Christie Defends Saying He’d Shoot Down Russian Planes, Adds ‘We’re Already In World War III’

LAS VEGAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — The morning after saying in a Republican presidential debate that he would order Russian planes that violate a no-fly zone in Syria to be shot down, Chris Christie doubled down on his remarks.

“The rules of engagement would be very clear,” the New Jersey governor told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday. “If they go into our no-fly zone after we have warned them to stay out, then they would be shot down. And the fact is that we need to have some clarity coming from the Oval Office and not 16 pages of rules of engagement that a pilot has to flip through before they make a decision on what to do.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul quickly jumped on Christie’s comments in Tuesday night’s CNN debate in Las Vegas, saying, “I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.”

When asked about that remark Wednesday, the New Jersey governor called Paul “unfit to be president.”

“The problem for folks like Sen. Paul is they don’t realize we’re already in World War III,” Christie said. ” … The fact is that this is a new world war and one that won’t look like the last two. And this is one where radical Islamic jihadists every day are trying to kill Americans and disrupt and destroy our way of life.”

Christie added that he doesn’t believe Russia is an ally in the fight against the Islamic State group, which was the primary focus of the debate.

“ISIS is simply not being attacked by Russia,” the governor said. “Russia is in Syria, along with Iran, to prop up (Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad.”

BUSH TAKES ON TRUMP

Jeb Bush repeatedly took the fight to front-runner Donald Trump.

The former Florida governor called the billionaire businessman “the chaos candidate,” insisted Trump couldn’t “insult his way to the presidency,” and dismissed Trump’s proposal to block all Muslims from entering the country as dangerous and “not serious.”

Yet with little more than six weeks before voting begins, Bush is struggling for relevancy in a presidential election that has begun to leave him behind. Trump, meanwhile, beat back repeated attacks from his Republican rivals in the primetime faceoff to ensure a central role in the 2016 contest, fueled by deep anti-establishment frustration among the GOP’s angry electorate.

Trump seized on Bush’s dismal standing in recent polls and largely shrugged off the criticism.

“I know you’re trying to build up your energy, Jeb, but it’s not working very well,” Trump countered.

“Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen,” Bush responded.

The exchange was recorded as the “top social moment” of the debate on Facebook, according to the social media organization. And it was the kind of moment Bush supporters had been desperate for in the year’s first four primetime debates.

FACT CHECK

The vast complexities of a dangerous world were cast in too-simple terms in the latest Republican presidential debate.

In addition, Christie pledged to make common cause with a Jordanian king who’s actually dead and Paul wrongly stated that all terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 2001 have come from the hands of legal immigrants.

Here’s a look at some of the claims Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:

TED CRUZ: “You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city.”

The Facts: The Texas senator’s conviction that the Islamic State group can be routed with an air campaign of overwhelming force is hard to square with the reality on the ground. IS fighters are holed up in a variety of cities, amid civilians, raising questions about how he could direct a carpet bombing that only singles out the enemy.

He was asked in the debate if he’d be willing to cause civilian casualties in Raqqa, a major Syrian city that has become de facto capital of the Islamic State group’s so-called caliphate. The Islamic State group is also in control of the Iraqi cities of Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah.

DONALD TRUMP: “Our country is out of control. People are pouring through the southern border.”

The Facts: Arrest statistics are widely regarded as the best measure, if an imperfect one, of the flow of people crossing illegally into the U.S. And Trump’s suggestion that illegal immigration is increasing at the border is not supported by arrest statistics discussed in recent months by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Johnson has said that during the 2015 budget year that ended in September, about 330,000 people were caught crossing the Mexican border illegally, a near 40-year low in border arrests. During the 2014 budget year, roughly 486,000 people were arrested.

In recent months there has been a spike in the arrests at the border, but primarily of children traveling alone and families, mostly from Central America.

JEB BUSH: “We need to embed our forces, our troops, inside the Iraqi military.”

The Facts: The U.S. is already doing that.

U.S. special forces are working side by side with Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State militants and American military advisers and trainers are working with Iraqi troops in various locations. To be sure, Bush has called for an intensification of the military effort in a variety of ways, but debate viewers would not know from his comment that U.S. troops are already operating with Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

His comment fits a pattern in the Republican race as a number of candidates criticize President Barack Obama’s course against IS while proposing largely the same steps that are already underway.

RAND PAUL: “Every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration.”

The Facts: Not so.

One of the San Bernardino, California, attackers was 28-year-old Syed Farook, who was born in Illinois. Nidal Hasan, who perpetrated the 2009 Fort Hood shootings that killed 13 people, was not only an American but an Army major.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: “When I stand across from King Hussein of Jordan and I say to him, ‘You have a friend again, sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,’ he’ll change his mind.”

The Facts: He won’t, because he died in 1999. Jordan’s king now is Abdullah II.

CARLY FIORINA, speaking of security threats to the U.S.: “We need the private sector’s help because the government is not innovating, technology is running ahead by leaps and bounds. … They must be engaged and they must be asked. I will ask them.”

The Facts: They’ve been asked.

The Obama administration has been in discussions with technology companies, especially in Silicon Valley, over the last year about the use of encrypted communications and how the government can penetrate them for national security purposes. After the attack in San Bernardino, California, Obama again said he would urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape justice.

That’s not to say the effort has been effective. But as in the case of candidates talking about the campaign against IS, Fiorina pitches something that is in motion.

MARCO RUBIO on facing terrorist threats: “We need more tools, not less tools. And that tool we lost, the metadata program, was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal.”

CRUZ: The USA Freedom Act passed by Congress ended the federal government’s bulk collection of telephone metadata for all Americans, and “strengthened the tools of national security and law enforcement to go after terrorists.”

The Facts: Both are right, but are emphasizing different aspects of the new law. While the government has lost speed and ability to reach back in time, it has gained volume of coverage.

The controversial NSA surveillance program revealed by leaker Edward Snowden had allowed the intelligence community to quickly analyze five years of calling records in search of connections among Americans and foreign terror suspects.

Under the new law, the government can no longer collect and store calling data. Instead, it has to request a search of data held by the phone companies, which typically hold the records for two years. It’s unclear how quickly those searches can take place, but it’s probably longer than in the previous system. Rubio is correct in this regard.

Cruz is correct that under the prior program, a large segment of mobile phone records went uncollected. Under the new regime, a larger universe of phone records can be searched.

What neither acknowledged is that the phone records program was not regarded inside NSA as an important tool in ferreting out terrorism plots. The only case the government has said was cracked because of the program over a decade was a relatively minor terrorist financing scheme.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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