Seven months after they made political waves touring the damaged New Jersey coastline together, President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reunited on the Jersey Shore as the president assessed the recovery and rebuilding efforts of the beach communities devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
"We're still rebuilding after Sandy. Now, we all understand that there is still a lot of work to be done," the president said before a crowd of 3,800 at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J. "There are homes to rebuild, there are businesses to reopen, there are landmarks and beaches and boardwalks that aren't all the way back yet -- but thanks to the hard work of an awful lot of people, we've got wonderful shops and restaurants and arcades that are opening their doors. And I saw what thousands of Americans saw over Memorial Day weekend. You are stronger than the storm."
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"After all you've been through, the Jersey Shore is back and it is open for business," Obama said, "and they want all Americans to know they're ready to welcome you here."
Christie, a Republican, first hosted Obama, a Democrat, on a tour of the coastal area after Sandy hit seven months ago. As the pair surveyed the impacted New Jersey area just days before the November election, Christie heaped praise the president for his response to the storm that slammed Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. It helped boost the president in the final week of the campaign against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
As he introduced the president at Tuesday's speech, Christie said that concern for the people of New Jersey and the desire to restore the shore trumped any political party.
"Everybody came together, Republicans, Democrats, independents. We all came together because New Jersey is more important and our citizens' lives are more important than any kind of politics at all," he said.
On Tuesday, the political odd couple toured restored portions of the boardwalk in Point Pleasant, N.J., shaking hands with hundreds of children and adults outside an arcade. Christie and Obama stopped at an arcade game called "Touchdown Fever," where the president threw five straight incompletes while the New Jersey governor made a touchdown with one toss.
"One and done," Christie said after making his shot with the pigskin.
"That's 'cause he's running for office," Obama said in response.
Christie is seeking re-election for governor against Democratic State Sen. Barbara Buono. A poll earlier this month showed Buono trailing Christie by 32 percentage points. Buono tweeted Tuesday that she met with the president while he was in New Jersey.
Speaking in a town that inspired some of native New Jersey musician Bruce Springsteen's work, the president quoted a line from a song Springsteen performs, saying "Down the shore, everything's all right."
"He's the only guy a president still has to call 'The Boss' other than the first lady," Obama joked.
Highlighting the resilience of the people of New Jersey, the president made a sales pitch for the Jersey Shore, encouraging Americans to visit the beach communities rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy.
"Let's have some good times on the New Jersey shore this summer and next summer and the summer after that and all year long," he said. "America, bring your family and friends, spend a little money on the Jersey Shore. You'll find the friendliest folks on earth, some of the best people on earth, and you'll see even after a tough couple of months this place is as special as ever because down the shore, everything's still all right."
The president's trip came just two days after he traveled to Moore, Okla., to survey the damage caused by a tornado that killed 24 people and where he met with first responders and families affected by last week's storms.
As he highlighted the cooperation between the federal, state and local authorities in revitalizing the New Jersey coastline, President Obama said the trip to the shore was meant to send a message of commitment not just to the people of New Jersey, but also to the community of Moore, Okla., which the president mistakenly referred to as "Monroe."
"When we make a commitment that we've got your back, we mean it, and we're not going to finish unit the work is done, because that's who we are," he said. "We help each other as Americans through the bad times, and we sure make the most of the good times."
While the president was in New Jersey, the first lady hosted children affected by Sandy to harvest the White House kitchen garden in Washington, D.C.
The White House said the president's return to the Jersey Shore reiterated his commitment to follow through on the recovery efforts stemming from Hurricane Sandy.
"The recovery effort in the aftermath of Sandy is still ongoing and there are still a lot of people in these communities who are hurting and are still struggling to come back from the blow that that storm dealt to them," Josh Earnest, the White House principal deputy press secretary, told reporters Sunday. "But the president made a promise in the aftermath of that storm that he would continue to focus on that recovery effort and that the federal government would continue to focus on that recovery effort long after the nation's attention, or at least the media's attention, had turned elsewhere."
- Politics & Government
- President Obama
- Superstorm Sandy
- New Jersey