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Governor on heckler reaction: Just another day at 'Rancho Christie'

By Ashley Killough, CNN
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
  • Chris Christie defends his angry response to a heckler, saying it's just his style
  • "It's just another day at the ranch--Rancho Christie," he argues

(CNN) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his verbal beat down of a heckler from earlier this week, saying he's not the kind of person to sit back and let people "be rude."

"I don't look forward to doing that stuff but I won't shrink away from it either," the Republican told reporters Thursday in New Mexico. "So, it's just another day at the ranch -- Rancho Christie."

Christie was in the Southwest campaigning for Gov. Susana Martinez as part of his 19-state, five-day blitz as head of the Republican Governors Association.

The governor, known for his aggressive style when met with confrontation, frequently warns audiences at his town halls that if they try to mess with him, he's going to fight back.

"If someone is going to stand up and I ignore them for a while and then they continue to be rude and talk over me, and block other people, well then I'm going to engage," he said Thursday. "And that's what the people of New Jersey, and I think a lot of people in this country, have come to expect from me."

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The heckler, Jim Keady, told CNN on Thursday he was trying to bring attention to what he described as Christie's failed handling of Superstorm Sandy recovery funds.

"Having done activism in the past, I know that one of the things that really pushed elected officials to dig into issues that they haven't wanted to dig into ... is to do things like this," he said.

While Christie's response was well-received by some, Democrats have pounced on the exchange and are molding it into their wider message that Christie is a bully. Christie's temper could be a liability on the campaign trail, Democratic strategist David Axelrod said Thursday on MSNBC, adding that "every day is filled with aggravations and provocations, and if that's the way he's going to react, he has no future in this."

"I think he thinks that this kind of 'Sopranos' approach to politics marks him as a strong leader," he continued. "I think it marks him as an angry man."