No regrets, at all, for 'idiot' remark, Christie says

Gov. Christie takes questions during a town-hall meeting in Florence Township. Tempers flared between the governor and a Rutgers-Camden law student who opposes Christie's plan to merge the school with Rowan University. (CHARLES FOX/Staff Photographer)

This morning at Bordentown Regional High School, just a few miles away from the scene of the gov's latest controversial remark, Christie was asked if he had any regrets about calling a Rutgers-Camden student/Navy SEAL/former Democratic Assembly candidate an "idiot" at a town hall meeting last week.

The answer was not surprising, at all: NO.

"He acted like an idiot, he's an idiot," Christie said.

He added: "Just because he's a Navy SEAL doesn't give him any reason to be a jerk."

Christie said he allowed William Brown to speak for more than two minutes against the proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University. But he was interrupted several times. The screaming match that ensued ended with Brown being escorted outside and Christie saying this: "And let me tell you something, if, after you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end's going to be thrown in jail, idiot."

Christie explained his reaction this morning. "If you're going to yell and scream and not allow me to give a thoughtful answer to your question I'm going to give it back to you," he said. "And I have absolutely no regret about it."

He said that he honors Brown's service overseas. But he also noted that he has a "political agenda" and "wanted to try to make me look bad."

"If you're going to do that, and come to a town hall meeting to do it, then you're going to get shouted at back," he said. "That's my style, that's the way it goes."

Christie was similarly unapologetic at the end of the town hall meeting last Thursday in Florence. He recounted what had just happened and told the crowd: "Damn, man, I'm governor, can you just shut up for a second?"

Christie reiterated that the merger, with the Rutgers-Camden Law School included, would go through, and he cited today's supportive editorial in the Inquirer. "He can cry his crocodile tears all he wants," he said.

"It's going to be a major research university in South Jersey."

UPDATE: Just received a statement from Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D., Camden) on this incident: "Unless Governor Christie is using his town hall meetings to audition for a spot on the Real Housewives of New Jersey, he should apologize immediately for his immature and nasty remarks. Legitimate policy disagreements should never devolve into school yard taunts, especially with so many tough issues facing our state...Governor Christie should remember that he works for Mr. Brown and millions of other New Jersey citizens, not the other way around.”