In the next few months, Republicans will have to make a decision: Will they vote for New Jersey's own Chris Christie, or Donald Trump, or some other candidate as the GOP candidate for the presidency?  While polls still have Christie and the other candidates trailing frontrunner Trump by a large margin, Christie has made some headway in New Hampshire recently.  He's also garnered a key newspaper endorsement ahead of the primary on Feb. 9.

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic recently talked to Christie in an entertaining interview mostly focused on foreign policy. Among the highlights:

On the emergence of ISIS:

"I think there are a bunch of contributing factors. First, this situation in Iraq contributed to this. I think that Assad’s conduct in Syria contributed mightily to this, and I think that the general tone in the world for these folks is that now is the appropriate time for them to have their moment and they’re trying to have it. And I think the president sees the world as he wants to see it. He believes if we’re just nice to folks this will all get straightened out."

Is the U.S. vulnerable?

"Maybe not quite as vulnerable as Europe. But we’re not far off. What I make of the sine curve is this: Iraq was a mistake. Iraq was a mistake based on bad intelligence. I don’t think George W. Bush goes into Iraq if he were told that there were no weapons of mass destruction. But who knows? Only he knows. In the beginning, I remember the argument, the argument that they’ve got WMD that they can use them themselves because they’ve done it before, and/or they could give it to terrorists for their use. We can’t permit this to happen. Once WMD doesn’t show up, you had a bad decision based on bad intel."

On why he believes Iran is the biggest threat to the U.S.:

"Why? Because I believe Iran is moving toward obtaining a nuclear weapon. I have no proof at this point that ISIS is moving toward obtaining weapons of mass destruction."

On why he would use the phrase ‘radical Islamic jihadists’:

"Then you’re identifying who you’re fighting against. The folks in the local mosque in Paterson, the ones I interact with, they are not radical Islamist jihadists. Most of them are hardworking American citizens who practice Islam as their religion. So Hillary Clinton’s refusal to use that phrase makes it more likely that Muslims will be confused. Let’s just talk straight about who we’re fighting."


On Muslims in America:

These folks are Americans and they’re going to say that they’re at as much risk as anyone else. They’re going to want to help. This is what happened post-9/11. After 9/11 we were getting more intel out of mosques than anywhere else, from mainstream members of mosques. I had a guy say to me, flat-out, that I’m going to help you, you know why? Because if another Muslim attacks Americans, I’m going to get shipped out of this country.

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