New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie has forged a reputation as an imposing lawmaker who can get the job done by sheer will and force.
But his confrontational style also poses a liability should he make a 2016 White House bid — attracting hecklers, political rivals and others intent on disrupting his message to spotlight their own.
Though Christie’s brash style has long been a topic for conversation, it has resurfaced amid political talk moving from the midterms to the next presidential election and Christie telling New Jersey resident Jim Keady to “sit down and shut up.”
Keady, who challenged Christie at a recent public event about his Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts, is a well-known activist.
Keady got his start by raising concerns about working conditions in overseas Nike factories, which led to a 2008 ESPN story and an HBO documentary.
And he has now turned his attention to the lingering Sandy-recovery effort, particularly drawing attention to roughly $800 million of $1.1 billion earmarked to rebuild the Jersey Shore that remains in federal coffers.
Keady has acknowledged that his actions at the Oct. 30 event — which began with him holding a sign that in part read “finish the job” — were indeed acts of civil disobedience and that his heckling kept the cameras rolling.
He has done at least five radio or on-camera interviews since the event, held in his hometown of Belmar, N.J. However, Keady rejects the accusation that he tried to bate Christie into a shouting match.
“That was about roughly 6,000 households failed by the (federal recovery) program,” Keady, an independent and former Asbury Park city council member, told FoxNews.com.
Christie’s tough-talking persona and rise to national prominence started long before 2010 when he became the state’s first Republican governor after four consecutive Democratic administrations.
He started attracting attention during six previous years as New Jersey’s U.S. attorney general, as he tried to eradicate decades of political corruption.
And his efforts as governor to cut government waste and reel in public-employees pensions under a Democrat-controlled General Assembly have only furthered his reputation.