October 31st, 2012
04:11 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama takes in damage with Christie in New Jersey

(CNN) – Normally rivals, President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made no mention of politics Wednesday to tour and assess widespread devastation near Atlantic City, two days after a superstorm left parts of the iconic resort destroyed.

"I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and the people of our state," Christie said after surveying damage from Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey.

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Obama returned that praise, saying the Republican governor has been "aggressive" in preparing his state for one of the worst natural disasters in American history.

"I think the people of New Jersey recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure that the people of New Jersey bounce back even stronger than before. I want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership and partnership," Obama said.

He and his team would not tolerate red tape in delivering federal aid to afflicted communities, Obama said, describing a demand he's made on his team to return phone calls from local and state authorities within 15 minutes.

"We go through tough times, but we bounce back," Obama said in his conclusion. "The reason we bounce back is because we look out for one another. And we don't leave anybody behind. And so my commitment to the people on this block, the people in this community and the people of this state is that that same spirit will carry all the way over until our work is done."

The presidential tour began when Air Force One landed at an airstrip in the southeastern beach town around 1 p.m. ET, where Obama and Christie shook hands on the tarmac and boarded a helicopter for an aerial tour of the damage. Obama traveled to New Jersey with Craig Fugate, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The helicopter tour took the president and the governor over cleanup efforts in Atlantic City and surrounding towns, including Seaside Heights, where a large pier that previously housed a roller coaster has been submerged in seawater.

Later, Obama and Christie toured a makeshift shelter in the Brigantine Beach Community Center, northeast of Atlantic City, where 200 spent the night during the storm's peak on Monday night.

At the shelter, Obama praised FEMA chief Fugate, saying he was "the best there ever is" to take the role of managing the federal disaster response outfit.

And Christie, a Republican and top surrogate for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, piled praise on the president.

"He means what he says," Christie said, adding Obama had been "working the minute he got here."

Christie's remarks at the shelter echo his sentiments from the past twenty-four hours, during which he's extolled Obama as providing an exemplary response to Sandy. Christie said on CNN Tuesday he wasn't the type to play politics in his assessment of Obama's disaster response, saying "when the president does things that deserve praise, I will give him praise. When the president does things that deserve scorn, I will give him scorn."

The scorn has certainly been on display in the past, most recently at the Republican National Convention in August during Christie's keynote address.

At that event, Christie hammered Obama for an absence of leadership characteristics, saying it was "time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House."

Asked Tuesday if Romney had a problem with Christie looking at storm damage with the president just six days before the election, a top Romney adviser offered one word: "None."

Obama was previously slated to campaign on Ohio Wednesday, but the White House canceled those events so the president could devote his attention to the storm's aftermath. Obama canceled campaign events on Monday and Tuesday as well.

Democratic surrogates have been out in force for the president, however, including Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton, both of whom live in states that saw damage during the storm (Clinton in New York and Biden in Delaware).

Obama is scheduled to return to campaigning Thursday with events in Colorado, Wisconsin and Nevada.

Meanwhile, Romney resumed campaigning Wednesday with campaign events in Florida. During the height of the storm Monday evening, the GOP nominee spoke by telephone with FEMA and National Weather Service officials.

CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Chris Christie • New Jersey • President Obama
soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. luckjoe

    Obama has been around his Hollywood pals so long he learned to act like he really gives a toot. Don't be fooled by his photo op. Where was Obama when the live stream from Libya was playing in the White House. Packing for his big
    Vegas fund raiser.

    November 1, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  2. julie

    TAKEN BETS HERE- I bet Christe votes for Pres Obama on Tue..................anyone want to take me on -on this one

    one step further, once behind the booth I BET a few other repub officials WILL VOTE OBAMA too....you can say WHO YOU'll vote for to ANYONE but once behind the voting booth.... any takers...what repub OFFICIAL do U think will vote Obama..............don't be scared

    OBAMA/BIDEN............IT'S THE ONLY WAY FORWARD PEOPLE...........& in YOUR HEARTS ya know this

    November 1, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  3. Rina

    It is about time we had some of our reps working together! Maybe if there were more of this kind of attitude, we could actually better our country instead of spending so much time, effort and money with the fighting.

    November 1, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  4. sifto

    i think everyone knows that the bipartisanship is initiated by Gov Christie–Obamas role in this disaster is minimal and he has proven himself to be a severe liberal partisan–you did not see him helping out in the south during the disasters...more people killed....

    November 1, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  5. NameJulie

    Reggie-don't bash the good will of a standing president. This is what he has done his whole time in the White House and before that.

    November 1, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  6. SugarKube

    Great move on Christie's part. He forced Obama to waste a day in NJ which is going Obama anyway, and Christie looks good too!!!

    November 1, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  7. Ronnie Jackson

    Reggie sorry but the president isn't a heartless gutless wonder like you are and want him to be but yeah you must be a racist to go in that direction during such a bad crisis even Gov and Lt Gov appreciate his help because in the end they are just playing a game when they say they have issue with the president you however and many other voters do hate the president most congress men are smart enough to see that so they pretend by feeding into your hate so they can get your hateful butts to the polls.

    November 1, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
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