Updated 2:45 p.m. ET, 3/4/2014
(CNN) – Gov. Chris Christie didn’t get any questions about the traffic scandal that’s plaguing his administration at his latest town hall, but he got the crowd on its feet when he addressed a concern about the federal health care law.
A woman named Sharon asked the Republican governor Tuesday what seniors can expect from the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and how to combat negative experiences she has heard about.
“What do we do?” she asked.
"Elect a new President. That's what you do," Christie replied.
His answer quickly prompted the audience of more than 500 to erupt in cheers and applause. The ovation lasted nearly half a minute.
The potential 2016 contender was speaking to a friendly crowd in Toms River, a part of the state that was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.
While most of the 10 questions he received had to do with the devastating 2012 storm, the governor seemed to be angling for questions about any topic.
“You’re free to ask any question you want to ask about anything,” he said. “You can ask me about whatever you want to ask me about. It’s not just about Sandy related stuff.”
It was Christie’s 112th town hall as governor and third since a state legislative committee and the U.S. Attorney’s office began investigating his administration over suggestions his appointees orchestrated traffic backups in Fort Lee last year to punish that town’s mayor politically for not endorsing him for reelection.
Christie has denied any involvement in the situation, and he severed ties with a handful of appointees caught up in the mess.
The governor has said a lack of questions about the scandal at town hall forums illustrates that Garden State residents aren’t interested in the controversy.
Christie was easily reelected in November, and his last three town halls have been in politically friendly territory.
The questions he fielded Tuesday were mostly about Sandy aid, in which he again blamed federal red tape for a majority of delays in assistance, more than 16 months after the storm.
He got two questions on pension and education, but the final question on Obamacare gave him a chance to distance himself from the same President he’s been accused of being too cozy with in the past.
“We worked together, but he's just dead wrong on this,” Christie said. “The President made a mistake. As a guy who's in these jobs, mistakes get made... But you can't be stubborn about it.”
The governor argued that they need to “start over” on health care, but did not favor repealing the law.
“To repeal Obamacare, Obama has to sign the repeal of the law named after him. Unlikely, right? Unlikely,” he added.
Christie addressed the fact that New Jersey accepted Medicaid expansion, an optional portion of the law that many Republican governors rejected.
“We expanded Medicaid, because we believe that folks are better off going to see physicians and having care than going to emergency rooms all the time. ... But the rest of this program does not make any sense,” he said.
His answer comes as the Republican Governors Association, which he chairs, is taking heat for targeting a Democrat in the South Carolina gubernatorial race for supporting Medicaid expansion. Democrats have seized on the attack to try to paint Christie as hypocritical.
Christie's town halls are a tried-and-tested strategy for the embattled governor as he attempts to draw attention away from the scandal that has raised questions about his forceful governing style and clouded a potential presidential candidacy in 2016.
The last two town halls were also held in areas where the governor enjoys strong support—Morris County and Monmouth County. Tuesday’s event followed that practice. Toms River sits in the heart of Ocean County, where Christie received around 76% of the vote in 2013.
Outside the building, however, about a dozen protesters gathered Tuesday. Some held signs that said ‘Sandy – still homeless.’ A few held signs calling on Christie to resign.
On a radio show last week, Christie noted that the people he has met at the town halls aren’t interested in the traffic controversy.
"I will be damned if I let any of this stuff get in the way of my real job," he said during his appearance on the "Ask the Governor" program hosted by New Jersey 101.5 Radio.
A member of Christie's staff told CNN: "We're just getting back into the groove of doing these town halls. As we do more of them we will get to other parts of the state."
The staffer went on to say that right now the focus is on Sandy recovery and that’s why they go to counties along the Jersey shore, because they sustained the most damage. But Christie does plan to get out to other parts of the state, eventually.
Christie specifically mentioned Bergen County as he listed the counties they will eventually get to. This is significant because that’s where Fort Lee sits.