Gov. Chris Christie attacked the Obama administration on foreign policy Sunday night in New York at the second annual Champions of Jewish Values Awards Gala — but never mentioned Israel.
"No one understands any longer who America stands with or against," Christie said to a packed house that included Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major Republican donor.
"It's not good enough to say that we tried. We must succeed," Christie said. The New Jersey governor spoke at length about how the United States is perceived in the world, and lambasted President Obama for not enforcing the "red line" — the use of chemical weapons — drawn for Syria.
But in the 18-minute speech, Christie made no specific mention of Israel. Earlier this year, in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Christie used the term "occupied territories" to describe land where Palestinians live. Christie ultimately apologized to Adelson for the remark.
Prior to the start of the gala, Adelson declined to comment when asked by BuzzFeed what he expected from Christie's speech.
Christie dubbed the night "important" as he was mobbed by photographers on the way into Cipriani, the Midtown Manhattan restaurant where the event was held. His speech was a mix of warnings about the current state of the White House and reiterations of the night's theme: "values." The awards ceremony's honorees included Adelson and actor Sean Penn.
"It is time, in every respect, whether it's our national debt or an out of control entitlement system, our unreformed tax system, or our failure to set a strong clear [message] or more importantly a strong clear action on behalf of our friends around the world," Christie said. "It's time for our leaders to stop singing a happy tune to the American people about the condition of our country. It is time for us to tell the truth about that condition."
"If they can't solve their own problems what business do they have telling us how to solve ours?" he said, speaking for countries abroad.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was also in attendance, taking the opportunity to pose for a photo with Adelson on the red carpet prior to the start of the event.
His brief address prior to Adelson's award acceptance touched on Hamas, Syria, and Iran.
"America must be clear, Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state," Perry said to uproarious applause.
Before the event, Christie opted not to walk on the carpet. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was also slated to attend but confirmed to BuzzFeed before the event that he would not be making it due to a "long standing conflict," despite being listed on the program handed out at the event.
Adelson did not mention Christie or any other politicians during his remarks onstage, instead speaking on the values theme.
Gideon Resnick is a political reporter at BuzzFeed. His work has appeared in VICE, the Atlantic and the Daily Beast.
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