Will Christie Emerge from the Storm as 'America's Governor'?

Back in the early days of the Republican primary season, when many prospectives still hadn't given a definitive answer on whether or not they'd toss their hats into the ring, many GOPs promoted a Chris Christie candidacy as one that could rally the base and pulverize President Obama in a debate.

Six days out from an election isn't the time to rethink whether the ballot should have been different, especially since Christie didn't want to run. He also stepped up as a surrogate for Mitt Romney, though his Republican National Convention speech didn't have much to do with the Massachusetts governor.

But Hurricane Sandy has added new dimensions to Christie's future campaign resume -- a tell-it-like-it-is guy who cast a red shadow on a blue state, but also a guy who threw partisanship to the wind days before a critical election and embraced a president he once wholly criticized.

A natural disaster is an unfortunate kingmaker, but Hurricane Sandy could have short-term implications for the presidential race and long-term effects on Christie -- or, as public partners in hurricane cleanup, both the president and the governor could see reverberations.

With his decree that his home state's well-being trumps electioneering, Christie reached across the aisle in an essential declaration that, in a crisis, there should be no aisle.

With his effusive praise for Obama's storm help and statement that he wasn't interested in Romney coming to tour the devastation, Christie warmed the hearts of more moderates and Democrats than the Republican base.

With his no-bull style, such as when he ordered evacuations (and called out Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford for not getting everyone out), and amply evident heartfelt attachment to his state, Christie captured attention as a guy who'd put his state first no matter the national fallout.

As Rudy Giuliani was "America's mayor" in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Christie may be remembered as "America's governor" post-Sandy.

"We're now going to mix sorrow with determination and we're going to move forward as a strong and resolute people to make sure that we rebuild our state and we do what needs to be done," Christie told Piers Morgan on CNN last night.

"This is much more important than any election, Piers," he said. "This is the livelihood of the people in my state and when the president does things that deserve praise, I will give him praise. And when the president does things that deserve scorn, I will give him scorn. And I think people know that about me. But I am not going to play politics with this issue. This is so much bigger than an election."

Christie received scorn today from Rush Limbaugh, who said the New Jersey Republican "has decided to play the role of a Greek column today for President Obama" as the commander in chief toured hurricane damage with the governor.

"Chris Christie's the only Republican out there not just praising Obama, I mean, let's just put it this way: Is it wrong for one man to love another man? But that man love out there, it's isolated to the state of New Jersey," Limbaugh said on his radio show.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker said he found Christie's supportive words for the president "not at all" surprising.

"We are in a state of crisis all across this state. And you know, when you're in a crisis, you don't stop and ask your fellow New Jerseyan, your first responder, you don't ask if they're Republican or Democrat, you don't ask them how they choose to pray to their God," Booker said on CNN this morning. "You just pull together and do what's necessary."