"I can tell you this: Law enforcement officers across this country do not feel supported," Christie said. "Crime is going up," he added, citing statistics for cities like Chicago and New York.
"It's politicians like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and [New York Mayor] Bill de Blasio who coddle those who are causing these problems. That is making our law enforcement officers feel less safe in this country and it's causing crime to increase."
Christie's description of Comey's comments isn't exactly what Comey said this week, but what he did say was enough for Christie to renew an avenue of attack on Obama and Clinton that has been lurking in the GOP presidential field: linking rising crime to Democratic politicians and their criticism of excessive force by law enforcement.
Once colleagues as U.S. attorneys in George W. Bush's administration, Comey eventually became Christie's boss and now works for the Democratic president Christie is hoping to replace.
Comey, speaking at a law enforcement conference in Chicago this week, twice made comments suggesting that increased scrutiny on police in the post-Ferguson era has exacerbated crime in major cities.
The "age of viral videos," he said, may be "changing police behavior."
“Each incident that involves real or perceived police misconduct drives one line this way. Each time an officer is attacked in the line of duty, it drives the other line this way. I actually feel the lines continuing to arc away from each other, incident by incident, video by video, more and more quickly,” Comey said in a speech. “Just as those lines are arcing away from each other – and maybe because they are arcing away – we have a crisis of violent crime in some of our most vulnerable communities across the country. ”
The White House disputed Comey's characterization, saying that there was no evidence that law enforcement officers are "shying away from fulfilling their responsibilities."
But more critically for Christie, Comey's comments were even criticized by a national group representing law enforcement officers around the country.
“Time and time again [Comey] generalizes about a segment of the population that he knows nothing about,” said James O. Pasco Jr., executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, told The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery. “He has never been a police officer.”
Then on Thursday, President Obama tweeted a Washington Post article highlighting a D.C. Metropolitan police officer's dance-match with local teens as an example of "community policing."
Christie did, however, declined to endorse the so-called "Ferguson effect" theory, which asserts that the national fallout over the shooting of a black teen in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014 has emboldened criminal elements across the country.
Instead, he called it the "Obama-Clinton effect."
"Whether that's 'sanctuary cities,' which need to end, or whether that's legalizing marijuana in the state that I'm standing, or whether it's not supporting police officers, this president supports lawlessness," Christie said. "That's what's causing this."