Cheers erupted for Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday as the Republican shouted down a protester at an event in Belmar, New Jersey, marking the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
A man holding a sign reading “Get Sandy families back in their homes” and “Finish the job” stood directly in front of Christie, blocking cameras at the event. The sign and the man’s comments (inaudible in the video) set off the famously outspoken governor, who is widely rumored to be considering a 2016 presidential bid.
“I’m glad you had your day to show off but we’re the ones who are here to actually do the work,” Christie said to applause. “So turn around and get your 15 minutes of fame and then maybe take your jacket off and roll up your sleeves and do something for the people of this state.”
Public support for Christie’s handling of the recovery effort has fallen since Hurricane Sandy crashed into the state, devastating homes and businesses. At the time, the Republican was criticized by party members for praising and even embracing President Barack Obama as he toured the state to assess the damage. But in his mostly blue state, Christie garnered strong approval ratings for his efforts in managing the crisis.
Sandy aid has been slow to appear for some homeowners and business owners, however, leading public opinion to sour on Christie. Sandy victims have languished on wait lists for aid, had applications rejected or lost, and reported insufficient help for minorities and the poor, according to NPR.
This past July, Christie fired the Sandy “czar” he appointed in 2012, and, in January of this year, he fired the biggest contractor working on recovery efforts in the state. Added to the mire, the governor in recent months has struggled with the declining fortunes of Atlantic City businesses and the ongoing controversy over the politically-motivated closing of the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 — all of which has cast a shadow on his possible hopes for a 2016 run.
On Wednesday, though, Christie was back in form, brashly shouting down the protester.
“I’d be more than happy to have a debate with you anytime you like, guy, because somebody like you who doesn’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here,” he said. “I’ve been here when the cameras aren’t here, buddy, and done the work.”
Toward the end of the nearly two-minute confrontation, Christie summed up his attitude toward the man with a succinct: “Sit down and shut up.”