Christie: `Jersey Shore Gone’ — Obama in Garden State Today

Photograph by Rex Features via AP Images

Aerial views of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast taken during a search and rescue mission by 1-150 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard on Oct. 30, 2012.

“I don’t give a damn about Election Day after what has happened here,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wrote in one of the many Twitter messages issued by the governor of the Garden State yesterday. “I am worried about the people of New Jersey.”

This, from the Republican who delivered the keynote address at the convention that nominated Mitt Romney for president.

And whose state will host President Barack Obama today on an inspection of storm recovery efforts following the landfall of Sandy.

Any political calculus for Republicans in Sandy went out the window yesterday when the governor who serves as a surrogate for Romney praised Obama for his and his administration’s preparations and response to the storm.

“I have to give the president great credit,” Christie said of Obama. “He’s been on the phone with me three times in the last 24 hours. He’s been very attentive, and anything I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done, as far as I’m concerned, a great job for New Jersey.”

And FEMA, for that matter, is doing “one helluva job,” in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, who had listened in on the president’s conference call with governors of the affected states and heard nothing but satisfaction for the role the government is playing — a judgment rendered more quickly, and perhaps more accurately, than President George W. Bush’s salute to then-FEMA director Michael D. Brown after Hurricane Katrina: “Heckuva job.”

“I think FEMA is doing an incredible job,” Biden told reporters yesterday, with a nod to FEMA Director Craig Fugate, widely credited for his expertise in emergency management. “I wish you guys could have been on the phone with all of the governors. Uniformly they were incredibly grateful to Fugate and the president… So, this is working like it’s supposed to,” Biden said. “FEMA has been reorganized. It’s doing one helluva a job.”

Aside from the political calculus in the final week of a presidential election — with Christie saying he couldn’t “care less” if Romney visited his storm-stricken state — there remains the heartbreak of a big storm which, in one day’s time, bruises a lifetime of memories and presents a long-term future foreign to the mind’s eye.

“The rides I took my kids on this summer are in the Atlantic Ocean,” the governor of New Jersey also wrote on Twitter during a long day of emergency management and avowed distaste for the politics of it all. “The Jersey Shore of my youth is gone.”

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