Chris Christie tells heckler to 'sit down and shut up'

Terrence Dopp
Bloomberg News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told a heckler to "sit down and shut up" during an exchange at a Jersey Shore ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

Christie, a 52-year-old Republican considering a run for president in 2016, traded words for more than a minute and a half with the man, who interrupted a speech in Belmar to protest what he called the slow pace of rebuilding. The man waved a sign that said "Get Sandy Families Back in Their Homes."

"You all know me, so if we're going to get into a debate tonight it's going to be very interesting and very fun," Christie said. "I'd be happy to have a debate with you any time you like, guy. A guy who doesn't know a damn thing about what he's talking about except to show off for the cameras."

Christie's angry confrontations with detractors helped propel him to national prominence. In 2012, he argued with a heckler on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, waving an ice cream cone and accusing the man of acting like a "big shot." Last year, a teacher, Melissa Tomlinson, accused him of wagging his finger at her during a campaign stop and saying "I'm tired of you people," an incident he later said was overblown.

At one point, Christie offered to meet after the ceremony, at which point the man invited the governor to dinner to talk over Hurricane Sandy and the aid process.

"There are about 1,000 things I can do tonight, and going to dinner with you is about 1,001," he said.

Two years after the storm, which devastated New Jersey and caused widespread blackouts and gas lines, some residents of the hard-hit shore region are growing impatient over the pace at which the state and federal government are distributing rebuilding aid.

Earlier today, a separate group of about 18 people picketed a Christie event in Toms River, saying he was too "chicken'" to address those left homeless by the storm.