Due in to Brigantine and set to appear at the North Point Marina at 2 p.m., President Barack Obama will tour the Hurricane Sandy-devastated shore area with Gov. Chris Christie in what political observers are sizing up as an unprecedented mutual dismissal of partisan politics less than a week before Election Day.
Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney are in a dead heat nationally as the president prepares to chopper over the impacted area with Christie, a man who has travelled the country on Romney’s behalf, bashing the Democrat as a White House flop.
This week, Christie repeatedly praised Obama’s response to the storm that smashed into New Jersey, killed upwards of 40 Americans and left 2.4 million New Jerseyans without power, according to news reports.
Neither Obama nor Christie has engaged questions about next week’s election except to say that it isn’t important alongside the immediate crisis.
“One word: bipartisanship, which the public seems to be craving at this time,” said Democratic lobbyist Michael Murphy, who remembers when President John F. Kennedy appeared for a rally in Jersey City’s Journal Square in the 1960 presidential election, a far different backdrop than the no politics allowed flood ravages of Atlantic County.
At ground zero, State Sen. Jim Whelan (D-2) said he had four inches of water in his Atlantic City home, the first time in 35 years that has happened, he told PolitickerNJ.com.
“Here cleaning up,” said Whelan, who said the city sustained major damage on the north end of the boardwalk.
“The Steel Pier came through pretty good,” said the senator, who was not aware of any deaths in the city as a consequence of the hurricane.
“My son’s a cop and my brother in law’s a fire chief, so I think I would have heard, but I haven’t,” he said.
Farther north of Whelan in Monmouth County, “Sea Bright doesn’t exist anymore,” said Monmouth County Democratic County Chairman Vin Gopal. “Keansburg, Neptune and Bradley Beach are under water.”
The chairman’s hometown of Long Branch took a major pounding.
But days after leading a rally against the GOP on behalf of Obama this past Saturday, “I am a huge Chris Christie fan today,” Gopal said. “He has gone above and beyond, including touring Belmar with Mayor Matt Doherty yesterday and on the phone with JCP&L. He has been reaching out creating bipartisan outreach with Obama, the lieutenant governor is in Keansburg – they have been focused. I anticipate Chris Christie’s approval rating will go over 60%.
“I don’t think anyone cares there’s an election next week,” the Democratic chairman added.