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. plain&simple

    You see It's possible to like a democrat and republican at the same time and get things done. Two adults in a house of children.....take notes congress!!!!

    October 31, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Reggiedw

    This is a photo-op for Obama. Do you really think if this was not an election year that Obama would reach to New Jersey today? No way.........he might have gone golfing like on many other occasions. Obama is not a leader and will never be a leader. He is only doing this to make you democrats (no brains) believe that he actually cares but I am sure he would rather be somewhere else. He is such a fake that it sickens me to see him use the people's misfortunes from the storm to firm up his re-election. Shame on Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 31, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. anonoymous

    God bless America! True leadership.....Gov Christie if only what you're doing could happen in Washington. Our president is a leader and when mature people work with himand not against him....

    October 31, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Marty, FL

    True bipartisan cooperation working together to help Americans.

    Thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the storm.

    God bless the USA

    October 31, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Patrick in Wisconsin

    Reggie, regardless, at least Obama has compassion for those struggling. Romney on the other hand has proven he has absolutely not room in his heart for the suffering (47% comments et al).

    October 31, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Collin

    Way to go Reggie. Must be sad to be that cynical all the time. Go get your Bottle and take a nap. You seem cranky

    October 31, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. FactCheck

    Do you really think if this was not an election year that Obama would reach to New Jersey today?
    -----

    We do know for a fact what Romney was doing when all this was going on. Trying to sneak his mug into anything that resembles a photo-op. Last I heard, he was giving a stump speech to an ATM camera in Iowa.

    October 31, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. Data Driven

    This is excellent news!! For Romney!!!

    October 31, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. Harold

    Hey Reggie, sorry to say it but as you can clearly see, Obama does care. Your fellow Republicans know this, they coined the phrase OBAMACARE!!!

    October 31, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. steveo8956

    where is Romney? In Ohio instead of dealing with the most important aspects of his campaign? Wall Sereet and big business crippled-lower manhatten and all the subways in New York flooded-the New Jersey shore and Long Island washed away-and this clown is passing out canned goods??? his strategy is weak and he dosnt care about people in true need.

    October 31, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. hilroy

    It seems that there is much surprise that Govenor Christie and the President are working together. I must say friends and associates in my circle have found that it happens more often than you think with meaningful results in problem solving. Both of them share cultural commonalities and it is sincere with a breath of fresh air. Maybe Govenor Christie should have been the house speaker. I also hope that Govenor Cuoma runs in 2016 then appoints NJ Mayor Booker as VP if you want real change.

    October 31, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. hilroy

    It seems that there is much surprise that Govenor Christie and the President are working together. I must say friends and associates in my circle have found that it happens more often than you think with meaningful results in problem solving. Both of them share cultural commonalities and it is sincere with a breath of fresh air. Maybe Govenor Christie should have been the house speaker. I also hope that Govenor Cuoma runs in 2016 then appoints NJ Mayor Booker as VP.

    October 31, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Billy Bob

    Reggiedw: Don't be so bummed out. You can probably hustle up a few used generators, or some canned food from wal mart, drive up to NJ and engage in a little price gouging! Remember, the free market is to worshiped. I think there is an opportunity for a good republican like you, to make a little jing!

    October 31, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. I Voted Early In NC

    @RudyG: Thank you very much. I have relatives in NJ without the basics due to the storm.

    October 31, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. Me IN HOUSTON

    We couldn't get this kind of bipartisan cooperation out of congress even if there was a major crisis to handle. We the people, will enjoy this while it lasts

    October 31, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. TAK

    Kinda shows how incompetent Bush acted during Katrina.

    October 31, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  17. Jean

    Reggie, your bias blinds you. The President has responded promptly and with compassion to other disasters during his term. Some people only recognize leadership when it's attached to bluster and swagger.

    October 31, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  18. Austin

    Photo -op for Obama? Wayyyy easier ways to get photo-ops. Ordinarily one would think how big a deal is it to orchestrate FEMA during a disaster. We saw what happened with Bush.. His rating never recovered after Katrina. I'd say having this seamless is a result of a good leader and I think Obama has grown some cajones in his first term and will be a more agressive president in his 2nd term. Better someone lacking a little agressivenss than a liar.

    October 31, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. Matt from Dallas

    Luckily, Reggiedw looks to be in the extreme minority with his uncalled for, pathetically bitter partisanship.

    October 31, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  20. jcainvegas

    To: Reggiedw. This is not a photo op. The President genuinely cares about those whom misfortune has touched. And he will be re-elected precisely because of that fact. Moan and groan as you will that Mittens was not on the helicopter with Chris Christie (would you similarly accuse him of a photo op if Gov. Christie had allowed him to view the devastation with him?) Romney was campaigning while Obama was facilitating the cleanup and returning lives to normalcy. The inability to see the compassion in the President only clouded by hatred for him is exactly what keeps Republicans and Democrats from joining together to solve this nation's problems.

    October 31, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  21. Vi Brown

    CNN appears to be treating President Obama and Gov. Christie's willingness to put politics aside and address the business at hand as something unique and amazing. Seriously, you are beginning to sound like Fox News!

    October 31, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. Facts don't Lie

    @ sylvia.......

    thank you..I am sure you showed the same vigor and venom when we lost thousands of men and women in Iraq sent there for weapons of mass destruction that did not exists. And we STILL don't know the truth about that do we? . Even the families of the 4 killed in Libya said STOP using their loved ones for political pawns...so please abide by their wishes.

    October 31, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  23. Georgia Girl

    Oh Sylvia, get over it! Let those four families grieve and stop politicizing their loss. 61 people were killed in this hurricane. Do you give a blip about them?

    October 31, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. Romney is NOT My Hero

    @Reggiedw
    -------------------
    Yes, shame on our President for working along with Christie and going to NJ to help out. He should be on an ugly green bus with Bonehead cruising around or handing out cans of food in Ohio. Oh the outrage!!! (*rolling eyes*)

    Why don't you go take a nap until Nov 7th? You can wake up watch our President's re-election party.

    October 31, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  25. Marcus

    To all those who are claiming 'it's a photo-op' or the likes...
    Is this a first for the current POTUS?
    No, Irene and that oil spill in the Gulf are the first to come into mind...
    In both cases he went there and was also called of doing a 'photo-op', and in both cases he got things (through FEMA and other FEDERAL AGENCIES) done much more efficiently than the previous POTUS did.
    This time Christie, a regular basher of the current POTUS, did the right thing andf instead of standing in the way or stepping aside he joined forces with the POTUS.
    Of course, BOTH men will not directly save any life... that's up to the docs and paramedics and all the crew assembled to do just that.
    BUT, they are the FIRST NAMES in line for the federal and state responses to 'Sandy', and they are working TOGETHER.
    If... and that's an enourmous IF... THIS picture shows just a 'photo-op' than its the 'photo-op' that all people that lives (or are just passing through) in NJ are waiting for at the moment: US government and NJ state government working together, coordinating their efforts for the good and the sake of those under their responsability.

    October 31, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
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