New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Saturday that while he is deeply troubled by the emerging Iranian nuclear agreement, he would not pledge to undo it should he take office.
Speaking to Republicans on July 4th in this lakeside vacation town, Christie sought to differentiate himself from the other 15 GOP candidates for president, casting himself as a leader who would carefully consider all options.
“I’m not one of those guys who’s going to say to you, ‘on Day One I will abrogate the agreement,'” Christie said, noting that the American president could not just act alone when China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom are also parties to the deal, should one emerge. “On Day One, I will look into it and try to decide, depending upon where we are at that moment.”
As Christie was speaking, American and international negotiators were continuing talks in Vienna to complete the deal before this week’s deadline. Christie said he would have long since walked away from the table, arguing that Iran cannot be trusted to implement the agreement.
“If I was negotiating this deal right now, I would be gone,” he said. “I would be away from the table. I would be going back to our allies and saying these are not reliable negotiators on the other side—not the people we can count on to keep their word. They haven’t shown us that.”
But Christie added he could not commit to revoke an agreement without prior investigation.
“If I’m saddled with the deal as president, then on the first day I’ll be saying to my national security advisor, to my Secretary of State and to my head of national intelligence: give me all the information I need to let me know all the options I have to try to put this genie back in the bottle, and then we’ll make a decision,” he added.
The comments follow a pattern for Christie, who has tried to draw subtle differences between himself and the rest of the GOP field on a range of policy proposals. Christie told a crowd of more than 100 at the breakfast event to “be careful” of candidates who make promises about what they’ll do on “Day One.”
“I have grave, grave doubts that this is an agreement I will be willing to stand behind, but I also don’t want to be the kind of president who tells all of you something in a campaign and that either doesn’t do it, hoping you forget that I told you I would actually do it on the first day,” he said. “Or, who does it only because I promised it, even if at that moment it’s not what’s in the best interests of America.”