As Air Force One lands in New Jersey this afternoon, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be on the tarmac to welcome President Obama back to his state. Christie, however, won’t simply welcome the president with a handshake.
According to his schedule, the governor will join Obama for a speech at the New Jersey McGuire Air Force Base to recognize the end of combat operations in Afghanistan. New Jersey’s Democratic U.S. Senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, are also expected to attend Obama’s speech.
Aboard Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest pointed out Christie’s participation to reporters and highlighted the bipartisan nature of the event. “This sort of illustrates that this time of year that’s it’s pretty easy to be bipartisan when you’re talking about supporting men and women in uniforms and their families,” Earnest said.
For Christie, it’s one more opportunity to signal that he is a bipartisan leader who is willing to join political opponents for a common cause as he explores the possibility of running for president in 2016.
But the event will also produce a fresh set of photos and video of Christie and Obama shaking hands, reminding critics of his political alignment with the president in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in October of 2012.
At that time, Christie’s welcome made many Republicans angry, as they viewed the enthusiastic appearance as an unnecessary political boon for Obama, just days before the 2012 presidential election against former Governor Mitt Romney.
Years later, Christie defended his political alignment with Obama in the aftermath of the storm, denying that it had any factor in Romney’s loss.
Obama is only making a day trip to New Jersey. He’ll speak at about 3:00 p.m. before leaving the state about an hour later.