Alex Witt   |  May 26, 2013

Can natural disasters be politicized?

GOP Strategist Noelle Nikpour and the Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman join MSNBC’s Alex Witt for Sunday’s Strategy Talk. Jill talks about the interplay of politics and natural disasters. Noelle discusses the politicization of natural disasters in passing legislation. Noelle comments on NJ Governor Chris Christie’s cooperation with President Obama and the GOP’s negative reaction to it.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> are natural disaster relief use d to be one of the last sacred nonpoliticized votes in congress. in the wake of hurricane sandy when the vote for aid was stalled on the hill, new questions about that are on the table. today oklahoma 's republican senator talk about the need to get the right request to the hill without added pork.

>> we ought to make sure the money is actually for the emergency at hand, not for four or five years later. and not allow bills to be actually loaded up with things that have nothing to do with the emergency at hand.

>> joining me now white house correspondent, jill duckman and republican strategist noelle . and, ladies, thank you to both of you. jill , so far no indication the democrats, the white house , or any of the northeast lawmakers plan to play this game of an eye for an eye . do you expect they're going to put politics aside and get money flowing to oklahoma victims as fast and furious as possible?

>> alex , yes, i think they will. i think congress knows that this -- these disasters could fall on any one of their home districts or states at any time and they need to be supportive when it comes to one of their colleagues.

>> so, noelle , my colleague chris jansing asked james inhofe about his vote against a hurricane sandy aid package.

>> that was totally different. they were getting things, for instance, that were supposed to be in new jersey. they had things in the virgin islands . they were fixing roads there, putting roofs on houses in washington, d.c. everybody was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place. that won't happen in oklahoma .

>> so, is that a legitimate response? he's basically echoing the exact sentiments of his fellow republican senator from oklahoma saying the same thing, that they're loading this stuff up with pork.

>> that's one of the unfortunate things about politics, you know, in the midst of disaster, sometimes we have to hurry and get something through, you have a lot of people adding pork, adding little things to it so, no, we need to help the victims of oklahoma . this is horrible. this is what we need to do. we need to do it fast and hopefully we're not going to play darned politics with people that are actually in need, americans in need, of help and help now.

>> right. jill , no shortage of government controversies lately, but does oklahoma given the president and also the ability to get the pictures? he's going to be there shortly meeting with people. does it give him a chance to change the tenor of things and look the hero again?

>> well, alex , every time there is one of these disasters, americans expect their president is going to come out there and show his support. and that's not a partisan activity. and so anytime you can have a president acting in, essentially, a nonpartisan manner, are that's a good thing and that's good for his image. he's doing this because it's what you have to do. it's what we expect him to do. and it's what he wants to do, go and be with people who have been badly disrupted in the last few days.

>> then there's always the monday morning quarterbacking. noelle , we had the president this week, or he will be this week, planning a visit to new jersey. he will see how that community is rebounding half a year plus after superstorm sandy. it's really hard to investigate the images of the president, standing by chris christie . this was a rare show of bipartisan solidarity. there are those who say christie paid the price. he wasn't invited to speak at cpac, he was shunned by conservative peers. christie says, i'm not worried about this at all. do you think he should be? should he be for reasons that he's going to get fallout and should he be because it's the right thing to criticize him or not?

>> oh, alex , this has been a huge deal within the gop. i am in fund-raising mode and i will tell you that a lot of people within my party had given so much hell and so much grief to christie for appearing with the president obama at a time in need when his state was at an all-time disaster. this was horrible. and a lot of people said thanks to that chris christie romney lost the election. really? do you really think somebody was about to vote for romney and because they saw an embrace of the president and christiee they were going to vote for obama ? i would like to meet that voter because that's a very odd -- that a photo-op would cause someone to vote something different. so, you know, yes, i'm sure that the gop, every political junkie, every pundit like me will be watching every move and, you know, were they real close? did he smile at obama ? this couldn't be a worse time for obama to be there for the lady that's running against chris cilliz chris christie because she's a democrat running against chris christie . it's a bad day for democrats.

>> except for the president, jill , because after he was buddying up there with chris christie , all of the side effects were good ones. all the poll numbers went up in those names before the election. the president got some really good press, bipartisan really. do you think we should expect more of the same?

>> i don't know. look, let's remind everybody that the president is going to be with governor fallon today in oklahoma and she is a republican. oklahoma is a republican state. and nobody is having a heart attack about this today. the fact he's going back to new jersey to see what progress has been made i think is perfectly appropriate. i think it's the right thing for both the president to do and governor christie to do. when it comes to the state of new jersey governor christie has shown he's going to do what he thinks is in the best interests of the state and not worry about national politics.

>> all right. well, ladies, thank you very much. we want to bring everyone some more pictures coming up shortly from tinker air force base . that is where the president just