(CNN) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday continued to defend his appearance with President Barack Obama last year when the president came to survey the damage from Superstorm Sandy, just days before the presidential election
Critics decried the Republican governor for standing side-by-side with Obama, arguing Christie, who served as a top surrogate for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, helped bolster the president's image shortly before voters took to the polls.
But Christie stands by his decision.
"I said to some of my Republican friends in the aftermath of this, like well what did you expect me to do when the president showed up? Do you want me to wear my Romney sweatshirt when I was standing with him? What exactly did you expect me to do?" Christie said while keynoting a Washington conference on volunteering and service.
Since the storm plowed into his state at the end of October, Christie has become the face of New Jersey's recovery efforts. He sought federal relief aid and sharply rebuked Republicans in Congress who voted against the aid bill at the beginning of the year. (Congress later passed more than $50 billion in relief funds.)
Christie, who again embraced a visit by the president in May, reminded the audience that he did not vote for the president and has policy disagreements with Obama.
"But (whether) you voted for him or not, in this country we have one president at a time," he said, drawing applause from the audience.
Reflecting back to Obama's initial visit after the storm, Christie said it never crossed his mind "to act any other way" during the president's trip.
"I was elected to serve the people of the state of New Jersey, and the people of my state were in crisis, and anybody (who) competently came to help my people, I was going to say they've done a good job whether they were a Republican or a Democrat," he said.
Romney told CNN's Gloria Borger earlier this month that he has no hard feelings towards Christie. Asked if he blames the Republican governor at all for the final results, Romney repeatedly said "no."
"I wish the hurricane hadn't have happened when it did because it gave the president a chance to be presidential and to be out showing sympathy for folks," Romney said. "That's one of the advantages of incumbency. But, you know, you don't look back and worry about each little thing and how could that have been different."
In fact, Christie was invited to speak this month at a forum sponsored by Romney in Utah, where leading Republican donors gathered to discuss some of the issues facing the nation.
Pressed about Christie's 2016 potential, Romney said the Republican has proved he's been a "very effective" governor in dealing with the hurricane and working with a Democratic legislature in a left-leaning state.
"You have to look at Chris and say this is a guy who's been a very effective governor and has a great potential for leadership," Romney said.
- CNN's Alan Silverleib and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.