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Gov. Christie's Shouting Match With Heckler Is A Topic Of Great Interest In N.J.

BELMAR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Chris Christie's shouting match with a man who interrupted one of his press events Wednesday is now the talk of New Jersey.

After being confronted by a former Democratic councilman, Jim Keady, demanding to know why federal Hurricane Sandy money isn't being dispersed fast enough, Christie let him know who was in charge of the Jersey Shore press conference, CBS2's Christine Sloan reported.

"I'd be more than happy to have a debate with you any time you'd like, guy, because somebody like you doesn't know a damn thing about what you're talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here. I've been here when the cameras aren't here, buddy, and done the work," Christie said.

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The crowd in Belmar cheered the governor, but Keady pressed on and that's when Christie said, "So listen, you want to have the conversation later I'm happy to have it, buddy, but until that time, sit down and shut up."

In response to Keady asking the governor to dinner, Christie said, "There's about 1,000 things I'll do tonight, going to dinner with you is about 1,001."

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It's the kind of response some say may not work in Iowa for a man who may run for president, but political analyst Peter Woolley said, "I think some people really like a candidate without a filter. They like to hear somebody say it like it is.

"Either he doesn't have a filter, or his filter is in the repair shop, or he just turns it off once in a while," Woolley added.

New Jersey residents had mixed feelings about the confrontation.

"I think people are entitled to say whatever they like," one woman said.

"He could have definitely chosen better words," one man said.

"I am one of the swing voters the Republicans want and I wasn't so happy with it," another woman said.

In the past, the governor has admitted he has a short fuse when challenged.

The shouting match was a far cry from the way Christie conducted himself earlier in the day when CBS2 asked him about the money. Many Sandy victims say they still haven't been able to rebuild.

"So do you think people have gotten what they need?" Sloan asked Christie.

"Lots of people have, but some haven't," the governor calmly responded.

Christie is out campaigning for out-of-state Republicans and his choice of words have put him on the front page of almost every website.

Keady, a former Asbury Park councilman, founded a group called Finish The Job, which is critical of the pace of rebuilding assistance in New Jersey.

The shouting match centered around a federal program called RREM, short for Reconstruct, Rehabilitate, Elevate and Mitigation.

"I was just holding up the sign silently and the governor engaged me,"Keady told Sloan. "For the governor to say 'shut up and sit down,' I think it just shows a disrespect for the office of the governor."

According to Keady, only a quarter of the $1.1 billion has been handed out by the state. New Jersey's Department of Community Affairs claims the total is much more than that.

Keady said he was speaking up for victims like Krista Sperber.

"I think it is exhausting. I never would have thought it would take two years," Sperber said.

Keady said his colleagues have previously tried to engage the governor with no chance for interaction, so he took his opportunity Wednesday, 1010 WINS' Rebecca Granet reported.

"I'm a longtime, seasoned social justice activist, I know how this stuff works," Keady said. "This is an effective means of getting government to respond."

Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said Keady's treatment of Christie was disrespectful.

"I just felt the whole thing was uncomfortable and awkward," Doherty said. "It's never proper to heckle anyone in public whether the president or the governor."

Keady said that he's not opposed to apologizing to the governor for the way the interaction played out, but isn't backing off of his position, Granet reported.

He said his offer to have dinner with the governor still stands.

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