Gov. Christie defends praise for Obama, but will vote for Romney

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Sunday defended his praise for President Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy, but said he would still vote for GOP nominee Mitt Romney. 

“The fact of the matter is, what New Jerseyans expect from their governor is to work for them, not to work for any particular political party,” Christie said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, as reported by Reuters.

“I'm a Republican and I have endorsed Mitt Romney, I support him and I intend to vote for him on Tuesday,” added Christie.

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Christie, whose state was battered by Sandy last week, had offered strong praise for Obama for his marshaling of federal resources to help states deal with the storm’s aftermath.

“The president has been all over this and deserves great credit,” Christie said last Tuesday, adding that Obama had been “outstanding” in helping cut through red tape to ensure New Jersey was quickly declared a disaster area.

Christie later toured the storm-ravaged New Jersey shoreline with the president. 

The moves, though, invited concern from Republicans, who feared Christie’s actions would boost the president with voters. Christie spoke at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., this year and was considered for the running-mate slot on the GOP ticket. The New Jersey governor had been a tough critic of the president in the past.

Polls taken since the storm show voters back the president’s handling of the response, with a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finding that seven in 10 voters back Obama’s performance in the wake of Sandy, with 15 percent disapproving.

On Sunday, Christie defended his praise for Obama and said it was the right response to the president’s help.

“If the president of United States comes here and he's willing to help my people and he does it, then I'm gonna say nice things about him, because he's earned it,” said the governor. “Anybody who is upset in the Republican Party about this — they haven't been to New Jersey. Come see the destruction, come see the loss.”