Gov. Chris Christie has built a national reputation for being a brash, straight-talking politician whose upfront style can either charm his supporters, or chase away his detractors.
But a growing chorus of detractors have dogged Christie’s rise to national prominence charging that he uses the political strategy of a schoolyard "bully," freezing out or intimidating anyone who opposes him - charges that have gotten louder in the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal.
During Christie’s re-election campaign, Democratic challenger Barbara Buono used the bully charge loudly and often on the campaign trail - to some, albeit little, advantage.
But after one of Christie’s top aides – whom he abruptly fired Thursday - was accused of calling for what appears to be political retribution over an endorsement snub, even Christie himself seems to be taking the bully charge seriously.
"I am who I am," Christie said in his marathon, two-hour press conference Thursday to address the bridge scandal. "I am not a bully."
Whether you call it brash or bully, there is a pockmarked trail of moments that could dog the political ambitions for the man widely expected to be gearing up for a 2016 presidential run.
Besides the now-infamous "Bridgegate" scandal, here are some others:
Navy SEAL "Idiot"
At a town hall meeting in Burlington County in March, 2012, Christie got into a minutes-long shouting match with William Brown, 34, of Mout Laurel.
Brown, a law student at Rutgers-Camden and former Navy SEAL, challenged Christie on his plan to merge Rutgers with Rowan University.
Brown interrupted the governor several times during Christie’s response before the former Iraq veteran was escorted from the event.
"Let me tell you something,” Christie said. “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."
"Take the bat out''
Christie in 2011 attracted national attention for a verbal slight against about state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-37.
Weinberg, who represents Fort Lee, had said Christie used a double standard in criticizing political allies. Christie responded to reporters on April 13, 2011:
“Can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?’’
Christie once called Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora "numb nuts" after the lawmaker compared him to segregationist Southern governors. Christie refused to apologize for the 2012 remark.
"Do your job"
Christie has had a longstanding antagonism with New Jersey’s teachers union, which recently resulted in the governor yelling at a teacher asking questions about his stance on education.
On the eve of election day last year, Christie was caught on camera yelling at middle school teacher Melissa Tomlinson, who challenged him on education at an event. “Do your job,’’ Christie reportedly said.
"Are you stupid?"
Christie berated a reporter for being “stupid,’’ calling him an “idiot,’’ for asking what he considered an off-topic question during a 2012 press conference.
Helicopter RideChristie faced torrents of criticism in 2011 for using a $12 million State Police helicopter to travel to his son’s baseball game in Bergen County. He later reimbursed the state for the cost of the ride.