While speaking at a forum on poverty in South Carolina, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie slammed teachers unions for destroying public education in the U.S. and buying lawmakers to protect their interests.
"The single most destructive force for public education in this country is the teachers union," Christie said to applause.
Christie touted his own work with New Jersey's education system as he has been governor — including reforming teachers' tenure and school choice. With these reforms, he said, New Jersey residents were happy, but the teachers unions "felt threatened" and gave $20 million to state lawmakers to prevent further reforms during Christie's second term.
"Right now the teachers union is absolutely a subsidiary of the Democratic Party, and we've seen it already. Before their primary even cast one vote, they've already endorsed Hillary Clinton. You know what that means — that she is bought and paid for just like my legislature is bought and paid for and no changes will be made," Christie said.
The Republican presidential candidate said schoolchildren "have no shot" with teachers unions in place.
"We need a president to say the teachers union is not going to be a part of this solution, and we need to change laws state by state like Gov. [Scott] Walker did in Wisconsin," he said.
Christie sat on the panel during the Jack Kemp Foundation Forum on Expanding Opportunity Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina alongside other GOP presidential hopefuls retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) moderated the panel.