Questions About Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Enter the 2024 Presidential Race

Chris Christie
Chris Christie (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Welcome to this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief… as things start gearing up for the 2024 election season, the UAP question already managed to make its way into the first round of debates featuring eight GOP hopefuls. In this week’s newsletter, we’ll be looking at 1) the question New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked about UAP, 2) why his response fell flat, 3) the history of candidates being asked similar UFO-themed questions, and 4) what recent presidential administrations have had to say on the subject.

Quote of the Week

“I get the UFO question?”

– New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Latest News: This week in reporting from The Debrief, researchers have upended a long-held tenet of modern physics by solving an equation that has perplexed them for decades. Elswhere, leading UK defense contractor BAE Systems has announced the creation of their new advanced projects division, FalconWorks. You’ll find links to all our latest stories at the end of this newsletter.

PodcastsIn podcasts from The Debrief, over on  The Debrief Weekly Report MJ Banias and guest host Kennedy Chappel discuss a new AI-powered disinformation experiment called “CounterCloud.” Over on The Micah Hanks Program, I examine issues related to UAP secrecy and U.S. surveillance technologies, and what U.S. officials have recently had to say about the mysterious objects. You can subscribe to all of The Debrief’s podcasts, including audio editions of Rebelliously Curious, by heading over to our Podcasts Page. 

Video News: On the latest episode of Rebelliously Curious, Chrissy Newton talks with Prof. Jason Donev Ph.D. about the pioneering strides of nuclear fusion and the science behind the iconic figure and film Oppenheimer. Also, check out the latest episode of Ask Dr. Chance, Dr Glenn answers his listener’s questions about artificial intelligence. You can get other great content from The Debrief on our official YouTube Channel.

With that all behind us, it’s time to see what unfolded during last night’s first round of debates as we enter the 2024 presidential cycle about a topic we’ve been hearing a lot about in recent years.

Chris Christie is Asked About UAP During Live GOP Debate

On Wednesday night, the first primary debate featuring eight Republican presidential candidates was televised, featuring questions that covered topics ranging from the ongoing war in Ukraine to education in America and the ongoing controversies surrounding former President Donald Trump.

The former president, although currently a frontrunner in the current 2024 cycle, declined to participate in the debate, opting instead to join former Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson for a pre-recorded interview. Although the controversial former Fox News host has been known for his interest in the subject of what is now referred to as unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), Carlson didn’t ask Trump questions about the subject during Wednesday night’s interview.

However, the UAP topic did have its moment elsewhere: on the GOP debate stage in Milwaukee.

“I get the UFO question?” This had been New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s initial reaction to a question from Fox News’ Martha MacCallum regarding UAP during Wednesday night’s debate.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of testimony in Congress, and people are taking this a lot more seriously, and we’re hearing that there are things going on that people aren’t aware of,” MacCallum said amidst laughter and commotion from the audience.

“So, if you were president, Governor Christie, would you level with the American people about what the government knows about these possible encounters?”

Christie made his level of comfort with MacCallum’s question evident.

“Especially coming from a woman from New Jersey, it is horrible that just because I am from New Jersey you ask me about unidentified flying objects and Martians.”

“We are different, but we are not that different,” Christie added, before finally getting to the question.

“The job of the president of the United States is to level with the American people about everything. The job is to stand for truth. The job is to be a role model for our children and our grandchildren.”

“Whether it was UFOs or this problem of education, I started this in 2010 going after the teacher’s unions and drove them down to a low popularity rating because they were putting themselves before our kids.”

“That is the biggest threat to our country, not UFOs.”

Christie’s Response on UAP Falls Flat

Christie probably isn’t wrong that issues related to education are a greater threat to United States citizens than UAP. This is especially true, given that data conveyed in a pair of assessments detailing the Pentagon’s findings pertaining to UAP in recent years indicate that while they represent an indirect threat to aviators and an overall challenge to U.S. national security, there is no indication of overt hostility stemming from UAP.

