POLITICS
10/11/2012 11:39 am ET Updated Oct 12, 2012

Chris Christie: I Would Have Dialed Back 'Idiot' Remark At Navy SEAL

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said in an Esquire interview published Thursday that he wishes he would have backed off calling a former Navy SEAL an "idiot" at a town hall last March.

"Very rarely do I have second thoughts about something I said," he said. "But one time I would have dialed it back was with the Navy SEAL at one of our town-hall meetings. I let him speak, I was trying to answer, but he kept interrupting me. And he told me he was a law student. So I told him, If you conduct yourself in court like that, you're gonna get your rear end thrown in jail by a judge. Now, I should have stopped right there. But then I said, 'Idiot.' He was acting like an idiot, but if I had the chance, I would have just ended it at telling him not to interrupt."

Christie got into the exchange with 34-year-old William Brown -- a Rutgers University-Camden law student, Iraq War vet and former Democratic candidate for state Assembly -- who disagreed with his plan to merge the law school with Rowan University. After a heated back-and-forth where Brown repeatedly interrupted him, Christie eventually said, "Let me tell you something, 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." Brown was escorted out.

A few days after the event, Christie expressed no regrets. "He acted like an idiot. He's an idiot. I don't have any regret about it at all," he said. Brown said after the exchange, "I didn't make the governor look bad, the governor made the governor look bad." He added, "I never called the governor an idiot. He called me an idiot."

Plans for merging Rutgers University-Camden with Rowan have been abandoned, but the Rutgers system has since been restructured under legislation signed by Christie.

Christie told Esquire, "Every once in a while, you go a little too far."

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