With his star turn as an emotional, hug-happy leader in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and his open embrace of President Obama in the days before the election, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey had been enjoying something of a romance with the American left.
On Thursday, in the liberal lion’s den that is “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” that flirtation seemed to be officially declared over.
In his first appearance on the Comedy Central talk show — and fresh off a widely discussed cameo on another left-leaning television mainstay, “Saturday Night Live” — Mr. Christie, a Republican who supported Mitt Romney, endured a half-hour of grilling from the host about his political beliefs, his personal style and even a hug he recently received from Bruce Springsteen.
“He said, ‘C’mon, gimme a hug,’ ” Mr. Christie recalled, sounding awed at the memory. “And I hugged him.”
“And then did he go, ‘C’mon, stop, let me go’?” Mr. Stewart replied with a sly grin. The audience roared. Mr. Christie looked nonplused.
The Springsteen banter gave way to an aggressive line of questioning from Mr. Stewart, who challenged the governor about his change of attitude toward the president in the days before and after Hurricane Sandy struck.
“The week before the storm, you were out there: ‘President Obama couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag,’ ” Mr. Stewart said.
“And then right after the storm was over, you were like” — he adopted a robotic tone — “ ‘This man is a leader.’ ”
Mr. Christie replied, “What it tells me is that people have different skill sets at different times.”
Mr. Stewart shot back, “So he wasn’t a leader until you needed leadership?”
With a smile, Mr. Christie said, “Maybe until he was presented with a stark opportunity to lead.”
The interview, taped in Manhattan, also touched on Mr. Christie’s penchant for insulting political opponents. Mr. Stewart said he had planned to play a game with the governor: “Which of these quotes was from you, and which was from Don Rickles?”
Mr. Christie retorted that Mr. Stewart could be guilty of “trying to categorize people very narrowly,” and he added, “You’ve been trying to do that a little bit with me here.”
They eventually agreed that politicians should strive to be more genuine.
Mr. Stewart told Mr. Christie that if he did so, “You and Hillary are going to have a hell of a battle in 2016.”
The governor smiled.
At one point, Mr. Christie said his name-calling “doesn’t make me nonhumble, it makes me honest.”
Explaining his attitude, the governor said, “If you are an idiot, I’m going to call you an idiot, and if you don’t like it, then stop acting like an idiot.”
The audience laughed, and then Mr. Stewart offered his guest a suggestion: “You better write a Chris Christie’s ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul.’ ”