TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said late Friday that he had always planned to return home from the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire if severe weather turned out to be likely.
Christie had faced criticism for initially saying he would stay in New Hampshire as a major winter storm bears down on the Tri-State area, .
But after announcing that he had declared a state of emergency at a news conference late Friday, Christie said it had not been clear a night earlier whether the storm would strike New Jersey and require his immediate attention.
“The circumstances got worse, and clarified, so as soon as it did I came home. If the storm blew out to see and I came home, I’d look pretty stupid,” he said. “The fact is that you make the decision when you have clarity on what the circumstances are going to be.”
He maintained that he had always planned to come home if he needed to do so.
“I got here before one flake fell on the ground any place where we are,” he said.
Christie had announced Friday afternoon to he was heading back to the Garden State.
“I’m sorry, NH but I gotta go home – we got snow coming,” he said. “I want to make sure the people of my state feel safe and secure.”
Earlier Friday, Christie told reporters in New Hampshire that he spoke with his Cabinet on Thursday about the approaching storm and said he was monitoring the situation.
He said at the time that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno was able oversee things back home.
“We’re not all that concerned about it and especially because it’s happening on a weekend, that makes it much easier,” he said. “I think we’ve gone through this rodeo a bunch of times before. We know how to do it. We’re pretty experienced at it.”
New York City, Long Island and most of New Jersey are under a blizzard warning from 4 a.m. Saturday to noon Sunday.
The Garden State could see anywhere from 4 to 14 inches of snow and coastal flooding is also a big concern along the Jersey shore.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and others criticized Christie earlier Friday for initially continuing to campaign in New Hampshire instead of returning to deal with the approaching storm.
“I think he needs to come back,” de Blasio told CNN. “A day or two ago, it might have been a question mark, right now it’s not a question mark anymore. Obviously, we are being warned that it could even be worse and we find this out with each storm — sometimes it’s less than we expected and sometimes it’s more, so for any governor, it’s time to come home.”
New Jersey Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) was also critical of the governor’s earlier absence.
She said if Christie didn’t come home to oversee the state’s response to the storm, “then what’s the point of him even being governor anymore?”
“Staying in New Hampshire would mean Gov. Christie has quit on the people of New Jersey,” she said. “There is no such thing as phoning it in when you’re a governor and your state is being hit by a blizzard and coastal flooding.”
She added, “No one should put political ambition above public safety.”
The governor returned from the campaign trail in October when it looked like Hurricane Joaquin was going to hit the coast.