BOSTON (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's opponents have repeatedly accused him of being a bully, but never before have they had such a dramatic example to try to make their point.
The Republican governor repeatedly apologized on Thursday for his administration's role in engineering traffic jams to get even with Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, who didn't endorse him for re-election. The governor insisted he had no knowledge of or involvement in the growing scandal. And he brushed aside questions about whether his aggressive governing style may have created conditions for the recent offense.
"I am who I am," Christie declared. "I am not a bully."
Critics have collected other examples of what they've called his bullying over the years:
JERSEY CITY JABS
Another mayor, Steven Fulop, of Jersey City, said it's been impossible to get a meeting with a Christie cabinet official since he declined to endorse the governor for re-election.
Fulop, a Democrat, said Christie's commissioners called one by one to cancel previously scheduled meetings within an hour of when he communicated his intention not to endorse. He said no one has called to reschedule in the following months.
Christie called a former Navy Seal an "idiot" during a 2012 town hall meeting. Former soldier and law student William Brown was criticizing a proposed higher education merger when the conversation turned into a shouting match with the governor.
"Let me tell you something," Christie said. "After you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end's going to be thrown in jail, idiot."
He later refused to apologize, again calling Brown an "idiot" and "a jerk."
'TAKE THE BAT OUT'
Christie infamously suggested that the media "take the bat out" on a then-76-year-old Democratic state senator who accused him of hypocrisy in 2011. He referred to another Democrat in the Legislature as "a jerk" after she criticized him for taking a state police helicopter to his son's baseball game.
'ARE YOU STUPID?'
Christie called a reporter "stupid" and an "idiot" for asking an off-topic question during a press conference in 2012.
"Did I say on topic? Are you stupid?" Christie asked the reporter.
He later added, "I'm sorry for the idiot over there."
Christie called Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora "numb nuts" in 2012 after the lawmaker compared him to segregationist Southern governors. He later refused to apologize.
LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF 'THE SOPRANOS'
Christie told former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign that it needed Christie's permission to raise money in New Jersey. Romney found Christie's position "galling, like something out of 'The Sopranos,'" according to the authors of "Double Down: Game Change 2012."
IT'S HOW HIS MOTHER RAISED HIM
Christie defended his aggressive word choices last fall in a re-election debate: "Using direct and blunt language is something that I've done my whole life. It was the way my mother raised me. ... I am who I am. And I'm not going to change."
AP writer Angela Delli Santi contributed to this report.