Listen to the interview below:
Guy Benson: Joining us now is Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, and he is part of the remaining presidential field on the Republican side. Governor, good to have you back here.
Chris Christie: Thank you, Guy. Good to be back.
Guy Benson: Your reaction there to the decision made by the former vice president and that announcement over the weekend?
Chris Christie: Look, these decisions are always hard and intensely personal. I went through that eight years ago. And when you’re when you make the decision that you want to be in the United States and that you should be president, United States, it’s very hard to make the decision that, as the vice president said, it’s just not his time. But I think he made the decision that he believes is best for he and Karen and their family. And I’ll say this about Mike Pence, and I unabashedly said it on the stage at the first debate, as you’ll remember. I believe the way Mike Pence will be remembered in this country’s history is that he put the constitution and the interests of the American people ahead of the petty pressures, both political and personal, that were placed upon him on January 6th by Donald Trump. And I commend him for having done that. I know that Ron DeSantis says he doesn’t have any problem with what he did. I think it’s much, much deeper than that. I give Mike Pence great credit. I think that’s the way he’ll be remembered. And I have great respect and admiration for him and always have.
Guy Benson: So he’s now out. He’s suspended the campaign. He’s kind of the biggest name to have dropped out so far. A few others, Francis Suarez and Will Hurd and others never made the debate stage. They’ve been out for a little while, but Pence heading for the exits here. That would consolidate the field a bit. It looks like next week’s debate down in Miami, at least at the moment, only four people have qualified. Donald Trump isn’t participating. He hasn’t in any of them so far. But all of the folks left who plan to show up, it’s DeSantis, Nikki Haley, yourself, and Vivek Ramaswamy. Unclear if Tim Scott will make it. Some of the other names apparently falling short. What do you think about that dynamic? Is a consolidation, number one, you know, inevitable here? Is it necessary to happen very soon? Because we’ll be talking about some polling later in the show, Governor, I mean, you’ve seen it as well. Donald Trump holds commanding leads in all of the early states and nationally.
Chris Christie: Look, I think that you’re right when you characterize that consolidation was inevitable and it’s made inevitable. Inevitable by two things. Support on the ground and support in the bank account. And I think that’s what will always determine election consolidation. And then you’ll have rapid consolidation. I suspect after people start to vote. So if you look at it, this race started with 13 people. You may have as a practical matter, if Tim Scott doesn’t qualify and I don’t know whether he will or he won’t, only Tim knows that. But if Tim doesn’t qualify, you will have gone from 13 in June down to five by November. That’s pretty good consolidation. And I suspect that if that’s the way it lasted, there’s really five people left, maybe six, that make their way to the ballot in Iowa and the ballot in New Hampshire. I suspect you’re going to see a lot of consolidation by the voters at that time. And so, you know, I believe it’s inevitable that it happens both by pre pre-debate pre rather election time and from the early states. That’s what they’ve always done.
Guy Benson: Vivek Ramaswamy when he was alerted to Mike Pence dropping out, he said that some other people in the race ought to consider doing the same thing. I know he was probably directing that at other people. Some of his critics were saying, Well, why don’t you go first? He was asked a number of questions recently about his position on Israel, and it’s been a bit of a moving target. One of the things that he just talked about recently was not giving any more military aid or financial aid to the Israelis, but rather providing what he called a, quote, diplomatic Iron Dome for Israel. Do you have a sense of what he’s talking about there?
Chris Christie: You know, what I sense from the way you phrased your question, you don’t know what he’s talking about. I can tell you I don’t know what he’s talking about. But even more tragically, I don’t think he has any idea what he’s talking about. The fact of the matter is that we must continue to give financial and military aid to the only democracy in the Middle East, to the country that was formed after the Holocaust to prevent the very acts that are being threatened today, not only by Hamas, but in many cities across Europe and in many campuses in this country. Anti-Semitism is up 388%. And we need to be very, very clear. And this is the problem with someone who is simply unprepared to be president, United States. So we need to continue financial aid and military aid to the Israelis. What everyone in the world needs understand is that there is not a sliver of daylight between the United States of America and the state of Israel. And unfortunately, comments from someone like Vivek R does the exact opposite, and it’s just ill informed by him to be saying those things, but also proves that he has no business being anywhere near the Oval Office.
Guy Benson: Governor, I’m looking and we talked about this earlier in the show. I’m looking at these displays of not sort of thoughtful criticism of the Israeli government or opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu or anything like that, just outright pro-Hamas rallies, hate rallies across the world, including in this country, the anti-Semitism on campus that you referenced a moment ago, I’m losing count, losing track of all the examples coming not just in the form of anonymous threats, but open hostility, things being chanted out in public by a lot of students. You know, letters and statements being signed by faculty, including at some of our allegedly most prestigious institutions. I have heard from so many Jewish friends and strangers, Governor, just reaching out to me because they’ve seen what I’m saying in public and what I’m doing on social media, reaching out to me, asking for help, asking for information, giving me tips on stories and that sort of thing, and also just expressing fear for their own safety, fear for their physical safety. Jews in America in 2023. What is the responsibility of elected officials right now? Putting on your governance hat? What is the responsibility of public officials and elected officials to protect Jews in this environment?
