To all the critics of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Florida vacation during one of the worst snow storms in his state's history, the governor has one message: chill out.
Christie weathered a storm of attacks this week following his decision to keep a planned post-Christmas holiday with his wife and four children to Disney World, while the Garden State dug itself out of up to three feet of snow that fell December 26. But, he told detractors, he had more important things to do than "showboat on the back of a plow" in New Jersey.
"I made a promise to my children that at the end of my first year of governor that I was going to take them to Disney World," Christie explained Friday at a press conference on his state's request for federal disaster aid.
"My first and most important responsibility, in my view, is as a husband and a father, and I think I made that pretty clear to the people of New Jersey when I was running [for governor]."
Besides, Christie argued, there isn't anything he would have done in New Jersey to manage the crisis that he couldn't have done from the road.
"I have to tell you, I would have been doing the same thing here [in New Jersey] as I was there," he said. "I would not have been out driving a plow, ok? I would have been in a room someplace on a telephone saying, ‘What's going on? What do you need? Why is this happening or why isn't this happening?' and that's exactly the same thing I was doing in... Florida."
So maybe you can't really promise children a trip to Disney World and then take it away. But Christie is not a single parent. Why didn't his wife manage the kids solo while the governor stayed in the Garden State?
"Send my wife to Disney World with my four kids by herself? Oh, that would be an interesting move-I would then be divorced," Christie joked.
"She just looked me and she said, ‘I know that look, and don't you think about it. Don't you think about not getting on that airplane with those children.'"
"I was not going to rescind my child's Christmas gift, especially when I was convinced that we had a plan in place," Christie continued. "This is not like in the 1800s where no one would be able to get me-believe me, my cell phone was ringing where I was, much more than I would have preferred it to when I was away on a family vacation. I was not going to look at my children and say, ‘no we are not going."
That plan, the Republican governor explained, had been developed days in advance of the massive blizzard and went off relatively smoothly-- Christie points out 95 percent of New Jersey's roads were clear within 24 hours after the storm ended.
"I had complete faith and confidence in Senator [Stephen] Sweeney," Christie said of the Democratic senate president who assumed the role of acting governor while Republicans Christie and New Jersey lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno were out of the state.
Unlike others in Sweeney's party who put partisan politics above the wellbeing of New Jersey residents, Christie continued, the state senator abided his constitutional duties effectively and without conflict. "These are not Republican or Democratic storms," the governor said.
Sweeney was left in charge because both Christie and Guadagno were on out-of-state vacations at the same time. Guadagno, Christie explained, was on a two-week family vacation as one of her ailing father's last wishes, which Christie refused to deny.
"We're not irresponsible, and we didn't willy-nilly plan vacation to be away at the same time," the governor said.
Asked why he didn't come back New Jersey as soon as he realized the finicky forecast called for a major storm, Christie said he was in the same boat as many other holiday travelers grounded by flight cancellations and airport closures.
"There was no way for me to get back through commercial aviation, and, unlike other states, the governor doesn't have a state plane here," Christie said, possibly making a dig at fellow Republican governor Haley Barbour, who's been in the hot seat this week for using Mississippi's state plane for personal and political use.
The always-feisty Christie also had a few choice words for the media: "All you guys would be doing this time of the year, absent of a disaster, would be retrospectives on what happened in 2010... This whole idea of the governor being out of the state being a major story, that's the filler."
Still, for all the criticism Christie and other Northeast officials received for their handling of this storm, it could have been worse: Pavement on many of Washington, D.C.'s snow emergency routes didn't see the light of day for 10 days after record-breaking blizzards in February 2010.
"The snow has fallen," outgoing D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty told a local news station after those storms. "It's not going to be gone until the temperature gets warm enough that it can melt."