Chris Christie calls Donald Trump's immigration plan "too simplistic"

Last Updated Aug 23, 2015 1:20 PM EDT

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he understands the appeal of the immigration plan put forward by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, but it's "just too simplistic" to solve a complicated problem.

"The idea of, you know, building a wall, kicking everybody out, and ending birthright citizenship all sounds appealing in some respects to some folks. But I just think it's a very complicated problem. And it needs someone who understands how to do a complicated and nuanced solution to that problem," Christie said in an interview that aired on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

He suggested that proposals like the one Trump put forward appeal to people because the American people are frustrated.

"They feel like the government can't do anything right. They can't execute on anything. And I think the difference here in my approach is they know that I'm a guy who knows how to enforce the law," he said. He said Republicans are not actually moving toward a more restrictive view on immigration, but rather have a passion for "getting it right and getting it fixed."

On the issue of birthright citizenship - the practice of granting U.S. citizenship to every child born on American soil - Christie said, "It's in the Constitution. And I don't think that we should be looking to change it."

"Now what I said was if we wanted to have comprehensive immigration reform, I'd be willing to listen to anything. But the truth of the matter is that that's not something we should be being focused on. That's an applause line," he added.

Trump wants to end birthright citizenship, an idea most legal experts say would be nearly impossible because it would require changing the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

Christie appears to have shifted his position after telling conservative radio host Laura Ingraham earlier this month that immigration policies including birthright citizenship need to be "reexamined in light of the current circumstances."

Beyond Trump, Christie had harsh words for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regarding the scandal surrounding her use of a private email account and server during her time as secretary of state.

Chris Christie: "Hillary Clinton won't answer any questions"

Clinton has denied any wrongdoing, but Christie said it's not the same as his claim of innocence after two of his aides ordered the closure of several lanes on the George Washington Bridge to punish a Democratic mayor.

When "Face the Nation" moderator John Dickerson said Clinton's defense "sounds like what you said during Bridgegate," Christie responded, "Yeah, except that I'm telling the truth and she's not."

"Everything I've said that day's proven to be true. Here's the problem with Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton won't answer any questions. Why did she have a private email server to begin with? And why was she doing all of her business over a private email server? John, I worked for the federal government for seven years as a U.S. attorney. One of the rules they told you right in the beginning was, 'Do your business over the government server.' That's what they told you to do, so they could have the record of all that. She didn't do that," he said.

"This is what the Clintons do all the time, John. They try to divert attention," he added. "She wanted to keep what she was doing secret."

He pledged to confront Clinton on the issue if he becomes the Republican nominee, saying, "She's never been cross-examined by a prosecutor like me."

On his plans for entitlement reform, Christie said, "People understand it. And they get it. They want to be told the truth. They don't like it. They don't like the fact that the government promised them they'd keep money in a trust fund, then stole all the money, and lied to them and told them there's a trust fund still there."

He was critical of the fact that there was just one question about entitlement reform during the first GOP debate earlier this month.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.