Chris Christie Press Conference After Obama Visit Hails Federal Response, Asks NJ For Patience And Water Conservation

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held a press conference this evening after touring the state’s devastation with President Obama, again thanking the Commander-in-Chief for suspending campaign efforts despite an election that looms in less than a week.

Chris Christie was frank with New Jersey residents in his livestreamed press conference, reporting that a visit to Sayreville was “heartbreaking” as the town had been devastated three times in three years. Christie also repeated to constituents that Jersey was “lucky more people didn’t die” after ignoring warnings to evacuate and recalling a very elderly woman who had been evacuated by boat after devastating flooding.

At the close of the conference, Christie took questions from press about the state of affairs in Jersey following Sandy’s devastation, confirming he spoke with the president about earmarking funds to purchase homes in flood-prone areas proactively.

Christie said that Jersey is “already in the process of using state funds” to buy up homes prone to flooding and that people have to make “hard choices” regarding rebuilding versus accepting a buyout — but ultimately saying that the choice lies with those who must make the decision, and that people should have the “individual right to choose where they live.”

Christie’s second question was also regarding rebuilding areas like the Jersey Shore, saying that he was not of the position that residents should “walk away” from some of the areas destroyed by Sandy, and confirmed that he asked the President to involve the Army Corps of Engineers to assess the feasibility of rebuilding — adding that he has a scheduled meeting with the Army Corps tomorrow following his talks with Obama to discuss rebuilding.

Per Christie, state offices in New Jersey will be open tomorrow, but no estimates for total cost of Sandy-related damages have yet emerged.

When asked about his “bromance” with President Obama, Christie said the interaction was “comfortable” and “relaxing,” and despite being “aware of the atmospherics,” he “doesn’t care” given the responsibility he has that is “much bigger than politics.” Christie admonished:

“The President and I are big boys, and we’re in the business of politics … we spent most of our time talking about problems, and how we’re going to deal with them … my relationships with Democrats are about getting things done.”

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Christie added:

“I accept his help, I accept his good will … I speak the truth, sometimes you guys don’t like it.”

Christie both said and tweeted:

At the end of questions during the conference, Christie confirmed that 75 percent of NJ buses would be up and running tomorrow, but that trains would be a much larger challenge, and that there is no place to “put the trains even if we ran them.”

Christie stopped short of predicting that the outage would last weeks, but said that there is no way to tell for sure when trains would be up and running due to extensive flooding in stations in Hoboken and New York Penn and noting that the PATH stations still don’t have power.

When pressed during questioning, Christie said he was tempted to use a possibly impolite phrase, stopping at “everyone has an opinion,” and refusing to engage on the subject of climate change. The governor restated that he was more interested in discussing the crisis at hand, and perhaps would comment months later during a Hurricane Sandy retrospective.

Finally, Christie was asked about power to polling places, and he said that Election Day was too far in advance, and that powering up water treatment plants and hospitals and schools took precedence. And in response to questions about gas shortages and reported fist fights, the governor said that while Jersey residents can be “hot-headed,” there is no need for additional law enforcement presence in New Jersey while the situation persists.

Christie became annoyed at the conference’s close with continued questions about his work with President Obama and what he said was a diversion from the important work of getting New Jersey back up and running, cutting off repeated questions about the election next week in favor of discussing restoring essential services to New Jersey.