Gov. Chris Christie brought his presidential campaign back to New Jersey, outlining his opposition to the proposed nuclear deal with Iran and urging Sen. Cory Booker to join the state’s other Democratic senator, Robert Menendez, in voting against it.
Before 200 invited guests on Aug. 25 at Rutgers Chabad in New Brunswick, the governor harshly criticized President Barack Obama for negotiating a “bad deal” that will endanger both Israel and the United States.
He called on Booker to vote against the deal and join Menendez and New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the only Senate Democrats who have said they will oppose it. Opponents need to muster 13 Democrats to join all 54 Republicans in passing a veto-proof rejection of the deal.
Booker’s office said the senator is conducting a “thorough and thoughtful analysis of all the facts.” (See related story)
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced his support for the deal, calling it the “best way, the only way, to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Christie, beyond citing his own “friendship and kinship…with the Jewish people and Israel,” said the deal would reverse 70 years of American policy discouraging nuclear proliferation. He accused the president of trying to burnish his own legacy at the expense of others, calling Obama’s push to have the treaty ratified “an excuse for his own failed leadership.”
“In my view we need to go back to our allies and say we didn’t get what we need,” said Christie, who called Booker “a bright and reasonable man who responds to facts and reason.”
The press conference was hosted by the pro-Israel NORPAC and the World Values Network, founded by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a longtime friend of Booker’s.
Boteach and NORPAC president Ben Chouake, Rutgers Chabad administrator Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, and Rabbinical Council of America president Rabbi Shalom Baum of Teaneck also spoke out against the deal.
“We need another nuclear power as much as I need a double bacon cheeseburger,” said Boteach, whose friendship with Booker extends back 25 years to when the African-American Christian was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England and became involved with Boteach’s L’Chaim Society there.
“Cory has taught me so much about the infinite value of life,” said Boteach, who cited Booker’s stands on women’s and prisoners’ rights and his refusal as Newark mayor to officiate at heterosexual marriages until gay couples could legally marry.
Boteach said he could not envision that Booker, with his “deep affection for the Jewish people” and views of justice and ethics, would “vote for this nefarious deal.”
The speakers delivered harsh warnings about the fate of Israel, saying lifting sanctions on Iran would increase terror and threaten the United States and its military.
They said the agreement does not require Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and will quickly allow the country to resume building a bomb after 10 years.
Christie said instead of “having the audacity to tell the American people this was the best deal,” Obama should “look the American people in the eye and say it’s the best deal he can do. He’s not being honest with the American people.”
He urged New Jersey’s congressional representatives to band together much as they did following Hurricane Sandy, noting Congress must provide “the moral clarity this president lacks.”
Directing his comments to Booker he said, “This cannot be about politics. This is a flawed idea, and no deal is better than a bad deal.”