On this weekend’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) said he went after his rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at last night’s ABC News Republican primary debate because the Republicans should not nominate a candidate who would “crumble in front of Hillary Clinton.”
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: That now to the first of the three governors stopping by our Manchester set here today — the man at the center of the Marco Rubio episode, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
And welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me, Chris.
WALLACE: Your takedown of Marco Rubio and that’s all I can call it, was the story of the night. Here is one more clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: From protecting the people of Florida from eminent domain abuse, to bringing accountability to the V.A., to the Girls Count Act, and to sanctioning terrorist groups, I’m proud of my service in the United States Senate.
CHRISTIE: The fact is — the fact is when you talk about Hezbollah sanctions act that you list as one of your accomplishments, you just did, you weren’t even there to vote for it. That’s not leadership. That’s truancy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: So, Governor, what do you think last night’s debate revealed about Marco Rubio?
CHRISTIE: Well, first off, I think it revealed something about what you need to be president of the United States. You have to be tested. You have to be prepared. You have to be experienced. You have to be ready.And quite frankly, that’s what I tried to show the folks last night that I am tested and prepared and ready. What I’ve been saying about Senator Rubio was on full display last night. He’s just simply not ready, Chris. He’s a good guy but he’s not ready to be president of the United States.
WALLACE: You showed and you have been a long time prosecutor, you showed how skilled you are at that as Rubio seemed almost to unravel like a witness under cross-examination personally on that stage. How did you feel?
CHRISTIE: I felt justified, because I’ve been saying this for a long time. I don’t think that people have been really listening. But the fact is there were a lot of people watching and listening last night. And it’s not about Marco Rubio. It’s about our country. It’s about the American people. We’ve had a president for seven years who was the first United States senator who never managed anything in his entire life and our government is unraveling. We have the Russians and Ukraine in Crimea. We have Syria falling apart, Libya falling apart. We have our economy growing at 0.7 percent and middle class wages are going backwards. We don’t need another on-the-job training in the White House. We need someone that has done this stuff and I’ve done it. So, what I felt last night when I was doing that was I’m glad the American people are getting to see this before they make a mistake.
WALLACE: But according to the “Real Clear Politics” average of the recent polls here in New Hampshire, you are running sixth at this point with less than 5 percent support. There are some political observers who watched last night and said, you know, you really hurt Rubio, but did you help yourself in a position that you’re in now which is not too good?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, none of those polls were taken after last night, were they? And what people saw last night, millions of people saw last night was that I’m ready to be president of the United States. And —
WALLACE: How do you show that? Because I mean, I know you showed the flaws in Rubio. But how did you show your leadership just because you took him down?
CHRISTIE: No, remember something, Chris, he tried to come at me. I answered him every time because I’ve been tested. And, by the way, who do you want on that stage against Hillary Clinton? Do you want — do Republicans want to see someone who can absolutely answer Secretary Clinton’s every parry in a debate in September so that we actually win the presidency? Or do we want to see someone who will crumble in front of Hillary Clinton? That’s extraordinarily important. And, by the way, this is about the American people, Chris. We need an experienced president. We need a successful presidency. The American people desperately need it. And I have been tested, whether it was rebuilding my state after Hurricane Sandy or standing up to the Democratic legislature or teachers union, I’m tough enough to take on Hillary Clinton, but more importantly, tough enough to take on the problems that face the United States.
WALLACE: Rubio tried to get into your record, and not terribly successfully. But let me try a little more successfully. I mean, you have had bridgegate which involved some of your top aides. You have had nine credit downgrades in New Jersey on your watch. New Jersey has the eighth slowest job growth since the recession ended in 2009.
Those are not badges of honor.
CHRISTIE: Yes, except you’re using dated material. Chris. This year, 2015, New Jersey had the greatest job growth in 15 years, in 15 years. That spans five different governors. This year, we created over 60,000 new private sector jobs in New Jersey. And, by the way, we’ve cut spending $2.3 billion —
WALLACE: What about the downgrade and the fact that since the recovery — and this January information — you’re still the eighth slowest state in job recovery?
