By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Gov. Chris Christie was in Highlands this morning taking questions and explaining to a bunch of summer campers what an ambassador is prior to a ceremony at which the United Arab Emirates announced it is donating $4.5 million to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.
“Two amazing things I just noticed about the five minutes we spent inside. One, there wasn’t a single question that was directed towards me, it was all directed towards the governor, which was awesome. But second, one of the kids looked the governor dead in the eye and said, ‘Thank you for helping to fix our town.’ I thought that was kind of special,” said United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba.
The donation will be used to upgrade computer infrastructure at 30 schools in nine Sandy-affected districts.
“As Yousef mentioned, over 20,000 children will be affected and we’re just thrilled to kind of continue the effort,” said Mary Pat Christie.
The United Arab Emirates provided disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina and other calamities.
“There’s lots of folks from around the world who have expressed their condolences and their caring for the people of our state, but the folks, the citizens and the leadership of the UAE has stepped up in an even more meaningful way today by putting dollars to that sense of commitment to recovery for our state,” said the governor.
“There can be an impact to this,” said political analyst Patrick Murray.
Murray says the governor could take some heat from the far right for accepting money from a Muslim state.
“They gave some aid out to Joplin, Missouri after the tornado there and there was a whole bunch of calls that this was Islamic blood money, and that all came from a certain segment,” Murray said. “If he runs for president in 2016 he’s going to hear it. The issue is, is Islam, Muslim, terrorism, that kind of issue going to be as relevant in 2016?”
From Highlands Christie traveled a half hour south to Spring Lake, where a good-sized crowd came to hear the Democratic mayor thank the governor for his help after Sandy without asking what party she belongs to.
“It is for those reasons that I stand with my fellow Democratic council members … and endorse Gov. Christie for reelection,” said Mayor Jennifer Naughton.
“We’re not letting a campaign season — which has 113 days to go, not that I’m counting. We’re not gonna let a campaign season push the pause button on the recovery for the shore,” Christie said.
Last Monday the governor accepted a million dollar check from Jon Bon Jovi and got the endorsement of the Rev. Reginald Jackson. Today it’s a nearly $5 million check from the United Arab Emirates and yet another endorsement by a Democratic mayor.