Republicans accused New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of getting too cozy with President Barack Obama after Superstorm Sandy.
But during a visit Friday to a Republican stronghold for one of his regular town hall meetings, the governor went out of his way to put some distance between himself and the Democratic president.
Before taking questions from the public, Christie spoke about the problems in Washington, appearing to place most of the blame on Obama.
“We look at Washington, D.C., and we shake our heads in wonder at a president who can’t figure out how to lead, at a Congress that only 11 percent of the people in the last poll I saw approve of the job they’re doing,” he said.
Referring further to those low approval ratings, Christie said, “That’s what happens when you don’t have a leader at the top. That’s what happens when you have someone in the executive office who is more concerned about being right than he’s concerned about getting things done, and I’m not going to be that kind of leader of New Jersey.”
When former Vernon mayor Sally Rinker thanked Christie for the way he worked with Obama after Sandy and referred to the criticism he took for it, the governor cut her off. He said he disagreed with Obama “probably 95 percent of the time” and hadn’t voted for him either time.
“I don’t want him to be president, but it wasn’t my choice,” said Christie, a potential candidate for the presidency in 2016 who had criticized Obama’s leadership on previous occasions.
At the same time, he said there’s only one president at a time, and he dismissed criticism he received for his praise of Obama for the government’s response to Sandy.
“And when the storm hits the state and the president of the United States calls you and says, ‘I want to come and see it and I want to help,’ and he actually follows through on the promises that he made, then you have to say that on that part of it he did a good job,” Christie said. “That doesn’t mean I like Obamacare; that doesn’t mean I like what he’s doing on taxes or spending or anything else.
“For the folks who are critical of that, let me just ask them, ‘What would you have me do, exactly?’ … The president calls and says, ‘I want to come and visit and see it for myself so I can help you,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, no. I’m for Mitt Romney — I don’t want you to come.’
“Or would you have me wear my Romney sweatshirt while I was walking around with him? You know, I mean, this is ridiculous stuff.”