Caldwell, New Jersey (CNN) – Gov. Chris Christie faced his toughest audience yet Tuesday since resuming question and answer sessions with New Jersey residents six months ago.
Protesters interrupted the governor several times during his 123rd town hall in the suburb of New York. There were also tense exchanges between Christie and two audience members.
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At other recent town halls Christie largely ignored similar outbursts and waited for police to escort protesters out of the room. This time, however, the governor not only acknowledged the outbursts, he shot back at a few people.
It started with a group of public school teachers seated in the audience of approximately 300 people.
While talking about the need to reform expensive benefits for public sector employees, Christie mentioned the $2.76 billion dollars the state spent on health care benefits for public sector employees last year the teachers erupted in applause. Christie told the audience that the people applauding were the people receiving those benefits.
A few of the teachers booed as he said there were 6,000 fewer public sector employees in New Jersey today than there were when he first took office.
"There's going to be people that don't like it. That's fine. They can express themselves and feel free to express themselves," the Republican governor said. "I'm going to keep my word and not do, not do things that are going to make this government bigger and more expensive for the people who have to pay the bills."
Calling the state's healthcare benefit a “Cadillac plan” he warned that under Obamacare the state will be fined $261 million dollars in 2018. Undeterred, the teachers continued to applaud every time the governor talked about how much money the state spends on their benefits.
In a familiar refrain, Christie acknowledged that budget cuts are not easy decisions.
"If you run for this job to be loved you are guaranteed to be a failure. I didn't come here to be loved," said the governor.
The town hall didn't get any easier for Christie when he transitioned to the question and answer portion of the program.
Twice, college age students stood up and interrupted the event with the 'mic check' call and answer tactic made popular by Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. As they shouted at the governor about his education and immigration policies, police escorted them out of the room without incident.
Christie has ignored similar outbursts in the past. But this time, as they were led out by police, he remarked: "What I like about this, if it was really something heartfelt why did they have to read it off of their iPhones?"
He accused the protesters of getting their marching orders from public sector unions.
The governor said he didn't mind the interruptions, adding, "You cannot cave into that kind of conduct because when you do they just do it again and again and again and we're not going to permit that kind of mistake."
The most tense exchange happened when Christie called on a woman who came prepared with a speech full of information about the Common Core education initiative.
"I'm begging you, don't implement Common Core," said the woman as she claimed the policy would earn Microsoft and Pearson Publishing millions of dollars. She called education standards an evil takeover of the public school system.
Christie shot back that something has to be done in New Jersey's failing school districts.
As the woman tried to interject the governor said, "I listened to you for a long time and you read to me everything and I was really patient so now you are going to listen to me." He told the woman, "We need to make changes. Whether Common Core is that change or not is something that is obviously open to vigorous debate."
The confrontations didn't end there.
Donna Jackson, an activist with the Newark-based group United Parents Network, started shouting at the governor that he was wrong and he was destroying the public schools.
Christie responded: "You and I have had plenty of private conversations. Don't make a scene here and a spectacle when you get the opportunity to speak your mind privately."
As she was led out by a police officer, Christie said, "See you later."
As he wrapped up the town hall it looked like he had heard the last of it from his detractors. But then, a woman yelled out at the governor, "Tax the rich!" The outcry prompted Christie to lambaste the woman, saying that doing so in a state with one of the highest income tax rates in the country would only serve to drive more people out of New Jersey.
When Kelly gets immunity and starts singing that will be the end of Krispy!
This wasn't a "tough audience," this was just a handful of college student and NJEA teachers union paid protestors who came to make themselves unwelcome to over 99% of the town hall audience.
The change NJ needs to make is get rid of this gov. He can't lose enough weight and be anything more than what he already is.
Oh yes, Common Core: the reality of what the Right has long been screaming for, namely a uniform standard. Well, in the Ayn-Rand-inspired world the Right now lives in, anything that sounds like an obligation to others smacks of coercion. Its absurd that a party that has always encouraged volunteerism and people assuming responsibility have gone out of their way to embrace the most egocentric impulses humans have as an expression of freedom. What it is is the deification of greed and ego.
This blowhard is my Governor and he disgusts me.
Chris C . Just told the public we cant get what we want all the time or more of us will be worse off whats the big deal ? The truth ? Thats a no brainy we all should kn0w we cant please all the ppl all the time Chris said money dont grow on trees and no one is crap'n golden eggs at this point ? Just spending away our future everyone wants what you got and that dont work as you can see .
Wheres Sharpton to bring up bridgegate ??? Teachers should be ashamed of themselves for the poor job they are doing educating our youth. Like Obumbles, if teachers would teach instead of spewing bull we would be better off.
Man is a bully and he can not help acting like a bully.
why the heck did no one mention anything about the bridge gate scandal????? i saw this article and immediately thought he was gonna get slammed about bridgegate but once again, the people missed that opportunity.
we do have a huge problem with this burdening bureaucracy, im a democrat, but i recognize that we seriously do need to cut a lot of this government spending but instead of giving more tax breaks, spend it on the stuff THAT WE SERIOUSLY NEED. dumb republicans
Your not liked, but, you are a failure, by every measure, failing schools, yea well you gutted education, to give the rich tax breaks, where's the jobs, not in Jersey that's for sure, or Wisconsin, or Michigan, or Florida. Oh yea, I forgot the article on the ten worst states to live in, all Republican governed states too funny!
I would have asked why he doesn't look at both sides of the ledger and why he is an awful administrator. He is still functioning on most levels as a prosecutor and an ideologue and not as a proper guardian.
"No doughnuts?!? You promised me doughnuts!!!"
Wow, his staff did a really poor job of screening his audience this time. Of course he did throw most of that staff under a bus, maybe the survivors are overworked.
If he can't handle a few teachers and a crackpot or two, how can he possibly be considering a run for the White House?
He has a short fuse. It would be fun watching this creature fall apart when his bullying is confronted.
Not a single fool ever considers this bridge scandal wimp. He is out.
He's so Presidential!🐖🐖
Only a liberal media would characterize the exchanges as a "tough time" for the governor. I see it as the governor gave the disruptors their time and say and addressed them fair and honestly. He did not tell the people in the room something he thought they wanted to hear, he told them how he truly felt the right solution is.
"CHRISTIE's just another GLOBALIST pretending to be conservative.
----------------They'll probably run him with JEB BUSH."
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It must be hard to fund the state's public sector pension system when you have to spend that money on campaign videos, tax cuts for the wealthy, pet development projects for your political cronies, a high level legal defense team trying to keep you out of jail, and running all over the country to try to convince billionaires he is not as toxic a presidential candidate as he really is.
The people of New Jersey should not cry now after all they put him in office. Any person running withe a R behind their name should be rejected at the polls. No republicans running has any credibility.
How dare they question this upstanding paragon of leadership. He's a republican, don't you know. They are all above reproach, and will make laws to this end if allowed to do so. That's contingent on the people being stupid enough to let it happen.
Fat man in a little cell. Buh bye!
Yup, they love you, can't you tell. His true colors are just starting to show through, he is right now, scrambling to cover up his next bridge scandal, and he'd have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling Democrats,, ha ha ha oh man, this is just getting good. He did mislead investors, they still thought they were buying a train, suckers, he did work for Bernie Madoff, so,,, yea, short jump for him., good news, they now have a prison jumpsuit your size big guy!
Handwriting on the wall in the gop states folks, vote gop at your own risk, next might hit closer to home, only a matter of time when you think its OK to do it because it bolsters your party's standing, rubbish.