New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, speaking at a town hall meeting in Iowa Friday, called out potential 2016 GOP rival Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on the issue of disaster relief.
“I never really truly understood this [until] I went through it,” Mr. Christie said, referring to Superstorm Sandy in 2012. “And I think we need to have people in leadership who truly understand this. You know, it’s like some of our friends in Congress, right? We’ve got congresspeople in Colorado who voted against Sandy relief, and then we’ve got floods in Colorado. [And it’s] ‘hey, we need some relief.’
“We have Senator Cruz — voted against Sandy relief,” Mr. Christie continued. “But now he says [he’s] got floods in Texas … need some help down here in Texas.
“All of a sudden, the principled vote that I’m making here on the floor of the United States Senate is I’m not going to spend this kind of money on this kind of thing unless it happens in my state, and if it does, it’s an absolutely appropriate expenditure of money,” he said. “I mean, come on. Come on.”
Mr. Cruz has indeed lobbied for federal funding in the wake of recent floods in Texas and voted against a Sandy funding package in early 2013, saying the measure was loaded up with billions in unrelated spending.
“I like and respect Chris Christie; indeed, I’ve been vocal defending him from unfair charges that have been leveled his direction. Whatever insults are launched, I’m not going to respond in kind. He’s a good man,” Mr. Cruz said in a statement to The Washington Times. “On the merits, my view is exactly the same as it was before: of course, the federal government should assist with disaster aid, whether for Hurricane Sandy or for flooding in Texas. But politicians in Washington shouldn’t load up disaster relief with billions in unrelated pork-barrel spending.”
Some Republicans were less than enthusiastic about Mr. Christie’s own praising of President Obama in the aftermath of the storm, which hit just before the 2012 presidential election. Mr. Christie said then that he still supported GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney but also said that “anybody who is upset in the Republican Party about this, they haven’t been to New Jersey. Come see the destruction, come see the loss.”
Mr. Christie went on to say Friday that people wanted him to “take shots” at Colorado lawmakers and Mr. Cruz but that he wasn’t going to.
“They said, ‘shouldn’t he not get the money?’” he said. “No. He should. Because what’s more important is not his hypocrisy. It’s the people of his state [who] are suffering and there are communities that need to be rebuilt. And what the American people know is this: when a disaster strikes, everybody in America answers the call.”
“We say to people, ‘if Americans are suffering … we come and help them, because we know there but for the grace of God go I,” he said. “Some of those guys in Congress forgot about that, but something happens to them, right, when they get to Washington? Just something happens to them. I don’t know what it is. I hope never to find out.”
Mr. Christie had been discussing the issue of climate change and said that while he believes it is real and humans are contributing to it, tying the issue to events like Sandy was tenuous.
“I don’t know, nor has anybody else proven to my satisfaction, that it is climate change that is causing some of these storms,” he said. “I don’t know what it is. And I haven’t seen anything, at least at this point, that’s definitive to me that it was climate change that caused Superstorm Sandy.”