Christie ribbed by animal rights activists at Iowa State Fair

Updated 7:52 PM EDT, Sat August 22, 2015

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Christie said he wasn't bothered by the exchange

Last November, Christie came under fired for vetoing legislation that would ban New Jersey pig farmers from using gestation crates

(CNN) —  

Chris Christie is used to some occasional ribbing from voters at his town halls, and his Saturday trip to the Iowa State Fair was no different.

During the New Jersey governor’s 20 minutes at the Des Moines Register’s Soapbox, two animal rights activists climbed onto the stage, holding a sign with a picture of a pig in a gestation crate reading, “Governor Christie and Iowa – Stop exploiting animals. It’s not food, it’s violence.”

“Animals want to live,” the two activists chanted, as an Iowa State Trooper pulled them off the stage. A third activist with a sign reading, “Until every animal is free,” took the stage in front of Christie, until she was quickly escorted off, as well.

The Soapbox is a top fairgrounds destination for presidential candidates, a modern take on the old-fashioned political activity of speaking directly to potential voters. Presidential candidates are given 20 minutes to make their pitch to attendees in any format. Hundreds turn out to see the spectacle, and candidates are often heckled.

Christie, who didn’t give a stump speech and opted instead to use his time for questions and answers with Iowans, said he wasn’t bothered by the exchange.

“I have to tell you the truth, when something like that happens and I’m here in Iowa, man, I feel right at home. Feels like I’m back in Trenton for a couple of minutes, so thank you, Iowa, for doing that,” he joked to the crowd.

Last November, Christie came under fired for vetoing legislation that would ban New Jersey pig farmers from using gestation crates. The crates limit the mobility of pregnant pigs, but prevent them from accidentally lying down or stepping on their piglets.

Christie argued that the state’s Board of Agriculture should determine whether or not farmers can use the crates.

This was the second time Christie had vetoed pig crate legislation, despite its bipartisan support in the legislature and its popularity among animal rights activists and celebrities.

The veto was largely lauded in Iowa, the number one pork-producing state in the country, and a critical early-voting state on the path to the White House. Critics of the veto accused Christie of pandering to special interests in Iowa, especially because Terry Branstad, the Republican governor of Iowa, had urged Christie to veto the bill in 2013.

“I believe that farmers should be able to make decisions about how best to raise their livestock, not government bureaucrats. I vetoed that bill twice in New Jersey, and if it comes to my desk again, I’ll veto it again, and I thank them for the opportunity,” Christie said to cheers at the Soapbox.

During a stop at the fairgrounds’ Iowa Pork Producers tent a few hours later, Christie told Branstad about the interruption.

“Did you hear I had the animal rights people protesting?” Christie asked Branstad.

“Oh my God,” Branstad deadpanned. “I can’t believe that. At the Iowa State Fair. Well, that’s amazing.”

And off the governors went to flip some pork chops.