Chris Christie praises Obama (again): Is he digging himself in deeper?

Six months after his famous – some say costly – hug of the president on the Jersey Shore, Gov. Chris Christie says Obama 'kept every promise that he made' on hurricane Sandy disaster relief.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/File
President Obama is greeted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie upon his arrival at Atlantic City International Airport, Oct. 2012, in Atlantic City, NJ. Obama traveled to the region to take an aerial tour of the Atlantic Coast in New Jersey in areas damaged by superstorm Sandy.

Christie lauds Obama (again) over Sandy: Is he digging himself in deeper?

As he gave President Obama a tour along the Sandy-devastated Jersey Shore last October, Gov. Chris Christie gave President Obama the body hug – call it a non-endorsement endorsement – that some conservatives still think cost Mitt Romney the election.

Six months later, Governor Christie, a Romney supporter, is unrepentant.

He says presidential politics was the last thing on his mind that day. And, he once again gave Obama the Christie-seal-of-approval as far as super storm Sandy is concerned.

“He’s kept every promise that he made,” he said Monday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Is that another non-endorsement endorsement of the president? Or, is it just a frank assessment of the billions of dollars pouring into the Garden State? And, could his assessment of Obama vis-a-vis New Jersey cost him conservative votes?

Political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia says it’s just another example of Christie’s stubborn nature.

“He didn’t back off the October statements about Obama,” recalls Mr. Sabato. But, at the same time, he says Christie needs all that money from Washington to help rebuild his battered state. And, as it rebuilds the state, it helps his standing with voters from both parties.

“Christie needs lots of Democratic voters to get reelected in November,” says Sabato.

So, far, New Jersey voters have a high opinion of Christie. According to an April 24 Quinnipiac University poll, the governor leads Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono by 58 percent to 26 percent in his reelection bid this fall. Christie’s approval rating is a high 67 percent.

But polls this early aren’t that meaningful, Sabato says.

“There are a lot of politicians who are out of office who assumed their April numbers will be their November numbers,” he says.

Nationally, Republicans’ ardor for Christie has cooled somewhat. In a poll of New Hampshire Republicans last Thursday, Public Policy Polling found Christie (14 percent) behind Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (28 percent) and Sen. Marco Rubio (25 percent) of Florida.

On Monday, Christie tried to separate his approval of Obama’s response to the storm with his other political views.

He told MSNBC that “everyone knows I have like a 95 percent level of disagreement with President Barack Obama on issues of principal and philosophy, but the fact of the matter is that he’s got a job to do. And, what people expect out of people they elect is for them to do their job.”

Sabato, however, thinks it’s unlikely Christie will win the Republican nomination no matter what he says about Obama.

“Christie is too moderate,” he explains. “It is not just what he said about Obama but a whole range of social issues. It just does not comport with the very conservative base of the Republican Party.”

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