New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) praised President Obama’s work to help states battered by Hurricane Sandy as “outstanding” Tuesday, but cautioned that the recovery would be a prolonged effort.
Christie, a prominent surrogate for GOP candidate Mitt Romney, said Obama had moved quickly to help designate his state a disaster area to better expedite federal assistance.
“The federal government’s response has been great. I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president, personally, he has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area,” said Christie, in an interview with NBC’s “Today.”
“Last night, I was on the phone with FEMA at 2 a.m. this morning to answer the questions they needed answered to get that designation and the president has been outstanding in this. The folks at FEMA, [Administrator] Craig Fugate and his folks have been excellent,” he continued.
In a separate interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Christie added to the praise, saying that “the president has been all over this and deserves great credit.”
“He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything,” he added.
But the storm also presented a challenge to presidential contenders Obama and Romney with polls showing a tight race and only a week until election day. Both campaigns canceled events, with Obama returning to Washington to oversee the federal response and Romney calling on supporters to donate to recovery efforts.
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The storm could provide an opportunity for the president to show strong leadership by managing an effective federal recovery. But Obama also faces the risk of assuming blame if anything goes wrong. With the storm hitting many swing states, including Virginia, New Hampshire and North Carolina, its effects on the election are still uncertain.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) on the "Today Show" thanked Obama and said the president had done a "magnificent job." Malloy also praised FEMA, saying the agency had done "amazing early work to get us ready."
Christie on Tuesday though signaled that recovering from Sandy could be a long-term issue.
“It’s a major disaster,” said Christie of the damage in his home state. “We have over 2.4 million people without power across the state,” he said and added that there was extensive flooding in many areas.
“We have a battered, battered New Jersey shore that I hope to tour a little bit later on today, but I think the losses are going to be incalculable,” Christie said.
Malloy mirrored those sentiments. "We've got a lot of work ahead of us," he said.
This story was updated at 8:24 a.m.