Chris Christie Apologizes for Referring to ‘Occupied Territories’ in Front of Pro-Israel Crowd

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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Chris Christie, who, despite the recent and extreme bridge-related damage to his image, might still try to run for president, said something a bit awkward during a Saturday speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas: While talking about a 2012 trip his family took to the Middle East, he recalled, "I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day." Though the talk was obviously intended to appeal to the presumably pro-Israel gathering — which was attended by casino mogul, GOP mega-donor, and staunch Israel advocate Sheldon Adelson — the term "occupied territories" is one used by people who oppose Israel's presence in Palestinian areas such as the West Bank.

Unsurprisingly, Christie's comment reportedly sent "murmurs" through the crowd, and he was quick to apologize to Adelson at a private meeting they had after the speech. A source told Politico that Christie told Adelson he had merely "misspoken" and "clarified in the strongest terms possible that his remarks today were not meant to be a statement of policy." This person also said that Adelson, who poured millions of dollars into Newt Gingrich's doomed campaign during the last GOP primary and is said to be looking to back "a mainstream Republican who can win" in 2016, "accepted" Christie's explanation. After all, the New Jersey governor has been under some stress lately.