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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie brushed off concerns Friday that President Obama’s visit to his state next week will harm his political future.
Obama plans to survey the area’s recovery efforts since Superstorm Sandy hit the region last October, when he last paid a visit to the Jersey Shore. Christie’s enthusiastic reception of the president last fall was criticized by his fellow Republicans, some of whom blamed him for the loss of their party's presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, just a week later.
"If the president wants to come back here and see the progress and look at it himself, I never worry about that stuff. I’m just doing my job,” Christie told TODAY’s Matt Lauer while touring the Jersey Shore.
“The bottom line is that you can’t experience as you’re experiencing it right now, unless you’re here and you see it for yourself,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, he’s the president of the United States and he wants to come here and see the people of New Jersey. I’m the governor and I’ll be here to welcome him.”
Obama’s visit Tuesday will coincide with the start of the Memorial Day summer tourism season and could be seen as an economic boost for businesses and a spiritual boost for families still rebuilding their homes.
Christie also addressed questions about his recent weight loss surgery. He said the gastric bypass procedure he underwent in February received a lot more attention than he expected.
“I misevaluated that part of it but in the end, it’s really nice,” he said.
Christie said he gets asked all the time how he’s feeling and “I think most of it is borne out of concern for me and that’s great.”
But he stressed he underwent the surgery for himself and his family, not for the public.
“I hope there’s a Christie effect for Christie, and if there’s other stuff that happens for folks, that’s great. But that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it for (wife) Mary Pat, for my kids, and for myself, to be better and to be healthier,” he said.
“And if it inspires other people, great for them, but that’s not why I’m going it and I’m certainly not going to run around taking any victory laps no matter how well I do. It’s a lifelong struggle.”
Christie's wife, Mary Pat, later told TODAY's Willie Geist that the family has struggled with the issue for years. She said she never encouraged her husband to get the surgery, but instead acted as a sounding board for him.
“When the governor finally decided to do that, we were all really supportive,” she said. “We’re just happy that he has a lot of hope about the future, in that regard.”
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Asked about whether her husband plans to run for president in 2016, Christie said her husband’s first focus is the upcoming gubernatorial race.
“We’ve had discussions like everybody does about what the future holds so we certainly know what the opportunities could be,” she said. “I think after we tackle 2013 and our re-election of him we’ll think about what the future holds.”