During a panel discussion in Colorado last night, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was dismissive of efforts to curtail the National Security Agency's surveillance systems. Christie excoriated the "strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties," suggesting that people like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky explain their positions to families of September 11 victims. Christie's reputation as a small-government, do-your-own-thing maverick apparently has a sharply-drawn boundary he won't cross: undermining the authoritarian weight of the United States government.
When Christie made his statements, he was in pretty conservative company. The discussion, hosted by the Republican Governors Association, included several other men who fit that description: Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Mike Pence of Indiana. Each of the four has at some point been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, at widely varying levels of plausibility. The Washington Post reported on Christie's comments.
“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said. …
“You can name any one of them that’s engaged in this,” he said. “I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. … I’m very nervous about the direction this is moving in.”
The "them" in that statement refers to those like Paul who have been outspoken in opposition to the surveillance. Christie later called such concerns "esoteric," prompting a direct response from the senator's office, as reported by The Times.
“If Governor Christie believes the constitutional rights and the privacy of all Americans is ‘esoteric,’ he either needs a new dictionary or he needs to talk to more Americans, because a great number of them are concerned about the dramatic overreach of our government in recent years,” a senior adviser to Mr. Paul said.
(Politico was, of course, quick to pick up on the contentious aspect of the conversation: "Chris Christie: Rand Paul 'Dangerous'." 2016 first; policy second.)