The outspoken governor of New Jersey has never been shy about undermining President Obama for “leading from behind” and numerous other negative GOP-coined connotations.
During the Republican Governor’s Conference in Orlando this summer, Christie was relentless in his damnation of President Obama’s leadership. He ticked off one conservative talking point after another, as explanation for “the core differences between who we are and what he represents for America.”
However, on Tuesday morning in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, to his credit, Christie put politics aside and enthusiastically gave Obama full acknowledgement for his leadership role in handling emergency response operations.
“I have to say, the administration, the president himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far,” Christie told the media.
In contrast, President George W Bush and FEMA, were criticized for the ineffective handling of Hurricane Katrina, which left the Louisiana city of New Orleans so severely devastated by wind and water, that it still has not fully recovered.
Hurricane Sandy was predicted to be far worse than Katrina, but the estimate of damages may turn out to be far less in the end. Katrina racked up $108 billion in damage, while current estimates for Sandy may not exceed $20 billion.
“I’ve talked to my budget people and we just don’t know yet,” said Christie Tuesday morning in an interview with Today’s Matt Lauer. “The federal government’s response has been great. I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the President, personally, he has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area (and) we will get federal aid.”
Critics have been quick to note silence from the Romney/Ryan camp regarding previous policy statements about defunding FEMA and leaving states to deal with damage from natural disasters on their own.
Governor Christie is finding out firsthand how Obama’s disaster policy changes will help his state; whereas, if Romney/Ryan projected policies were in effect today, New Jersey and the others declared in State of Emergency status—would be left literally blowing in the wind to fend for themselves.
President Obama was preparing to leave Sunday to campaign in Florida, but he immediately cancelled those plans and took control of coordinating disaster relief between local, state and federal agencies.
When asked about concern over campaign rescheduling, Obama responded:
“I’m not worried about the election…it will take care of itself next week,” responded Obama to a press conference question. “I’m worried about people’s safety. I’m worried about the safety of first responders. I’m worried about the impact on the economic recovery…transportation.”
However, Romney’s camp renewed their campaign on Tuesday to attend a “storm relief event”, in Kettering, Ohio. They will then go on to a rally in Iowa, before heading to Virginia on Thursday.
Governor Chris Christie has experienced firsthand Obama’s leadership in a disaster situation and has been characteristically vocal about his impression, but this one won’t help the GOP message.
“The good news is, we will clean this up,” said Obama. “The good news is, we will get through this.”
A week away from the election, President Obama is busy doing his day job and hasn’t announced any current plans to resume campaign activities; leaving the job to Clinton and Biden.