The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 28, 2013

Christie recalls how Obama reached out after Sandy

(Continued)

Beyond that, Christie’s post-Sandy interactions with Obama could have enduring political value for someone widely viewed as a presidential contender in 2016. The image of two men from different parties working together toward a common goal could serve to distinguish Christie among his fellow Republicans at a time when the party has been widely criticized as in the control of hard-liners who view bipartisanship as capitulation.

But Christie said their interactions were based solely on pragmatism and the need to get things done.

“From minute one, my state was destroyed, so I was going to have a real relationship with him if he was willing to have one,” Christie said.

The governor said Obama told him to call whenever he needed something, and he did and always received help.

“He and I spoke every day for at least the next 10 days — every day — sometimes more than once a day and it was substantive conversations,” Christie said. “I needed help on something that the bureaucracy wasn’t giving me. That was at least four or five times I called him and said, ‘I hate to bother you with this, sir, but you told me if I needed help to call you, and FEMA is driving me crazy or the Army is driving me crazy and I don’t understand this and can you help me?’ And each and every time that I did that within an hour the problem was fixed.”

Christie said Obama had a personal connection to the state after witnessing the damaging firsthand and meeting with victims.

“We were up in the helicopter together and he saw the fires burning in Bay Head and Mantoloking and then on LBI and he just said to me, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ ” Christie recalled. “So I think he was also struck emotionally by what he saw and he was concerned, and he would call just to kind of check in on how I was doing in addition to the substantive stuff we would talk about.”

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