The Tuesday before Election Day was not a day for presidential politics, at least not for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Hours after Hurricane Sandy savagely hit his state, the man who gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention that nominated Mitt Romney appeared on morning television shows praising President Obama.
Christie, in his Aug. 28 convention speech, declared it time to end Obama’s “absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House.”
None of that rhetoric was on display Tuesday.
“He has been very attentive and anything that I’ve asked for he’s gotten to me, so I thank the president publicly,” Christie told “Fox and Friends.” “He has done, as far as I’m concerned, a great job for New Jersey.”
On Wednesday, Obama and Christie will be together to tour damage in the state. When asked by “Fox and Friends” if he expected Romney to tour damage of the Garden State, Christie said:
“I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job here to do in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could care less about any of that stuff. … If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me.”
On CBS “This Morning,” Christie called the federal government’s cooperation with his state “excellent,” adding that he “can’t thank the president enough” for his handling of the storm.
The New York Times’ Michael D. Shear wrote:
“But some Republicans have already begun grumbling about Mr. Christie’s over-the-top praise of the president at such a crucial time in the election. One Republican in Washington said Mr. Christie could have simply expressed appreciation for what any president would have done. Another Republican strategist observed that Mr. Christie’s kind words for the president were delivered with the kind of gusto that he often uses to criticize Mr. Obama.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Obama praised Christie, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (a Republican, an independent and a Democrat, for what it’s worth) while speaking at a Red Cross center in Washington, D.C.
“I want to praise them for the extraordinary work that they have done,” Obama said. “The preparation shows. Were it not for the outstanding work that they and their teams have already done and will continue to do in the affected regions, we could have seen more deaths and more property damage. So, they have done extraordinary work.”
The president also described the coordination efforts between federal, state and local officials as “outstanding,” saying he’s given “no red tape” instructions to federal agencies.