LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

How Did Christie Fare Politically Following the Storm?

Gov. Chris Christie came home from New Hampshire to handle the storm. He stayed through the height of it and high-tailed it back to the campaign trail once the final flake fell. NJTV News Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron joined Anchor Mary Alice Williams with a report on the political implications.

Williams: Did he demonstrate that he’s a guy with executive capacity?

Aron: I think you have to say he did. In fact, I think most observers would agree this was Christie at his best along with the town hall format. The commander-in-chief, the consoler-in-chief when necessary, the master of detail, at the same time some who follow him closely detected a serious change of mind about leaving New Hampshire. This was Christie’s response:

“The reporting that I wasn’t coming back was wholly inaccurate and you know didn’t put into effect the words that I used. Am I coming home? I have no plans to come home.”

And when a reporter asked what changed, he replied:

“The circumstances got worse and clarified. So, as soon as it did, then I came home. But if the storm blew out to sea and I came home, I’d look pretty stupid. So the fact is that you make the decision when you have clarity on what the circumstances are going to be.”

Williams: So how did it play politically?

Aron: A Christie supporter I spoke to said that this was a no-brainier, that there was no downside to coming home. That Christie got a lot of press out of this, local and national. He and Gov. Cuomo were back to back on the air a lot this weekend. He said this time Christie closed the George Washington Bridge for the right reason, but that there’s probably not any significant repair with his relationship to New Jerseyans who are still kind of upset with him, or so the polls said. A Democratic operative I spoke to said Christie was all over the place on this one. There was too much braggadocio on his performance and that he made an awfully quick exit as we saw yesterday.

“For all the people in New Jersey, thank you for your support over the last 24 hours, in particular in staying home and we look forward to a normal, regular work week starting tomorrow. So any questions I’ll happily take. No questions? I’m out of here.”

Aron: Usually he looks disappointed if there are no questions, but he looks quite pleased.

Williams: What about the flooding in South Jersey? He’s getting hammered downplaying it.

Aron: He is and he is saying it’s receded, it’s gone, it wasn’t that bad. A Wildwood official said it was worse than Sandy. Christie said of course it was worse than Sandy, Sandy didn’t hit Cape May County directly — it hit farther north in Ocean and Monmouth counties. Sen. Jeff Van Drew of Cape May County has called on the governor to request federal disaster declaration. Christie’s office, which is engaging in a lot of push back on this story, says that the process is underway for that and that officials from Lt. Gov. Guadgano and DEP Commissioner Martin have been down there all day today. Everything is under control.