New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie became the latest Republican to bash President Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba calling it "an awful deal" in a radio interview Monday with broadcaster Steve Adubato.
"In my mind it's unacceptable to reopening diplomatic relations with Cuba, taking them off a terrorist watch list if they're harboring a convicted cop killer," Christie said, in reference to Cuba's decision to continue offering political asylum to Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a gun battle. She was found guilty but escaped from prison and eventually fled to Cuba where she was granted asylum.
"It was an awful deal, and it was typical of this president in international negotiations," Christie said.
On Friday, his office sent a letter to the White House pressing for Chesimard's return, saying that Cuba's decision to grant her asylum, "is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice."
Christie has often been wary of weighing in on international events despite his high-profile status in the Republican Party. When he was asked about a deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program on Face the Nation in November 2013, he said it would "really ill-advised" for "guys like me to start to shoot off on opinions about this kind of stuff."
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Perhaps time - and the proximity of the 2016 campaign, where he could be a candidate - has changed Christie's mind. He has spent much of the year studying foreign policy with some of the top GOP experts around the country.
He also weighed in on police violence following the murder of two New York Police Department officers in their patrol car over the weekend. The incident has incited fresh tensions between politicians, protesters advocating for police reform, and cops themselves.
"What disturbs me about the entire conversation we're having is lots of people are trying to score political points right now," Christie said. "What I'm thinking of is those two families of those two police officers who won't have them there."
On his potential 2016 bid, Christie said he would decide based on three questions: "Is it right for me, is it right for my family, is it right for the country."
"If I answer yes to all three of those things, I'll run, and if I don't answer yes to all three I won't," he said. Asked whether he was affected by the fact that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is actively exploring a presidential bid, Christie retorted that it wasn't one of his three questions.
He also said not to expect any changes to his characteristic bluntness, should he become a presidential candidate.
"Why would I? It's who I am," Christie said. "If people want someone different if I ever ran for president, then they'd vote for someone different. I don't intend to be a phony."