US & Canada

Governor Chris Christie in radio clash over 'beachgate'

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Media captionHot and bothered: How 'beachgate' unfolded

An angry caller confronted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on a radio show over his use of a state beach he had ordered closed to the public.

Mr Christie drew outrage after he was photographed relaxing on a beach that he closed because of a budget impasse.

As the governor filled in for a sports talk show host, a listener called in to object to his actions, labelling him a bully, which sparked a slanging match.

The Republican governor called the listener a "communist" and a "bum".

He appeared in place of WFAN's Mike Francesca on Monday in what the New York radio station described as an audition to replace the sports talk show host.

Listen to the full exchange

Mr Christie has faced mounting criticism since the 4 July holiday weekend, when he told reporters he did not "get any sun" before photos emerged of him sitting on Island Beach State Park.

The partial government shutdown arose because New Jersey legislators had not passed a health insurance bill that Mr Christie said had to be approved alongside the state's budget.

The shutdown included the closure of Island State Beach Park, one of New Jersey's few free public beaches, and all other state parks.

"Governor, next time you want to sit on a beach that is closed to the entire world except you, you put your fat ass in a car and go to one that's open to all your constituents," said the caller, who identified himself as Mike from Montclair, New Jersey. "Not just you and yours."

"You know, Mike, I love getting calls from communists in Montclair," the governor said.

The caller then responded: "You're a bully, governor, and I don't like bullies", adding that the beach trip was "bad optics".

"I'd love to come look at your optics every day, buddy," the governor said, calling him a "bum".

Another listener called in to criticise Mr Christie for supporting President Donald Trump, to which the governor responded by saying: "I'm enormously relieved we don't have a criminal in the White House like Hillary Clinton."

Mr Christie has faced dismal approval ratings in recent months.

Before Monday's talk show, a Monmouth University poll showed just 15% of New Jersey residents approved of Mr Christie while 80% disapproved.