EXETER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Mitt Romney might want to take a lesson from Chris Christie on how to handle protesters at his Republican presidential campaign events.
When a gaggle of protesters interrupted Romney’s campaign rally speech at an Exeter high school, Romney declared politely that it was “really unfortunate” and urged his supporters to get loud and drown out his opponents’ chants.
“I‘m happy to have you guys express your views,” Romney told them as he campaigned days before the New Hampshire primary. “Next time do it with more courtesy.”
The protesters kept on shouting “Mitt kills jobs” and some were escorted out, but the shouts did not stop.
Then it was New Jersey Governor Christie’s turn to address the overflow crowd jammed into the school gymnasium.
When a heckler yelled, “Christie kills jobs,” Christie was ready with a response - New Jersey style.
”Really?“ Christie replied. Something may go down tonight but it’s not going to be jobs, sweetheart.”
Christie, a potential vice presidential running mate should Romney win the Republican presidential nomination, has emerged as one of Romney’s top surrogates on the campaign.
He deftly turned the protesters’ complaints into criticism against Democratic President Barack Obama, who will face Romney or another Republican in next November’s election.
Obama has “encouraged these people to be angry at Mitt and angry at me because we stand up for what we believe in,” he said.
“Mr. President, you’re up there in the family quarters of the White House, put your feet up and don’t worry about it. Mitt Romney is going to bring people together,” said Christie.
The crowd roared its approval.
“He handled them just the way I would expect him too, an intellectual beat-down,” said Mike Gianino, 51, of Newton, New Hampshire. “I think Christie is just the right amount of punch.”
Reporting By Steve Holland and Jason McLure; Editing by Eric Walsh