US President Barack Obama (2nd L) and New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie (L) talk with survivors of Hurricane Sandy
in a community centre while touring damaged areas in
Brigantine, New Jersey. REUTERS/Larry Downing
Putting aside partisan differences, President Barack
Obama and Republican Governor Chris Christie have toured
storm-stricken parts of New Jersey together, taking in scenes
of flooded roads and burning homes in the aftermath of
Obama and Christie, riding in the Marine One presidential
helicopter, got an aerial view of some of the hardest-hit
areas of the New Jersey shoreline, and afterward the
president promised to cut through red tape to help storm
Despite being a top surrogate for Obama's rival Mitt Romney
in the November 6 election, Christie kept up his praise for
Obama for federal support during and after the devastating
storm, which also crippled New York City and other parts of
the eastern seaboard.
Obama, who has suspended campaign events since Sunday, has
overseen federal relief efforts and taken pains in recent
days to show Americans he is focused on handling a major
natural disaster instead of pressing his quest for a second
But he is set to resume campaigning on Thursday with visits
to Nevada and Colorado, followed by stops on Friday in Ohio -
considered the most critical election swing state.
From the air in and around the gambling resort of Atlantic
City, Obama saw whole streets underwater, beachfront homes
swamped by flooding and piers partially blown away.
He also saw the still-burning remnants of about eight homes
set afire during the storm, the biggest to hit the U.S.
mainland in generations.
"If your homes aren't too badly damaged we can hopefully get
you back in," Obama told residents at an evacuation shelter
in the town of Brigantine. "The entire country's been
watching. Everyone knows how hard Jersey has been hit."
"We're not going to tolerate any red tape. We're not going to
tolerate any bureaucracy," Obama said.
Christie, known for his blunt, in-your-face political style,
had only good words for the Democratic president. "I want to
thank the president for being here today," he said.
The storm and the government's relief efforts have prompted a
U-turn in the tone of Christie's rhetoric about Obama. The
New Jersey governor leveled harsh criticism at Obama during a
keynote speech at the Republican convention in August.
But all that has changed with the damage wrought by Sandy,
which bashed the mid-Atlantic Coast on Monday and Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Christie said Obama's response to the storm
damage in New Jersey was "outstanding."
With an extremely close election looming on Tuesday, Obama
has remained in the public spotlight, while Romney has had to
suspend campaign appearances to avoid coming across as overly
political while millions of people were affected by the
Romney was back campaigning on Wednesday, but his campaign
seemed at a loss about how to deal with Christie's praise of
Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden, asked by reporters
whether he agreed with Christie that Obama was doing a good
job handling the hurricane response, said: "I believe the
response is still going on so I'm not in a position to
qualify the response by the federal government. I believe
it's still ongoing."