Christie Welcomes Obama With Open Arms


President Barack Obama greets New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and members of his staff in Chief of Staff Jack Lew’s office in the West Wing of the White House, December 6, 2012.

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Washingto, DC — Republican Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t have politics on his mind ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to his state next week.

Unsurprisingly the New Jersey firebrand said he is focused on his job as governor and will welcome Obama to the state roughly seven months after superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast.

“If the president wants to come back here and see the progress himself, I never worry about that stuff,” Christie said Friday morning on NBC’s “Today.” “I worry about doing my job.”

The first-term governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate received national criticism after he appeared with the president shortly before the November 2012 election. At the time Christie, a supporter for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Obama met with storm victims and toured the wreckage. But Christie dismissed a question about how the president’s upcoming trip could impact his political future.

“The bottom line is you can’t experience the way you’re experiencing it right now unless you’re here and you see it for yourself,” Christie said. “The fact of the matter is he’s president of the United States and if he wants to see the people of New Jersey, I’m the governor and I’ll be here to welcome him.”

The often blunt Christie is up for re-election this November and is the current frontrunner. His approval ratings skyrocketed after the storm and he currently has a two-to-one advantage over his Democratic challenger in the most recent surveys.

Christie is on the shore Friday to re-open the area to tourists. Obama is scheduled to visit the state next Tuesday to view the ongoing recover efforts, meet with businesses and home owners aided by the recovery efforts and speak about the importance of expanding the middle class, according to a White House official.

The president’s visit comes as Oklahoma is only starting to rebuild after a massive tornado hit there this week. Christie was embroiled in a political fight over federal assistance after Sandy and has since said Oklahoma should receive the federal funding it needs.

“Americans need to help other Americans when we’re in trouble,” Christie said. “We never support irresponsible spending … everything that’s necessary to help them absolutely and should be done quickly.”

By Gabriella Schwarz – CNN White House Producer

CNN’s Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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