Chris Christie no longer holding fire on the Iran nuclear deal

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Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has repeatedly assailed the Iranian nuclear agreement on the stump in recent months, building a specific, policy-heavy case against the deal, which will roll back the sanctions on Iran's economy in exchange for limits on the country's nuclear energy program.

The New Jersey governor has offered a variety of objections. He's argued the deal will jeopardize the security of Israel; he's warned that the deal is based on trusting the Iranians, suggesting the verification procedures in place to monitor the limits on their nuclear program aren't nearly strong enough, and he's criticized U.S. negotiators for not insisting on the release of American prisoners held in Iranian custody as a precondition of the deal.

Christie has amassed those objections and others to point to a simple conclusion: President Obama just isn't a good negotiator. "I wouldn't let this guy buy a car for me, let alone negotiate an arms deal with Iran," he said during a town hall in New Hampshire in July.

Perhaps most damning, Christie has contended, the president hasn't been honest in selling the deal to the public. "He lied to the American people," Christie told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in June. "He knows this is a bad deal."

There was a time not too long ago, however, when Christie wasn't so eager to attack the negotiations with Iran. In a November 10, 2013 appearance on "Face the Nation," Christie suggested it wasn't his place - as a governor with no involvement in the nitty-gritty of international negotiations - to criticize the then-unfinished agreement.

"I'm the governor of New Jersey. And I think a lot of people you could have...on the program who are significantly better briefed on this than I am," he explained. "And I think when guys like me start to shoot off on opinions about this kind of stuff, it's really ill-advised. So I'll leave it to Secretary Kerry and the folks that are in charge of this to make decisions about where we go. And then once they put something together, if they do, then I'll make a judgment on that...I'm not the right person to be asking that question to, with all due respect."

When he was pressed on his reluctance to air his opinion, given his status as a leader of the GOP and potential presidential candidate, Christie again demurred.

"Like I said, I think the folks who are involved in this on a day to day basis should be making those kind of opinions known publicly," he said. "For me, I'm the governor of New Jersey and my job is to run the state of New Jersey...Folks in my position who spout off opinions off the top of their head just wind up doing more harm than good. I'm just not going to engage in that."

It's not too difficult to explain Christie's change in tone. For one, as he noted in 2013, the deal was not then complete - but it is now. Any reluctance Christie may have felt about criticizing a deal that was still under negotiation has obviously been dispelled now that the final parameters of the agreement are public.

More obviously, Christie is now running for president. Although the foreign policy portfolio in his day job has not expanded - he's still only a governor, after all - the fact that he's seeking the White House means he's expected to render an opinion on major foreign policy issues. And with his GOP competitors rarely missing an opportunity to bash Mr. Obama's foreign policy, Christie can't afford to get lost in the din.

Still, it's worth noting that many of Christie's fellow Republicans -- including some now running for president -- were already sounding the alarm on the Iran deal in 2013, despite the lack of a final agreement.

Christie returns to "Face the Nation" for a new interview this Sunday. We'll ask him about his candidacy, his policy platform, and more. We hope you can tune in! Check your local listings for airtimes.