Christie slams Obama for failing to stand ‘strong and hard’ for Israel

In fiery speech, NJ governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate bemoans ‘extraordinary vacuum of leadership’

Chris Christie speaking in Clive, Iowa, on Saturday, October 25, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/The Des Moines Register, Bryon Houlgrave)
Chris Christie speaking in Clive, Iowa, on Saturday, October 25, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/The Des Moines Register, Bryon Houlgrave)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lambasted President Barack Obama for not “standing hard and strong for our allies in Israel” and for the administration’s handling of the raging Syrian civil war.

Speaking from an Iowa stage to an audience that included some of the early voting state’s top powerbrokers, Christie painted a picture of a country hungry for leadership and a world adrift, with a feckless White House to blame.

“America used to control events both here at home and around the world. And now it seems that our fate is being dictated to us by others,” Christie said Saturday, bemoaning what he described as “an extraordinary vacuum of leadership in this country.”

“It is because of the lack of leadership that we have in the White House,” he told them. “It has been six long years, but I bring you good news: There are only two more years left.”

Christie, who is considering a run for the White House, was the featured speaker at fellow GOP Gov. Terry Branstad’s birthday bash in Clive, outside Des Moines. The event was one of the biggest on the state’s political calendar and gave Christie another opportunity to introduce himself to Republican activists, voters and fundraisers, who could propel a potential White House bid in 2016.

Christie praised Branstad, a longtime friend, and Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, whose race is one of the most closely watched in the upcoming midterm elections. But the bulk of his time was spent making the case that the country is in desperate need of change at the top.

Christie scolded Obama for failing to work more effectively across the aisle, not investing enough in expanding the North American energy market, and appointing what he described as activist judges that, he maintained, showed little respect for the Constitution. But the New Jersey Republican reserved his harshest criticism for Obama’s handling of foreign affairs, including dealings with Syria and Israel.

“America’s not being respected around the world the way we used to be,” he said. “And we’re not being respected because we no longer mean what we say and say what we mean.”

Christie added in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” that Republicans had positioned themselves to succeed in gubernatorial races in Democratic-leaning states carried by Obama, an effort that could burnish the New Jersey Republican’s potential 2016 presidential bid.

Christie said Republicans face a “daunting task” in defending 22 of 36 governor’s seats in November’s election but pointed to competitive campaigns in Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois and Connecticut as fresh evidence of offense heading into the campaign’s final week.

Christie remains popular with establishment Republicans and has presented himself as an outside force who could attract voters in Republican and Democratic-leaning states alike who remain disillusioned with dysfunction in the nation’s capital.

He has sought to repair his image amid the investigation of politically motivated lane closures near the George Washington Bridge last year.

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