March 13th, 2014
01:04 PM ET
4 months ago

Christie faces hecklers at town hall

Updated 2:34 p.m. ET, 3/13/2014

Mount Laurel, New Jersey (CNN) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's town hall Thursday was repeatedly interrupted by what appeared to be a coordinated effort by hecklers, four of whom took turns shouting at the governor when other audience members tried to ask questions.

The first protester stood up about 35 minutes into the event and hollered at the governor from across the room about Superstorm Sandy relief aid.

After about half a minute, a fed-up Christie turned to the young man and tried to shut him down.

"Either sit down or keep quiet, or get out," the Republican governor said. "Either one. We're done with you."

As the man continued to belt out his complaints, members of the audience booed and tried to drown him out. He was then escorted out of the room by police at the Mount Laurel event.

He was part of a group that told reporters they were from Rowan University in New Jersey, and they came to the event to hold the governor accountable, though they didn't elaborate on their particular grievances.

At least one of the hecklers was affiliated with the liberal group New Jersey Working Families, the group confirmed.

"Working families everywhere are outraged by the pattern of abuse and cronyism that has come to light since Bridgegate, and the New Jersey Working Families Alliance will continue to hold this Governor accountable for an Administration run amok,” the group's director, Analilia Mejia, said in a statement.

A second heckler, who interrupted another question from an audience member, blasted the governor's administration and accused him of using tax dollars to hire "crooks and liars." She was also escorted out by police, as were two other hecklers who tried to disrupt the event.
The governor ignored all three.

Christie, who's now held 113 town halls, is no stranger to confrontations at his events. Before each town hall, he warns the audience that he knows how to ignore shouting, as he jokingly refers to the fact that he has four children.

The governor told the audience the protesters were part of "a coordinated, partisan effort" and indicated he was aware they may show up. He went on to accuse the media of giving them publicity.

"These folks who come in here today, ginned up for their own partisan purposes, they're getting exactly what they want," he said. "What they want is attention. They want partisan political attention from a media that's hungry to give it to them."

The governor argued that their tactics are the kind of activity that cause political divisiveness.

"When people just stand up and yell and scream and divide, then it just shuts down debate and discussion," he said.

Christie has famously fired back at combative audience members in the past. Two years ago, he made headlines when he got into a heated argument with a law school student and Iraq war veteran. The back-and-forth ended with the governor calling the student an "idiot."

All four hecklers Thursday walked out of the building without incident and left before the town hall ended.

Otherwise, the event largely focused on questions about property taxes, pension reform, health care, education, and gun laws.

As with his three other town halls this year, no one asked a question about the George Washington Bridge controversy.

Christie's administration is facing both federal and state investigations over allegations that some of his aides closed access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge last September to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not endorsing Christie's re-election.

The governor has denied knowing anything about the gridlock until after it occurred and has said he knew nothing about any political mischief by members of his administration. But the controversy has put a cloud over Christie's political future.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    I am surprised that he didn't physically confront them or cursed like he gas done in so many other situations when he wasn't king christie.
    No questions about the bridge gate? These were paid attendees and handful snuck in. Lots of oppressive countries do is so that it looks as if the speaker matters.

    March 13, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    "cooks and liars."
    -------------------------------
    I think she meant crooks and liars. Anyway, in typical Christie fashion, he tells people to shut up and get out when they have a legitimate & specific beef with him. Can't take the bully out of the Jersey boy.

    March 13, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Either sit down or keep quiet, or get out," the Republican governor said. "Either one. We're done with you."

    . He was then escorted out of the room by police at the Mount Laurel event
    -------------------------------------------------
    Smiling and shaking my head as I recall with what class and temperance our President handles his hecklers.
    The good Gov. is just not ready for primetime
    Lol!.

    March 13, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    The governor ignored all three.

    Christie has famously fired back at combative audience members in the past. Two years ago, he made headlines when he got into a heated argument with a law school student and Iraq war veteran. The back-and-forth ended with the governor calling the student an "idiot."
    ---------------------------
    A year ago, before Bridgegate, Christie would not have ignored them. He would have stood up to them, mano a mano, and shouted them down. Christie seems like a lively debate, and a heated argument even more.

    March 13, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    As with his three other town halls this year, no one asked a question about the George Washington Bridge controversy
    -------------------------------------------------
    Doesn't anybody else find this unusual?
    In the midst of all of these investigations nobody from Hoboken, for example, would pop in a question about funds disbursement?
    How did can this be? Not ONE question? How did he manage that, I wonder...not.

