Hurricane Christie lifts Obama | Bleader

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Christie lifts Obama

Posted By on 10.30.12 at 02:21 PM

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
  • Bob Jagendorf
  • New Jersey governor Chris Christie
New Jersey governor Chris Christie blew through the national TV talk shows this morning, lauding President Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy.

"The president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit," Christie said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. "He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything and he absolutely means it, and it’s been very good working with the president and his administration.” On NBC's Today show, Christie said, “The president has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency].”

The Republican governor also tweeted: “I want to thank the President personally for all his assistance as w[e] recover from the storm.”

Imagine how battered Mitt Romney's camp feels as Christie gushes on. When the New Jersey governor gave the keynote at the Republican National Convention in August, he had trouble getting the word "Romney" out of his throat—he finally did so 1,800 words into his 2,600-word speech.

Christie's praise of Obama could prove critical in an election that's so close it may turn on Obama's handling of Sandy. Voters "punish presidents and governors for severe weather damage"—damage beyond their control—according to a study published last year in the American Journal of Political Science. For Obama—and for Christie, who's up for reelection next year—that's the bad news. The good news for both of them, if the study's correct, is that when governors ask for a disaster declaration and a president grants it, the credit that voters give them for doing so more than nullifies the blame they get for the weather damage. Governors and presidents end up better off with voters, that is, than if no disaster had occurred. This is especially true when the election occurs soon after the disaster. Christie asked for a disaster declaration for New Jersey, and Obama declared parts of New Jersey and New York disaster areas this morning.

And how would Romney deal with disasters such as Sandy? In a primary debate last year, he was asked if disaster relief should be handled more by state than federal government. "Absolutely," Romney said. "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. . . . We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, 'What are the things we're doing that we don't have to do?'"

But the Romney campaign sees which way the wind's blowing now, and insists Romney would not abolish FEMA.

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