(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.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
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.
Funny how you right-wingers react to Christie showing leadership. Your insane, ignorant, illiterate comments are all the proof that's needed to make an argument to have your voting rights stripped, or to be committed to an asylum. Sick, unstable, and deranged is what you right-wingers are.
Even though I don't agree with most of Christies politics, he is a STRAIGHT SHOOTER who does not mince words. He is absolutely correct here.
It's nice to see, for once, a party (or its member) compliment the opposing party. Good on ya Chris, Good on ya.
What did Obama do? showed up to a meeting, walked around with Christy and left. Nothing got better, no people were helped, people went weeks without power, weeks without gas, weeks without AID, Obama show boated the storm. Christie (who reps a Blue state) thought this would be a big political boost, and it was... It's not right or wrong, it's politics...
You gotta admit, that guy is one smooth operator.
...the leadership was not Obama's–he never showed up at all until he was promised a photo-op...
I think that Gov. Christie should switch and become a Blue Dog Democrat. He is a conservative with a large dose of common sense and isn't afraid to give praise where it is due. Being a Republican is definitely not a good fit for anyone who practices common sense.
@Donkey Party: Love your comments. The unhinged state of the GOP was never so clear as in the past four years. The reaction to President Obama has been very enlightening and kind of shocking in this day and age. His reelection was even more enlightening. After four years conservatives haven't mellowed at all. Well, get over it. The world has moved on without you, thank goodness! :-)
be careful Christie the more nice things you say about Obama the less of a chance you have to get a gig at FoxNews after your political career is over.