Chris Christie on “Face the Nation” speaks about lack of government accountability

10/25/15–Washington, DC–Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) talks with John Dickerson on “Face the Nation”. CBS News Photo by Chris Usher

Yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” presidential contender Chris Christie was interviewed by the moderator John Dickerson. Among the topics discussed was accountability of government and its propensity to spend, spend and spend. A transcript of the entire interview with Chris Christie and Donald Trump as well as others is here.

DICKERSON: Taking the morning off the campaign trail to join us in person is 2016 Republican candidate and Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie.

Welcome, Governor.

I want to start with some of the tough comments you have made about Republicans in Washington. First, on the Benghazi hearings, you said they were ineffective with the secretary of state.


I mean, listen, the fact is, we should be talking about what really matters in that — in that suit — and this is the thing. Secretary Clinton says that she is not responsible for what happened there. She says other security professionals were responsible, yet she didn’t fire anybody.

And I think what the American people dislike the most about Hillary Clinton is that she refused to be held accountable. Mistakes happen. Bad things happen when you’re in office. And you need to be held accountable and stand up and do that.

She has no accountability and no transparency to what is going on. Everything has had to be dragged out of her. And I don’t think they did an effective job in getting at that.

But here is the thing. Come next September, when I’m on the stage with her in the debates, she will have a former federal prosecutor asking her these questions.

DICKERSON: When you say she wasn’t on top of it and her security staff, is that — I mean, people said that about with you the Washington — George Washington Bridge. They said, well, he should have known this was happening underneath him and it shows that he wasn’t on top of things.

CHRISTIE: That’s why I said it’s about accountability, John.

Bad things will happen sometimes, and when they do, you have to be accountable. Within 24 hours of when that news came in New Jersey, I fired the people who were responsible.

What happened to Hillary Clinton? Why haven’t those folks been fired? If it was really their responsibility, why haven’t they been fired? She sloughs it off on something else because she doesn’t want to tell the truth. And that is the biggest problem with Hillary Clinton, is that she doesn’t — she isn’t forthcoming. She doesn’t tell the truth.

And she doesn’t want to be held accountable. That’s not the kind of person we need in Washington, D.C., right now in the White House. We need someone who is willing to be accountable for what goes on in this country, what goes on, on Capitol Hill, and everyplace else.

DICKERSON: Republicans are trying to — at least in the grassroots, are trying to hold their leaders accountable, which is what this debate has been about in the Republican leadership.

You have said, “These jokers in Washington, D.C., are talking who is going to get the big office.”

But isn’t this a big debate? In the grassroots, they say, in Washington, they’re not representing our interests. And some of the people who have — are in touch with those grassroots are having a fight over who the next leader will be.

Isn’t that central to what the Republican Party believes, if their leaders match up with what the grassroots thinks?

CHRISTIE: No. What is central is doing something.

I mean, let’s face it. Republicans across the board agree on certain things, the Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a market-based solution, that taxes should be cut and the tax system should be reformed, that we should be doing those type of things to end wasteful spending in this country.

Yet none of that stuff is being done by the Republican Congress. We gave them the House in 2010. We gave them the Senate in 2014, and nothing is being done. I will tell you what people tell me, John, in New Hampshire and in Iowa when I’m out there. Just do your job.

They don’t care who the speaker is. I don’t care who the speaker is. As long as that speaker is a person who can get them to do those central things that we care about, that’s what matters the most, not the “Game of Thrones” stuff.


DICKERSON: One of the things that is being talked about is whether the new speaker or the existing one is going to use the debt limit as a leverage mechanism to get some of the things you’re talking about in negotiations with the president. Do you think they should do that?

CHRISTIE: Oh, the problem is that they have such an awful record on spending, that they have no credibility on this issue, right?

So, they spend and spend and spend. And then they don’t argue until the bill comes do. That’s not what you do in state government. When you’re a governor, you have to be on top of keeping your budget balanced all the time, which is what I have done for six years, cut spending over $2 billion, and vetoed every tax increase that’s come to my desk, and balanced the budget by cutting over 800 programs.

