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Chris Christie and Obama Put Politics Aside in Wake of Disaster

by Jane Susskind, published

In the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Sandy, politicos have been speculating on the effect the hurricane will have on the presidential election. Causing an estimated $50 billion in damages, the hurricane has left the East Coast in shambles, with millions lacking power across the Northeast states affected by the storm. And while the worst is over, the repercussions of a natural disaster of this magnitude will continue to be felt well into the November 6th election.

All eyes have been on President Obama, as he halts his campaign in order to respond to his responsibilities as President of the United States. In the wake of a natural disaster, that role takes precedence, and as can be seen by his willingness to work across party lines, is unaffected by the political rhetoric defining the 2012 election.

Joining forces with the passionately candid republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie and Obama toured the state of New Jersey Wednesday to inspect damage caused by the hurricane.

Not only has Christie been active in the disaster relief efforts, but he has been very vocal in recent coverage of Hurricane Sandy. In an interview with Fox & Friends on Tuesday, he made his dedication to his state clear by clarifying that he doesn't give "a damn" about presidential politics. When asked about Mitt Romney visiting the state, he said:

"I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. 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." "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."

Speaking on the phone with President Obama three times within a 24-hour span, Christie described the president as "great," and "very attentive," praising Obama for the expedience at which he labeled New Jersey a disaster area. Giving credit where credit is due, Christie thanked Obama in the interview, for doing a great job in the handling of the hurricane and for his support in getting New Jersey back on track.

Whether intended or not, the unlikely duo's bipartisan efforts have made headlines, signaling a willingness to put politics aside in place of support for victims of the storm.

Furthermore, the opposing approaches by the presidential candidates has made the politicization of Hurricane Sandy inevitable. Images of our Democratic president Barack Obama and the the Republican governor of New Jersey Chris Christie touring the state of New Jersey signals a willingness to put politics aside when the American people are in need.

Placing him at odds with Governor Christie, Mitt Romney suggested a reduction in the role of the federal government in disaster relief. When asked about the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a June 2011 CNN debate, Romney told moderator John King, "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better."

He continued to explain how it "makes no sense" for the federal government to accumulate debt, indicating that disaster relief should be cut. Obama, on the other hand, has exhibited clear support for FEMA with his readiness to classify New Jersey and Newark major disaster areas in order to transfer federal funds into state hands as fast as possible.

And likely voters side with Chris Christie and Barack Obama. The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll finds 78% of likely voters view Obama's response to the hurricane as positive. Whether this will play into the election, however, only time will tell.

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