By Keith Laing
The mayor of a city targeted by New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie's administration with bridge lane closures in an act of political retribution said he was "glad" Christie visited his town on Thursday.
Christie traveled to Fort Lee, N.J., on Thursday to apologize to the city's mayor, Mark Sokolich (D), after it was revealed that members of his administration had discussions with state transportation officials about closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September.
But Sokolich said in an interview on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" he was "glad" Christie came to visit on Thursday.
"I'm glad that he came," Sokolich said. "The suggestion that he not come was not to be disrespectful in any manner, shape or form. It just seems that this continues, you know, as there are just more and more facts, and there seems to be more and more chapters that just haven't been read yet. So, we thought that, perhaps, it would be best to wait. He insisted on coming. We also said that if he came, he would be welcomed because that's the way we are here in Fort Lee."
Christie said in a marathon news conference on Thursday he thought it was important to travel to Fort Lee to personally apologize to citizens there.
"Later today, I'm going to be going to be going to Fort Lee," Christie said in his Thursday morning press conference. "I've asked to meet with the mayor and apologize to him personally, face to face, and also to apologize to the people of Fort Lee in their town. I think they need to see me do that personally, and I intend to do that later on today. People of those communities for four days were impacted in a completely callous and indifferent way, and I'm going to go and apologize for that."
Christie made clear he was going to travel to Fort Lee whether Sokolich wanted him to or not.
"If he won't see me, I'll go see other people in Fort Lee," he said. "I mean I wish he would see me, but if — I'm certainly not going to like barge into his office. If he doesn't want to see me, then I'll go someplace else in Fort Lee and talk to people in Fort Lee."
Sokolich later reversed course and said he would greet Christie, and the two later met in private.
Political observers have speculated Sokolich might attempt to parlay the name recognition he has gained from the bridge flap with Christie into a future gubernatorial run in New Jersey. But Sokolich told MSNBC's Maddow he did not have any higher political ambition.
"I've reached my political mountain top," Sokolich said. "I have no such aspiration, and I'm here to serve the people of Fort Lee."