It’s about being tough, standing up, and doing what you need to do, not waiting until the bill comes due. That’s like ordering a huge dinner and then arguing with the waiter about what the check says. They have got it all backwards. They should do it on the front end. Let’s cut wasteful spending and let’s get those things under control.

DICKERSON: You have said that you’re going to get things done if you’re president and come to Washington. Usually, that’s in the context of Democrats. You have to deal with a lot of them in New Jersey.


CHRISTIE: But what about on the Republican side? You have had people, even John Boehner, saying that there are false prophets within the Republican side, asking too much, expecting too much. How do you — how will you work with them when you come to Washington?


CHRISTIE: The principle is the same, John.

I mean, listen, members of Congress have a job to do. And what you need to do as president is to bring them together, to set the priorities, and then to get to know them, to cajole them, to threaten them, to hug them, to do all the things that you need to do to get them to do the things that have to be done.

That’s what a president’s job is. This president has been AWOL on this for seven years. He doesn’t have a relationship with the folks in his on party, let alone the Republicans. And so what I have done in New Jersey, and what you have seen over the course of my six years is that I have not only worked with Republicans, and kept Republicans united, but I have also worked with Democrats to make sure that we got certain things done.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you this.

Governor of New Jersey, you deal with police and crime issues. FBI Director James Comey said something interesting. He suggested that police across the country may be more reluctant to crack down on crime because of what is the so-called Ferguson effect, named after the Michael Brown murder in Ferguson, Missouri. Do you see any of that in New Jersey, that reticence, because it’s now become such a politicized issue?

CHRISTIE: I don’t see it in New Jersey, because the leader of New Jersey tells the police officers to go out and do their job without exception.

DICKERSON: And they’re doing it?

CHRISTIE: And they are. And you have seen it in a city like Camden, where, in the last three years, after we replaced the police department there, John, and backed them up completely, all the political folks, murder rate is down 61 percent in the last three years in Camden.

Yet you see murder is up 19 percent in Chicago and up 11 percent in New York, and the murder of a police officer. The problem is this. There’s lawlessness in this country. The president encourages this lawlessness. He encourages it.

DICKERSON: Encourages it how?

CHRISTIE: Oh, by his own rhetoric. He does not support the police. He doesn’t back up the police. He justifies Black Lives Matter. I mean…

DICKERSON: But Black Lives Matter shouldn’t be justified at all?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I don’t believe that that movement should be justified when they’re calling for the murder of police officers, no.

DICKERSON: But they’re not calling for the murder of police officers.

CHRISTIE: Sure, they are. Sure, they are. They have been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers.

DICKERSON: Well, individuals have, but the Black Lives Matter is about…

CHRISTIE: Well, but, listen, you know, John, that’s what the movement is creating. And the president of the United States is justifying that, but not only that. He hasn’t backed up police officers from the minute he’s gotten into office.

And we could cite instance after instance. And there’s a lawlessness about most sanctuary cities. We should not have sanctuary cities in this country. The president countenances that. That type of lawlessness sets a tone. And then when you have liberal mayors like Bill de Blasio in New York, who are basically tying one hand behind the back of police officers, and then we have folks — murder rate up 11 percent, police officers in New York City being murdered, let me tell you very clearly.

I will be a president who will back up law enforcement, back up the police officers, because I was a law enforcement officer. I know how hard these jobs are. And they need to be backed up.

When there are bad cops, they need to be prosecuted, like there are bad lawyers and bad doctors and bad engineers. They all need to be prosecuted when they do something wrong. But our police officers are putting their lives on the line every day. Let’s back them up, so we can end the real violence in this country, which is happening in the streets of our cities all across this country.

DICKERSON: OK. Governor Chris Christie, thanks for being with us.

CHRISTIE: Thank you, John.

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