Shore kids wowed by gov's copter, White House pals

Associated Press
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, back to camera, visits a group of kindergarten, first and second grade students at the recently reopened Stone Harbor Elementary school in Stone Harbor, N.J., Wednesday, March 20, 2013. The school, one of eight in the state heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy, is the first to reopen. The students attended schools in Avalon while their school was repaired. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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STONE HARBOR, N.J. (AP) — The fact that their school recently became the first one to reopen after having been shuttered by Superstorm Sandy didn't faze a group of kindergartners at the Jersey shore.

Nor did the fact that a man who might someday run for president was standing in front of the floor rug where they have story time.

While it was nice that Republican Gov. Chris Christie was there to celebrate the school's recent reopening with them Wednesday, they were far more impressed with how he got there — in a helicopter.

Christie's sweet ride to the Stone Harbor Elementary School wowed the students there, who also asked lots of questions about President and Mrs. Obama.

"Did you come here in a limousine?" one child asked.

"I came here in something even better — a helicopter!" the governor said, drawing several "Whoa!"s from the class. "I parked it on one of your big fields."

That prompted another child to ask, "Do you have servants on the helicopter?"

"No, but I do have pilots that fly it for me," Christie said.

The students also asked Christie about his friends in the White House. While the governor's warm embrace of President Barack Obama during post-storm damage tours drew the ire of some Republicans who said it hurt GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's chances in the election, which came shortly after Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29, this audience thought it was cool.

"Was the president's wife enchanting?" one little girl asked.

Yes, Christie acknowledged to laughter, she is.

"I had dinner with them three weeks ago. She is very nice," Christie said. "We sat next to each other at dinner. She went to the same college my son goes to. We talked a lot about Princeton."

Another girl asked Christie "if you collect the taxes."

Using his pronouns carefully, Christie said, "Unfortunately, yes, it's part of our job."

Other questions from the kindergartners: What is the hardest part of being governor? ("Having to say no to people.") Do you live in a big house? ("Kind of big.") Do you do math?

"I try not to," Christie said. "With the budget I have to do math. I do most of my math in my head, and it drives the woman at OMB crazy," he said, referring to the Office of Management and Budget, which went completely over the heads of all the children — and most of the adults as well.

One boy raised his hand and said he recognized Christie.

"I saw you on TV," he said.

"What was I doing?" Christie asked.

"Nothing," the boy replied.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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