New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Wednesday called former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) recent controversial comments about the Iran deal “offensive,” and said that they could actually be helping President Barack Obama sell what Christie has called a “bad deal.”
In an interview with Bloomberg Politics, Christie said Huckabee’s comments that the US-led nuclear deal would “take Israelis and lead them to the door of the oven,” was underestimating the strength of Israel.
“I don’t agree with the hyperbolic nature of the comment, and I also think that it’s somewhat offensive to Israelis,” Christie said. “Israelis have the right of self-determination. … No one is going to lead them anywhere.”
“I thought it was kind of off-key in a number of different ways, and something I wouldn’t have said.”
The New Jersey governor also argued that Huckabee’s comments weren’t “a smart statement to make politically,” because they help Obama change the conversation around the Iran deal.
“It’s distracting. It allows the president then to do what he did in Africa, which was talk about the statement rather than be pinned down on the specific deficiencies of the agreement,” Christie said.
“When we say things like Governor Huckabee said, we give the president an out.”
Christie isn’t the only Republican candidate to distance himself from Huckabee’s comments.
Though Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said that he won’t bash his rivals, he hinted that he wouldn’t have used the language that Huckabee did.
“Well, I’m certainly not gonna say it, but I’m telling you, they can speak for themselves,” Walker said in an interview with NPR. “I’m going to tell you what I’m for and you’re not hearing me use that sort of language. What I’m talking about are the issues and the specifics.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) more directly scolded Huckabee earlier this week.
Though they may disagree on Huckabee’s comments, the Republican presidential field is united in opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran. Republicans have universally condemned the agreement. Candidates like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) have made their opposition to it a central part of their stump speeches.
It’s unclear overall, however, how the deal will continue to factor into the presidential race, as the politics around it are somewhat murky and it appears that few Americans are paying close attention.
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