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Obama’s roles on New Jersey trip: consoler-in-chief and candidate

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Across the street, Obama stopped to talk to a woman whose dog began yapping at the swarm of press and neighbors who crowded around the damaged home. “I’ll sic Bo on you,” the president quipped.

Mr. Obama also stopped at the home of a shirtless man with both arms covered with tattoos. “We’ll do everything we can,” to help, Obama said. In addition to Gov. Christie, Obama was accompanied by the state's two US Senators – Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg.

Both consoler and candidate were on display at the next stop, the Temple Street Bridge in Paterson. Last Sunday, the Passaic River crested at 14 feet – twice its flood stage, the White House said. Even a week later, the river under the bridge flowed swiftly and debris lined the bridge.

After walking along the bridge to view the damage and talk to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, Obama came to one end of the bridge and delivered remarks to the assembled crowd and press.

First, in his consoler role, Obama said the trip “gives you a sense of the devastation that's taken place not only here in New Jersey but in upstate New York and Vermont and a whole range of states that were affected by Hurricane Irene.” He added, “The main message that I have for all the residents not only of New Jersey but all those communities that have been affected by flooding, by the destruction that occurred as a consequence of hurricane Irene is that the entire country is behind you and we are going to make sure that we provide all the resources that are necessary in order to help these communities rebuild.”

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