New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has a reputation which precedes him. Never afraid to go out and communicate directly with his constituents, he seems to love to take questions from both supporters and detractors alike. And if someone chooses to engage him in a bit more vigorous fashion… let’s just say he’s not the shy, wallflower type by nature.
This was on display once again when he was challenged on the subject of merging Rutgers University with Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.
The most-heated town hall clash of the year started today with a shouting match, drove Gov. Chris Christie to call a vocal opponent to the proposed Rutgers Camden-Rowan merger an “idiot,” and ended with a stern talking-to by police.
Just four questions in, Christie called on William Brown, a 34-year-old law school student and veteran from Mt. Laurel, who explained, calmly at first: “I know that all my friends in the military no matter what state they’re from respect that fact that I go to Rutgers. It’s also true that none of my friends in the military no matter what state they’re from have ever heard of Rowan.”…
“Listen we’re not going to get into a debate here, ok?” Christie said. “I listened to you. You’re unhappy about it. You don’t want Rutgers to merge with Rowan under any circumstances. Well here’s what going to happen. Rutgers is going to merge with Rowan and here’s why –”
“It’s not a merger,” Brown continued, still interrupting.
“I sat here and listened to your story and your position — excuse me — without interrupting you,” Christie said, while Brown kept it up with: “It’s not a story, it’s the truth.”
The video follows, but there are a couple of points about the protester which are worth noting. First, Christie doesn’t need to get too far down in the weeds with Brown because he’s a veteran and, by his account, a Navy SEAL. (I have no reason to doubt him on this. Simply haven’t seen any stories documenting it.)
The second issue is that Brown is not simply a random citizen unhappy with one particular policy. His is also a Democrat with political aspirations of his own, having already taken one run at a seat in the Assembly. But watch the video and judge for yourself as to how well it was handled.