Christie criticizes Obama on Sony hack, Cuba deal
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Whether it was Sony's decision to cancel the release of a movie in the face of hackers' threats, Cuba's refusal to extradite a woman found guilty of killing a state trooper or pot laws that appear to be in conflict, Gov. Chris Christie repeatedly pointed his finger at one person Monday night: President Barack Obama.
Christie, as he seriously considers making a run for president, sat down for an hour-long interview with local TV anchor Steve Adubato and took pains to draw contrasts between himself and the man he may soon be fighting to succeed.
During his appearance, Christie commented for the first time on the Sony hacking scandal, which led the company to cancel the release of the "The Interview," a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Christie, a Republican, said he thought Sony folded unnecessarily, but he also blamed the president for not doing enough to intervene. He said Obama should have convened Sony executives, theater companies and members of the intelligence community together at the White House to work out a solution.
"I think Sony made a mistake by backing off, and I think, quite frankly, the president made a mistake by not being assertive," he said. "That's what a leader does."
Christie's criticism of Obama, who has said Sony executives should have spoken to him before pulling the film, continued on the topic of Cuba.
On Friday, Christie sent a letter to Obama urging him to demand Cuba return fugitive Joanne Chesimard to the U.S. before pursuing any kind diplomatic relations. Chesimard was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper but escaped from prison and was granted asylum in Cuba.
Cuba's head of North American affairs earlier Monday appeared to reject that demand, saying the country has the right to grant political asylum to people it considered to have been persecuted.
Christie, who was criticized by fellow Republicans for hugging Obama and lauding his handling of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, said Cuba's response was proof the country hadn't changed. He said Obama was agreeing to normalize relations without getting enough in return.
"It was an awful deal, and it is typical of this president, unfortunately, in negotiations," he said.
A spokeswoman for the White House's National Security Council said the Obama administration will continue to press the Cuban government for the return of U.S. fugitives to pursue justice for their victims.
Christie also went after Obama for his handling of Syria, Iran and the Islamic State group, mocking him for comparing the latter to a junior varsity basketball team.
Still, Christie declined to provide his own plan for dealing with the group, saying, "I'm not going to sit here and lay out military strategy."
Even marijuana, which Christie opposes decriminalizing, was described as "another place where the Obama administration talks out of both sides of its mouth" because it's legal in some states while remaining an offense under federal law.
Christie plans to make his 2016 decision early in the new year and said again Monday it will come down to three things: whether it's right for him, his family and his country.
As for Republican former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who announced last week that he will actively explore a run, Christie said: "It's not one of the three questions."