New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said his July 5 shouting match with a heckler on the Seaside Heights boardwalk wouldn’t have happened if the man hadn’t used profanity in front of his children.
“Sometimes in this job you have to be a father first,” Christie, 49, told reporters today in Trenton. “If they do it while I’m alone I just ignore it and let it roll off my back. It’s part of the job. But not in front of my kids. I just won’t have that.”
Christie, a father of four, has made a name for himself by lighting into critics, and some of these confrontations have been captured and broadcast on YouTube. Video of his July 5 altercation was posted to gossip website TMZ.com, and stories about the argument made headlines around the world.
During the 29-second video, Christie is seen in a heated exchange with a person who criticized his education policies, the website said. He yelled at the man as he clutched an ice cream cone while visiting Seaside Heights, the town made famous by MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” Christie at one point marches toward the heckler until he is led off by a member of his entourage.
“You’re a real big shot -- keep shooting your mouth off,” Christie told the man. “You’re a real big shot. Keep walking away. Big shot.”
Any profanity was unclear in the video and Christie didn’t say what the man said. Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the governor, declined to say the expletive used.
Christie, who has been named as a possible vice-presidential running mate for Mitt Romney, said today that during the Seaside Heights incident he was with his 9-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son and their friends. He said he deals with hecklers “a couple of times a month” in person.
“I don’t have any regrets about turning around and yelling at a guy who then thinks he’s going to get away with a drive-by,” Christie said. “Let me assure all of you: It was not a lack of self control. It was an absolutely planned response. You use that language in front of my children, you’re going to hear back from me. That’s the way it is.”