Obama to tour storm-hit New Jersey on Wednesday

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

Barely one month ago, outspoken New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was telling President Barack Obama to "get on a plane and go back to Chicago where you belong." But the Republican will play host to his target on Wednesday, as Obama tours areas of the Garden State pummeled by superstorm Sandy.

"Tomorrow afternoon, the President will travel to New Jersey where he will join Governor Christie in viewing the storm damage, talking with citizens who are recovering from the storm and thanking first responders who put their lives at risk to protect their communities," the White House announced.

Obama has scrapped three days of campaign travel in favor of staying in Washington to oversee the federal government's response to the deadly storm. He's been seen in the Situation Room talking to top advisers, at the Red Cross urging donations and in the White House briefing room delivering a televised warning to Americans to listen to official evacuation orders. Aides don't mind the campaign break too much: Images of the president doing his job aren't exactly bad for his re-election prospects. (Look for the president to resume campaigning on Thursday.)

And Christie?

"The president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit," Christie told MSNBC on Tuesday. "He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything, and he absolutely means it."

"It's been very good working with the president and his administration. It's been wonderful," he added, saying he had three conversations with Obama on Monday.

"He asked me what I needed. I said if he could expedite the Major Disaster Declaration without all the normal FEMA mumbo-jumbo. He got right on it," Christie continued.

On Fox News, Christie said Obama had helped "tremendously" by declaring the state a major disaster area, freeing up federal aid. "He's been very attentive, and anything that I've asked for, he's gotten to me. So I thank the president publicly for that. He's done—as far as I'm concerned—a great job for New Jersey."

What about Mitt Romney? Will the Republican presidential nominee be touring disaster-hit areas, Fox asked.

"I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested," Christie replied, immediately shutting down the idea. "I've got a job to do here in New Jersey that's much bigger than presidential politics and I could care less about any of that stuff."

"I have a job to do," he stressed. "I've got 2.4 million people out of power, I've got devastation on the shore, I've got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don't know me."