Chris Christie continues to criticize Patriot Act opponents
NEWARK (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie says lawmakers currently debating the fate of the Patriot Act lack his real-world experience and again made the case that the legislation should be renewed in its current form.
The potential Republican presidential contender said on "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday that the senators debating the legislation don't have the same experience fighting terrorism that he does.
"The fact is, all the different people who are expressing opinions on this in the Senate right now, none of them have used the Patriot Act. None of them have prosecuted terrorists. I have," Christie said during the appearance. "And so they talk about it from a speculative perspective. I talk about it from a real-life perspective. And that's why I feel like I have to speak out on this, because nobody else that's in this national conversation right now has the practical experience that I've had."
Christie, who served as U.S. attorney before he ran for governor of his home state, has been urging Congress to renew the Patriot Act in its current form as he lays the groundwork for an expected campaign for president. Key provisions of the act — including the bulk collection of phone records, revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden —are scheduled to expire at the end of the month.
The House has already passed a White House-backed bill that would reform the phone collection program, but the Senate has failed to pass it. Attempts by GOP leaders to extend the current law have also fallen short.
Christie's hard-line stance, outlined during a foreign policy speech he delivered in New Hampshire earlier this month, puts him in direct opposition to critics of the act, like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has argued that the NSA's phone record collection is an infringement on civil liberties. Christie disputes that notion and slammed Paul and Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who has criticized Christie's rhetoric on the issue, accusing them of siding with Snowden, whom he labeled a "criminal."
Christie also said Wednesday that he supports the decision to limit participants in the first scheduled GOP primary debate to those who are performing well in national polls.
"Listen, I think you've got to have some sense of limit on it, because then no one will get a chance to speak if you have too many people up there," he said, expressing confidence that he would have no problem making the cut if he chooses to run. He says he'll make a final decision about whether he's running next month.
In the meantime, he's planning a busy month of travel in June, with trips to the early-voting states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, as well as Florida, the Washington Post first reported.
The schedule is expected to include Christie's first town hall-style events in Iowa and South Carolina, a spokeswoman for his political action committee said.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)