President Barack Obama plans to visit the New Jersey shore next week to inspect hurricane-ravaged coastal areas as the state’s tourism season begins.
Republican Governor Chris Christie will join Obama on the May 28 visit, according to a White House official asked not to be identified because the trip hadn’t been formally announced. Shore communities have been rebuilding since Hurricane Sandy swept through Oct. 29, leaving a trail of death and destruction.
The visit by Obama, a Democrat Christie embraced when he arrived to survey the damage days after the storm, may boost the governor’s bid for a second term in November — he has focused his campaign on the post-Sandy recovery. A voter survey in March showed that 44 percent of Democrats said he deserved another four years, and 45 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of him in another poll last month.
“We need to make sure that we rebuild the tourism industry in this state, at the Jersey Shore,” Christie said during a May 22 visit to the seaside town of Belmar. New Jersey’s travel and tourism industry employs more than 500,000 workers, or about 10 percent of all jobs in the state, according to his office.
The president’s tour of the Garden State is set for the day after the long Memorial Day holiday weekend in the U.S., traditionally the start of the tourism season along the New Jersey shore. Christie has said he expects the state to be “up and running” to handle the influx of vacationers, which had been seen as a crucial milestone in the recovery effort.
Sandy, which came ashore near Atlantic City, killed dozens of people and destroyed 365,000 homes in the state. Christie, 50, has said it will cost $36.9 billion for repairs and to prevent devastation from future storms. During his visit, Obama will discuss the importance of offering economic opportunity to hard-hit families, according to the White House official.
The governor holds a commanding edge of more than 30 percentage points in recent voter surveys over state Senator Barbara Buono, a Metuchen Democrat. He refuted claims last week by Democrats that his appearance in a $25 million advertising campaign to promote the state to visitors was designed to advance his candidacy. He said the ads are to let people know that New Jersey and its communities are open for business.
Michael Drewniak, a Christie spokesman, declined to provide details about the visit, referring questions to the White House.
Editors: Ted Bunker and Pete Young.
To contact the reporters on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at [email protected]; Terrence Dopp in Trenton, New Jersey at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at [email protected]; Stephen Merelman at [email protected]