President Barack Obama plans to tour the Jersey Shore today for a second time with Gov. Chris Christie, continuing an odd political pairing that left a partisan distaste in the mouths of some after Hurricane Sandy.
Obama toured the shore in the immediate aftermath of the superstorm last year, and is scheduled to touch down to personally view several New Jersey's beach towns to examine the effects of Sandy aid on recovery.
The trip will serve not only to get Obama out of the tumult of Washington for a few days, but could draw attention to what was seen as a bipartisan effort in using the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver aid.
The visit comes as Congress is on recess, possibly allowing Obama to redirect some of the conversation. It will also bring him back to Christie, always a cheerleader for the shore and the state's $25 million marketing campaign to highlight the shore's resurgence.
Obama is scheduled to speak this afternoon in Asbury Park, Monmouth County. Towns in Monmouth and Ocean County were among the hardest hit by Sandy in October. The president has been mired in recent weeks in the turmoil caused by the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of some conservative groups applying for nonprofit status, hearings on the attack in Benghazi, and his administration's tapping of reporters' phone calls during an investigation into leaks.
Christie spoke about the trip in an NBC interview, and downplayed the politics and the possibility a continued association with Obama will damage his standing with conservatives. Christie took heat during the fall election season for openly praising Obama's response to Sandy.
"The fact of the matter is, he's the president of the United States, and he wants to come here and see the people of New Jersey," Christie said. "I'm the governor. I'll be here to welcome him."
Sandy caused $38 billion in damages in New Jersey and destroyed or severely damaged 360,000 homes or apartment units.
FEMA has directed more than $14 billion so far in aid to help families, support state and local rebuilding efforts, and assist major transportation reconstruction and in community development grants to states.