(CNN) - Chris Christie's praise of President Barack Obama following this fall's devastating storm doesn't mean the acerbic New Jerseyite has changed his ways – it just means Obama got it right.
So said Christie in an interview on "The Daily Show" Thursday, in which the Garden State governor said his past criticism of the president wasn't necessarily at odds with his newfound appreciation for Obama's leadership.
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Jon Stewart questioned Christie on the sudden shift, joking that before the storm the governor was claiming Obama "couldn't lead his way out of a paper bag with a fistful of 20s."
"And then right after the storm was over you were like, 'This man is a leader,'" the comedian continued. "Doesn't that tell you something about the game?"
Christie countered: "What it tells me is that people have different skill sets at different times."
"I see. So he wasn't a leader until you needed leadership," Stewart probed.
Christie, in a signature retort, shot back: "Maybe until he was presented with a stark opportunity to lead."
While the storm may have given Obama a "stark opportunity to lead," it also presented Christie with a chance to display both bipartisanship and effectiveness as governor. He said his skyrocketing approval ratings – which stood above 70% in some polls taken after the storm – were likely due to his storm response, but that they'd come back down to Earth in the coming weeks.
"Some people believe, or a lot of people believe, that I reacted in a way that they found pleasing in the storm, that I showed leadership. But I also know that all that's temporary. You go way up and then you go back down," Christie said.
And while the Republican governor admitted the storm had "humbled" him in certain ways, he said his sharp tongue wasn't going anywhere.
"I'll be very harsh of people who I think are out of line or stupid," he said by way of defense against Stewart, who questioned whether Christie's confrontational tone hurt his chances of accomplishing important compromises.
"I don't mince words," Christie said, adding that trait didn't make him "non-humble, it makes me honest."
That forthright attitude had Stewart looking ahead: "You and Hillary are going to have a hell of a battle in 2016," he said. "People are so starved. The beautiful thing about the Republican Party now is it's so starved for leadership like that."
Christie glossed right over the mention of a presidential bid – something he considered in the 2012 cycle but ultimately bypassed. He did get one last jab in, however, aimed both at his host and at himself.
"I think it's really unfair that you look at me and say starved at the same time," Christie said.
Christie will be running in 2016.
Elizabeth Warren 2016!!!
His popularity shot up because people saw him put the country first and politics second and be bipartisan. Most American's would like to see compromise and teamwork between both.
Elizabeth Warren could never win.
Believe it nor not, there was a time that Republicans and Democrats didn't attack each other, and actually were friends.
Some on the right point to Pres. Obama and Gov. Christie working together and Christie's later praise of Pres. Obama as the game changer that turned the election. They might be right, for more reasons than they realize. I think the volume and scope of the backlash was a big turn off to most sensible people. The Republicans resembled a college fraternity house howling because one of their brothers helped a member of a rival house.
This whole thing amazes me. The parties (probably not the voters) seem to insist on a black/white dichotomy, that you always insist that your opponent is the spawn of the devil.
Christie (and I greatly respect that) recognized, that while he legitimately disagrees with Obama in many areas, that Obama did the right thing in this instance. And I suspect Obama could say the same thing about Christie.
Christie is really a Democrat. He will change parties. He is not a conservative.
I don't think modern Republicans even know what "conservative" means.
It is about strong, but limited government – not overreaching religious rhetoric.
Modern Libertarians are more in-line with REAL conservatism. The GOP should lick their wounds, and go take it up with their version of God.
To be honest I didn't like Christie for a long time, then over this past year his actions have definitely changed my mind about him. Even though I'm not a Republican, I'm starting to like the guy. He doesn't appear to be a the typical game player, and is somewhat genuinely concerned for the public's well being rather than his own political career. Which is rare these days.
Stewart is a joke. "So he wasn't a leader until you need his leadership." What President Obama did for NJ and NY was a LAYUP as far a leadership. Not exactly heavy-lifting to show up and observe the damage from the storm, etc. Christie is right. We needed (and still need) Obama's leadership on Iran, Syria, reducing the budget deficit and paying down the debt, etc.
I believe that Christie is one of the best people for the GOP at this time.
