Making the case for a more active U.S. presence overseas, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will call for a larger military and a boost in defense spending while defending the government's intelligence-collection efforts, in a speech Monday setting forth his foreign policy approach.
The likely Republican presidential contender will also use an appearance in New Hampshire to criticize President Barack Obama's handling of the surging Islamic State group and the emerging nuclear deal with Iran.
"Iran might not have the bomb right now — but their influence is absolutely radioactive to the world," the New Jersey governor says in prepared remarks released by his political action committee. "So we need to contain it with our moderate Sunni Arab allies, while at the same time rolling back the shadow of ISIS," he said, using another acronym for Islamic State.
Christie, who served as a U.S. attorney before he was elected governor, will also seek to distance himself from the crowded Republican field by offering an unapologetic defense of the U.S.'s intelligence-collection efforts.
He will specifically take aim at former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked thousands of documents to journalists. Among Snowden's revelations: NSA had for years been secretly collecting millions of Americans' phone records. Christie has previously said that program should continue.
"When Edward Snowden revealed our intelligence secrets to the world in 2013, civil liberties extremists seized that moment to advance their own narrow agenda," he will say, according to the excerpts. "They want you to think that there's a government spook listening in every time you pick up the phone or Skype with your grandkids. They want you to think of our intelligence community as the bad guys, straight out of the Bourne Identity or a Hollywood thriller. And they want you to think that if we weakened our capabilities, the rest of the world would love us more."
"Let me be clear — all these fears are baloney," he said.
"When it comes to fighting terrorism, our government is not the enemy," Christie says in his prepared remarks.
The House voted last week to end the bulk phone records collection program and replace it with a system to search the data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis
The speech will be the third that Christie has delivered in recent weeks in the early-voting state as he lays the groundwork for an expected campaign. His previous speeches focused on overhauling Social Security and lowering taxes on individuals and corporations.
Christie has been working to try to re-establish his place in the top tier of likely candidates after the fallout from the George Washington Bridge scandal.
Were the three ex-allies of Christie working on their own in this case? Even if he didn’t give a wink and a nudge to the bridge scheme, did Christie create an atmosphere in which such dirty tricks would have been seen as acceptable? As with Watergate and former President Richard Nixon, the key questions become: “What did he know, and when did he know it?”
In any case, “The scandal has exacted a tremendous political toll on Christie’s political aspirations, overshadowing him at a time when presidential contenders are racing to lock up the donors and supporters who are critical to their 2016 hopes,” writes Alex Isenstadt in Politico.com.
“He has watched as his poll numbers, both at home and nationally, have plummeted.,” Isenstadt writes.