SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is co-hosting NBC’s “Today” on Friday morning as part of a campaign to proclaim that the state’s shore is ready for business seven months after being devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
The governor, who has made several appearances on national talk shows, follows Laura Bush and Sarah Palin as political figures who have been guest co-hosts on the morning show.
Christie has spent this week as promoter-in-chief with a series of events designed to boost tourism ahead of Memorial Day weekend, when crowds usually start flowing to the beach.
The show is to be broadcast from Seaside Heights, where the storm swept a roller coaster into the ocean, making for one of the superstorm’s iconic images.
The roller coaster was taken away this month, but Casino Pier, the seaside amusement park where it used to sit, plans to have 18 rides open this summer.
Up and down the coast, some boardwalks have been rebuilt — though not the one here — and beaches are open, though many of them are narrower this year. Southern New Jersey resorts such as Ocean City and the Wildwoods had relatively little damage.
When the storm hit in October, New Jersey sustained an estimated $37 billion worth of damage, with 360,000 houses and apartment units damaged.
Boosting the shore is important to New Jersey because tourism brings in more than $35 billion per year.
But some Democrats are complaining that Christie, a Republican, is promoting the shore as a way to promote himself as he seeks re-election this year. They take aim especially at a $25 million federally funded ad campaign for the shore. Christie and his family appear in a TV commercial as part of the campaign. He has said that not being in the ad because of fears of political criticism would have been a mistake.
The White House announced that President Barack Obama will tour the coastline with Christie on Tuesday.