Both men reprised the remarkable bipartisan tableau they offered during Sandy's immediate aftermath, when Obama flew to New Jersey just days before the November election to witness the storm's wreckage. Politically, the visit plays well for both men. Christie, seeking re-election this year, was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with a president popular among Democrats in a Democratic-leaning state. And Obama, dueling with congressional Republicans on a number of fronts, got to display common cause with a popular GOP stalwart.
To be sure, New Jersey is still rebuilding. Obama visited those regions that have been among the first to recover -- Christie ranks the recovery of the state's famous boardwalks as an eight on a scale of 10 but concedes that in other parts of the state many homeowners are still rebuilding six months after the devastating superstorm struck. Overall, the storm caused $38 billion in damages in the state, and harmed or wrecked 360,000 homes or apartment units.
In Washington on Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama welcomed students from two New Jersey schools damaged by the storm to the White House garden, where they gathered fresh vegetables and made flatbread pizza along with students from other states.
"It hasn't been that easy, but you guys have managed to get through the school year way on top of the game, and we're just very proud of you," Mrs. Obama told the students from New Jersey.
But the coastal recovery is a big potential boon for the state, where tourism is a nearly $40 billion industry.
"I could see being a little younger and having some fun on the Jersey Shore," Obama said to laughter. "I can't do that anymore. Maybe after I leave office."
For Obama, coming off a week that had the IRS in the crosshairs of a scandal, the trip also offered an opportunity to demonstrate the work of FEMA, whose response to disasters has been met with bipartisan praise.
Indeed, inside the White House, FEMA is perceived as an example of what's best about government. The agency, panned for its response under President George W. Bush to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has made a turnaround under administrator Craig Fugate and has been commended for its work in disasters from the Joplin, Mo., tornado in 2011 to Sandy last year.
The visit also comes as Congress is away for a Memorial Day break, a weeklong recess that likely will silence the daily attention lawmakers, particularly Republicans, had been paying to the IRS political upheaval as well as the ongoing debate about the fatal attacks at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year and an investigation of media leaks that has stirred opposition from the media and many lawmakers.