NEW YORK -- Away from the circus of Donald Trump demanding an Israeli-style wall across the border and Ben Carson calling for biblical tithing to replace the tax system, a rare moment of sanity and compassion broke through in the Republican primary race over the weekend.
Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, has remained slumped in the polls, despite a succession of solid debate performances. Yet a video filmed in New Hampshire on Saturday by The Huffington Post could change the governor’s fortunes, while proving the GOP race is more than a contest to see which candidate can shoehorn in the most references to Hitler, guns and religious persecution.
In a moving speech, Christie spoke about how America deals with the problem of addiction, calling for a different approach via two personal anecdotes, the first dealing with his late mother and tobacco, the second about a law school friend who became dependent on painkillers.
“We don't question when someone with tobacco-caused lung cancer checks into a hospital for treatment,” said Christie. “So why should we question someone who's trying to avoid a deadly outcome with heroin, cocaine, or alcohol?” The video shows the governor calling for a change in national policy towards an emphasis on public health over criminal justice when it comes to addicts.
“It can happen to anyone," Christie said of dependency. "So we need to start treating people in this country, not jailing them. We need to give them the tools they need to recover because every life is precious."
This type of thinking has been evident among some Democrats in recent years, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton making similar arguments. Yet for a Republican, traditionally a party entrenched in a tough-on-crime approach, the shift is monumental.
As of Tuesday the video had been viewed more than 2.5 million times, with the governor receiving praise from across the political spectrum for the humanity of the speech and the bravery to go against conventional party wisdom on such a difficult topic.
Watch the addiction clip above. The full speech is below.