4 questionable things Chris Christie said during the GOP debate
By most accounts, Chris Christie had another strong GOP debate performance Thursday night in Charleston, S.C. — demonstrating the strong, commanding presence most often cited as one of his key assets.
But how was his command of the facts? Here's an examination of some of his key statements:
Did Chris Christie support allowing Syrians into the United States?
"I said right from the beginning we should take no Syrian refugees of any kind," Christie said Thursday night.
Except ... he didn't.
On Sept. 8 on MSNBC, Christie said the United States needed to make a determination as to how many refugees would be admitted.
"I'd sit down with our allies and figure out how we can help, because America is a compassionate country. We saw the image of that 4-year-old little boy drowned in Syria, and we can't have those kinds of things," he said.
Christie said he couldn't come up with an exact number of refugees the United States, but "you'd have to sit with our allies and work together."
Then, in November — following the Paris terrorist attacks — on the conservative Hugh Hewitt radio show, Christie said he’d shut out refugees from the U.S. — even orphans under 5 years old (an example Hewitt, not the governor, brought up).
He also wrote to President Barack Obama, saying New Jersey wouldn't accept refugees until he could be confident in their vetting, and he'd direct New Jersey agencies not to cooperate with groups bringing them in — though most legal experts agree he doesn't have any power to shut them out, and he hasn't taken any action to do so.
Did Christie Support Planned Parenthood?
Christie sought to fight off criticism from Marco Rubio that he's supported some of President Barack Obama's favorite causes — among them, that he has personally financially supported Planned Parenthood.
It's hard to know what the truth is here — it depends on whether you listen to present-day Christie, or to 1994 Christie, as quoted at the time by the Star-Ledger.
''I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood," Christie said Thursday night.
On Sept. 30, 1994, Christie was quoted saying "I support Planned Parenthood privately with my personal contribution, and that should be the goal of any such agency, to find private donations." He was running for Morris County freeholder at the time.
He didn't describe his opposition to public funding in ideological terms — but, rather, practical ones, according to the 1994 report.
He continued, according to a recent story on NJ.com recounting the earlier article. "It's also no secret that I am pro-choice (it's a stance the governor has since reversed) ... But you have to examine all the agencies needing county donations and prioritize them. I would consider all groups looking for funding, but there is a limit and we have to pick and choose."
Christie has since said he believes the original 1994 article misquoted him — though it was by Brian Murray, who now works as a Christie spokesman.
Did New Jersey eliminate Common Core?
Also rebutting Rubio, Christie told the GOP debate audience "Common Core has been eliminated in New Jersey."
It's simply not true — though Common Core might get a different name.
Christie had originally backed the Common Core standards New Jersey adopted five years ago, saying in 2013 Republicans opposed to it were having a “knee-jerk” reaction to the standards. Christie then came out against the standards last year, asking a state committee to review them and suggest changes.
That committee on Monday recommended keeping nearly 85 percent of the current standards, though it says the ones it would change could make a substantial difference.
The state is also planning to continue giving students the Common Core-aligned PARCC tests, and to eventually make passing Algebra 1 and 10th-grade English PARCC tests mandatory to graduate. During the November edition of New Jersey 101.5’s Ask The Governor, Christie said the controversial PARCC tests needed changes, but were still “more accurate than what we had before” when it came to assessing schools’ performance.
The state Department of Education has proposed renaming the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, as well as the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts, to the “New Jersey Student Learning Standards.”
Are 'tin-pot dictators' attacking U.S. Navy Ships?
This one — a reference to the detainment of several U.S. sailors by Iran this past week — is a yes and no.
"Tin pot dictators like the mullahs in Iran are taking our Navy ships," Christie said. "If Chris Christie was president they would know better than to do that."
Like Sen. Ted Cruz, who made a similar reference, Christie left out some important parts of the story about U.S. sailors who steered two boats into sovereign Iranian waters, in what U.S. officials have since said was a navigation error.
The two ships were boarded and seized by Iranian naval forces.
As described by the Associated Press, "Under such circumstances it would not be unusual to disarm members of a foreign military force even a small one like the two Navy boats and hold them temporarily for questioning. What was exceptional about this episode and perhaps a provocation is that the Iranians videotaped the Americans during the encounter and posted the images on the Internet."
Iran returned the sailors unharmed, and the boats undamaged.
Cruz was even more aggressive in his statements — saying he would have launched a military attack on Iran in response to the incident.