NORTH WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie is defending tourism ads the state is running in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
During a Tuesday morning appearance on the North Wildwood boardwalk, Christie said the ads were never meant to imply that the state has fully recovered from the Oct. 29 storm. But he said the shore has made remarkable progress since then.
Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono, Christie's opponent in the November gubernatorial election, is airing an online campaign ad featuring storm victims telling how their lives have still not gotten back to normal.
Christie acknowledges there is plenty of work to do to help people who still cannot return to their homes. But he says no one expected the state to recover fully in less than a year.
When a reporter asked about critics of the "Stronger Than The Storm" tourism ads, Christie shot back, "What would they have us do: go into the fetal position? I've never said everything's all right."
When the reporter persisted, noting that the email announcing the day's event was titled, "'Cause down the shore everything's all right," Christie said he was riffing on the lyrics to "Jersey Girl," a Tom Waits song made famous by his idol Bruce Springsteen.
"Do you really think what we meant is 'Everything is all right everywhere?'" he asked. "We don't think everything's all right. It's a lot better than it was in November and a lot better than people thought it would be.
"I do think things down here are all right," Christie said of the Wildwoods and the southern Jersey shore region, which suffered much less damage from Sandy than did Ocean and Monmouth counties to the north. "They're not perfect."
At an appearance further north on Tuesday afternoon, Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider told Christie that Monmouth County community is on its way to a record-breaking summer season.