By David Cruz
Today’s town hall found the governor back in friendly territory, returning to the theme that has defined his tenure in Trenton — Sandy.
“As the governor and as somebody in charge of trying to get us back on our feet, I had no problem dealing with crying adults,” said Gov. Chris Christie, recalling the days immediately after the storm. “I gave out a lot of hugs and a lot of listening and while it was emotional I felt like it was part of my job so I couldn’t get emotional.”
Surrounded by frustrated homeowners fed up with post-Sandy red tape 16 months after the storm, the governor said he felt their pain, but shifted the blame for their pain elsewhere.
“What happens when you deal with the federal government is the red tape is immeasurable,” he said, adding later, “The entire flood insurance industry has been taken over by the federal government.” He ended by saying, “Well guess who the greedy corporation is that’s taking your money and not paying you now? The federal government. They’re the people doing it.”
But in a sign that the governor’s Teflon might not be entirely intact — even in friendly Monmouth County — opponents were vocal, despite some gentle dissuading by Christie staff, who confiscated Isabel Newson’s “Resign Christie” sign.
“I really just want to be here to let him see what we feel,” said Newson. “If my only thing is a sign, then I will put up a sign just to let him know how I feel.”
One thing that didn’t come up today was the George Washington Bridge, not terribly surprising this far from Fort Lee and from an audience that was, if not hand picked, then at least curated.
“I think the priority now for so many people that attended is Sandy. They could care less in a sense,” said Keyport resident Victoria Landaverde. “They just wanna know that their issues are being taken care of and I was kind of happy that that kind of politics didn’t enter the room today.”
There was some old Christie charm on display, too, as the governor joked with some residents about the length of their questions. The event lasted almost an hour longer than scheduled. After he was done, the governor left cabinet members and staff behind to answer more questions while he exited out the back door, once again, ignoring the press.
Judging by the smiles and the high fives, the governor’s staff seemed pretty satisfied that their guy might have just taken some baby steps toward perhaps regaining some mojo.