(AP) Christie: Comments on Obama, Boehner part of job
ANGELA DELLI SANTI
In 2010, Gov. Chris Christie underestimated the first major storm of his administration by flying to Disney World hours before snow crippled New Jersey. A year later, he overplayed Tropical Storm Irene with the now-infamous order, “Get the hell off the beach.”
When Superstorm Sandy set its sights on his state, he had learned his lesson: be more hands on, more empathetic.
Christie, by his own admission, is “not a subtle personality” and he likes to take charge. Those two traits figured prominently in how the rising Republican handled Sandy.
From his frequent, televised updates to residents as the storm’s winds whipped the state’s beaches to his criticism last week of fellow Republican John Boehner’s decision to delay a U.S. House vote on federal storm aid, his handling of his native state’s worst natural disaster may one day be considered the defining moment in the political career of a budding presidential contender.
The timing of the storm _ days before a presidential election _ ultimately helped define his role in it as well.
Christie has been viewed as a nonpartisan advocate for federal aid since the storm hit Oct. 29. He embraced President Barack Obama’s visit to the Jersey Shore six days before the election, inciting catcalls from conservatives.
And last week he smacked down Boehner for delaying a vote on the $60.4 billion storm aid package. Christie said he tried to call Boehner four times Tuesday, but none of the calls was returned. Christie’s office received 800 emails in the hours following the governor’s Boehner news conference, mostly positive.
Christie said he was just doing his job.
Christie has received almost universal praise for his handling of the superstorm. A late November Quinnipiac University poll showed 95 percent of those surveyed thought he did an “excellent” or “good” job managing the storm. The poll also found he’d won over a majority of women and minority voters, two constituencies that had not supported him previously.
People think of Christie as a guy who calls it like he sees it, said political strategist Tom Wilson, former chairman of New Jersey’s Republican State Committee.
The governor’s popularity surge couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. It probably helped convince Newark Mayor Cory Booker not to enter next year’s governor’s race. So far only one major Democratic candidate, state Sen. Barbara Buono, has stepped up to take on Christie in November.
Even Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the state’s most powerful elected Democrat, finds himself agreeing with the governor more often than not.
After Christie tongue-lashed Boehner over Sandy aid, all Sweeney could do was nod.