CLEVELAND (WPVI) --Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sent shock waves through Europe after his remarks about NATO, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an ardent Trump supporter, declined to comment to Action News' Jim Gardner on Thursday.
In effect, Trump said to the New York Times that if a NATO country is attacked, he would first assess that country's financial status within NATO before he decides whether to defend the country militarily.
That would be a radical change in the way the U.S. upholds the NATO treaty, and could alter the post-war relationship between the U.S. and Europe.
Critics say that newer NATO members, like the Baltic countries of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, would feel particularly vulnerable under the Trump plan.
Threat number one: Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Estonia is only 100 miles deep. If he hesitates a second, the Soviets will be on the Baltic coast. He doesn't have time. He needs to have plans in place that are automatic," said Prof. Kenneth Ledford of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
When asked for his thoughts on Trumps' comments, Ledford said "It's nonsense."
"People are wondering what that now means, all the 'free riders' talk, all the talk about paying first before being helped under Article Five of NATO," said Ina Ruck, a correspondent for German TV and radio. "They're worrying whether the United States will be a reliable partner.
New Jersey Congressman Tom MacArthur is a Trump supporter, but not on this.
"I believe we're going to stand with our NATO allies, and that's what I'll always fight for and support as a member of Congress," MacArthur said.
After his appearance at the New Jersey delegation on Thursday, Action News' Jim Gardner asked him Gov. Christie what he thought of Donald Trump's NATO policy.
"I haven't seen it, so I don't know the whole context of it, so I don't think it's appropriate for me to react until I read it," Gov. Christie said.
Jim asked Christie if a NATO country should have to be up-to-date on its bills to be defended by the United States.
"While I count on you, because I've been watching you for 30 years, to be completely accurate, when I'm making comments this important, I can't do that. So let me read it and we'll get back to you," Christie said.
We appreciate that Gov. Christie seems to be a loyal Action News viewer, but we will hold him to his promise to get back to us on the Trump/NATO question.