TODAY   |  May 24, 2013

Chris Christie: ‘Americans help other Americans’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks with TODAY’s Matt Lauer about the Jersey Shore’s recovery process post-Sandy, President Obama’s planned trip to the shore next week, and the upcoming hurricane season.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> reporter: is the governor of the state of new jersey, governor it's always good to have you.

>> thanks for coming to jersey.

>> scale of one to ten where does the recovery stand right now?

>> well it's an eight in some places and a four in others. it depends. here on the boardwalk people will see it as about an eight out of ten when they start coming here in june but for a lot of the home observers in the state it will take the better part of the next year to get them back.

>> was that the strategy, get the tourism money back flowing in for the state's coffers?

>> no, i think it was the easiest one first. homeowne homeowners, people have to figure out if they want to build and how much they want to elevate. here it's a set thing.

>> so much coverage of the storm, so much coverage of the aftermath, so much coverage of the damage. are you worried, when you think of how vital tourism money is to this state and your economy, are you worried the tourists will have heard about all of that and go elsewhere?

>> yes, we are and that's why we're doing things like this, we have a $25 million advertising and marketing plan going on. 80% of the jersey shore you won't notice any difference from last summer. where we're standing now there's differences.

>> you saw what happened down in oklahoma on monday that devastating tornado that damaged so many homes. you have already come out and said you will support any amount of federal aid that the president decides is necessary to help those people recover. would the fiscally conservative chris christie make that comment had he not go through superstorm san sandy?

>> i did. i think emergencies are a totally different thing. americans help other americans when we're in trouble and that's always been what this country has been about and matt, you know, we never support irresponsible spending. that's why i said everything that's necessary to help them absolutely and we should be doing it quickly.

>> so much was made of the president visiting you after the storm, coming back on tuesday to look at the recovery and where it stands. i know that's good for the state of new jersey but do you ever worry another visit and more images of you two walking along the boardwalk will cook your personal political goose?

>> no, because i think what people in my state want more than anything else is for me to do my job and the. the wants to come back here and see the progress and look at it himself, i never worry about that. i'm doing my job.

>> you're not a guy worried about 2016 and what you may or may not do. i want to think if he wants to see recovery tweet him photos.

>> bottom line you can't experience it unless you're here and see for yourself and he's the president of the united states , if he wants to come and see the people of new jersey, i'm the governor and i'll be here to welcome him.

>> the national hurricane center released its outlook for this summer's hurricane season forecasting an extremely active season with three to six major storms of at least category 3 along this area. how worried are you about that as a governor of a state that has so much exposed shoreline.

>> of course you're always worried. we gave at the office last year. i think the hurricanes will bypass us but we'll be ready as we were last year but of course we're concerned.

>> earlier this week you said you don't think there's been any proof that sandy was caused by climate change . several experts said the destruction from sandy was probably more severe because of elements of climate change including rising sea levels . are you not willing to say that?

>> no, i'm not. first of all, this is their business. they study it and they say probably, maybe. all i said was i'm not shown any definitive proof of what caused it. this is distraction. i have a place to rebuild and people want to talk to me about esoteric theories. no i'm not going to buy things about it, especially when they won't definitively say anything and it's their business.

>> as you stand with me now you're a little bit smaller than you were the last time we stood together. much talked about surgery for weight loss, how are you doing?

>> i feel good, things are going well. i think there's a lot of attention, more than i would have imagined but the --

>> you really didn't think you'd get that attention.

>> i misevaluated that part of it but at the end it's nice because i talk to people they ask how am i feeling. most of it is born out of concern for me and that's great.

>> do you hope to inspire others, do you hope there will be a christie effect down the road. no, i hope there's a christie effect for christie and if stuff happens for other folks that's great. i'm doing it for mary pat, for my kids and myself to be better and healthier. if it inspires other people great for them but that's not why i'm doing it and i'm certainly not taking any victory laps no matter how well i do. it's a lifelong struggle.

>> we're going to officially open up the shore this morning. and we have the band