New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired back at a group of protesters today during a town hall meeting, telling one of them to “sit down and keep quiet.”
The outburst took place while Christie held his 113th town hall to promote his budget, although it’s unclear who the protesters are.
Christie, no stranger to confrontation, said he didn’t “know who these folks are” — but said he believes they were together calling them a “coordinated, partisan effort.”
Each of the six protesters were escorted out after they began yelling. The crowd that had gathered at the YMCA of Burlington County in Mount Laurel applauded when the protesters were walked out.
Following the first heckler’s interruption, the tough-talking governor stopped the woman asking him a question to yell back — telling the man: “Listen, listen. … Either sit down and keep quiet or get out, one or the other. We are done with you.”
It was difficult to hear what most of the hecklers were saying, but the second one yelled, “Gov. Christie, why should I pay more taxes because of you!”
One of Christie’s first questioners, who kept talking over the protester, asked the governor to consider running for president in 2016 — saying he thinks Washington politicians are lying to Americans over the national debt.
In his answer, Christie brought it back to those protesting saying, “When people just stand up and yell and scream and divide, then it shuts down debate and discussion.”
Amid laughter, Christie said he loves “youthful enthusiasm,” but that the protesters don’t want “an answer from me.”
“They want attention,” he added, noting he calls on people randomly.
“Sometimes they like me, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they are neutral,” he told the crowd. “Some days I sit and listen and take it and give a reasonable answer in response and sometimes if I’m in a cranky mood I yell back and you’ve all seen this.”
When Christie answered the question about his political future he aimed a dig straight at Washington, D.C. and his possible 2016 opponents, beginning by touting his ability to work across the aisle in the Garden State and saying Americans need to start “forcing people in Washington DC to work together on it as well.”
“Despite our party difference and differences of opinion we have we have find a way to compromise and get some of these things done, that’s the thing you don’t see in Washington, D.C. at all, on both sides, both sides are at fault,” Christie said before aiming a direct hit at his possible opponents. “It’s easy enough to just hold a press conference, rail against the other side, put out your talking points, go on these endless cable news shows and yell and scream at each other and think you are doing your job, but I don’t think they hired us for entertainment. They hired us to accomplish something on your behalf.”
This is Christie’s third town hall since the Bridgegate scandal broke. It is exactly six months today since those lanes were closed to the George Washington Bridge, but he hasn’t received any questions on the topic from constituents at the town halls.