Chris Christie: Hillary Clinton ‘extreme’ on immigration

Sunapee, New Hampshire CNN  — 

New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday slammed Hillary Clinton’s call for a “full and equal” path to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally.

“I quite frankly think her position is extreme,” said Christie, who is exploring a possible bid for the presidency, while meeting with supporters at a restaurant here.

“I think the path to citizenship is a problem for folks who have been waiting the appropriate way to get in, so I think we have to have a much broader conversation than just pandering. We should not just be pandering. We should be talking about this honestly,” he said.

RELATED: GOP hits Clinton back on immigration stance

Earlier this week, Clinton surprised supporters by adopting an aggressively liberal stance on immigration – one she did not embrace during her White House bid in 2008 – vowing full support for citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“We have to finally, once and for all, fix our immigration system,” Clinton said during a roundtable discussion with undocumented children in Las Vegas on Tuesday. “Make no mistake, today not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status.”

Immigration has been a difficult issue for both parties in recent years, one that has befuddled the presidential administrations of both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush, neither of whom could usher a comprehensive bill through Congress. The issue is fraught with political pitfalls, as leaders in both parties see the issue as a gateway toward securing votes from the rapidly growing Hispanic-American population.

Christie, who said he plans to outline his own position on immigration in “a detailed speech” soon, suggested that Clinton’s most recent position was unrealistic.

“Her position now is not really addressing what the country wants to hear about this,” he said. “That’s not a thoughtful position.”

“I haven’t met a person yet whose undocumented who came here and said, ‘The reason I came here was because I wanted to vote,’” Christie said. “They say they come here because they wanted to work. I think that’s where the focus has to be.”