- The Washington Times - Friday, January 29, 2016

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday it’s fine if Sens. Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio changed their minds on the issue of immigration, but that the kind of doublespeak he said he heard from his two 2016 rivals at Thursday’s GOP debate is part of the reason why he’s better suited for the office of president.

“Heck, I agree with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio nine times out of 10 over Barack Obama, right?” Mr. Christie said at a town-hall event in Iowa. “That’s easy, right? But that doesn’t mean Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio is ready to be president of the United States.”

“That was my favorite part of the debate last night,” Mr. Christie said. “The part that showed you the biggest difference between me and Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio. You watched the two of them argue with each other about immigration.”

“You watched Fox News — hardly a liberal outlet — put up on the screen those two men in their own voice saying their positions previously on immigration, and you heard them say, despite the words you saw coming right out of their mouths, that what they said then and now is the same,” he said.

Mr. Rubio had been asked to square his position in 2009 and 2010, when he opposed “blanket amnesty,” to his position in 2013, when he was an author of a bill that provided a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. He said he doesn’t support “blanket amnesty.”

Mr. Cruz has been asked to explain an amendment he offered to the 2013 bill that would have barred illegal immigrants from attaining U.S. citizenship while leaving the door open for them to gain legal status. Mr. Cruz has said he was trying to expose the Democrats’ hypocrisy on the issue.

“Listen, I have no problem if Ted Cruz changed his position on immigration. I have no problem if Marco Rubio has changed his position on immigration, now twice,” Mr. Christie said. “He’s a thinking, breathing human being, and he’s allowed to change his mind.”

“Here’s what I resent: Tell the truth,” he said. “Just tell us you changed your mind. It’s not a mortal sin. Tell us you changed your mind and tell us why. And that’s OK — we’ll move on. But don’t insult our intelligence. Don’t say to us, ‘Do you believe me or your lyin’ eyes, and ears?’ We heard it last night. I stood there and watched it and so did you. And then they said, ‘Oh, no no — that’s not what I mean.’”

“It’s not? Well, what language was that exactly then?” Mr. Christie said. “That’s the difference between being a senator and being a governor. See, a governor can never get away with that.”

Mr. Christie said the Senate is like “being in school,” in that you’re told where to be and at what time, and where to sit.

Mr. Christie also recounted his call at the debate to “stop the Washington bull.”

“Everybody thought because I was from New Jersey, I might finish that word,” he said. “They had their hands on the button, ready to push the 7-second delay on me. I’ve grown up. I’m older. I just stopped right at the two l’s and that was it.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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