"This President has allowed these folks to be slaughtered," Christie said
Christie argued that Obama has not done enough to stem the violence in Syria
Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie on Thursday tied the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrians to President Barack Obama, alleging his inaction contributed to the crisis gripping Syria and its refugees flooding Europe.
“This President has allowed these folks to be slaughtered,” Christie said during a campaign stop Thursday in New Hampshire. “I frankly can’t imagine as president of the United States how you could permit this to happen on this scale, and now we’re seeing those results. And it’s much different when you read about it, and when you see it – it becomes even more powerful.”
Christie argued that Obama has not done enough to stem the violence in Syria and warned that Obama damaged both U.S. credibility and the fate of Syrians by not attacking Syria after the country’s dictator, Bashar el-Assad, used chemical weapons on civilians, which Obama had previously declared a “red line.”
Christie later told reporters on Thursday that Obama is “responsible for a lot of what went on there, not all of it, but he’s responsible for not keeping his word.”
The New Jersey governor’s comments were prompted by a voter’s question about the crisis of Syrian refugees in Europe and what the U.S. role should be in helping those refugees and America’s European allies.
“This is a result of the President’s weakness,” Christie said right out of the gate, blowing right past the issue of refugees and straight to the source: the Syrian civil war, which Christie called a “genocide.”
That crisis has taken on new meaning for many as footage emerged this week of a 2-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach.
“That young child today is a symbol for this country’s inaction and this President’s deceit. He said he wouldn’t let this happen and then he did. We can’t be known as the country that doesn’t keep its word. America’s got to be known as the country that can keep its word,” Christie said.
Christie wasn’t the only presidential candidate to address the Syrian refugee crisis on Thursday as Sen. Rand Paul addressed the topic by urging caution in allowing refugees from the war-torn nation into the United States.
Paul told CNN’s Brianna Keilar that bad experiences with previous refugees from Syria and Somalia have him leery of accepting more.
“We are a welcoming nation, and we have accepted a lot of refugees, and I think we will continue to do so. But we also can’t accept the whole world, so I think there are some limits,” Paul said.
But, he continued, “we’ve also run into some problems with accepting so many refugees that we take some of the people who can help rebuild the country. We did this with Iraq, where we won the war, but then we accepted 60,000 Iraqi refugees into our country, some of which wish us harm and tried to attack us.”
“Same way with Somalia,” he continued. “We’ve received so many immigrants and refugees from Somalia that many of them are from the faction going back to Syria to fight against us.”
The migrant crisis has engulfed Europe, leading many to ask whether the U.S. would take refugees from the continued fighting in Syria.
CNN’s Cassie Spodak contributed to this report.