Chris Christie: Well, I would tell you first off, that if I were governor of New Jersey right now, what I would be doing would be dispatching state police to any campus where Jewish students were feeling unsafe and were under threat to protect them, to allow them to continue to go about their business, of going to classes, going to conferences, going to the library, going to the dining hall, going anywhere they need to go on that campus to make them feel safe. That is an absolute obligation that I think any governor across this country should be executing on right now. And in the states of those prestigious universities you just mentioned, which bio state is one of them. We have a bunch of Democratic governors in those states, Guy, people like Maura Healey and in Massachusetts, people like Kathy Hochul in New York, where there’s two of them, Princeton and Phil Murphy. You know, Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, We need to be have those governors to make very clear that they are going to make sure that if the universities are unwilling to provide that safety, that states where those universities reside will. And it reminds me very much, Brian Guy, rather, of the of the since post-9-11 time I was in the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey, and we had threats against synagogues in the state of New Jersey. And as U.S. attorney, I worked with our federal law enforcement partners and dispatched federal law enforcement to work with state law enforcement to protect those synagogues and provide them the security that they needed to make sure that there would not be any attacks on those synagogues or the Jewish people in the aftermath of September 11th. We need to be doing that today. And governors in those states and any other state where the folks are being threatened on campus should be doing the exact same thing, in my view.
Guy Benson: On the subject of physical safety, the horrible shooting last week in Maine. We covered it here. We do not mention the shooter’s name. He was found dead, apparently killed himself, just obviously a very disturbed and then ultimately taking the coward’s way out after just shooting up these public places, kids indiscriminate mass shooting in Maine. There are reports, Governor, that this man was known to authorities, that there were warnings explicitly about him as a potential mass shooter. And I just wonder, given obviously, there’s a big debate again playing out on gun control and that sort of thing, people wondering how do these people keep being known to authorities and then still getting their hands on guns? What’s the path forward in the wake of yet another one of these awful atrocities here in the United States?
Chris Christie: Well, this was definitively a failure of the coordination of our mental health folks with our law enforcement folks. This is not a guy who was operating in the shadows and that no one knew that he had serious mental health issues. He had, in fact, been hospitalized, as you know, and institutionalized for a period of time because of the fact that he said he was hearing voices that were urging him to violence. There has to be an emphasis on more involuntary institutionalization of folks when they speak out this way. And the only way that’s going to happen is for law enforcement and our mental health officials to be working together, communicating seamlessly. And that’s a big should be a big priority of every governor in every state right now after the aftermath of what we saw happen in Maine. This is now no longer a theory about it being a mental health issue. We saw this is a mental health issue that was a failure in coordination inside the state of Maine. And I want to remind people, too, that, you know, there’s been a lot of discussion about the laws or lack thereof in the state of Maine. But 89% of the gun deaths last year in Maine were suicides. Those are people who have serious mental health issues, who believe their only alternative is to turn to suicide in their lives. So we need to focus on the real problem here. You know, a lot of Democrats and liberals want to just continue to talk about guns and more gun laws. Well, gee whiz, in Maine, there were gun laws that could have prevented this problem. And it was the failure of the folks in Maine to do their job the right way that permitted this to happen.
Guy Benson: Red flags.
Chris Christie: About it.
Guy Benson Is they were bright, bright red flags that you’re referring to. No question about that. Governor, just a few minutes left quickly. We’ve seen a few guilty pleas in the Georgia case, a criminal case against former President Trump. Then, perhaps more significantly, we talked to Adam McCarthy about this last week, the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, getting immunity from the special prosecutor in the January six, 2020 election federal case against a former president saying that he told the president, president knew he had not had the election stolen from him and was being dishonest publicly anyway. Putting on your prosecutor hat here just in the last minute that we have together, your analysis on that and the significance when it comes to Donald Trump’s legal peril and therefore potential political peril.
Chris Christie: The walls are closing in on Donald Trump and the single most significant thing that’s happened in these cases since they were indicted happened last week when his former chief of staff is now going to be a cooperating witness. I want everyone who is listening to understand what is going to happen. Mark Meadows is going to get on a witness stand, take an oath, and he is going to be 20 feet from Donald Trump. And he is going to say to a jury that Donald Trump committed crimes on his watch. Mark Meadows, one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, one of the most conservative Trump supporters in America who left the House of Representatives to be his chief of staff, is going to say that Donald Trump committed crimes, not some rogue prosecutor. Not some weaponized Justice Department, but his chief of staff is going to say he committed crimes. We cannot nominate someone who is going to have that testimony given against them by a leading Republican former member of the House and his chief of staff. If that testimony is found credible, and I’m confident they wouldn’t have given immunity if it wasn’t credible, Donald Trump is going to be convicted and that if he is our nominee, will ensure the reelection of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and lead to damage to our country that we cannot even fathom as we sit here today. That’s why, Guy, I’ve been in this race from the beginning, making this case the only voice making this case other than Asa Hutchinson against Donald Trump and why I am not leaving this race. I think, Governor, we we I’m going after it.
Guy Benson : Fair enough. And we are up on a break. I’m late, but thank you for that perspective. Chris Christie, former New jersey governor running for president on the Guy Benson show.