    March 13, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Enough is Enough

    "A second heckler, who interrupted another question from an audience member..."

    o they don't want answers to questions and they don't want other citizens to be able to ask questions. In other words they simply want to be disruptive and trample others peops right to ask questions of their elected officials. Childish, very childish.

    March 13, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Dominican mama 4 Obama wrote:

    "As with his three other town halls this year, no one asked a question about the George Washington Bridge controversy"

    Doesn't anybody else find this unusual?
    ---------------------–
    Yes and no. Yes, it is a most interesting coincidence. No, because Christie has neglected a state that is in shambles and is quickly getting worse. Superstorm Sandy didn't help, but neither are the Governor's recovery efforts. He's focused on the Jersey shore and not much else.....except of course for some nursing home construction project here or there that broke ground in 2013, months after the storm.

    March 13, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. smith

    I can never understand these hecklers. It doesn`t get you anything except getting hauled out by the police. What a waste.

    March 13, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "What they want is attention. They want partisan political attention from a media that's hungry to give it to them."

    Yes, Mr. Christie. And because CNN is THE site for "both sides" do it, one might say the same about you.

    March 13, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Dutch Bad Newz, VA
    Anyway, in typical Christie fashion, he tells people to shut up and get out when they have a legitimate & specific beef with him. Can't take the bully out of the Jersey boy.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Well you certainly can't take the bully out of the good Gov.
    Wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for your support yesterday babe.

    March 13, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Straight from the playbook of the fake Koch Brothers healthcare townhalls broadcast all over America. It's about time progressives fight fire with fire against these wingnuts. Can't wait to see Grover Norquist and the GOBP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats 2012 Mitt the twit style.

    March 13, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Rla

    Amazing thr thug tactics of the democrats. They almost have no credibility left as they become the standard bearers fo lies and tactics that would make Nixon blush

    March 13, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. tom l

    If anyone should know about bullying it would certainly be the gang.

    March 13, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. RichardLB

    Darn.. Wish i knew about this. Would have been good to hear his reasoning for accelerating the cow-towing to dealership lobbiests and prevent direct auto sales (aka: anti Tesla stores).

    March 13, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Fair is Fair

    tom l

    If anyone should know about bullying it would certainly be the gang.
    -----–
    Yeah... and just like a bully, they run when they're confronted.

    March 13, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. O'drama ya Mama

    They are called hecklers when they ask a legitimate question? Town hall meetings are supposed to have angry citizens voice their complaints but to be told that they wont even be acknowledged and escorted out is IMO a violation of freedom of speech.

    March 13, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. Lizzie

    Dominican mama 4 Obama, don't you think that when someone starts shouting and heckling and interrupting wanting attention not knowing WHAT they want, then the Gov. should sit back and let them take over the town meeting, don't everyone else has the right to be heard.

    March 13, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    smith

    I can never understand these hecklers. It doesn`t get you anything except getting hauled out by the police
    -------------------------------------------------
    Well certainly at a Christie event for sure!
    They would've been engaged and allowed to express themselves had they been at a town hall held by President Obama

    March 13, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Wake up People!

    Anyone with half a brain knows these town halls are prescreened. People are naturally curious, even if they support him, they would still ask. I'm willing to bet they were told NOT to bring ANY of that up.

    If a reporter can question the POTUS about a faux scandal on live TV during the Super Bowl, I don't see why Christy can't answer a few questions.

    He's definitely NOT READY for primetime.

    March 13, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    He's just gonna have to embrace the idea that he's just not presidential timber. He got caught. It's that simple.

    March 13, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. Tampa Tim

    For a minute, it sounded like a tea party town hall meeting.

    March 13, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Dominican mama 4 Obama, don't you think that when someone starts shouting and heckling and interrupting wanting attention not knowing WHAT they want, then the Gov. should sit back and let them take over the town meeting, don't everyone else has the right to be heard.
    -------------------------------------------------
    No not at all.
    I favor the calm , cool and confident approach of our President, for example, when confronted with a heckler.
    He lets them, nay,encurages them to get their point across, and then he responds.
    No need for police escort.
    He certainly does not taunt them, threaten them with expulsion or call them names thereby exacerbating the situation.

    March 13, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Wake up People!

    It's so funny how these people are labeled hecklers and asked to leave a town hall meeting but when hecklers do it to the POTUS, they're citizens expressing their right to free speech.

    I love the stench of hypocrisy from the right.

    March 13, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. DC

    The Democrat governor that preceded Christie had political opponents arrested at the door. Christie is treating his critics pretty well by comparison.

    It's also worth pointing out that Christie's only critics thus far at these town halls have been teachers and college students. Both groups are unrepresentative of the hardworking, taxpaying community that has solidly backed Christie.

    March 13, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |