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 politics aside 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 today.
“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 this 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.”