ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — President Barack Obama jetted to storm-stricken New Jersey on Wednesday for a first-hand look at the devastation, as his aides tried to keep overt politics at bay for one more day.
Still, with Election Day less than a week away, Obama's visit was layered with political implications. The deadly storm has given Obama an opportunity to project presidential leadership in the final days of the tightly contested White House race. And Obama's tour guide in New Jersey was the state's Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a supporter of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
To the chagrin of some Republicans, Christie has lavished praise on Obama for his efforts in helping states dealing with the storm.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said there were no political motivations behind Obama's decision to join his supporter's rival Wednesday.
"This is not a time for politics," Carney said. "The president appreciates the efforts of governors, state and local officials across the various states that were affected by the storm regardless of political party."
Christie was on hand to greet Obama as Air Force One landed on a sunny, breezy day in Atlantic City. The two men, along with FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, boarded Marine One for an hour-long aerial tour of the storm damage.
Obama stopped by FEMA headquarters in Washington before heading to New Jersey.
Wednesday marked Obama's third straight day off the campaign trail. He canceled rallies across four battleground states and retreated to the White House to oversee the government's storm response.
Obama planned to return to the campaign trail Thursday, with stops planned in Green Bay, Wis., Las Vegas and Boulder, Colo. He planned to be on the road campaigning every day through the Nov. 6 election.