New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a town hall meeting on Feb. 19, 2014 in Middletown, New Jersey.
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Christie spurns White House dinner

Updated

It wasn’t so long ago that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hugged President Obama. Now, he won’t even dine with him.

Governors across the country are descending on Washington, D.C. this weekend for the National Governor’s Association Winter Meeting. The governors were invited to attend a dinner Sunday at the White House.

An aide to Christie told msnbc that the governor – who will be in Washington for the NGA meeting – will instead return to the Garden State on Sunday morning to celebrate his daughter Sarah’s 18th birthday. He also wants to prep for his annual budget address, which is set for Tuesday.

It seems that long gone are the days when Christie embraced and praised Obama after Hurricane Sandy – drawing the ire of many conservatives – shortly before the 2012 presidential election.

On Thursday, Christie skewered Obama at a town hall, his first since questions arose about his staffers’ plan to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge last September, seemingly for political retribution. Christie has denied any prior knowledge of the scheme, which is being investigated by federal officials and state lawmakers.

The so-called “Bridgegate” scandal did not come up at the event in Middletown, N.J., a township that was hit hard by Sandy. But a lot of time was spent on residents’ frustrations over not receiving relief funds to fix their homes after the storm.

Christie placed blame on the federal government and described the “biggest arguments” he had with the Obama administration. He said they centered on secondary homeowners not getting enough aid and federal flood insurance not covering all of the damage.

“I went to the president personally and asked for secondary homeowners to be covered. I made that argument in the Oval Office as hard as I could,” said Christie.  

“What happens when you deal with the federal government, the red tape is immeasurable,” Christie also said. The potential 2016 presidential candidate later added: “Guess who the greedy corporation that’s taking your money and not paying you now [is]? The federal government.”

The governor’s aide said that while in D.C., Christie also plans to attend meetings with the Republican Governor’s Association – which he chairs, in addition to executive roundtable events, a Governors only lunch and meetings with donors.  

It is not clear if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is coming under scrutiny after more than 27,000 emails were made public this week after a years-long probe into his campaign for governor – will attend the dinner. His spokesperson declined to answer, referring the question to the NGA. But a spokesperson for the NGA was unable to answer, saying “I don’t have a list.” 

Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, who is up for re-election and in a heated race, will also not attend the dinner, according to his office. 

The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 2/20/14, 10:50 PM ET

Christie's Sandy problem

NJ residents questioned Chris Christie on hurricane Sandy recovery, Christie blamed the federal gov’t. Lawrence O’Donnell talks to Sam Stein and Adam Gordon.

Chris Christie, Hurricane Sandy and New Jersey

Christie spurns White House dinner

Updated