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Key Words: Republican debate: Chris Christie says Trump’s China tariffs helped drive inflation

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“‘ ‘You want to know what has contributed to inflation in this country? Yes, it’s more government spending. Yes, it’s the fact that we’re printing too much money. Absolutely. But it is also the increase in prices that were driven by Donald Trump’s tariffs.’”

— Former N.J. Gov. Chris Christie

That was former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie swinging hard against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump during Wednesday’s Republican debate at the University of Alabama.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy joined Christie onstage in the fourth Republican presidential primary debate, which aired on NewsNation and the CW. 

Former President Donald Trump skipped this debate, as he has done with the first three. But his presence was still felt, especially on the heels of his Fox News interview with Sean Hannity the night before, where he refused to rule out abusing power or seeking retribution if he gets re-elected

While discussing foreign policy and inflation, Christie placed much of the blame for higher prices at the former president’s feet, while also blasting his trade relations with China.

“The proof that he wasn’t good on trade with China is that all he did was imposed tariffs, which raise the prices for every American,” Christie said.

“You can’t say he was good on trade, because he didn’t trade. He didn’t change one Chinese policy in the process. He failed on it.”

Related: Opinion: 5 questions about China that Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate needs to answer

That wasn’t the only swing that Christie took at Trump. The moderators opened Wednesday night’s debate by pressing the candidates on whether they are really electable, when most polls show the majority of Republican voters supporting Trump. And Christie responded by warning that Trump is “unfit” to serve as the commander-in-chief for a second term — even comparing him to “Harry Potter” villain Voldemort, who was a facist, evil wizard.

“We’ve had these three [candidates on stage] acting as if the race is between the four of us. The fifth guy [Trump] doesn’t have the guts to show up and stand here,” Christie said. “And yet, I’ve got these three guys who want to seemingly compete with Voldemort — he-who-should-not-be-named. They don’t want to talk about it.”

Christie also blamed Trump’s high poll numbers on many of his Republican rivals, whom he accused of condoning Trump’s more controversial actions and comments, including those that have landed him in legal trouble.

“‘You want to know why those [Trump] poll numbers are where they are? Because folks like these three guys on the stage make it seem like his conduct is acceptable.’”

— Former N.J. Gov. Chris Christie

“This is an angry, bitter man who wants to be back as president because he wants to exact retribution to anyone who disagreed with him, anyone who has tried to hold him to accountable for his own conduct,” Christie said, noting that the other colleagues on stage had raised their hands during the first GOP debate in August to show they would still support Trump, even if he was convicted of federal crimes.

“You want to know why those poll numbers are where they are? Because folks like these three guys on the stage make it seem like his conduct is acceptable,” Christie said. “Let me make it clear. His conduct is unacceptable. He’s unfit.”

Read more: Nikki Haley says her big corporate supporters won’t affect her policies — and GOP rivals are ‘just jealous’ about them

He continued: “My three colleagues are afraid to offend. If you’re afraid to offend Donald Trump, then what are you gonna do when you sit across from President Xi, you sit across from the Ayatollah, you sit across from President Putin?”

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