President Obama visited one of the hardest-hit areas in Hurricane Sandyâ€™s destructive path Wednesday, joining NJ Governer. Chris Christie (R) – one of his most outspoken critics and a chief surrogate to rival Mitt Romney – for a tour of the damage the storm inflicted on the Garden State, reports The New York Times.
“Two days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in southern New Jersey, President Obama was on hand to witness the devastation, comfort residents, and pledge the full support of the federal government in the recovery effort,” writes The White House.
Following a helicopter tour of the state’s battered shoreline, President Obama expressed his sympathies and promised the full weight of his office and the federal government in providing aid. Â “We are here for you, and we will not forget,” Obama said, according to ABC News. “We will follow up to make sure you get all the help you need until you rebuild.
“I don’t want anybody to feel that somehow this is all going to get cleaned up overnight,” Obama said. “But what I can promise you is that the federal government will be working as closely as possible with the state and local officials, and we will not quit until this is done.”
Across the state, the storm damaged homes, flooded communities, and left more than 2 million people without power. The President and NJ Governor Chris Christie surveyed the effects of the hurricane from Marine One, then walked the streets of Brigantine, a town near Atlantic City. The two leaders also visited a community center now serving as a shelter for displaced residents.
“One of our challenges now is to get back to normalcy,” said Gov. Chris Â Christie. “And so the things we need to do is to make sure that we get power restored as quickly as possible; make sure that people have clean drinking water, and waste water treatment plants are working.”
He continued: “Hospitals are taken care of the way they need to; and that we get kids back to school. And so, I discussed all those issues today with the President, and Iâ€™m pleased to report that he has sprung into action immediately to help get us those things.”
Although it was not a political statement, Christie’s comments were an unlikely endorsement of the president’s leadership at crucial juncture in the presidential race. Together, the two men cut a surprising image of bipartisanship and cooperation ahead of next week’s presidential elections, as polls show the race in a dead heat nationally.
President Obama outlined the steps being taken by federal emergency responders. Even before the storm hit, FEMA and other groups were able to preposition supplies like water, food, and power generators. Now more than 2,000 FEMA personnel are on the ground in the state, and the President promised that the recovery effort would continue.
“Number one, and most important, our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones,” he said. “For those like the people I just had the chance to meet on this block and throughout New Jersey and throughout the region whose lives have been upended, my second message is we are here for you, and we will not forget; we will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you’ve rebuilt.”
President Obama, who was previously scheduled to be on the campaign trail this week, canceled stops Monday and Tuesday to monitor the storm from Washington. He convened a video conference in the White House Situation Room with top advisers Tuesday morning and held a conference call with utility executives later in the day.
The president met with top officials once again for a briefing Wednesday morning before he departed Washington. Obamaâ€™s trip to New Jersey was the only travel on his Wednesday schedule, reports The Washington Post.
New polls in three key swing states show Obama holding his lead in Ohio and wiping away Romney’s advantages in Virginia and Florida. Â Obama leads 49 percent to 47 percent in Virginia and had a 48 percent to 47 percent edge in Florida, according to the Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll.
Obama’s leads in those two states were within the margin of error, meaning the candidates were essentially tied. But Romney was leading in those states just a few days ago in other polls. In Ohio, Obama is maintaining a five-point lead, with a 50-45 margin, according to Quinnipiac.