Chris Christie doubles down on Black Lives Matter claims

·Reporter

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie speaks at the Iowa GOP’s Growth and Opportunity Party at the Iowa state fair grounds in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Photo: Nati Harnik/AP Photo)

Chris Christie made clear that he’s not backing down from his presidential bid, nor from his position on the Black Lives Matter movement, while in Iowa this weekend.

According to Time political reporter Zeke Miller, Christie said during a speech to Republicans in the Hawkeye State Saturday that “many” in the movement “advocate for the murder of police officers.”

Fellow Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, and Rick Santorum also paid a visit to Iowa this weekend, where the New Jersey governor doubled down on comments he’d made during CBS’s “Face the Nation” the week before. President Obama, Christie argued on the Sunday show, “doesn’t back up the police. He justifies Black Lives Matter.”

“I don’t believe that that movement should be justified when they’re calling for the murder of police officers,” he told host John Dickerson. When Dickerson pushed back, telling the presidential hopeful that the activists are “not calling for the murder of police officers,” Christie stood his ground.

"Sure they are,” he said. “Sure they are. They have been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers.”

Christie’s words reverberated through New Jersey’s African American community, potentially costing him the support of one of his state’s most influential black leaders. Days after the “Face the Nation” interview, Bishop Reginald Jackson, the head of an pre-eminent black church whose endorsement is credited with helping re-elect the Republican governor in 2013, said that he was “disturbed” and “disappointed” by Christie’s comments.

“My immediate perception was that the governor was trying to play to the base of the far-right of the Republican party,” Jackson said, noting that he’d received many calls from congregants complaining about the remarks. On Monday, the New York Times Editorial Board denounced critics of the Black Lives Matter movement and other anti-police brutality activists, arguing that “this kind of public scrutiny is all to the good” and that politicians who challenge it seem to “want to soft-pedal or even ignore police misconduct while attacking the people who expose it or raise their voices in protest against it.” Christie’s comments, in particular, the board wrote, were “racially poisonous.”

On Thursday, the Times Editorial Board called for Christie to pack up his presidential campaign and go back to New Jersey. Instead, Christie headed to Iowa, where he seemed determined not only to prove that he doesn’t care what the newspaper thinks, but also that the Times’ disapproval actually gives his candidacy more credibility.

“Here’s the thing: I now know I am definitely going to be the next president of the United States,” Christie said during a town hall at a sports bar in Council Bluffs on Friday, where he showed up with the editorial in hand. “Because they wouldn’t ask me to drop out if they weren’t worried sick that I might beat their candidate, Hillary Clinton.”