Katie LaPotin and Laura Byrne, Red Alert Politics, May 24, 2013
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he will always welcome President Obama to the Garden State with open arms, regardless of the political flak it could cause him within his own party.
He made the remarks while co-hosting NBC’s “TODAY” show Friday, which he was doing as part of the state’s effort to reopen the Jersey Shore after it was devastated by Superstorm Sandy last October.
“The fact of the matter is he’s the president of the United States,” Christie, a Republican, said on the show. “If he wants to come here and visit the people of New Jersey, I’m going to be here to welcome him.”
The show’s longtime host, Matt Lauer, then asked Christie why he didn’t just “tweet some photos” of the relief efforts from last October’s Superstorm Sandy to Obama, rather than risk his political career for another publicity stunt with the president.
“No,” Christie quickly retorted back. “Because I think what people in my state want more than anything else is for me to do my job, and the president wants to come back here and see the progress and look at it himself…I never worry about that stuff, I’m only doing my job.”
“You know, the bottom line is that you can’t experience it as you’re experiencing right now unless you’re here and you see it for yourself,” Christie added. “And the fact of the matter is he’s the president of the United States, and he wants to come here and see the people of New Jersey, I’m the governor and I’ll be here to welcome him.”
Many Republicans have heavily criticized Christie for working so closely with the president in the days following Sandy’s landfall on the Jersey Shore, going so far as to blame him for the eventual loss by Republican nominee Mitt Romney to President Obama. Christie was also infamously snubbed from speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in March over his ties with the president.
Lauer also tried to grill Christie on climate change, referring to a comment the governor made earlier in the week in which he said that there hasn’t been “any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change.”
“All I said was I haven’t been shown any definitive proof yet that that’s what caused it,” Christie told Lauer. “This is a distraction. I’ve got a place to rebuild here, and people want to talk to me about esoteric theories.
Later on in the show, Christie and his family cut the ribbon on the Jersey Shore’s famous boardwalk signaling that the beach is open for business just in time for Memorial Day.
Not everyone is thrilled that Christie is going out of his way to promote Jersey Shore tourism right now. National and state Democrats have cried foul at the television ad for the state’s $25 million “Stronger than the Storm” marketing campaign, which features Christie and his family, arguing that the free media he gets from the campaign puts his likely opponent, Democratic State Sen. Barbara Buono, at an unfair disadvantage.
Recent polls have Christie leading Buono by more than 30 points headed into November’s election.