversation for the moment. We cannot allow ourselves, at a time of great peril, to put ourselves voluntarily at even greater risk just because there are some folks who believe that it will make our country look better here around the world,” he said.

Christie referred to the large Muslim American population in his state.

“What I’ll tell you is that Muslim Americans are not nearly that sensitive, not nearly as sensitive as some of the people in opinion – places here in Washington or in the White House believe they are,” he said. “They’re Muslim Americans and they understand that the safety and security of their family is at risk just the way the safety and security of Catholics are at risk, Protestants are at risk, Buddhists are at risk when the American homeland is not safe and not secure. This is common sense.”

Referring to Obama, Christie said, “A real leader attempts to persuade. A real leader attempts to cajole. A real leader attempts to bring people who have differing opinions in to find common ground. A real leader does not stand on foreign soil and belittle the leaders of states all across the country that he pretends to lead.”

Christie said the “legacy of newness and inexperience” has brought America a record number of people out of the workforce, a record number of people on disability, increased racial tensions, a more than doubling of the national debt as well as an inconsistent and ineffective foreign policy.

“Just think of some of the things the president has told us just in the past few years. He claimed our borders are more secure than they’ve ever been. He claimed that after Gadhafi and Mubarak were gone that the Middle East would be a safer place,” Christie said.

“He said that al-Qaeda was on the run. He said that ISIS was the JV and just hours before the attacks in Paris he told George Stephanopoulos that his strategy was succeeding and that ISIS was contained. Now, all of these statements—every one of them—has turned out to be wrong.”

According to Christie, “newness and inexperience allows you to see the world as you want to see it, as a fantasy, not the way the world really is.”

“We can’t afford to have another person behind the desk in the Oval Office who sees America as he sees it.”

Christie was asked during the event if he would provide the U.S. with the same foreign policy as former President George W. Bush.

“No, I don’t think that’s the case. Now, listen, on—concerning the fight on terrorism, there are a lot of similarities, yes. I think that all the tools that we need to have should be made available to us and that we have to make sure we police those who use the tools,” he said.

Alluding to last summer’s battle over the Patriot Act, Christie said he still has not “seen the case made” that the NSA’s surveillance program was unconstitutional.

“I would say that I think President George W. Bush, in combating terrorism and stopping attacks on American soil, I think that record’s pretty good. And as one of those people who participated as a United States attorney in the law enforcement side of that, there’s not one thing that happened on my watch that not only I’m—that I’d be ashamed of, there’s nothing that happened on my watch that I’m not proud of,” Christie said.

“On foreign policy more broadly, there’s a number of ways that I would be different than President George W. Bush. But on the fight on terror, which is specific, I think the language that might be most like President George W. Bush’s – I’m proud to have been a member of that administration and I’m proud of the work that we did.”