New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended himself against angry New Jersey residents Monday, verbally tussling with callers who called him a "bully" and dared him to come up the “courage” to answer their questions during his tryout for a sports radio hosting gig.
Christie, whose Garden State 15-percent approval rating ranks as one of the lowest in U.S. history for any governor, co-hosted the 4.5-hour “drive-time” slot on WFAN Sports Radio on Monday as part of the station’s search for a replacement for departing host, Mike Francesa.
It didn’t take long for New Jerseyans to let loose on their unloved guv.
About an hour into Christie’s gig, “Mike from Montclair,” called in, immediately taking aim at Christie’s weight and criticizing him for having brought his family to a state beach that was closed to the public due to a government shutdown during the July 4 holiday weekend.
“Next time you want to sit on a beach that is closed to the entire world except you,” Mike said, “[travel] in a car and go to one that’s opened to all your constituents.”
“You're a bully, governor,” the caller added. “And I don’t like bullies.”
“I love getting calls from communists in Montclair,” Christie responded, referring to the Newark suburb of about 40,000.
Christie also called Mike a “bum,” prompting his caller to angrily ask, “What have you done” as governor.
Christie then had the station’s switchboard hang up, and said, “What I just did is stop polluting the airways.”
Minutes earlier, another unhappy constituent from the same town told Christie he’d phoned in to “represent the 85 percent of people in this state who do not prefer you as governor.”
“John from Montclair” then dared his embattled governor to come up with “the courage” to respond to his questions.
Christie quickly jumped in.
“Well you lost twice, John. That shows how much you matter. You went 0-for-2,” Christie said, referring to his election and re-election victories in 2009 and 2013.
“Ask me your courageous questions, I’m on the edge of my seat,” Christie added.
“John from Montclair” proceeded to ask, “How do you feel with this treasonous weasel in White House,” alluding to President Donald Trump. Christie had quickly endorsed the president after he ended his own White House bid in February 2016, and briefly led Trump's transition team.
“First of all, I’m enormously relieved that we don’t have a criminal in the White House like Hillary Clinton, who I’m sure you supported, given you’re from Montclair,” Christie said, referring to caller’s home town.
Christie continued to slam Montclair even after his bitter exchanges with the pair of angry callers.
“This is a town that, let's just to say to be charitable, leans leftward,” Christie said later of Montclair — a liberal community where Clinton carried nearly 85 percent of all the votes cast for president in last year’s election.
Christie’s radio stint was billed as an audition for a permanent job hosting the coveted timeslot. Christie can’t run for re-election after his current term ends in January, due to state term-limit laws, and Francesa, who usually hosts the show, will leave the station later this year.
The angry tirade of calls, meanwhile, came just hours after yet another poll showed Christie’s approval rating at historically low levels.
Just 15 percent of New Jersey residents said they approved of the job Christie was doing as governor, with another 80 percent saying they disapproved, according to a Monmouth University survey released Monday.
More than 85 percent of the 800 Garden Staters polled from July 6 to July 9 added that they’d seen the photographs of Christie and his family on the beach over the July 4 holiday weekend.
Christie and his family were spotted on Sunday, July 2 lounging on the sand at Island Beach State Park — one of the numerous parks and beaches closed by a government shutdown that ended two days later.
That photo prompted widespread condemnation of the governor, who had already been inundated with criticism through his tenure in office, stemming from the so-called “Bridgegate” saga that rocked his administration and a flirtation with Trump’s transition team that resulted him in spending even more time away from Trenton.
The latest poll, however, mirrored results from a Quinnipiac survey last month, with just 15 percent approving of the job Christie was doing. It marked the lowest level Quinnipiac had found in an approval-ratings poll for any governor in any state in 20 years and the lowest level reached by any New Jersey governor — ever.