In the second Republican presidential debate hosted by CNN, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio discussed the opioid crisis, and the two also took turns mocking the Republican presidential candidates’ health care record.
But they both also took aim at each other, and Christie was more direct in his attacks, accusing Rubio of being out of touch with reality.
Christie called the Florida senator “unqualified” for the presidency and “an incompetent politician” for refusing to do more to stop opioid addiction, saying he has “been so out of the loop” that he has failed to keep up with the crisis.
“Rubio’s response to this crisis is his own creation,” Christie said, adding that he will never work with him.
“He doesn’t even care.”
“I don’t know where he gets the idea that the solution to this problem is to blame everybody, not just the opioid addicts, not only the drug dealers, not even the medical community,” Christie continued.
“It’s his own fault for not working with me.
He’s been so out on the front lines that he’s not even going to try to help out.
He just ignores it.”
The debate began with a long discussion of how to address the opioid epidemic.
The first half of the debate focused on how to fight drug cartels, including stopping the flow of heroin and fentanyl into the United States.
Christie then turned his attention to his own record on the issue, specifically his failed effort to regulate the sale of prescription drugs and opioid painkillers.
The second half of Christie’s discussion of the opioid problem was all about how he and Rubio, both of whom were on the verge of entering the presidential race, have a similar record on health care.
“The American people have been frustrated,” Christie told Rubio.
“We’re getting frustrated, and I’ve got to be honest, I’ve been so frustrated for so long.”
Christie, who has previously called Rubio a “liar” and a “phony,” told Rubio he doesn’t want to work with Rubio, whom he accused of lying about his involvement in a health care plan that never made it through Congress.
Rubio told Christie he had a plan, and that it was better than the one Christie was proposing, though he said he would “not take any credit for that.”
“No, you’ve got a better plan than I did, but I didn’t take credit for it,” Rubio said.
“And I think you’re going to have to agree with me on that.
I’m going to do the same thing you’re doing.”
The pair then went back to the issue of the opioids crisis.
Christie suggested that the opioid overdose crisis was “the biggest, most expensive, greatest problem we have,” adding that it’s “not just the pharmaceutical companies.
It’s all the big banks and all the drug companies.””
The problem is the health care system has failed us,” Rubio added.
“That’s why the American people are frustrated.
They’ve got the most basic, the least effective, the most inadequate health care, the single biggest problem we’ve got.
We need to fix it.
And I’m willing to work on that, I’m not going to ignore the opioid addiction problem.
I don’t care what they want me to do.”
Christies response was a reminder of how close the two have come on the opioid issue.
The former governor was a vocal critic of Christie in the first debate, calling him “uncomfortable” and “unpresidential” for not supporting him.
Christie has said that he wants to work together with the Republican nominee, and he repeatedly said he wants the two to work for the same agenda.
Christie’s attacks on Rubio came during a heated exchange that saw the two of them try to paint each other as unqualified for the White House.
Christies attack was also a reminder that he and the billionaire are both vying for the Republican nomination.
Rubio is also running for president, and if he wins, he will face a Democratic primary opponent in New Jersey, which will be a huge hurdle for Christie.