Gov. Chris Christie used his keynote speech before the state Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night to thank President Obama for coming to New Jersey's aid so quickly after Superstorm Sandy while renewing his call for cooperation rather than rancor among the two major parties.

Governor Christie gives a speech at the NJ Chamber Of Commerce dinner in Washington (Gellman Images)

The governor also used the event to remind the audience of several hundred that 42,000 state residents are still homeless from the Oct. 29 storm.

"Life is not normal for them and it won't be for a very long time," Christie said.

Christie said Obama's response was "extraordinary."

The governor recounted having a half-hour conversation alone with the president three days before a $60 billion aid bill was sent to Congress.

"What I can assure you is the same thing I assured the president that day in the Oval Office," Christie said, "if he places his trust in New Jersey, New Jersey would not let him down. I want to thank the president. He's been extraordinary."

Christie also praised New Jersey's two Democratic U.S. Senators, Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, for helping to secure the Sandy aid. Christie has tangled with both on other issues.

Menendez attended the dinner but declined to speak with reporters. His office has denied reports this week alleging he engaged in sex with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.

Menendez and Christie chatted before the program began and continued to speak while seated next to one another as the event got under way.

Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democrat who hopes to unseat Christie in November, made the trip but was not invited to speak.

Christie urged compromise rather than divisiveness among the parties, and suggested that people were watching New Jersey to see if the Republican governor will continue to forge compromise with the Democrats who lead the Legislature.

"What New Jersey has proven over the last three years is that a strong, conservative, principled Republican governor can work with two strong and principled progressive leaders of the Legislature and find common ground," Christie said.

 

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)