No regrets for calling student 'idiot,' Christie says

Posted: March 13, 2012

BORDENTOWN - Asked Monday if he regretted calling a Rutgers-Camden law student and former Navy SEAL an "idiot" during an argument at a town-hall meeting last week, Gov. Christie's answer was a typical Gov. Christie answer: "No."

"He acted like an idiot, he is an idiot," Christie told reporters Monday at Bordentown Regional High School, where he was visiting to talk about his education policies.

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

No apology was forthcoming to the target of his ire, William Brown of Mount Laurel.

"I wasn't surprised. Bullies don't apologize," Brown responded in an interview later in the day. "If he continues to call me names, I'm going to file a lawsuit. This is getting out of hand."

Christie, whose comment last week at the town hall in Florence became national news and helped to further build his self-styled reputation as a blunt-talking Jersey guy, noted on Monday that Brown isn't just a former Navy SEAL. Brown is also a former Democratic candidate for Assembly who, he alleged, had a "political agenda" and "wanted to try to make me look bad."

The Republican governor's proposal to merge Rowan University and Rutgers-Camden has sparked an outcry from the Rutgers community. Brown opposes the plan, and he repeatedly interrupted Christie last week as they debated the issue.

The screaming match that ensued ended with Brown being escorted outside by the police 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 Monday.

"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.

He noted that at every town hall, before he opens the floor to questions he tells audience members that he will grapple with them if need be. "That's my style, that's the way it goes," he said.

Christie was similarly unapologetic at the end of last week's meeting, telling the crowd: "Damn, man, I'm governor, can you just shut up for a second?"

Christie said Monday he respected Brown's service in the military, where he served in Iraq, but he reaffirmed his administration's commitment to the merger.

"He can cry his crocodile tears all he wants," he said.

A Democratic legislator, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D., Camden), released a statement Monday saying Christie was "using his town hall meetings to audition for a spot on the Real Housewives of New Jersey." He called on the governor to apologize "for his immature and nasty remarks."

Brown noted that Christie has had run-ins with other residents and with state legislators - "a repeated pattern of humiliating New Jersey citizens who disagree with his proposed policies."

"One good thing that comes out of this is more people are learning about the concerns of South Jersey students and Rutgers students that this is a hostile takeover," Brown said.


Contact Matt Katz at 609-217-8355 or mkatz@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @mattkatz00. Read his blog, "Christie Chronicles," at www.philly.com/christiechronicles

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