New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is none too pleased with rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's criticism of "New York values."
In an interview with TIME in Iowa Sunday, Christie issued a sharp rebuttal to Cruz, who recently characterized "the values in New York City" as "socially liberal and pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage." Christie called Cruz's language divisive and insulting to the people of New York and of his own state across the Hudson River, before mocking Cruz for taking money from the very people whose views he was disparaging.
"I think it was a very, very ill-advised thing for Ted to say," Christie said. "You want to be President of the United States, you have to unite this country. And for him to somehow be implying that certain values are more appropriate, more American, depending upon what region of the country you're from, is to me just asinine."
Christie praised GOP front-runner Donald Trump's response to Cruz. The New York businessman pointed to the city's response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 as the true values of the city. "Is there anybody in the country who didn't admire New Yorkers and New Jerseyans in the aftermath of 9/11 for rebuilding and recovering the way they did? Is there anybody in the country who didn't admire New Jerseyans for the way they stood up after Hurricane Sandy and rebuilt our state over the last three years," Christie said. "Like somehow are those bad values? Is that what he's saying?"
The governor highlighted Cruz's opposition to aid for response to the devastating hurricane, but his calls for federal assistance after Texas flooding in 2015. "He's a guy—and I think Trump's right about this—he's a guy whose views are often very, very malleable depending upon what he considers to be politically advantageous at the moment," Christie continued.
Christie called Cruz "the most inside guy in this race," despited Cruz's frequent claims to be an outsider seeking to reform the party. "I think Ted once again is trying to be Mr. Ivy League cute," he charged. "He's Harvard and Princeton, he's federal court clerkships, he's government jobs, and somehow he's an outsider? If you took his name off and you put that résumé down, that would look like the consummate Washington insider."
Cruz's assault on Trump for having "New York values" comes just weeks before Iowa begins voting and marks a shift from Cruz's past praise for the former reality television star and businessman. Christie said Cruz was reading off Trump's playbook as he doubled-down on the attack line. "It's a political game to try to differentiate himself from Donald Trump who he's been kissing up to for nine months," Christie said. "And now all of the sudden two weeks out from the Iowa caucuses Donald's this evil guy when Ted's been defending him all along?"
Christie added that if Cruz had such a problem with "New York values" he should return the millions he has raised from New Yorkers. "Ted Cruz has no problem with New York values when he's collecting fundraising from New York hedge funds," Christie said. "Then New York values are just great, those people have great values I'm sure when they are writing him seven- and eight-figure checks. If he really has a problem with New York values, then he should return that money. And why doesn't he?
"If those values are bad, I don't know why you would want to take money from people whose values you don't agree with—especially if you're some upright guy like Ted Cruz."