October 31st, 2012
04:11 PM ET
9 years 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. joseph

    Governor Christie has shown bipartisan leadership in this issue and knows that President Barack Obama is a person with incredible leadership on this matter, and it is heart warming to see him put down his Republic Hat and praise the President for his Leadership. I see can Governor Christie raising to some great heights in the future. If he runs for President in 2016, I think a few democrates will be voting for him.

    Port Moresby

    October 31, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  2. Cheryl

    If you think the President only went to NJ because it's an election year, you must have forgotten Joplin Missouri last year. The President has shown up to comfort Americans through several tragedies: Aurora Colo. shooting, Tuscon Arizona shooting, Hurricane Irene, the Colorado wildfires, Tuscaloosa Alabama tornado etc. And when he does people say they can tell his compassion is genuine. America is fortunate to have a leadership who puts them and not the almighty dollar first.

    October 31, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  3. Dave in Arizona

    See? If Republicans can put party crap aside and actually try to work with Obama, he's there to work with them.

    That's right House Republicans!
    There's the olive branch. It's time to start working with the president instead of against him.

    October 31, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  4. g

    but romney,s handing out beans

    October 31, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. 62rduncan

    He will never be as personable or determined as Gulliani was on Sept 11 and the years to follow. Giulliani for president!

    October 31, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. kerry

    in response to reggiedw. shame on you. people like you make me sick!!

    October 31, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  7. Clarke

    This storm is not political, so lets not make it one. People are hurting, they have lost so much. I just wish people and the media would put a zipper on it.

    October 31, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  8. Rhonda

    Obama is a gift from God for this country! I love the President & have a newfound respect for Governer Chris Christie. With

    October 31, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. Mike

    This is another example of President Obama displaying true leadership. He could have been campaigning in swing states such as Ohio, or Florida, but instead worked around the clock with Democrats and Republicans to ensure a swift response took place for the storm.

    Overall, the preparation for this hurricane was outstanding, and countless lives were saved as a result. Governor Christie is providing praise where praise is due, and it is a refreshing breath of fresh air to see.

    President Obama has shown up and displayed real grit, determination and outstanding leadership in all of his four years as President. Thankfully, as of November 7th, he will continue with another four more years. Hats off to the Governor and the President.

    October 31, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. PJ

    Obama and Christie are both good men with big hearts. Amazing how quiet Ryan and Romney have been given that the Ryan Budget cuts FEMA money. Romney will not even answer questions. He is on televised record during a Debate saying that he supports cutting FEMA and Ryan totally.

    October 31, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. kathw

    Arent cynics Interesting people

    October 31, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. @Reggiedw


    Unreasonable extremists are exactly why we have a house divided. You see both President Obama and Gov Christie understand one fundamental thing, they are there to serve the citizens they represent. Too many politicians are more interested in having the job on there resumes, than doing the job. I can think of many in Congress and many running for various office. Both President Obama and Gov. Christie are rare gems nowadays, who can comfortable reach across the aisle and put partisanship aside to make people's lives better. Neither of them give a sense of entitlement to their jobs. And that just bugs you, doesn't it.

    October 31, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. Facepalm28

    Kudos to both Obama and Christie. They are both focusing on doing their jobs and helping their constituents during a crisis, and they've both managed to put partisan sniping on the back burner for the moment. I particularly give Christie credit for standing up and loudly praising Obama when it's unequivocally due. His whole "straight talk" mantra gains a lot more credibility when he does it in both directions.

    October 31, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  14. Liz the First

    It's nice to see Gov. Christie acting less like a republican and more like a human being. maybe being around our president and seeing his competence and caring will convince him Obama's not the devil incarnate that most rethugs seem to think he is. i've never seen so much mindless and baseless hate directed at a good man whose only motivation is doing what's right for our country and ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of its people.

    October 31, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Liz the First

    Wow, reggiedw! you really need to quit swilling the Faux Noise Kool-Aid! what you're looking at is a caring president doing his job. i know this must be a new experience for you if you were watching King George the Lesser vacationing thru a third of his presidency and making a perfunctory flight over the wreckage of Katrina and thinking he was doing a 'heckofa job.' try putting your mindless hate aside and acting like a human being in this tragic time. if Gov. Christie can, maybe there's hope for some more of you republicans to grow hearts and brains.

    October 31, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Thank you both, Governor and President. Decency can come out during a time of need. I'm decidedly committed to one of them politically, but today, my gratitude goes to both of them.

    October 31, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. Paul

    Thank you both, Governor and President. Decency matters. I'm committed to one of these people politically, but today I'm very grateful both acted rightly in a time of need.

    October 31, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  18. kathy

    Arent cynics interesting

    October 31, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  19. Rick 7809

    So Reggiedw, You can tell the President is faking it by watching TV and Christie can't tell after taking with him and being with him. Go back to watching Faux News after all they are "fair and balanced".

    October 31, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  20. Sandy

    I love President Obama because he has so much compassion but look out 2016 Governor Christie is looking very good and I love that drive he has in getting things done. I stil love you DEMS!!!!

    October 31, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  21. Lauren

    Hey Reggie
    Apparently you have no brain as you can see Obama does care... and since when does he go play golf when a crisis happens? Never heard of that one before.

    October 31, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  22. Norma Vessels

    Reggie .. apparently you haven't been paying attention. Not only is our President doing all he can for the people affected by the Hurricane, it's only an extension of all he's been doing for all of us in the past four years. He hasn't stopped working for us . .. not even when he was on vacation. He is briefed every day, several times a day, no matter where he is .. and when something comes up, he goes where he's needed. I remember more than one vacation interrupted because of something that needed his attention, and he gave it. What's your problem, Reggie. Perhaps you're not getting enough sleep.

    October 31, 2012 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  23. Chelopez54

    I come from New Jersey, now live in Florida. I am a Democrate but have voted 2 x for a Replublican President.
    I really liked Gov. Christie and found him to be a "real" person- like The President!
    When he spoke as he did against Obama for Romney, I was VERY upset with him since my vote is for Obama.
    Today, I felt soooo proud that Gov. Christie was working with the President and spoke of him in high regard!
    NOW, I am happy! That is the way it is supposed to be!
    Hey, anybody see MItt- No – not for three weeks!

    October 31, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  24. Name bull walrus

    Obama and christie are so refreshing

    October 31, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  25. TinMT

    "We come together in times like this and we want to make sure that they have a speedy and quick recovery from their financial and, in many cases, personal loss," Mitt Romney. Yep, there's the compassion – make sure their financial losses are covered first, nevermind the lives shattered. Renaming your crappy concert from Campaign Event to Disaster Relief Effort doesn't change a thing Mr. Romney. If you don't have compassion and empathy, genuine caring for others, it shows through in spite of all of your vapid efforts to make it seem otherwise.

    October 31, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
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