MUSCATAINE, Iowa -- In his first campaign stops after a well-received performance in Fox Business's "undercard" GOP presidential primary debate, Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) mixed raw talk about addiction with even rawer criticism of the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
Asked about the protests at the University of Missouri and Yale University, where complaints of racism or racial insensitivity have pitted students against administrators, the Republican presidential contender said that President Obama had created an atmosphere of "lawlessness."
"I think part of this is a product of the president’s own unwillingness and inability to bring people together," Christie said in a short interview after a Q&A with Republicans here. "When people think justice is not applied evenly and fairly, they take matters into their own hands. The lawlessness that the president has allowed to exist in this country just absolutely strips people of hope. Our administration would stand for the idea that justice is not just a word, but it’s a way of life. Laws will be applied evenly, fairly, and without bias to everyone."
Earlier, at a town hall further up the Mississippi River, Christie had chastised the Black Lives Matter movement on similar terms. "Don't call me for a meeting," he said, according to reporter Claude Brodesser-Akner. "When a movement like that calls for the murder of police officers... no president of the United States should dignify a group like that by saying anything positive about them, and no candidate for president, like Hillary Clinton, should give them any credibility by meeting with them, as she's done."
The claim of "calls for the murder of police officers," which Christie has made in other forums, is based on an isolated incident after a grand jury failed to bring charges against the police seen on video putting Eric Garner in a chokehold, which led to his death. One group of people in a massive march chanted "What do we want? Dead cops!" That rhetoric has been absent from most Black Lives Matter protests, which partly inspired the university uprisings.
Asked if there was a larger trend on campuses -- some commentators have blamed out-of-control political correctness -- Christie said he didn't see it.
"We have two children on two very different campuses right now, Notre Dame and Princeton – two very different, culturally, campuses," he said. "We don’t sense that from either one of them, I don’t think, that those kind of issue exist on those campuses, or if they do that they’re leading folks to act that the way that the students in Missouri or at Yale are acting."