Entries in Storm (5)


After Sandy, Chris Christie Says NJ Is 'Model' for How Government Should Work

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that rebuilding New Jersey after superstorm Sandy's devastation had to be his priority and called on Congress to swiftly approve disaster aid, at the same time praising both friends and foes in the state legislature for working together in the aftermath of the storm.

"You have helped define New Jersey as a community, one which -- when faced with adversity -- rolls up its sleeves, gets back to work, and in word and deed shows that New Jersey will never, ever give up," Christie said of his fellow New Jerseyans in his annual state of the state address in Trenton.

"One thing I hope everyone in America now clearly understands -- New Jersey, both Republicans and Democrats, will never stand silent when our citizens are being short-changed," he said.

He said the superstorm that devastated the state was "above politics" and he now looks forward "to what we hope will be quick congressional action on a full, clean Sandy aid bill -- now, next week -- and to enactment by the president."

Christie urged Washington, D.C., to deliver quick financial relief to the state in a speech that was at times reminiscent of the angry dressing down he gave members of his own party, notably House Speaker John Boehner last week, when Boehner decided not to bring a $60 billion Sandy aid bill to the floor, despite assuring northeastern Republicans he would.

"We have waited 72 days, seven times longer than victims of Hurricane Katrina waited," Christie said. "The people of New Jersey are in need and not from their own actions but from an act of God that delivered a natural, human, and financial disaster -- and let me say on behalf of all New Jerseyans we are thankful to the people of America for honoring the tradition of providing relief."

He said it could take "years to repair" some of the devastation in his state and touted his state's bipartisanship, digging the federal government to do the same. He even praised his foes in the state legislature, including Democratic State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who just a day before accused Christie of "pray(ing)" for the storm to hit New Jersey.

"We are working together, not just as a people, in digging out from Sandy and rebuilding our economy," Christie said. "Here in Trenton, in this chamber, we have had our fights. We have stuck to our principles. But we have established a governing model for the nation that shows that, even with heartfelt beliefs, bipartisan compromise is possible. Achievement is the result. And progress for our people is the payoff."

"The folks in Washington, in both parties could learn something from our record here," Christie, who is considered a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said.

Congress approved $9.7 billion last week to help pay for Sandy-related insurance claims, and Boehner promised a second vote on disaster relief would be held on Jan. 15.

Sandy slammed into New Jersey on Oct. 29, killing more than 125 people and causing billions of dollars in damage. In the days after the storm and before the election, Christie stood with President Obama and praised him, irking some Republicans in the process.

Christie singled out specific New Jersey residents in his speech -- who were also in the audience -- for going beyond the call of duty as the storm hit the state, such as Marsha Hedgepeth, an emergency room technician in Toms River who swam and then hitchhiked with a utility worker from Michigan in order to get to her hospital and put in a 12-hour shift.

After the address, state Democrats responded that while they agree with the Republican governor that there is much rebuilding to do, they criticized Christie for solely focusing on storm recovery and glossing over the state's economic problems.

"I believe that as government leaders we have the responsibility to be able to address more than one problem at a time," Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald said. "The governor must stand with us to recognize that after the first three years of his administration, in the policies of his economic recovery, the numbers don't ring true."

In a Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll released Monday, 73 percent of registered voters approved of the job their governor was doing.

In November, Christie officially announced his intention to run for re-election and in the 36-day period afterwards he hauled in more than $2.1 million.

In the survey, Christie also comes out on top against his opponents and potential opponents. Christie bests state senator Barbara Buono, who announced her bid last month, with 64 percent to 21 percent. He tops state senator Richard Codey, who served as the state's interim governor for 14 months after the 2004 resignation of Gov. Jim McGreevey, 59 percent to 26 percent. Up against Sweeney, Christie was picked 65 percent to 19 percent.

Neither Sweeney or Codey have announced campaigns, but have said they are considering bids for governor.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NJ Gov. Chris Christie Lauded for Storm Efforts

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has earned high marks for his handling of the unprecedented disaster his state has witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, assuring his constituents with his trademark bluntness and aplomb.

The governor has been praised for appearing in control of the situation, rattling off numbers about customers without power and the status of search and rescue operations, and lauded for his willingness to put aside politics just a week before Election Day.

The storm, which has affected seven states and left more than 30 people dead and millions without power, offers a rare opportunity to test our leaders and compare them side by side.

While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each project his own brand of command – Cuomo comes off as cool under pressure and Bloomberg as a tough but loving manager – Christie with his extra-large podium and outsize  personality seems to be winning people over by just being his brassy self.

“I’m sure that while the national election is obviously very important, that the people of New Jersey, in this moment, would really be unhappy with me if they thought for a second I was occupying my time thinking about how I was going to get people to vote a week from today,” Christie told reporters Tuesday.

“So, I don’t give a damn about Election Day. It doesn’t matter a lick to me at the moment. I have much bigger fish to fry than that,” he said, before boarding a helicopter to assess the damage along the Jersey shore.

He took that sentiment even further Tuesday morning on Good Morning America, praising President Obama, despite Christie’s active support for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“I have to say, the administration, the president himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far,” Christie said.

But lest Christie be accused of being too soft, he has done plenty of chops busting too.

“It’s just stupid,” Christie said Monday, chastising both coastal residents who did not heed his warning to evacuate and the mayor of Atlantic City who offered them shelter.

“They are now in harm’s way,” he said. “These decisions were both stupid and selfish.”

The nattering classes from both sides of the aisle are each celebrating Christie via Twitter.

“Maybe it turns out that Christie is the October Surprise,” tweeted liberal New York magazine columnist Frank Rich.

“Kudos to Gov. Christie for putting people first as chief executive,” wrote Liddy Huntsman, daughter of onetime Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman.

