The closer we get to the Iowa caucus in mid-January and after that, the New Hampshire primaries, the more desperate third and fourth-tier candidates in the GOP presidential race are going to get.
Case in point, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who appeared for an interview on CNN Sunday and gave an astonishing answer to a question from “State of the Union” anchor Dana Bash on the rise in antisemitism seen in the United States since the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians began on October 7th.
Specifically, Bash was asking him to further explain remarks he made to the New York Times where he blamed former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner in all 2024 GOP primary polling so far, in part for the increase in antisemitism and “Islamophobia” over the last two months.
Here’s how their exchange went down:
BASH: Governor, I want to ask about the spike in hate against Jews in the United States. You told “The New York Times” that you believe former President Donald Trump’s — quote — “intolerance for everybody” has contributed to the surge in antisemitism and Islamophobia. How so?
CHRISTIE: Well, look, when you show intolerance towards everyone, which is what he does, you give permission as a leader for others to have their intolerance come out.
And so intolerance towards anyone encourages intolerance towards everyone. And that’s exactly what’s going on here. And that’s been going on for quite some time, not just with Donald Trump, but with university professors on some of our most elite campuses in this country, with university administrators and presidents who have been unwilling to stand up against antisemitism on their campuses most particularly.
And there should be no campus in this country where a Jewish student is afraid to leave their dorm, a Jewish student is afraid to go to their classes, a Jewish student is afraid to go to even have a meal in the dining hall. I mean, that is outrageous and it’s wrong.
I think governors in those individual states should be sending State Police to make sure that they’re protected on those campuses. And we need to have university presidents who are willing to stand up and be counted against hate. And that’s exactly what’s going on here. We saw this display also at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
These are folks who are ignorant. And when they talk about intifada, my guess is, two-thirds of them don’t even know what intifada is. And if they did, they’d be ashamed of themselves for calling for the elimination of the Jewish people around the world, which is what intifada is. And so, in the end, look, I think that there have been a lot of people who contributed to it, and I believe Donald Trump’s intolerant language and his intolerant conduct gives others permission to act the same.
Chris Christie tries to blame Trump for the rise in antisemitism:— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) November 26, 2023
"I believe Donald Trump's intolerant language and his intolerant conduct gives others permission to act the same." pic.twitter.com/swYZqhRGO8
As much of a patience tester that Christie has turned out to be in his public, post-governor life, with the flip-flopping and 180s he’s done on his positions and political alliances, there have been rare times when he has gotten it right.
But this ain’t one of them.
One doesn’t even have to be a diehard Trump loyalist or particularly anti-Christie to see the glaring flaws in Christie’s argument, because I feel confident in saying that the antisemitic Squad members in Congress like Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, and others were not paying attention to Trump’s “intolerance towards everyone” when they formed their hateful, intolerant opinions about Jews and Israel.
Further, I’m also certain that antisemitic groups like “Queers for Palestine,” the “Palestinian Youth Movement,” and the Democratic Socialists of America (whose membership includes most if not all in the Hamas Caucus) are also in no way getting their marching orders from Trump’s “intolerance.”
I should note that in neither interview – the New York Times one nor the CNN one – did Christie give examples of the types of “intolerance” he insinuated Trump has shown towards the Jewish community either during his presidency or on the campaign trail over the last year.
To be sure, every candidate has their negatives and it’s just part of the game for their opponents to exploit them. I get that. But on this one, Christie is making a deeply flawed argument that in my opinion is not that far off from the one Biden made about Trump in 2019 when he (Biden) launched his campaign by falsely claiming that Trump praised the white supremacist/neo-Nazi Charlottesville tiki-torchers as “very fine people.”
In that scenario, Biden portrayed Trump as a racist for a comment taken out of context that was not racist. In Christie’s case, he’s saying Trump is partially to blame for antisemitism because he allegedly shows a general intolerance towards everyone – but again, no specific example was provided by Christie of Trump’s supposed hostility towards the Jewish community.
Quite frankly it’s because he can’t.
I understand that a focal point of Christie’s struggling campaign is to distract from his past cozying up to Trump by painting Trump as unfit for office due to temperament, behavior, etc. But to go about it by crafting an incendiary narrative about Trump and antisemitism that has no basis in reality is pretty low, even for Christie.
Then again, when one thinks about how Chris Christie’s failing presidential campaign is openly bragging about receiving donations from Democrats in New Hampshire, the Lincoln Project-esque strategy suddenly becomes more understandable – though still pretty reprehensible in my book.