By Brenda Flanagan
A visibly upset Chris Christie shouted down the relentless heckler during the governor’s Sandy anniversary news conference in Belmar. When his critic sniped, “Do your job,” that really lit Christie’s fuse.
“Somebody like you who doesn’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here. I’ve been here when the cameras aren’t, buddy! I’ve been here when the cameras aren’t here, buddy and done the work! I’ve been here when the cameras weren’t here and did the work,” Christie said.
The confrontation continued with the home crowd often applauding Christie’s zingers.
“Turn around and get your 15 minutes of fame and then maybe take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves and do something for the people of this state,” Christie said.
“This was vintage Chris Christie. If you watch the clip, the guy was getting a little out of hand. But you know what? Gov. Christie has that kind of charisma. People actually like it when he’s decisive and he tells people what he thinks,” said Jeanette Hoffman.
Some analysts with a rightward slant relish Christie’s tough-guy tirades. News media certainly like it. “Shut up and sit down!” headlines bannered reports around the world. The clip’s undoubtedly headed for viral notoriety, just like a stack of other Christie moments caught on video, including the ice cream cone argument.
Christie’s got a rep for verbal explosions. But some observers think this latest outburst was different.
“This was a time when somebody really got him angry and he reacted in a way that can come back to bite him,” said Monmouth University Pollster Patrick Murray.
Murray says for a man with presidential aspirations, this ugly little moment didn’t look particularly presidential.
“When people in Iowa — the Republicans in Iowa — are looking him as a potential presidential candidate see these outbursts they say wait a second, it’s no longer funny, it’s no longer humorous, it’s no longer straight-talking; it’s somebody that’s going after a victim. And that won’t play well,” Murray said.
“When they see Gov. Christie they know they’re gonna get somebody who’s strong on national and internal issues and I think that plays well,” said Hoffman.
Gov. Christie’s image as a can-do, take-charge guy does appeal to many people. The question is, when does his in-your-face Jersey style cross the line?