While working through the aftermath of superstorm Sandy’s devastation, New Jersey governor Chris Christie also finds himself in a number of presidential news stories featuring Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. As Rachel Weiner reports:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is denying that he turned down a request from Mitt Romney’s campaign to appear at a rally in Pennsylvania last weekend.
The plainspoken governor told reporters Tuesday that he spoke with Romney before Hurricane Sandy hit and explained that he would be unable to campaign if the storm was bad.
“All this other noise is coming from know-nothing disgruntled Romney staffers who don’t like the fact that I said nice things about the president of the United States,” Christie said during a news briefing in Westwood.
The ‘nice things’ Christie said about Obama came shortly after Sandy hit, when — as On Leadership columnist Jena McGregor writes — the governor praised the president’s crisis leadership:
In comments that perfectly encapsulated not only the severity of the storm but the divisiveness of our national politics and the bluntness of the speaker, New Jersey governor Chris Christie—primetime GOP convention speaker and frequent campaign surrogate for Mitt Romney—heaped praise on Obama’s initial reaction to the storm.
Christie told news outlets that the president’s response had been “outstanding,” said that coordinating with the administration had been “wonderful,” and remarked that “the president has been all over this and he deserves great credit.” He even told Fox News the president had done a “great job for New Jersey” while staying above the fray about politics: “I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the Shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”
In addition to addressing his state’s storm damage, William Branigin reports, Christie also coordinated alternative voting arrangements for those citizens affected by Sandy:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ordered election authorities to allow displaced citizens to apply for a ballot by e-mail or fax. But the state quickly became swamped with requests, and many voters complained that they did not receive a ballot back or could not reach election clerks’ offices. Officials later said some voters may not receive e-mailed ballots until Nov. 9.
Christie nevertheless insisted that the voting was running smoothly.
“Of our 3,000 polling places across the state, less than 100 were compromised and had to be moved,” Christie said, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. “Everyone should find the time to vote today, but the only people who should be applying for their ballots online are voters affected by the storm. Everyone else, get your butt up and go to your polling place like normal.”
As Weiner writes, the storm has had one other effect: It has brought the governor and one of New Jersey’s music icons a bit closer together:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters Monday that he had an unexpected — and moving — conversation earlier with his hero, Bruce Springsteen.
He also got a hug from the rock legend on Friday, at a benefit concert for victims of Superstorm Sandy. He later cried, calling the moment a highlight in a tough week.
“Bruce and I had an opportunity to chat for a while Friday night… we hugged and he told me, ‘it’s official, we’re friends,” Christie said at a news briefing.
President Obama was on the phone with the Republican governor Monday, discussing storm damage, when he briefly handed the line over to Springsteen. The rock legend is traveling on Air Force One as he campaigns for the president.
Before the storm Springsteen refused to acknowledge Christie, whose budget cuts he has criticized. But in the wake of the disaster, which hit the Jersey Shore particularly hard, he has started to embrace his ardent fan.