TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leaves center stage this week, but don’t expect him to sit down and shut up any time soon.
The colorful, candid, at-times crude and historically unpopular two-term Republican governor, who captured national headlines with his unique turns-of-phrase and gigantic personality, leaves office Tuesday.
He leaves behind eight years’ worth of imagery illustrating a philosophy he once said he held about his time as one of America’s most powerful governors: “I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange that I can.”
A closer look at some of the most colorful moments from Christie’s eight years.
—GET THE HELL OFF THE BEACH: While briefing the public on the state’s response to Hurricane Irene in 2011 , Christie said he’d seen newscasts showing beachgoers at the shore. “Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park,” Christie said. “You’re done. … You’ve maximized your tan.”
—THE OBAMA EMBRACE: Christie’s handling of Superstorm Sandy weeks before the 2012 presidential contest got him record-high job approval ratings at home, but photos of him greeting President Barack Obama earned him scorn among national Republicans. Obama placed his hand on Christie’s shoulder, but angry Republicans labeled it a “hug,” and suggested it contributed to Mitt Romney’s defeat. Christie said he was simply doing his job by meeting with the president.
—’THE ADULTS ARE IN CHARGE’: Christie showed his ability to connect with the public in the aftermath of Sandy. He met a 9-year-old girl while touring rebuilding efforts who told him she was scared because her family had lost their house. Christie said he asked her whether her mom and dad were safe, and when she said yes, he thought of how he’d talk about such a loss with his own 9-year-old daughter. “I hugged her and told her not to cry anymore — that the adults are in charge now and there was nothing to be afraid of anymore,” Christie said.
—GET A MOP: Before Christie dropped out of the 2016 presidential contest and backed Donald Trump, he focused his campaign on winning in New Hampshire. At a town hall that coincided with a winter storm in New Jersey, a woman asked why he wasn’t at home helping. “Do you want me to go down there with a mop?” Christie replied while discussing what the state had already done to address the problem.
POP CULTURE CHRISTIE
—LATE-NIGHT DOUGHNUT: Christie’s self-deprecating and self-aware sense of humor also helped establish him as a national political figure. In 2013, he was a guest on David Letterman’s late-night show and — poking fun at his size (he underwent lap band surgery in February 2013) — Christie pulled out a doughnut , took a bite and said he didn’t realize the interview would take so long. Christie later appeared on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and showed off his dad dancing skills.
—’JERSEY SHORE’ HATER: Christie was a frequent critic of MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore,” which depicted 20-somethings’ summertime life in Seaside Heights. “They parachute these losers into New Jersey. They’re from New York,” Christie said. He once met Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jenni “JWoww” Farley on the boardwalk. Polizzi called Christie a “scary man” in her book.
—’BIG SHOT’: After someone said something to Christie while he ate an ice cream cone on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, Christie walked toward him. “You’re a real big shot ,” he said. “You’re a real big shot shooting your mouth off.”
-‘SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP ‘: “You want to have the conversation later? I’m happy to have it, buddy. But until that time, sit down and shut up,” Christie said while being interrupted repeatedly by a Democratic activist criticizing him over what he said were his failures after Sandy.
—’IDIOT’: Confronted by a Rutgers-Camden law school student upset in 2012 about a proposed name change for the school, Christie let him have it. “Let me tell you something,” Christie said, “after you graduate from law school you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to be thrown in jail, idiot.” William Brown afterward identified himself as Navy SEAL veteran. Christie expressed a rare bit of regret, saying he wouldn’t have called him an idiot if he had another chance.
—WORKING ‘THE CONES’: Coming off a huge re-election victory, Christie faced questions about the lane closure scheme at the George Washington Bridge that had not yet come entirely to light as the so-called Bridgegate scandal. At a December 2013 news conference he dismissed a question about any personal involvement. “I worked the cones, actually,” he said. “Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there.”
—’EMBARRASSED AND HUMILIATED’: After an email calling for “traffic problems” in Fort Lee emerged and the lane closure was exposed as part of a political payback scheme, Christie fired the staffer involved and held a nearly three-hour news conference aimed at clearing the air. “I come out here today to apologize to the people of New Jersey,” he said. “I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.” Christie wasn’t charged and continues to deny any knowledge. A former aide pleaded guilty and two were convicted.
AND, OF COURSE, THE BEACH PHOTO
The aerial photos taken by an NJ.com photographer in an airplane last summer of Christie hanging at Island Beach State Park, which was closed to the public because of a state government shutdown, led to an online churn of memes that was immediate and cutting: Christie cropped into a “From Here to Eternity” and “Planet of the Apes” scenes, for example. Christie reached a deal that fell short of what he had been seeking soon after the photos published. He said he wouldn’t apologize and that photos merely showed a politician keeping his word because he had promised his family a vacation.