New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie questioned Friday whether President Barack Obama cares about the United States, adding that, more than six years into Obama’s presidency, “we still don’t even know” who he is.
“I feel like we really have had a President for the last six and a half years that we still don’t even know,” Christie said at a town hall event in Exeter, New Hampshire. “We don’t know what he really believes in. We don’t know what he really is willing to fight for. We don’t know whether he’s really willing to fight for anything.”
Christie added: “We don’t know who he really likes or dislikes. We don’t know whether he really cares about his own party, or the other party, or about the country.”
At the event, Christie also echoed many of the same points he’d made earlier in the day at a Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, saying President Obama cares more about the “two L’s”—his library and his legacy—than about anything else.
But Christie, in drawing a contrast between himself and the President on Friday night, appeared to question not just Obama’s priorities, but his patriotism.
The comments stood in stark contrast to the cozy relationship Christie and President Obama have at times seemed to share, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Christie’s embrace of the President, a moment of apparent bipartisanship that came days before the 2012 presidential election, was heavily criticized by Republicans.
Christie stressed Friday that town halls allow voters to get to know his personality and his beliefs as a leader in a format that is unscripted and authentic. It’s a format he’s made a centerpiece of his time as governor, with 135 New Jersey town halls under his belt.
Christie says it’s important to him that the format allows him to explain his thinking to constituents who sometimes disagree.
“We never worry about what each other is thinking,” Christie said. “Unfortunately, in our country, we haven’t had the same thing.”
But Christie also admitted that sometimes his style leads to regrettable comments.
“Some days I say things I probably shouldn’t,” Christie said. “Every once in a while, there’ll be some things I’ve said publicly that I’d like to pull the words back as soon as they come out of the mouth.”
But he told the crowd it’s a risk he’s willing to take.
“I’d rather be that way than standing up here calculating every word that’s going to be coming out of my mouth, reading from some script so that you don’t really know what’s in here, and what I believe,” Christie said, pointing to his heart.
The town hall was Christie’s second in the first-in-the-nation primary state, and he promised he’d be back in New Hampshire for many more if he does decide to seek the Republican nomination for President.