PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – As New Jersey residents dug out from record snowfall on Sunday, Gov. Chris Christie jetted back to New Hampshire to resume his presidential campaign after pausing to tend to his home state’s storm response.
Tri-state area airports started resuming service, but many people were still stranded from traveling, as 604 flights were canceled and 53 flights were delayed on Sunday from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, according to FlightAware. The storm that dumped 30 inches of snow on some parts of the Garden State also led to record flooding.
But Christie flew on a chartered jet that took him from New Jersey to New Hampshire to make a scheduled 12 p.m. town hall in Portsmouth. To be sure, most presidential candidates, including Christie, are ramping up their time taking private air travel instead of commercial flights as their campaign responsibilities kick into higher gear.
Christie trumpeted his response to the storm at multiple campaign events across New Hampshire on Sunday, telling a crowd gathered at a private home for a New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos watch party that he hopes the last 36 hours can offer them information about how he would serve as president.
“First is that when I have a job to do, I do it,” Christie told the people gathered at the AFC championship watch party. “And believe me, there were a number of people who were saying to me, ‘It's not going to be that bad, let's stay up here.’ I got advice on all sides on whether to leave on Friday or not. Once I heard the storm was going to be potentially two feet of snow, I knew where I had to be and I went home.”
“So I hope, one, it will tell you that, that when there's a job to do I'll be there to do it. Second, that we'll do it really well and what we did was do it really well," Christie added. "In the last 36 hours, all those things in New Jersey went, really, according to book.”
Christie noted that he saw more snow this weekend in his state than he’s seen in “recent memory.”
“My backyard, we had over two feet of snow. At Newark airport we had 31 inches of snow. And all throughout the state we had large totals, no less than a foot and most of it between a foot and a half and two and a half feet of snow,” he said. “Yet this morning, New Jersey woke up, the roads were clear, the airports were open, everything else was back up and running.”
Christie also used the opportunity to knock Sen. Marco Rubio, who made jokes at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s First-In-the-Nation presidential town hall on Saturday that the storm helped because “federal agencies weren’t able to work” and “Barack Obama’s executive order was frozen.”
“That's why when folks, you know, kind of make jokes about this stuff, it's nothing to kid about,” Christie told people at the watch party. "We make it look easy because we handle it the right way but, you know, people were at risk yesterday.” At least 29 people were killed in storm-related deaths nation-wide.
Christie has largely made a name for himself for his response to major storms in his state – telling constituents to “get the hell off the beach” during Hurricane Irene, and for the state’s response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “This our 17th snow emergency in the last 6 years, not including Hurricane Sandy, not including Hurricane Irene,” he said at his Portsmouth town hall. “I am clearly the disaster governor.”
Upon returning to New Hampshire, Christie faced headlines in New Jersey reading, “Christie rushes back to New Hampshire to root on New England Patriots at party,” but told NBC News after exiting his town hall in Portsmouth that hadn’t heard any criticism that he left his state too soon.
“I haven’t heard anybody who said that,” he said.