Gov. Chris Christie found himself on the defensive Wednesday as retired educators and union workers lobbed criticism and lectured the tough-talking governor about his tone with the teachers union.
Holding his 12th town hall event to tout his proposed property tax reforms, Christie heard plenty of feedback on his criticism of the teachers union.
Angela Collucci Jones, 71, implored Christie to extend an olive branch. The former home economics teacher even suggested Christie invite New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian over for coffee and a nutritious snack to talk.
Christie said that wasn't going to happen.
"I'm not going to invite Barbara Keshishian over for coffee, OK?" Christie fired back. "The campaign for the NJEA never stopped."
"Things have to change, but don't come to us with a fist out and expect us to put our hand out and shake it," said Ed Johnson, 60, a retired telephone repairman from Clifton, after clashing with Christie during the town hall. "The man has no class."
Others also asked Christie to temper his criticism of the union, explaining that students can't differentiate between teaches and their union, making the governor's attacks seem like they are intended for all educators.
"Let's set the reset button. Let's dial it down," one man asked. "Because that would be best for the kids."
Christie had another suggestion: Get a new union.
"If you feel a distinction be made between the teachers and the teachers union, it's time to change your union," the governor replied.
At one point, Christie told an attendee that they had come to the "wrong complaint line" and needed to complain to the head of the union, not the head of the state.
He really does have no class.
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