And perhaps summing up a lot of people’s feelings, one tweeter wrote: “It’s hard to not like Chris Christie right now.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Could Election Day Be Postponed After Superstorm?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Superstorm Sandy has given rise to suspensions in campaigning by both President Obama and GOP contender Mitt Romney, but could it actually delay Election Day?

In theory, yes, but in all likelihood, no.

The Constitution leaves the "times, places and manner" of holding a federal election up to each state, but says that Congress may at any time make or alter such regulations. Election Day, which is set by Congress for all federal offices, is the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

To push that back, Congress would have to act, which at this late date seems highly unlikely. States could implement emergency procedures that could postpone Election Day, but that could be challenged by Congress or face federal Equal Protection challenges in the courts.

This is uncharted territory, so experts aren't sure how it would be handled.

"For those states that don't already have an election emergency process in place, any departure from the established election process could easily give rise to court challenges about the legitimacy of the election," said Steven Huefner, professor at Ohio State's Moritz College of Law. "Even states with an emergency plan might find themselves facing litigation over specific ways in which they've implemented their emergency plan."

Huefner believes that most likely the storm-related election problems will be resolved by next Tuesday but that the severity of the storm ought to serve as a warning that "Congress and those States that haven't made contingency plans should do so."

Nevertheless, experts told ABC News that even minor contingency arrangements, like keeping polls open longer in some precincts or moving polling locations, will probably lead to legal challenges and more provisional voting, which can delay election results.

In Pennsylvania, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth said Tuesday morning, "We do not anticipate any postponement happening. The general election date is set by federal law." But he acknowledged that state law allows county boards of elections to move some polling places in cases of emergency. And that Pennsylvania has a provision that has been read to allow court of common pleas judges to suspend voting if there is a "natural disaster or emergency on the date of election."

In Ohio, there is no statewide contingency planning, but each of its 88 county boards have their own emergency procedures, such as providing paper ballots should machines malfunction or plans for the relocation of polling places. Except for a power outage in one county (Erie), there have been no reported problems so far, according to Ohio's secretary of state.

In North Carolina, the executive director of the State Board of Elections has emergency power to hold elections in a district where the originally scheduled election was disrupted by natural disaster, extremely inclement weather or armed conflict.

Under Virginia law, there is no delay or postponement of a presidential election under any circumstances. Currently, nine out of Virginia's 134 early voting locations are closed due to Sandy, but those locations will be given up to eight more hours of operating time once they reopen. Most are in Northern Virginia. Also, Virginia has prioritized power restoration to polling locations, made sure voting equipment is battery-operated and that batteries are charged, and the state may set up contingency polling sites.

Battleground states New Hampshire and Florida don't expect any storm impact.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama on Hurricane Irene Recovery: 'Everybody's Working Hard'

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) -- President Obama was in New Jersey Sunday to take his first tour of the damage caused by Hurricane Irene, a week after the storm pounded the East Coast with heavy rain and winds.

He flew into Newark where he was greeted by Gov. Chris Christie and Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, and then traveled by motorcade to see Paterson and Wayne— two cities hit hard by the flooding.

Christie, who is leading the tour of the damage, has at times criticized Obama for not showing decisive enough leadership, but he had nothing but praise for the president's handling of Hurricane Irene.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One that they chose Paterson because it's a place the president could visit that was severely affected by the storm.

In Wayne, where homes are still flooded and the streets are littered with water-damaged debris, he walked through the shattered neighborhoods, speaking to people and offering hope and comfort.

"Everybody's going to be working hard to help you recover," Obama told one woman.

Paterson, the state's third largest city, was flooded when the Passaic River reached its highest level in more than a century, forcing more than 6,000 people to evacuate.

Last week, Obama declared 16 New Jersey counties major disaster areas, freeing up federal dollars for recovery efforts. On his tour Sunday, he was joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and Lisa Jackson, from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The cost of the damage has not yet been tallied in New Jersey, but is expected to reach billions of dollars.

The White House has requested additional money to help pay for disaster relief throughout the region affected by the storm, but that funding could get caught up in the partisan budget battle, as Republicans in Congress insist on balancing any additional FEMA funding with equal spending cuts. FEMA says it has less than $800 million in its bank account.

Carney lashed out at the partisan bickering that could hold up relief for the dozens of towns and cities suffering after Irene.

"When disaster strikes, Americans suffer, not Democrats, not independents, not Republicans," he said. "Americans suffer, and then we come together and put politics aside to make sure that those Americans get the assistance that they need."

The presidential visit to Paterson comes as officials keep an eye on another major storm pounding the South, parts of which are still recovering from devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Tropical Storm Lee is unleashing heavy rain and wind on Gulf Coast states. Carney said the administration is concerned about what "has been and will be a significant amount of rainfall."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bachmann: Hurricane Is God's Warning to Washington

Win McNamee/Getty Images(SARASOTA, Fla.) -- As Hurricane Irene ravaged the East Coast this weekend, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said the storm and last week's earthquake were God's way of trying to get politicians in Washington to deal with soaring federal deficits.

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending," Bachmann said in Sarasota on Sunday, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

On Monday, Bachmann's campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart said the Minnesota congresswoman was just joking.

"Of course she was saying it in jest," Stewart wrote in an email to ABC News.

In a 2005 ABC News poll, after Hurricane Katrina, 23 percent of those surveyed -- nearly one in four -- said they saw recent hurricanes as deliberate acts of God. Of them, about half said they thought Katrina was intended as "a warning." About one in three evangelical Protestants in the poll said they thought Katrina was a deliberate act of God.

The poll was conducted after an Alabama state senator described Hurricane Katrina as God's punishment for "gambling, sin and wickedness."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio