While on the presidential campaign trail in Iowa on Saturday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie expressed sharp criticism about the Obama administration’s prisoner swap deal.
In an interview with Iowa’s WHO TV Saturday morning, the GOP presidential hopeful said he’s “very happy” for the families of the Americans who were released but that the exchange raises fears that “this president is releasing more terrorists from Guantanamo to go back and re-enter the war on terror.”
“We shouldn’t have to swap prisoners,” he said. “These [Americans] were taken illegally in violation of international law and they should have been released without condition, but you know, the Iranians have treated this president with disrespect for years and he continues to take it. I would not take it as president.”
Washington Post reporter Ed O’Keefe, who is traveling with Christie, said the governor reiterated his viewpoint that the exchange is a bad deal at a town hall in Ames, Iowa later in the day. Christie said that the country should not have to give anything up to get its illegally detained citizens back. “If we had a President who was respected around the world, we wouldn’t have these folks taken in the first place,” he said.
“We have to be grateful that those folks are being sent home,” he said, “but we also have to scrutinize what this president gave away in the process.”
Below are his full remarks in Ames:
First I think, we’re all grateful, at least the reports that we hear this morning, that the Iranians have released our Americans and we have to thank god for that and pray for their safe return and pray for the strength of their families who have put up with them being separated from our country and from their families for a long time. The concern I have, and we don’t know yet, is that the president made a trade. Now, when this president makes trades this is a big problem. This is not a guy I would let negotiate buying a car for me let alone anything else. I mean he makes bad deals and he seems to become an expert at making bad deal with the Iranians. The fact is that we shouldn’t have to trade anything to get our citizens back home. They were taken illegally by a rogue regime of Mullahs over in Iran and this is the problem with this president, he gets no respect around the world. No respect. If we had a president who was respected around the world, we wouldn’t have these folks taken in the first place. Remember the last time we had Iranian hostages again a president that the world did not respect in Jimmy Carter and as soon as Ronald Reagan took the oath of office those Iranians returned our citizens immediately because they knew if they didn’t they would have to face the strength of character and the wrath of Ronald Reagan. We need a president like that in the White House again, who people say understands what the problems are in this country and will fight hard for our citizens. So we have to be grateful that those folks are being sent home but we also have to scrutinize what this president gave away in the process. He’s been trading terrorists from Guantanamo Bay back into the terrorism business. This is an awful thing and this president doesn’t understand.