Hecklers Dog Christie at Town Hall But Audience Comes to His Defense

By David Cruz

There was extra security at today’s Town Hall meeting, with screeners and police both in uniform and in plain clothes, keeping a watchful eye as the crowd of more than 400 filed into the Mount Laurel Y. The governor’s staff appeared to be expecting some anti-Christie action.

“It made me feel like this is not good that they need this much, that he’s that concerned that somebody’s going to hurt him that he needs security here,” observed Susan Wolf of Cherry Hill.

The heavy police presence, however, did not dissuade what appeared to be an organized effort by some hecklers to derail the governor’s train of thought or, at least, elicit a reaction. The governor admonished one man to “sit down and be quiet, or get out.” Several other hecklers shouted out questions and were quickly escorted out of the room.

In the town that has become the symbol of the affordable housing fight, the issue never cam up, much to the disappointment of Mount Laurel resident Andrea Cardwell.

“I don’t understand why he would come to Mount Laurel knowing the history of the affordable housing fight and not speak on it at all,” said Cardwell, adding that she was “extremely disappointed.”

Also not discussed again — the George Washington Bridge, the Port Authority or subpoenas. As has been the case since the governor restarted his town halls last month, Christie fans mostly dominated. Afterwards, local and state police tried to keep us as far away from the governor as possible.

“I see you every day,” the governor commented to a reporter asking about when he would hold another press conference.

The hecklers seemed to give the governor energy. Rather than ignore them, he heckled them right back, and, not surprisingly, got the crowd to help shout them down. The rules are the rules at the town hall, and, today, the governor used them to his advantage.