Crossing state lines to tackle international issues, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that “America should stand by its friends and its democratic allies even, and sometimes especially, when it’s unpopular to do so.”
Christie was widely quoted at a technically off-the-record Feb. 10 address to a packed grand ballroom at the New York Hilton Hotel.
The Republican governor quoted a Democratic president, Franklin D Roosevelt, to underscore his support for Israel.
“Please judge me by the enemies I have made,” said Christie, citing FDR as his source, then adding, “In that same spirit, I would like to say to all of you tonight: I admire Israel for the enemies it has made.”
According to a report by newjerseynewsroom.com, the governor told members of AIPAC’s northeast region that “it may not be fashionable in some of the chancelleries, the foreign ministries, and salons around the world to talk about why America stands with Israel — but that’s no excuse not to be saying [it] and saying it loudly.”
Christie’s tough talk on a key foreign policy issue triggered new speculation, particularly in parts of the conservative blogosphere, that he may still be seeking higher office, perhaps as the Republican vice presidential candidate.
Although the governor did not mention President Barack Obama in his remarks, the president and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were both booed by some members of the audience when they appeared in video presentation at the dinner, according to observers.
Some 2,700 people were in attendance.
Roger Jacobs, a West Orange attorney and former chair of the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest, attended the event and said he was “extremely pleased to hear the governor’s exuberance about Israel.”
“I thought he delivered his remarks about Israel and its role as our friend with great excitement,” Jacobs, a Democrat, told NJJN.
Steve Newmark, a political independent from Florham Park and past president of the NJ Jewish News board, also attended the dinner.
“I thought the governor was great,” said Newmark, a past chair of the CRC’s government affairs committee. “He was relating to the crowd. He was sincere and down-to-earth. You could relate to him.”
Democrat Roy Tanzman, a Woodbridge attorney and AIPAC activist, told NJJN, “It was a good substantive speech. Usually Christie is more rough-and-tumble, but this was a nice policy speech.”
Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger for the Washington Post, was among the pundits offering speculation over Christie’s ambitions.
“He is both a surrogate for Mitt Romney and someone who surely must be on the short list for vice president,” she wrote. “Conservative hawks should be very glad…to see him on the presidential ticket.”