DOVER, N.H. - At the very end of his two-day trip courting voters in the early presidential primary state of New Hampshire, Gov. Christie got a question from the public on a topic he is trying to move beyond: the George Washington Bridge scandal.
After taking questions for 80 minutes at a town-hall meeting in a bar here Friday night, Christie called on a woman who informed him she was originally from Teaneck, N.J.
"When I heard about the bridge scandal, I was beyond horrified," said Eileen Sahagian, now of Durham. "It reminds me of feudal times . . . when the king would say, 'Who cares about the peasants?' "
Sahagian told Christie she was "worried about having a president who has people around him who think that that's OK."
Christie - who has not announced a presidential campaign - responded by making his case to the crowd inside Fury's Publick House: that he played no role in the September 2013 lane-closure incident. News of it, he said hit, him like a "two-by-four."
After a nearly 16-month investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office that drew indictments against two former associates and a guilty plea by a third, Christie said it was time to move on.
"If they could have gotten something on me, I suspect" they would have, Christie said.
Dealing with the scandal has been "a painful process," he said, and "I'm going to stop apologizing for it."
Federal prosecutors said last week that Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, along with former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, conspired to jam traffic at the bridge in a plot of retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee - a Democrat who didn't endorse Republican Christie's reelection.
Christie said Friday that if those behind the traffic-jamming lane closures had thought he supported the plot, "they would have told me."
Christie said he should be judged on his quick reaction as the scandal broke: "That day, the people who, based on the information I had, I believed were responsible for this, were fired."
Christie fired Kelly on Jan. 8, 2014. Wildstein and Baroni resigned in December - departures announced before the governor acknowledged any scandal.
Asked after the meeting whether she was satisfied with Christie's answer, Sahagian said, "I don't know."
Applause went up from the bar when Christie finished his answer to the question, and several people gave him positive reviews.
"He was very specific," said Sheila Reilly, 50, of Rollinsford. She said Christie "truly answered every question."
During the meeting, Christie slammed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on immigration, describing her recent call for a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrants as "such a pander - put aside whether you agree with that position or not."
Christie said immigration requires a national conversation based on two principles: those in the country illegally will not "self-deport," and there aren't enough prosecutors to make them leave. Christie - who has been asked about immigration several times in recent weeks - did not detail a proposal.
Other repeat topics that cropped up Friday night included Common Core (once a defender of the educational standards, Christie now says he has "grave concerns" about their implementation) and climate change. (He repeated that "global warming is real," but said he opposed cap-and-trade programs.)
At one point, a young woman asked Christie a new question: Could he name something President Obama has done that he supported?
Christie pointed to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when he appeared with Obama and drew criticism from some in his party for praising the Democratic president in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
"The president was enormously helpful and kept his word to me and my state," Christie said. He said he commended Obama "because it was the truth."
He also pointed to his willingness to put aside partisanship when asked to differentiate himself from the rest of the crowded GOP primary pack, which he is lagging in polls.
With a Democratic-controlled legislature in New Jersey, "I've had to fight and cajole and charm and punch and yell and hug . . . to try to get progress in our state," he said. "That's extraordinary training for Washington, D.C."
At an earlier event Friday, Christie weighed in on the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records, saying he supported the program ruled illegal Thursday by a federal appeals court panel.
"I'm not one of these folks who believe that we should bring our guard down, especially during this really dangerous time," he said.