Monster Storm

Pols Talk Tough as Massive Snowstorm Barrels Toward East Coast

Up and down the East Coast, local leaders declared war Thursday on the monster snowstorm heading their way before the first flakes began to fall.

But not New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

While politicians from New York City down to North Carolina laid out their plans for dealing with a wintry wallop of potentially epic proportions that could dump as much as two feet of snow in some areas, Christie was up in New Hampshire campaigning for president.

A campaign flack said Christie plans — for now — to ride out the storm in the Granite State, where the Republican has several events planned for the weekend.

"The schedule remains the same, but we continue to monitor the storm and will update everyone if the schedule changes," the spokesman told NBC News.

It was a different story in Washington, D.C., which could get the worst of the wintry blast.

Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency that will go into effect Friday morning — and gave an apology.

"Given the severity of the forecast, we will treat this as a homeland security and an emergency management event in the District of Columbia," the mayor said.

Bower also apologized for botching the city's response on Wednesday, when just 2 inches of snow during the evening commute paralyzed roads in the nation's capital and caused more than 100 traffic accidents.

"We are very sorry for the inadequate response," Bowser said. "Our city has a responsibility to residents and visitors... and last night we didn't meat those goals."

DC Mayor Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Blizzard 1:28

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also declared state of emergencies.

"All Virginians should take the threat of this storm seriously and take necessary precautions now," McAuliffe said.

Up in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio — like Bowser — was also hoping to learn from earlier mistakes.

Last year, de Blasio was ridiculed for shutting down the subway system for the first time ever in response to a massive snowstorm that turned out to be a mini snowstorm.

"I don't think we're in that situation right now," said de Blasio, whose city is forecast to get anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of snow starting early Saturday. "The initial impulse (to close the subway) wasn't wrong...but obviously the decision should have been different."

Standing in front of a mountain of rock salt city workers have gathered for the latest storm, de Blasio said New Yorkers should take the snowy weekend forecast "very seriously."

"We've all been lulled to sleep a bit because of what warm a winter it's been," he said. "This is the real thing."

Down in the Carolinas, Gov. Pat McCrory tried to reassure residents who rarely see much snow that they too were ready.

"What we do know is the winter storm is heading out way...the latest forecast is that western parts of the state are expected to get very heavy snow," he said. But 'there is a lot of uncertainty with this storm so we'll have to wait and see what Mother Nature brings."

N.C. Braces for Snow and Ice; Declares State of Emergency 1:31

While elected leaders were hunkering down on their home turfs, Christie's decision to stay on the campaign trail raised eyebrows because he is famous for his take-charge responses to Hurricanes Irene and Sandy — and because snowstorms have kayoed the careers of other politicians in the past.

Almost 29 years ago, one of Bowser's predecessors — Mayor Marion Barry — was in California for the Super Bowl when Washington was nailed by the blizzard of 1987. Instead of coming home, Barry stayed put and left his staff and the city to fend for itself.

"We're not a snow town," Barry said when he finally returned, further infuriating his constituents and turning the mayor into a laughingstock from which he never recovered.

Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic became a casualty of the 1979 blizzard that shut down the Windy City when he was slow to deploy the snow plows. He also angered African-American voters by ordering the L (Chicago's subway) to bypass stops in their South Side neighborhoods. He wound up losing his reelection bid to a dark horse named Jane Byrne.

Earlier, in 1969, New York City Mayor John Lindsay's once promising political aspirations were bogged down by his inept response to a blizzard that left 42 people dead citywide. He was accused of clearing the streets in Manhattan while ignoring the boroughs, especially the boro of Queens where his 4-wheel drive truck got stuck in a snow drift.

That fall, Lindsay lost the Republican nomination for mayor. He wound up winning the race as a third-party candidate but his dream of one day winning the White House were over.

Another former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, took heat for being AWOL when the city was hit by a blizzard on Christmas 2010. And although is widely believed to have been at his Bermuda mansion, Bloomberg has never said where he was that day.