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Obama tells America the Jersey Shore is open for business

May 28, 2013|By Christi Parsons

POINT PLEASANT, N.J. -- President Obama and Gov. Chris Christie reunited for a buddy trip to the beach Tuesday, showing off the improvements to the Jersey Shore in the seven months since it was hit by Superstorm Sandy and encouraging tourists to return to the storied vacation destination.

“The Jersey Shore is back, and it’s open for business,” the president said on a cloudy and drizzly day.

The trip served as a sort of tourism commercial, featuring the two politicians playing at an arcade on the boardwalk, high-fiving excited kids and marveling at a giant sand castle under construction.

The president, in a playful speech, said, “If they ever let me have some fun, I’d have it here.”

Obama said the Jersey Shore had a special place in the nation’s heart and its mythology. He quoted Bruce Springsteen’s “Jersey Girl,” saying, “Down the shore everything’s all right.”

But the day's agenda also played up the role the Democratic president and the Republican governor have played in helping the area recover after the storm crushed seaside property, took out portions of the boardwalk and devastated key tourist destinations.

Although Obama noted that restaurants and arcades were open, he also stressed that the reconstruction work continued. “We’re not done yet, and I want to make sure that everybody understands that,” he said. “We’re going to keep on going until we finish.”

Standing just a hundred yards from the shore at Asbury Park, Christie credited cooperation among local, state and federal government for the progress.

"This has been a community effort, everybody working together," Christie told the crowd. The cause of rebuilding was more important, he said, "than any kind of politics at all."

Obama and Christie paid an unannounced visit to the Point Pleasant boardwalk.

They checked out progress on what Obama said would be the world’s tallest sand castle, which currently has a wood frame and scaffolding. Ed Jarrett, the designer, said he is building it from "top to bottom."

The town is going for the Guinness record for sand castles, several folks on the boardwalk said.

The party then moved to an arcade, where the two politicians tried to win a stuffed bear by tossing a football through a tire. Obama missed a few times. Christie then threw the ball through the tire on his first and only try. Obama gave him a high-five ending in a clasp.

"That's because he's running for office," he said.

The attendant then gave Obama a "Chicago" bear.

Obama and Christie also shook hands on a rope line. At one point, the president simply held up both hands while children repeatedly slapped him high-fives.

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christi.parsons@latimes.com

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