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. Warchief Williams

    It is a very reassuring thing to see these two leaders who are opposed on almost every situation leave politics behind for a bit and work together to help the people in an area hit by a terrible natural disaster. What both men are doing are being leaders, not politicians who bicker, leaders who work together, compromise, and aid their people.

    Though it does cause me to ask the question, what will it take for our other leaders, congress, to work together?

    The Yellowstone Caldarea going off?

    October 31, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. z2cents

    Wonder what angle Christie is working...perhaps working on his image for the next election. guess he knows deep down, the RR ticket is not going to win.

    October 31, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. Scott

    This is the kind of goverment I can believe in, Republicans and Democrats working together. This is what makes America great. Thanks Christie and Obama for caring.

    October 31, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  4. Howard

    In the last four years Obama has nearly bankrupted and destroyed America ... and, in the last couple of days, because he visited the Hurricane zone ... and, milked the tragedy for every photo op possible ... obama stooges think he deserves another undeserved Nobel Prize.

    October 31, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  5. Name AgedandConfuzed

    Hey Reggie, I'm guessing you would rather have "W" handle this one? You know......like he did Katrina!

    October 31, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. BadgerFan21

    It is good to see the President and Governor working for the good of the Americans effected by Hurricane Sandy. Kudos to both.

    October 31, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  7. florida815

    Thank you, Mr. President. You are a true leader. We have your back – OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!!!!!!

    October 31, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  8. Butters

    I wonder if mr Christie will ask for fed aid?

    October 31, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  9. Keith

    Two adults can always get something done. The Children in Washington, not so much

    October 31, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  10. 22

    This is what true leadership looks like.He's been working the minute he got here-4 years ago-thanks governor Christie for putting politics aside and doing what needs to get done and speaking up to commend the president for a job well done.

    October 31, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  11. BHPT

    Socialism is so un-American.
    Until you need it.

    October 31, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  12. Lenny

    Was W a phony too? Why the hate for Obama? He is the president of the US. Is Christie a phony too? Go back to the back woods and shoot a few ducks.

    October 31, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  13. Brian

    Christie was not going to be on the side of history that was against Obama. Christie knows Obama is a good man. There is no denying it.

    October 31, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  14. shelbyanne

    You have to admit, Obama did an excellent job. Everything went so mush smoother with republicans out of the way.

    October 31, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  15. dj1304

    Romney was collecting canned goods that his campaign bought and gave to people so they "donate" them to him while the tv cameras were on. Like Ryan at the soup kitchen he probably left the moment the cameras did.

    October 31, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  16. Getoverit

    So you lefties complain that Romney isn't doing anythhiing. He's not in office yet, so he would just be in the way. Oh, but then you could complain about that too!

    October 31, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  17. Safejourney

    Thanks to Gov Christi and President Obama for the hard work and help for the people of NJ

    October 31, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  18. ronvan

    Republicans: The party of NO, NO, & NO, on EVERYTHING that would help US!! IF you think we have problems now, go ahead and vote for M. R.! I can gaurantee you that things will not only stop but get worse! EVERYTHING I read and see on TV says things are headed in the right direction, slowly yes, but getting there. M. R. will stop all of that if elected when he puts his plans in place. You know the ones he keeps telling us about, but has NEVER explained because it is TOP SECRET, and will not work!

    October 31, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  19. Phyllis

    Vote for a proven manager–ROMNEY! We need competence in the face of this disaster. Romney can fix it.

    October 31, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  20. spud

    True leadership. Good to see two people working togeather.President has been quick to respond to disasters. The gulf oil spill Katrina. . Some people have selective memories. President Obama is the guy I want watching my back in a disaster. Not the guy that is running around looking for a photo op and lying about the auto industry.

    October 31, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  21. jeff

    From the looks of Christie, there's no food shortage resulting from the storm.

    October 31, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  22. CHUCK

    Did you hear what El Stupido Rush L. said today. This is unbelievable. He accused Christie accepted a bribe from Obama. I thought Rush hit bottom long ago. I was wrong. He keeps getting lower every doy.

    October 31, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  23. Name Joshua

    when distaters like happens we need to look more humane than to be a republican or democrat, far as looking into our cultures.This is an emergency not a political gauge of who matters or not .

    October 31, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  24. 2020

    Christie character testimonial and endorsement speak for itself, timely and appropriately.

    Romney, try again 2016. Christie may be your competitor then.

    October 31, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  25. Tom W

    Seeing Christie and Obama work together is truly inspiring. It grows both my respect for President Obama and Governor Christie. Both these men realize that compromise and working together are not bad things. Both these men realize that only through working together can we achieve greatness.

    October 31, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
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