Atlantic City mayor wants to go ‘mano a mano’ with Gov. Christie

Claudine Zap
October 30, 2012

New Jersey was hammered by Hurricane Sandy—and a storm of words also blew up between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford. The mayor pushed back against Christie's criticism that he had failed to protect residents of his city.

The mayor, in a phone interview, told "Today" host Matt Lauer, "I would love nothing better than that, than to confront the governor mano a mano."

Christie stood by his criticism on Monday, saying on "CBS This Morning," "The mayor told folks they could shelter in city shelters as a last resort" even after the governor's office sent 75 buses to take residents out of the city.

"We knew this was a real potential problem, and I always err on the side of saving lives," Christie said, adding that the mayor knew the storm was "very close to Atlantic City with unprecedented power." He said, "I don't know why he did what he did."

Langford, a Democrat, disagreed with the Republican governor's assertion that he had failed to fully evacuate the city, instead offering city shelters. He told Lauer, "The governor is either misinformed or ill-advised or simply decided to prevaricate."

Langford asserted, "As devastating as this storm was with respect to property damage, I think the glass is half-full, not half-empty. We experienced a minimal loss of life and injury."

He added, "Isn't it sad, that here we are in the throes of a major catastrophe and the governor has chosen a time such as this to play politics. I think it's reprehensible that he would stoop to the level to try and make a political situation out of something that is so serious as this situation is right now."

The mayor also challenged the media to find the governor's source of information for the claim. He said, "It is absolutely false. The governor needs to be challenged. … He is dead wrong."

The mayor insisted that most residents did "heed the repeated warnings to flee the city." But, he said, "unfortunately, as always will be the case, there will always be those who will not heed that warning and will decide to stay."