Sandy bounce? Obama boosted by poll and Gov Chris Christie
Republican New Jersey Governor goes from harsh critic of president to biggest fan in 10 days
BARACK OBAMA returns to the presidential election campaign trail today, boosted by reaction to his handling of the Hurricane Sandy disaster. New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie, a key Romney supporter until now, praised Obama's "personal concern and compassion" for his people, while a Washington Post poll found nearly 80 per cent of voters were impressed by Obama's response to the crisis.
Obama's visit to Atlantic City yesterday, where superstorm Sandy made landfall earlier this week, "could yet prove to be the turning point in the presidential race", The Times observes today.
Obama told journalists: "Governor Christie, throughout his process, has been responsive, he has been aggressive in making sure that the state got out in front of this incredible storm."
Christie responded: "I cannot thank the President enough for his personal concern and compassion."
The Washington Post is struck by "the sudden love-in between Christie and Obama" which "entered its second day Wednesday". The previous day, Christie had called Obama's handling of the storm "outstanding" and, in an interview on Fox and Friends, appeared to put down his friend Romney.
Asked whether the Republican presidential candidate might be planning to visit New Jersey, Christie responded: "I have no idea... nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I have a job to do in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics."
The Post points out that Christie has been a "leading surrogate" for Republican challenger Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign, frequently berating Obama. Only 10 days ago, Christie told a Romney rally that Obama was "blindly walking around the White House looking for a clue".
Obama's campaign will also be boosted by a Washington Post/ ABC poll which finds that 78 per cent of voters believe Obama has handled the Sandy crisis well. Among Romney supporters, two-thirds believe Obama has done a good job.
Meanwhile, Romney is being haunted by a statement he made last year when he appeared to suggest he would scrap Fema, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and hand its duties to individual states, because central government "cannot afford to do those things without jeopardising the future for our kids".
With Gov Christie praising Fema to the rafters for its work in New Jersey, the New York Times notes that during campaigning in Tampa, Florida yesterday Romney "struggled to square his small-government credo with a national disaster that seemed to cry out for a major federal response".
Before Romney even took the stage in Tampa, he put out a statement pledging to continue financing Fema so it can "fulfil its mission". He added: "I believe that Fema plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters."
Romney's team said he had not reversed his previous position on Fema and that "being a partner for the states is the best approach".