The president asked if he could visit the state.
“If you understand the emotional condition we were all in, all of us in this administration sitting around that table watching that, you’d understand that very soon thereafter, probably two or three hours after that, he called for the first time,” Christie said. “I’m like, man, ‘Can I come?’ Tell me where and when and I’ll be there. I need your help.”
Christie recalled that the two men were often in contact during the initial recovery period. At times, the president even caught Christie off guard.
“I went to go look at the roller coaster and the destroyed pier (in Seaside Heights) and I was walking out on the pier and my cellphone rang and I looked down and it was a blocked number and I was like, ‘I’m not going to answer this; maybe I should.’ And I answered it and said, ‘Chris Christie.’ And he said, ‘Hey Chris, it’s the president.’ I’m like, man, I’m glad I took that. Glad the president didn’t go to voicemail. It was that kind of interaction. It was regular; it was substantive.”
Those calls led to a tour of the destruction the next day — the day the photo was taken — where they saw the now iconic Seaside Heights roller coaster submerged in the Atlantic Ocean, houses pushed off foundations, streets covered in sand and boardwalk piers swallowed by floodwaters.
Christie’s kind words for Obama now fit in the narrative the governor has crafted as he seeks re-election, challenged by Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono. Christie has made bipartisanship a cornerstone of his campaign pitch to voters. Fifty-eight elected Democrats have endorsed him, citing his leadership during Sandy or his work with their party on tax-cutting measures as the reason for backing him.