Obama to tour New Jersey, after rebuff by New York mayor

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama will fly into New Jersey today for a tour of the flood damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“The President will join Governor Christie in viewing the storm damage, talking with citizens who are recovering from the storm and thanking first responders who put their lives at risk to protect their communities,” according to a White House statement.

The tour will take place between 1 and 2 p.m., leaving time for the president to return to the White House at about 4.25 p.m.

The tour will be extensively covered by the media, likely providing Obama with favorable images on the evening news shows, only a week before the 2012 election.

Christie has been a prominent supporter of Obama’s rival, Gov. Mitt Romney, but has already praised Obama’s willingness to help the state following the disaster.

As a governor, Christie has a responsibility to not antagonize the president. Currently, Obama controls federal aid spending, and if he wins in November, could hurt or help the state during his second term.

However, New York’s mayor waived away a proposed visit from Obama.

“We’d love to have him, but we’ve got lots of things to do,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told residents during an evening meeting on Tuesday.

Americans “understand the storm and [that] he doesn’t have to” visit, Bloomberg said, adding that Obama “has got a lot of things to do.”

“The thing for him to do is to go to New Jersey and represent the country,” said Bloomberg.

Obama’s tour of New Jersey will mark his third day absent from the formal campaign trail.

But Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday will head back to the campaign trail, with two rallies in Florida.

Obama’s primary surrogate, former president Bill Clinton, will travel to the Wisconsin, which was believed several weeks ago to be a safe Obama state. He’ll hold “a grassroots campaign event in Eau Claire,” according to a statement from the Obama campaign.

An Oct. 25 poll by Rasmussen shows a tie between the two candidates in the state, following several polls indicating a narrowing of Obama’s lead.

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Neil Munro