October 31st, 2012
04:11 PM ET
1 year 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. California Gary

    I guess Gov. Christie got a close up look at what real leadership is........and was impressed. When you've been supporting a phony, and then the real deal shows up, it gives you pause.

    October 31, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. jkane sfl a vote for lady parts romney the tax cheat and lyin lady parts ryan willcut your moms medicare and soc sec . .can you afford to pay for them???

    The American people want dialogues and not stonewalling by the gop .and christi and Obama take care of their people ,unlike romney ,corporations are people to . We don't want any of what your selling romney and you will find that out in 5 days .

    October 31, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. UBS, WILLARD & 4000+ AMERICAN AMNESTY DEAL

    Willard, you can be in the northeast consoling the down trotten, but you're down in Florida campaigning.

    October 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. AnotherFLmom

    Excellent job as usual Mr. President.

    October 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. Expat American

    Let's put politics aside and help those who need it...up until the job is done.
    Thank you Gov. Christie and President Obama.

    October 31, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Fat ninja

    Christie got it right. Praise when praise is due. First republican to express an opinion outside of disdain for our president since, um, uhh... Ill get back to ya.

    October 31, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F

    Christie is running for reelection in 2013, and for president in 2016 because Mittens bus to nowhere will crash next week.

    October 31, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. DENNA

    I never thought I would say this, but Gov. Christie rocks! I have seen a side of him that I did not exist and would vote for him in 2016 if the Democrats cannot put up a strong candidate. God bless you Gov. Christie and the people of New Jersey.

    October 31, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Bipartisanship!

    Thank you President Obama and thank you Governor Christie for people ahead of politics. This is a lesson to the extremists on both sides of the aisle. President Obama and Governor Chris Christie are leading by example. Hurricane Sandy has shown many people's true character. I am very disappointed with Governor Romney who seemed to only do the right thing when it seemed politically beneficial for the Romney/Ryan campaign.

    October 31, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. debi

    I LOVE MY PRESIDENT! He's real, humble, loving, caring and brilliant. Who could ask for anything more?!

    October 31, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    Obama is a true LEADER. Yes, on Obama12.

    October 31, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    Thank you cris. Thank you. Obama12.

    October 31, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. Lulu

    Two brilliant leaders. Caring and taking charge is what the people want to see.

    October 31, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    Good for you, Christie. No doubt America is impressed with both of your leadership willingness to work together to get the job done.

    Now, if only Congress .................................. !

    October 31, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  15. Hotdog

    This is the same man that was called lazy and incompetent by former Gov. Sununu. He was also referred to as a being a socialist by so many not to mention concerns about his religious beliefs. What are people like Limbaugh, Palin and others anti-Obamanites have to say now? I find it interesting that they have not found some fault at this particular time. It's sad that this country has to have a national crisis for people to work together.

    October 31, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. The Situation

    So I guess the rethugs will comment that the President is only doing this as a photo-op.

    Too Bad this President cares about the people that needs their government help when the potentially lose everything, unlike the previous President that waited for days to respond to the people that was suffering in Orleans and around the Gulf States.

    Empty Suit, Empty Chair. I see that President doing his job very well and next week all you rethugs remember the name, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA! Don't worry, you will have another 4 more years to spit his name out of your vile mouths!

    October 31, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. Jessie P.

    It is wonderful to see our President and Chris Christie workng together. President Obama cares so much about people.

    October 31, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Thanks for working together , thats how we get things done!

    Karl Rove and Rush Limbo don't care packages are hopefully a thing of the past.

    October 31, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. sylvia

    Demand the Truth about Benghazi

    The mainstream media has FAILED the American people. It should not matter to anyone whether this is a Republican or Democrat President and Administration. It is not a party issue. American lives were lost needlessly and callously. From the Situation Room in the White House, they were watching this on a live stream feed from drones in the area. Obama and the administration chose to OUTRIGHT lie to us in hopes that this would go away and not become an issue in the election.

    If we were living in times when common sense meant something, this would be front page news on every single media. But, we are not. The press has opted to protect Obama no matter the cost to the American people. If Obama is allowed to get away with this treason – and it is treason, he is aiding and abetting the enemy, then we are living under the illusion that we live in a free nation. When free press is gone, there is no freedom. And, my personal belief is that the free press has chosen to protect Obama, even at the expense of American lives.
    If you want to know the truth, it is up to us to demand the truth. Since the mainstream media is not pressuring Obama for the truth, the truth will remain hidden until or unless we make enough noise to force the truth to be revealed. Please, join me in demanding the truth:
    The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and the two Navy Seals in Benghazi TRUSTED Obama. They were wrong, they are dead.

    There?s been a special line set up for this: PLEASE CALL AND TELL THEM YOU WANT A PUBLIC HEARING on BENGHAZI before the elections!!! OGR (Office of Govt. Reform) Committee: (202) 225-5074.

    The Republican national committee is asking us to call the oversight committee: PLEASE CALL and RE-POST THIS TO YOUR WALL and other social media. Distribute to all of your contacts.

    October 31, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Q

    President Obama is the genuine article.

    October 31, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. B

    Hail to the Chief.

    October 31, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Phillip J. Townsend

    Best thing for the American people is Leaders working together Gov. Christie and President Obama showed me a lot these last few days! Go U.S.A. Stand Together!

    October 31, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  23. mb

    We ALL...should consider ourselves so lucky to have the leader that we do....THANK YOU MR PRESIDENT....AND GOV CHRISTIE!!

    October 31, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. RudyG

    People in this blog are pathetic excuses for human beings! You can't stop talking politics, can you? People are without homes, and you are busy bashing politicians. Why don't you go get a life and help someone??

    October 31, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. alicia

    That's our president and he deserves FOUR MORE YEARS!!! Let get it done by Nov 6th my fellow americans!! Please make sure you vote early if your state allows it ... if not Nov 6th come out in full force and show Romney and the supreme court that MONEY FROM BILLIONAIIRES will not buy this election!!!! Citizens united must be overturned and we must keep pushing FORWARD with policy's that have taken us out of the hole we were buried in 4 years ago .

    Obama 2012

    October 31, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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