Chris Christie on false Obama claims at Trump rally: 'I wouldn't have permitted that'

/ Source: TODAY

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says GOP front-runner Donald Trump must decide "how serious a candidate he wants to be," after failing to correct a questioner who said President Obama was a Muslim and not a U.S. citizen.

"I wouldn't have permitted that," Christie responded when asked how he would have handled the same situation. "I would correct him. I’d say that the president's a Christian and he was born in this country. Those two things are self-evident."

Thursday night in New Hampshire, in front of about 3,000 fans, the first questioner told Trump, "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American. We have training camps growing when they want to kill us. My question: When can we get rid of them?"

Trump, an early questioner of the president's citizenship, did not correct the man.

"We are going to be looking at a lot of different things," he said instead. "And a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We are going to be looking at that and plenty of other things."

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton immediately criticized the way Trump handled the exchange, which she called "disturbing and just plain wrong."

For many political watchers, the scene evoked a similar moment from the 2008 presidential season when Republican nominee Sen. John McCain immediately corrected a woman who called Obama "an Arab" who could not be trusted.

Christie said he's not in a position to "lecture" Trump about how to handle himself. Instead, he focused on how he would have reacted, which was to correct the questioner.

RELATED: Hillary Clinton hits back at Carly Fiorina after debate attacks

"I think you have an obligation of a leader to do that," he said.

Christie also addressed other questions being posed to presidential candidates, including whether he thinks Vice President Joe Biden will enter the race, and whether authorities overreacted to the Texas 9th grader who was arrested after bringing a clock he made to school.

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.