WASHINGTON — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, decried anti-Israel sentiments on college campuses and in American politics during a foreign policy address at conservative think tank Hudson Institute on Wednesday. 

Christie recently visited a kibbutz in Israel attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7, becoming the first member of the 2024 Republican hopefuls to do so. 

The former governor also knocked fellow primary candidates for spouting isolationist foreign policy talking points and having the lack of “intellectual curiosity” to visit Israel. He then expanded his criticism to House Republicans, whose actions and positions he characterized as “shortsighted” measures by individuals who “can’t run fast enough to kiss (former President Donald Trump’s) rear end.” 

Throughout his speech, Christie levied a host of criticisms and insults directly toward Trump as well, which has become a staple of his campaign. He ripped Trump’s foreign policy positions, suggesting the former president would turn Ukraine over to “his friend” Vladimir Putin, whom Trump previously called “brilliant.”

“Remember something about Donald Trump: Harm’s way for him is having his second shot in the rough at a golf course.” Christie said. “You’ll never see him in Jerusalem. You’ll never see him in Kyiv, or any place else where he could even break his fingernail. Because he is fundamentally not just a policy coward, he is a personal coward who wouldn’t ever take a risk with what he considers to be the single most precious life in America: his own.”

Christie endorsed Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, serving as an adviser to the former president in the lead up to the latter. 

One attendee of Christie’s address, a former whistleblower on national security issues who was fired from the Department of Homeland Security under Trump after more than 20 years of service, expressed general support for Christie but took issue with the former governor’s support of Trump in the recent past.

“How can I cast a ballot for you when you were an enabler,” the attendee, who did not disclose his name, asked.

The man was immediately cut off by the moderator and was eventually prevented from asking a follow-up question. 

Christie briefly answered that he made a mistake in supporting Trump, explaining that it was initially fueled by his desire to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president in 2016. He added that he hopes to be judged by how he has responded to his mistake, by standing up to the former president. 

Trump has long professed  an “America First” ideology, which many politicians who support him, like Vivek Ramaswamy, have also clung to in efforts to appeal to his base. Christie pushed back against this terminology, saying that being pro-America should not be conflated with being isolationist. 

“We all believe in America first,” Christie said. “But Donald Trump and the isolationists on Capitol Hill in our party believe in America alone. I know that America can never be first if America’s alone.”

The fourth Republican presidential debate, which Christie qualified for by reaching the 80,000 donor threshold on Monday, will take place in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Dec. 6. According to FiveThirtyEight polling, Christie currently polls at 2.4% support in the Republican primary. His polling and donations rose after performing well with GOP voters in the third Republican presidential debate last week.