(MT. LAUREL, N.J.) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired back at a group of protesters Thursday during a town hall meeting, ordering them to “sit down and keep quiet.”
The outburst took place while Christie held his 113th town hall gathering to discuss the state’s budget, although it’s unclear who the protesters are.
Christie, no stranger to confrontation, said he didn’t “know who these folks are” — but said he believes they were together calling them a “coordinated, partisan effort.”
Each of the protesters were escorted out after they began yelling. The crowd that had gathered at the YMCA of Burlington County in Mount Laurel applauded when the protesters were escorted out.
Following the first heckler’s interruption, the tough-talking governor stopped the woman asking him a question to yell back — telling the man: “Listen, listen. …Either sit down and keep quiet or get out, one or the other. We are done with you.”
One of Christie’s first questioners, who kept talking over the protester, had asked the governor if he planned to run for president in 2016, saying he thinks Washington politicians are lying to Americans over the national debt.
In his answer, Christie brought it back to those protesting saying, “When people just stand up and yell and scream and divide, then it shuts down debate and discussion.”
Amid laughter, Christie said he loves “youthful enthusiasm,” but that the protesters don’t want “an answer from me.”
“They want attention,” he added.
Christie also said he calls on people randomly.
“Sometimes they like me, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they are neutral,” he told the crowd. “Some days I sit and listen and take it and give a reasonable answer in response and sometimes if I’m in a cranky mood I yell back and you’ve all seen this.”
Christie was referring to just how many of those town hall shouting matches have been posted on YouTube, some of them even by his own staff, who are proud of his tough talking style.
This is Christie’s third town hall since the Bridgegate scandal broke. It was exactly six months Thursday since those lanes were closed to the George Washington Bridge, but he hasn’t received any questions on the topic from constituents at the town halls.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com Columnist
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News