CHRISTIE CHRONICLES At the Edison Diner on Tuesday morning, during a typical Jersey campaign stop at the Jerseyist of locations, Gov. Christie leaned over a table, looked a political opponent in the eyes, and had a compelling four-minute debate about gay marriage - expanding on the issue as I had never heard him do before.
"I am going to say something," threatened Bert Bueno, who was dining with her long-ago New Brunswick High School classmate as Christie approached. "Why should everyone be kissing his a-?"
Up to that point, Republican loyalists and diner-goers were angling for selfies with, and autographs from, Christie. Then he got to Bueno's table.
She immediately asked him why he opposed gay marriage and vetoed a bill that would have legalized it. He said that he wanted voters to decide the issue on the ballot.
"This is different from gun control and taxes; this is a human-rights issue," Bueno said.
"Says you," Christie said.
"It is," she retorted.
"If you're waiting to find a candidate you're going to agree with every time, go home and look at the mirror," Christie said. Or, "if that's your most important issue, then you can vote for the other person."
She asked whether he would sit down with a group of gays and lesbians to allow himself to be convinced of the other side.
Christie demurred. "I have relatives who are gay. I have friends who are gay. I can sit down and have a conversation, but I don't think it's going to change my view," the governor said.
Bueno softened. "I appreciated this interaction," she said.
As his security hustled me away, Bueno praised Christie for working with President Obama after Sandy. "I thought that was very courageous of you," she said.
I returned to Bueno's table and asked whether the charged but cordial conversation with Christie had changed her mind about him.
Would you vote for him, I asked?
"[Expletive] no," she said.