And the GOP should have nominated Ron Paul, or Jon Huntsman, and not that rich-pretty boy Romney.
Some on the right point to Pres. Obama and Gov. Christie working together and Christie's later praise of Pres. Obama as the game changer that turned the election.
And they would be very wrong. Every poll that was conducted after Sandy showed the President with the same persistent lead that he had before the hurricane. Republicans just like shifting blame rather than taking personal responsibility. If Romney had run a better campaign, none of this would have mattered.
Stewart is a joke. "So he wasn't a leader until you need his leadership." What President Obama did for NJ and NY was a LAYUP as far a leadership.
Sure... just like the leadership shown by the last Republican President when a hurricane hit the country.
The important thing to remember, as Christie and Obama seemed to have when push comes to shove, is that we're all on the same team, when it comes down to it. Teammates disagree sometimes on how to score a win, but in the end, we all want our team to win.
Everyone has a seat at the table: conservatives, moderates, and the whig party. Ok, maybe not. You Whig partiers are goin' dowwwwwwn! haha
I'm a Republican and Christie lost my support, he wont get past the primaries He sucked at the GOP convention as well, he's just a BIG old let down. Maybe he will switch parties
Christie and Obama showed what could happend by working TOGETHER...and are we all the better for it? I commend them both!
The very idea that anyone who works with someone from the party must not be a real Republican or a real Democrat is the perfect example of everything wrong with the political system. I couldn't believe some in the GOP were criticizing Christie for working with the President during a major catastrophe, and I'm sure there were some Dems doing the same thing. If all that childish nonsense would stop, and people would do the job instead of just trying to score political points, maybe some stuff would actually get accomplished!
I'm in an area greatly affected by Sandy, and have been impressed by the response and hard work of all the people who were brought in to help on all levels – federal, state, local, and all of the volunteers. I have not been a fan of Christie and some of his methods, but he has done a good job with this terrible situation.
Gov. Christie is an intelligent and caring man. Any party would be lucky to have him! (and I subscribe to no particular party). All the others in Washington should observerr and take copious notes.
Christie getting along with Obama did not tip the election either way. There have been many studies about why Romney lost and all seem to agree that demographics (an increase of younger and minorities voters that just don't support the Conservative platform).
However, the longer this debate goes on about whether or not this tipped the election to Obama it just goes to prove that the Congressional GOP had no intention of compromise and acted as obstructionist in the last two years in order to keep Obama from getting a 2nd term. Also, based on what has NOT happened since the election, it's obvious that it's going to continue.
I would hope that would serve as a lesson to all the politicians in DC (in both parties), that this is how things get done.
Christie wants to win reelection next year, and to do that, he needs to look like he is trying to help the people of New Jersey recover from the devestation. Hurricane Sandy. And recovery requires money. Well, President Obama has the money and Christie realizes this, so he sucked up to him. Any rational being would do the same. His Republican detractors don't have Christie's reelection requirements, so they are very critical.
That last line was gold. At least he's self-aware!
Christie will never become president. Period! He wants to run over folks who disagree or challenge him because THEY'RE "stupid". That's pretty self righteous for most people's taste. Sounds like a couple of one term midwest governors, Kasich and Walker.
Unfortunately given the superficiality of our society, it'll be easy to tell if Christie is planning a run in 2016. If he starts losing weight, then he's planning a run. That's how I knew Gore was not planning a run in 2004 or 2008. I'm an Obama supporter and I absolutely do NOT mean that as a shot at Christie. I mean that as a shot at the superficiality of the reality that someone needs to be thin to run for president.
Christie is the only class act Republican that I know. I think even I, as a Democrat, would vote for him. He calls a spade a spade. That what this country needs.......
How sick is it that someone has to defend themselves for saying thank you to the President?
People need to realize that politics take the tone of the country. When half the population turns differences into me vs. you the political parties are going to do the same. We as a nation need to tone down the hate, bring our ideas from the left and the right into common middle ground and start having intelligent dialog again.
It is possible to agree to disagree on somethings and find common ground on others without having to bring hate into the equation.
Politicians need votes and they will latch onto and speak to the ideology that is in the majority to get the votes they need to win. The are sponges and they soak in votes. If we all came back to the center so would their rhetoric.