WOODBRIDGE, N.J. - Personal and political worlds collided at Gov. Christie's town hall meeting Tuesday when a microphone was handed to former Gov. Jim McGreevey's father.
Referring to a comment last week at a similar meeting in which a female supporter called Christie "hot and sexy," Jack McGreevey asked: "What was [your wife] Mary Pat's reaction when you were called 'hot and sexy?' "
Then he flashed Christie a thumbs-up. Christie and the crowd of several hundred broke into laughter.
Christie said his wife's reaction came in the form of an e-mail: "Now you will be completely insufferable." Christie then thanked Jack McGreevey for his service "to our country and our state."
The unusual nature of the father of a former Democratic governor asking a sitting Republican governor about his marriage was only made stranger by the circumstances surrounding former Gov. McGreevey's political and marital demise.
The elder McGreevey, a gregarious former Marine drill sergeant, was famously photographed in 2004 as he stood beside his son and looked at the ceiling while the then-governor announced he was a "gay American" and would resign under a cloud of ethics accusations.
After the town hall Tuesday in Woodbridge, where Jim McGreevey was once mayor, Jack McGreevey said he was surprised the governor recognized him and surprised that he called on him. "I just figured it would bring a little laughter" to the audience, he said, adding that it was "a good wrap-up" question.
The bipartisan laughter suited Christie well in Woodbridge, a traditionally Democratic city that he surprisingly won in 2009. Christie received a cooler welcome than normal and his remarks were less partisan in tone than at previous town halls - although he did use the occasion to lobby for Republican control of the Legislature, saying the Democrats weren't moving fast enough on employee pension and benefits reform.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result," he said. "You've seen eight years of a Democratic legislature....I don't think anybody can argue that New Jersey isn't different today having elected a governor from a different party."
Christie said he had started negotiations with public employee unions on their contracts, which expire in June, and said he had met recently with State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester).
But that meeting held far less interest than the McGreevey-Christie encounter.
"Hot and sexy?" Christie asked. "It shows anything in America is possible."