Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican Chris Christie Friday shared a stage on the final day of the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in Chicago, where the former president praised the New Jersey governor for his "bipartisan" response to Superstorm Sandy.
"The enduring image most Americans have of you is standing there in your jacket, grieving with your people, working with them and working with the president," Clinton told Christie, who was sitting by his side.
Instead of attending the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, Christie chose to be with Clinton on Friday, about a month after the governor toured the New Jersey Shore, which saw devastation by Sandy.
Christie is up for re-election this year.
"You got both praise and damnation for ignoring political differences that you had then – and still have with the president and all of us who are in the other party – to do something that was really important," CBS News quoted Clinton as saying at the session called "Cooperation and Collaboration: A Conversation on Leadership."
Christie is now helping New Jersey prepare for the next storm, so Clinton commented, "this should be as unifying as that. We've got to stop waiting for something horrible to happen" before taking action.
The governor responded by saying, "No one in my state was arguing to me that Tuesday October 30th, 'governor, you should privatize the response to this storm from here on out.' This is one of those things where regardless of where you fall on the ideological spectrum, you would agree this is government's responsibility."
Christie said building up of the dunes on the Jersey Shore was a sensible thing to do. "Even if you have no interest in the subject, you're paying to restore the Jersey Shore," he said. "It's an issue because of the number of people that live there and the expense associated with rebuilding the area."
Christie is seen as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, although he hasn't said whether he is running. There have also been speculations about Bill Clinton's and Hillary Clinton's possible run for president. However, neither Clinton nor Christie made many mention of that, not even jokingly, at Friday's session.
The Chicago conference was opened by Hillary Clinton on Thursday where she explained her new role in the Clinton foundation.
Bill Clinton on Friday introduced Christie by sharing how he first got to know him. At the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament, Clinton and Christies would sit close to each other. "I remember the first time I plopped down and started talking to him, I thought this was going to wreck this guy's career," Clinton said jokingly. "Maybe he can get elected in New Jersey but everybody else will say, 'Oh my God. He's consorting with a leper.' …And he never blinked… As far as he was concerned, as long as I could talk about basketball it was alright with him."