During the Dec. 15 Republican presidential debate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vowed to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria, even if it means shooting down Russian planes.
Russia is currently engaged in the Syrian conflict, conducting airstrikes it claims are primarily targeting ISIS.
Christie said that, as president, he would propose a no-fly zone that would make the Russian air force unwelcome in the embattled country, saying he would not hesitate to shoot down Russian planes.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky responded that Christie’s plan would effectively start a war with Russia.
“If you’re in favor of World War III, you’ve got your candidate,” Paul said.
During an appearance on “CBS This Morning” on Dec. 16, Christie responded to Paul’s accusation, saying that World War III is already a reality.
"You see the problem for folks like Sen. Paul is that they don't realize we're already in World War III," the New Jersey governor said. "The fact is this is a new world war and one that won't look like the last two. And this is one where it's radical Islamic jihadists every day are trying to kill Americans and disrupt and destroy our way of life. If he doesn't understand that we're already in that war, then it's just another example of why he's so unfit to be president of the United States."
Host Charlie Rose asked Christie if the U.S. should engage with Russia as an ally in the war on the Islamic State group. Christie brushed off the idea, saying Russia’s agenda is vastly different from the U.S.
"The fact is Russia's been stealing our lunch money the entire time from the Obama administration,” Christie said. “ISIS is simply not being attacked by Russia. Russia is in Syria along with Iran to prop up [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. If that offends folks in the U.N. crowd, I'm sorry but America needs to assert itself again.”
Christie was not the only GOP presidential candidate calling on the U.S. to be tougher on Russia.
“The guy [Russian President Vladimir Putin] has a pair of twos, and acting like has a full house and walking all over [President Barack] Obama,” complained Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina during the undercard debate, according to The Washington Times.
“It’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich during the main GOP Las Vegas debate, CNS News reports. “They’ve gotten away with too much in this world, and we need to stand up against them, not just here, but also in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies.”