CLEVELAND — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used his speech at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday to make a detailed case against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Let’s do something fun tonight. As a former federal prosecutor, I welcome the opportunity to hold Hillary Rodham Clinton accountable for her performance and her character,” Christie said.
Throughout his speech, the audience at the Quicken Loans Arena shouted, “Lock her up!” Christie, a former 2016 presidential candidate on Donald Trump’s shortlist for vice president, often smiled and nodded as they chanted.
Christie began by taking the audience on a world tour as he itemized Clinton’s record as a former secretary of state. He started with Clinton’s advocacy for military intervention against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.
“Let’s go to North Africa. She was the chief engineer of our disastrous overthrow of Gadhafi,” Christie said. “Libya today after Hillary Clinton’s grand strategy? Their economy is in ruins, there’s death and violence in the streets, and ISIS is now dominating the country.”
Christie then turned to the State Department’s decision to designate the Nigerian militant Islamic organization Boko Haram as a terrorist group in 2013. The agency faced criticism for not applying the terrorist label to Boko Haram a year earlier. Some officials have conceded the designation could have come earlier, though there is a multistep process for applying these official labels.
In his Tuesday speech, Christie further claimed that Clinton “fought” to delay the designation for Boko Haram, which has been linked to al-Qaida. He also suggested that the delay in making the designation was one of the reasons why the group kidnapped a large group of Nigerian schoolgirls, many of whom have never been rescued.
“What happened because of this reckless action by the candidate who is the self-proclaimed champion of women all around the world? These al-Qaida terrorists abducted hundreds of innocent young women two years ago,” Christie said.
He argued that the Obama administration’s handling of the crises in Libya and Nigeria show how Clinton has her priorities mixed up.
“See, she fights for the wrong people. She never fights for us. She doesn’t get the real threats America faces,” Christie said.
China was the next stop on Christie’s tour. He criticized Clinton for encouraging the Chinese government to buy U.S. Treasury bonds as the United States tried to finance the bank bailout and stimulus package after the 2008 financial crisis. Christie claimed that Clinton had “promised” to put up a fight against a provision in the stimulus package requiring the usage of American products on projects it financed, in exchange for China buying this debt. Though the Obama administration initially supported this “Buy American” provision, it subsequently backed down, bowing to pressure from foreign governments
“So Hillary Clinton, putting big government spending financed by the Chinese ahead of good paying jobs for middle-class Americans: Is she guilty or not guilty?” Christie asked.
“Guilty!” the audience roared after Christie leveled each charge.
Christie continued by accusing Clinton of defending President Bashar Assad of Syria, whose forces have killed over 100,000 civilians in Syria. He cited comments Clinton made in 2011 in which she said “many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” Though Christie claimed Clinton personally called Assad a “reformer,” her remarks in fact attributed that description to others.
“There’s now 400,000 now dead. Think about that,” Christie said before drawing out the figure for emphasis. “Four. Hundred. Thousand. Dead. At the hands of the man Hillary defended.”
Some organizations say over 400,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war since 2011. However, that figure also includes civilians and Syrian troops killed by other groups fighting against Assad’s government.
Christie went on to criticize Clinton for supporting and working on the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. He called it the “worst nuclear deal in history.”
“It’s a deal that will lead to a nuclear Iran, an Israel that will be less safe and secure and a much more dangerous Middle East,” said Christie.
Christie next turned to Russia, arguing that Clinton presented the government of President Vladimir Putin with a symbolic “reset” button in 2009, meant to signal a clean slate in relations between the two countries. The gesture is widely regarded as a failure, since the two countries have had an extensive series of disagreements in the ensuing years.
“As a flawed evaluator of dictators and failed strategist who has permitted Russia back in as a major player in the Middle East, is Hillary Clinton guilty or not guilty?” Christie asked.
“Guilty!” the audience shouted back.
Christie then brought up a controversy relevant to his home state. He attacked Clinton for supporting the normalization of U.S. relations in Cuba and noted that the deal did not include the repatriation of a fugitive convicted in the 1973 shooting death of a New Jersey state trooper.
“She supported a deal that didn’t even require this murderous regime to return a cop killer, Joanne Chesimard, to face justice,” Christie said. “Joanne Chesimard murdered a New Jersey state trooper in cold blood, fled to Cuba and lives there under Cuban protection to this very day.”
Christie concluded his indictment of Clinton’s record by outlining the scandal over her usage of a private email server for official State Department business. Though the FBI did not recommend bringing charges against Clinton, the agency’s director, James Comey, when he announced the decision earlier this month, rebuked her for being “extremely careless” with sensitive information.
“Time time after time after time, the facts, and just the facts, lead you to the same verdict, both around the world and here at home,” Christie said.
Christie summed up his case against Clinton by saying that “the facts of her life and career disqualify her” from being president.
“Her focus-group-tested persona, with no genuineness to be found, is a sham meant to obscure all the facts and leave you able to vote for her,” Christie said. “We cannot promote someone to commander in chief who has made the world a more violent and dangerous place with every bad judgment she has made.”
Christie concluded by urging voters to choose Trump in November.
“We do not need to settle for less,” Christie said. “We cannot reward incompetence and deceit. We need to demand more than what Hillary Clinton offers for America.”