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. 2020

    Christie endorsement ring the bell.

    October 31, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  2. Neverson

    President Obama have demonstrated his leadership qualities many times and often. I dont think America will ever have a person who is so compasion like him.

    November 1, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  3. jason

    Isn't it amazing how if you work collectively to solve a problem and not let party lines get in the way what you can accomplish? DO YOU HEAR THAT DO NOTHING CONGRESS!

    November 1, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  4. s m shuler

    When he was Governor, how were Mr Romney's relations with other governors and with state and local elected officials?

    November 1, 2012 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  5. Fully aware

    Christie was pleasant to President Obama because he knows that Obama will win. This will get Christie geared up to run in 2016. He's learning to calm down his aggressive persona. He wants to be President of the United States in 2016 and he can't achieve that goal if Romney wins. Thank you Governor Christie for giving President Obama the votes he need to win
    .

    November 1, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  6. dah00

    I am impressed with Chris Christie. I didn't like him before, but now I respect him. This cooperation reflects well on both men.

    November 1, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  7. MaryM

    Thank you Gov Christi and President Obama for working together to help the people of NJ

    November 1, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  8. Lois Epole

    That was nice of Obama. Showing love for people in New Jersey.

    November 1, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  9. wes

    im really shocked that chris christie is prasing obama and fema.

    November 1, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  10. db

    Romney buys supplies to make a charity relief effort for Sandy and he did not call on Trump who had 5,000,000 just waiting for a charity???

    November 1, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  11. babak

    republican are too Chaotic in this election!

    November 1, 2012 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  12. babak

    some of republican want obama win so they can take white house on 2016!

    November 1, 2012 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Sorry Mitt try to be a leader not only for your state but for the all united states of America God bless our president and the people of NE thats a leader does in time of crisis be there for the people give them confort and hope that tommorrow wil be a better day thank you we know now who stand by us I still remember lousiana cathrina we are the people

    November 1, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  14. T

    We love our presdent !!
    Great job helping the governors with the states
    Obama/Biden 2012 !!!!

    November 1, 2012 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  15. Name

    Didn't just understand people trying to make it more political when east coast is in real pain.

    November 1, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  16. Jake79

    Hey Reggie, I know its hard when everything you believed about President Obama is proved wrong. But you Republicans should be used to being wrong by now.

    November 1, 2012 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  17. Marry

    Gov. Christie learned something important – the difference between the President and Gov. Romney! I hope a lot of people learned that too – and vote accordingly!
    Romney's number one goal is to take the White House. He is not concerned about the destitute, the needy, or the poor. And, he loves being able to fire people. This is a pattern with him.
    This is America's last warning to think hard about what they are getting into before the election, if they are considering Romney as Commander-In-Chief. President Obama works for YOU – Gov. Romney never will!

    November 1, 2012 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  18. Liberal Nutjob

    Look at that. A true leader and the other is a crooked illinois politician.

    November 1, 2012 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  19. Reggiedw

    I'm sorry guys... what I meant to say was that I am a huge fan of Gov. Christie for believing in the things I believe in and yet being able to put the good of his constituents before partisan politics. Also, I admire and respect the president for doing likewise. The truth is, the obstructionist tactics of the Republican party has hurt our great nation more than anything else and I now understand that this is precisely the type of unification in crisis that this country needs to move forward... Thank God for Governor Christie and President Obama equally.

    Obama 2012

    November 1, 2012 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  20. collins ken kunyenga

    THE REAL HUMANITY IS INBORN.I mean Obama got the welfare of both Americans and other people at heart.That's why his policies do not offend the needs of the poor and rich Americans,and not forget to mention the poor Arabic World.That's why Malawi too love Obama.The wise for Obama while the fool for Romney!!!!

    November 1, 2012 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  21. grumpiest

    Obama makes me sick, he has been absent from his duties at the White House for the last 2 years and now he wants to suck up brownie points acting like he cares about the victims from hurricane Sandy.

    November 1, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  22. Karen Missouri

    How DARE that Reggiedw act like this was some kind of stunt!!!!! When Joplin tornado nearly wiped out 1/2 the city, Obama was there!!!! A year later Obama was the guest speaker at the high school's graduation!!!!! When will the uneducated like Reggiedw get off the Repub whining high horse and act like adults? It was NOT an election year when Obama helped southwest Missouri!!!!! He would have done what he's doing even if it were not an election! This just proves how nasty Repubs really can be!

    November 1, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  23. Karen Missouri

    When Christie does decide to run for presidency he needs to run as Independent and leave the useless GOP in the dust! The GOP of today is NOTHING like it USED to be. They should be ashamed of themselves!

    November 1, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  24. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Christie went to the REAL President of the people to get results. Mitt the twit is not qualified to be President.

    November 1, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  25. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Right alicia! Mitt the twit hands out canned goods in Ohio, not Jersey. Shoot first,aim later.

    November 1, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
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