Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have made America "less safe" because of where they stand on the National Security Agency's metadata collection program, which expired a few days ago, Chris Christie said Tuesday.
Both voted for the U.S. Freedom Act and against the metadata collection, the New Jersey governor said of his fellow candidates for the GOP nomination on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program
, and that made the United States "weaker and less able" to fight the threat of terrorism.
Paul has long taken a Libertarian-leaning stance against the metadata collection, and Christie accused Cruz of going for the "easy political vote at a time when it looked like it kind of was a popular thing to do."
However, he said, "with all those dead Parisians it doesn't look so popular anymore." referring to the Nov. 13 terror attacks.
Christie, a former federal prosecutor, strongly supported the metadata collection program and considered it a key tool in the fight against terrorism.
The governor also told the program that another senator and GOP candidate, Marco Rubio, does not have the experience in governing that is needed to be president, and neither does Cruz.
"I've been through the fire here," said Chrsitie. "I've been through the fire of dealing with what I lovingly call an unruly state to govern with Democratic majorities."
Meanwhile, Cruz and others in the race who have no experience in governing are not suitable for the office, Christie said.
"New is wonderful," he said. "It's great, it's shiny, it's untarnished and everybody loves new. It's exciting. New is great until you need experience, until the tough moment comes."
But in 1999, he continued, "nobody asked Gov. George W. Bush 'what will you do if you get four airplanes hijacked . . . and 3,000 Americans are dead.' What we knew was somebody like George W. Bush's experience, his character would be able to handle it and he did. And that's the kind of test we need to have and that's why I've been talking about these issues for months."
He also said that the fight against terrorism is "personal to me," pointing out that he was sworn in as a federal prosecutor just one day before the 9/11 attacks, and that he prosecuted two of the biggest terrorism cases in the post 9/11 era.
"I'm the only person on stage that used the Patriot Act . . . who have fought terrorism and knows how to use those tools and knows how to bring to terrorism to heel," he said. "I didn't get briefed in a basement on Capitol Hill and have to get a vote on subcommittee."
Christie also said he does not believe waterboarding should be considered torture when it comes to interrogating terrorism suspects.
"We need to do whatever we need to do to get actionable intelligence, within the Constitution," said Christie, pointing out that the officers who conducted the activity were told by the Justice Department what they were doing was legal.
"These are people that do a dangerous job in a dirty world and we need to support them because they are the first line of defense between us and ISIS, between us and al-Qaida, and if you're sitting in the basement of the Senate, you don't understand that," he said.
"You don't understand those decisions need to be made. I've made them. I know what decisions need to be made and I know how to do it."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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