President Obama will spend Wednesday touring the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey with Gov. Chris Christie just days after signing an emergency declaration and a Major Disaster Declaration for the state of New Jersey. Yet, one place President Obama won’t be visiting is New York City.
The city’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated during a news conference that New York would “love to have him, but we’ve got lots of things to do.” Bloomberg, careful to say he wasn’t trying to “diss” the president, stated that Obama’s trip to New Jersey is enough to represent the “whole region.”
Bloomberg’s message to the president seemed to catch the Morning Joe panel off guard this morning.
Host Joe Scarborough found the decision to be “really strange” and Mika Brzezinski felt it was truly a missed opportunity for the city and its residents.
“Do you think it’s political? You don’t think the people of Breezy Point wouldn’t really be moved and touched and perhaps even helped by a visit from the president?” she wondered. “Because I will tell you: he should go there. Is it inconvenient? What is it?”
Breezy Point is a neighborhood in the Queens area of New York City that was hit particularly hard as a result of the storm. The neighborhood lost 111 homes in a six-alarm fire that happened during the storm, CBS News reports.
By contrast, New Jersey Gov. Christie has been widely supportive (“effusive” as Politico’s Jim VandeHei put it on Morning Joe this morning) of President Obama at this time. Christie, a Romney surrogate and keynote speaker at this year’s RNC, spoke with Joe and Mika yesterday and stated working with the president on Sandy efforts had been “wonderful.”
So is Bloomberg’s decision to keep the president at a distance political? The billionaire mayor who initially ran as a Republican for city office is now an independent.
Scarborough took a crack at the answer, citing a new interview in the Atlantic where Bloomberg appeared critical of the president’s job in office.
“Bloomberg has been bitterly disappointed by President Obama,” he explained. “You read the Atlantic interview, you talk to people that know him…I think he may be offended by the president trying to use New York City as a backdrop for a final week for a campaign where I’m not so sure [Bloomberg] wants [Obama] to be re-elected.”
The Morning Joe panel did seem to be in agreement that the benefits of a president touring a disaster area outweigh any negatives, if there actually are any.
“I can tell you nothing lifts the spirits in a community more than having the president of the United States come to their communities,” Scarborough said. “People that are in despair, that have their homes blown apart, that have lost everything, that have been on their hands and knees rummaging for pictures trying to find anything, if the president comes to their neighborhood, it has a huge impact on their lives.”