New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie departs after holding a town hall at Brick City Grill in Ames, Iowa, on Jan. 16, 2016. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

LE MARS, Iowa — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday blasted the Obama administration's deal with Iran to free American prisoners as "a show of weakness."

The Republican presidential candidate dismissed Obama's description of the historic nuclear accord with Iran and the release of five Americans held by the regime as an example of successful diplomacy.

"You know, how many more times do these folks have to kick him before he realizes he’s being kicked?" Christie said during a campaign event here. "The Iranians have treated him with such enormous disrespect and such disrespect for our country. Everything from chanting 'Death to America' and burning our flag to what they’ve done with this missile testing in clear violation of previous agreements. To what they did with our sailors just this past week, who mistakenly went into Iranian waters and they took video of them on their knees with their hands over the head and guns pointed at them."

The deal to secure the release of the Americans is "not a triumph of diplomacy, it’s a show of weakness," he added.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and two other released Americans were flown out of Tehran on Sunday, after a delay. After stopping in Switzerland, they arrived in Germany late Sunday and were expected to go to a U.S. military facility there to be examined by medical personnel. One of the Americans released, Nosratollah ­Khosravi-Roodsari, did not fly out with the others, U.S. officials said. Another American, identified as language student Matt Trevithick, was also released Saturday but was not part of the exchange.

In remarks delivered from the White House on Sunday morning, Obama cast his approach toward securing the release of the five Americans as a better alternative to the more bellicose path that his Republican critics have pressed for in recent months. He described the nuclear deal and the release of the five detainees as evidence that “a strong, confident America” can advance its interests by engaging with its enemies.

[Full transcript: President Obama addresses the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S.-Iranian prisoner release]

Christie spoke to about 100 people at a Blue Bunny ice cream parlor in this small northwest Iowa town and, as at previous stops, broadly criticized the president.

"We made a mistake seven years ago" by electing Obama, he said as he asked the crowd not to elect another inexperienced person to the White House.

Governors, he said, are far more qualified to serve as president. Citing the presidency of Ronald Reagan, a former California governor, Christie said, "We've known how to do this."


Obama: Iran nuclear deal, prisoner release show the power of diplomacy