However, Christie’s response—particularly his reference to “Martians” in response to MacCallum’s question involving widespread public interest in a subject that has resulted in recent Congressional hearings—fell painfully flat.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (Credit: Luigi Novi)

The job of the American President, according to Christie, is to “level with the American people” on all issues that have relevance to American life. Paradoxically, in his response to MacCallum, Christie did a fine job making fun of the question—and the topic it addressed—while quickly shifting away from it to emphasize the threat imposed by the “problem of education,” and using that to further dismiss the significance of UAP.

Christie’s awkward response to a question about UAP Wednesday night is far from being the first time a candidate has been asked about the subject during a live presidential debate. In fact, we are steadily approaching at least two decades of similar questions—and odd responses—from presidential candidates who prefer to beat around the bush on the subject than offer any straight talk to Americans about UAP transparency.

A History of Presidential Debate Antics Involving UAP

“This is a serious question,” began the late MSNBC correspondent Tim Russert during a Democratic Presidential Debate held in Philadelphia on October 30, 2007.

“The godmother of your daughter, Shirley McClain, writes in her new book that you sighted a UFO over her home in Washington State.”

“You found the encounter extremely moving; that it was a triangular craft, silent and hovering, that you felt a connection to your heart, and heard directions in your mind. Now, did you see a UFO?”

Democratic Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich had listened intently to Russert’s question before leaping on it. “I did, and the rest of the account…” he began, just before laughter once again robbed him of precious seconds for his response. “It was an unidentified flying object, okay? It was unidentified… I saw something. Now, to answer your question.”

“I’m moving my campaign office to Roswell New Mexico and another one to Exeter New Hampshire. Also, you have to keep in mind that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO and that more people in this country have seen UFOs than approve of George Bush’s presidency.

The fun was far from over, though. Just afterward during the post-debate coverage, moderator Chris Mathews similarly questioned candidate Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, about his belief in UFOs, after he had recently announced he would re-open the famous Roswell case of 1947 if elected to office.

“You know, I’ve never seen one,” Richardson said. “Roswell New Mexico is the hotbed of UFOs, and I promote Roswell as a tourism issue, but there is no credible evidence.”

Richardson then called for full disclosure of what information may still exist beyond public knowledge about the incident, claiming that “the Federal Government has not come clean on that issue, and it should.”

“Wait a minute, stop the music, Governor. Did you say the United States Government is covering up history of a UFO sighting in your state? What are they hiding, that you say, about a UFO?”

“Well, they don’t produce documents, Chris. They should just get it all out, and there’s a known history about all this. Look I don’t believe that there are UFOs, but the Government has not handled this well over the years. That’s a historical fact… they over-classify everything, there’s too much bureaucracy.”

Then, when asked by Russert if he believed in intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama quickly dodged the question, using the time he had for a response to instead make a quip regarding his concerns about “life here on Earth.”

Obama, Trump, and Biden on UAP

Interestingly, during his time in office, former President Obama made more references to UAP than many past commanders-in-chief, as well as those who followed his tenure; a trend that continued after he left office.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama in the Oval Office (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

In 2020, Obama admitted to comedian Stephen Colbert that he “certainly asked about” the subject, adding that “it used to be that UFOs and Roswell was the biggest conspiracy. And now that seems so tame, right? The idea that the government might have an alien spaceship? That’s nothing.” Obama also went on to acknowledge mysterious sightings by U.S. Navy pilots and other military personnel to The Late Late Show host James Corden, saying that “there’s footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are.”

Despite mounting public interest in UAP, the last two administrations have made only sparring comments about them. Former President Trump told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that he “did have one very brief meeting on [UAP]. But people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particular.” President Joe Biden has had even less to say on the topic, although he did issue a statement in February following the shootdown of a series of “unidentified aerial objects” over America.

Whether the next administration will be more vocal about the UAP subject remains to be seen, although if Wednesday night’s GOP debate alone were any indication of how things may go, it seems a safe bet that we won’t see much-renewed attention coming from the Oval Office on the UAP issue.

Let’s hope that changes.

That concludes this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief. You can read past editions of The Intelligence Brief at our website, or if you found this installment online, don’t forget to subscribe and get future email editions from us here. Also, if you have a tip or other information you’d like to send along directly to me, you can email me at micah [@] thedebrief [dot] org, or Tweet at me @MicahHanks.

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