New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a house party and Patriots playoff game watch party in Hampton Falls on Jan. 24

Jan 24, 2016 5:31 PM

Steinhauser: Christie returns to NH, touts handling of winter storm

NH1 News Political Director

HAMPTON FALLS — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie returned to the presidential campaign Sunday, touting his handling of the massive winter storm that struck his state on Friday and Saturday.

"We had more snow yesterday that we’ve had in any time in recent memory. In my backyard we had over two feet of snow. At Newark Airport we had 31 inches of snow," Christie said at a house party and Patriots playoff game watch party in Hampton Falls.

But Christie pointed out that regardless of how much of a punch the storm packed, "this morning New Jersey woke up and the roads were clear, the airports were open, and everything else was back up and running. All but 25,000 people had their power back on in a state of nine and a half million people."

And the Republican presidential candidate touted his leadership in steering the Garden State through the storm, saying "what we did was do it really well in the last 36 hours. All those things in New Jersey went really according to book. And it’s important for you to know that because I’m not worried about getting kudos for it, I’m just worried about getting the job done and I think that’s the kind of president you want too. Someone who’s going to go there and get the job done completely and immediately."

Last Wednesday, in an interview with NH1 News, Christie said he would be staying on the campaign trail in New Hampshire over the weekend rather than returning to New Jersey.

"The lieutenant governor is in the state and is the acting governor. She will be able to execute on the orders that I give from here and make sure things are getting done. But I’ll be complete involved. We’re scheduling those calls around the times that I’m also doing campaign appearances here," Christie told NH1 News.

"When you’re governor of a state, you’re never off. There’s never off time. No matter where you are, as long as we have smart phones, people can find you. so that’s the way we’ll be handling the storm," Christie added.

But Christie changed course on Friday and returned to the Garden State before the storm hit.

Sunday, Christie said "believe me, there were a number of people who were saying to me, it’s not going to be that bad, stay up here. I got advice on all sides. Whether to leave on Friday or not. Once I heard the story was going to potentially be two feet of snow, I knew where I needed to be and I went home."

The weekend blizzard was Christie's 17th snow emergency in six years as governor.

Christie has been in a two week war of words with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a rival for the nomination.

On Saturday, Rubio joked that the weekend snowstorm that closed down Washington and much of the East Coast would keep federal agencies from imposing new regulations and keep President Barack Obama from using his veto pen.

On CNN's "State of the Union," Christie said the remark showed "a real immaturity from Sen. Rubio to be joking as families were freezing in the cold, losing power and some of them losing their loved ones."

At least 18 deaths were blamed on the storm, resulting from car crashes, shoveling snow and hypothermia.

"That's a difference between a United States senator who has never been responsible for anything and a governor who is responsible for everything that goes on in your state," said Christie.

Later in Hampton Falls, Christie mentioned that two New Jersey residents had died in the storm, adding "that’s why when folks kind of make jokes about this stuff, it’s nothing to kid about."

The Rubio campaign fired back against Christie.

"Chris Christie wasn't even going to return to New Jersey until he was shamed into it," said Rubio campaign communications director Alex Conant said in an email "Christie should worry less about Marco's jokes and more about his own liberal record on gun control, judges and abortion."

The house party was hosted by Ellen Christo, a Christie supporter.

He also campaigned in Portsmouth and Hampton after returning to the Granite State on Sunday.

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