CHRISTIE: Chris, we were the slowest state when I became governor, the slowest state. And I’m working with the Democratic legislature that won’t do everything I want to do but with the stuff I have forced them to do, we now moved up the chart. And I’m not going to let anybody insult the people of New Jersey who have worked hard to bring our state back. By the way, in the midst of all that, too, we were hit with the second worst natural disaster in American history that devastated our state and in light of that, to have us come back that we’ve had in 2015, it’s extraordinary. And the people of New Jersey deserve great credit and I’m honored to lead them. I’m not going to let Marco Rubio or anybody else, even you my friend, insult the people that I represent every day.
WALLACE: I’m not insulting your people. I’m just citing —
CHRISTIE: Oh, no —
WALLACE: I’m citing your record.
CHRISTIE: It’s their state. It’s not just my state. It’s their state, like it’s our country. And I’m not going to allow them to insult the effort of the people of New Jersey. They’ve done a great job. I help along as much as I can.
WALLACE: Let’s bring your record. Let me ask you about one of the other governors, because you say you have to be the top governor coming out of New Hampshire.
CHRISTIE: As far I could be.
WALLACE: OK. Well, there are three of you, and we’re going to talk to all of you one after the other. Your super PAC attacks John Kasich for the fact that between Congress and being governor of Ohio, he spent eight years on Wall Street. But, Governor, your wife works on Wall Street. In fact, she’s the primary bread winner in the Christie family. The major industry donor to the Christie campaign and super PAC is the financial industry. So, what’s wrong with Wall Street?
CHRISTIE: First of all, my wife is not running for anything.
WALLACE: I know that.
(CROSSTALK) CHRISTIE: My wife is not running for anything. And what that points out is that Governor Kasich, what the super PAC says, is that Governor Kasich was there when Lehman Brothers went down. He was the managing director when it went down, and he voted in Congress for bailouts to the banks and for special interest loopholes. It’s not about how much money he made. It’s about how much money when he was in Congress he let others make. And that’s what the point of the commercial is, not anything else. And, by the way, as I said last night, John is a good governor. I’m just better.
WALLACE: What about the argument — and this is our last question — that you’ve got four of you, three governors and Rubio in the so-called establishment lane. You’re all bouncing against each other. And that, ultimately, whatever divides you, you would all like to see one of you win versus Trump or Cruz. At some point and how quickly do all of you need to coalesce around one of them — I know you hope it will be you — but coalesce around one of you to take them on?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, all week, the media is trying to make that we coalesce around Marco Rubio. After you saw that performance last night, do you think they should be coalescing around Marco Rubio? Do you think that’s the kind of performance, that’s the kind of leadership that we want to see on the stage against Hillary Clinton? Bottom line, Chris, is this is about the American people and changing their lives. And you know what? We need a strong, tough president. Hillary Clinton is one of the toughest political fighters in this country. And she’s going to fight like crazy.
WALLACE: So, this is going to go on for a while, those bumper cars?
CHRISTIE: You bet it is to go on for a while, so that the voters actually decide. You know, you guys make me laugh — 180,000 people voted in Iowa. And you want to end the race.
WALLACE: I don’t want to — I asked —
CHRISTIE: No, this is what you’re saying.
WALLACE: I asked a question.
CHRISTIE: No, but, Chris, the question implies a position. Should you all coalesce if you’re bumping up against each other? Listen —
WALLACE: I think you’re in for a position, but we’re going to have to leave it there. CHRISTIE: Well, that’s it. Listen, infer, imply, at least we’re both using the words right. Here’s the thing, here’s the thing, there’s no reason to coalesce after 180,000 people in Iowa had voted in a caucus. Let’s let some people vote. Let’s voters — by the way, last night, what they saw is instructive. It’s instructive and needs to be seen.
And my strong leadership needs to be seen and Senator Rubio’s robotic performance needs to be seen too.
WALLACE: Governor Christie, thank you.
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