Chris Christie honored as "Father of the Year"

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie points towards his daughter in the crowd after he was honored during the 73rd annual "Father of the Year Awards" hosted by the Father's Day/Mother's Day Council in New York June 4, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

NEW YORK -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got a break from traffic scandals and budget woes Wednesday as he accepted an award for being Father of the Year.

The National Father's Day Committee crowned the Republican governor at a ceremony in Manhattan. Other honorees included football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin, shoe designer Vince Camuto and Bloomingdale's CEO Tony Spring.

The famously combative Christie joked that when his four kids, ages 10 to 20, found out he'd been chosen for the honor, they reacted with disbelief.

"The response was universal. They just blankly stared back at me and said, 'Really?'" Christie told attendees gathered in a hotel ballroom. "And I felt very warm about that."

Christie often mentions his kids at public events, joking about their argumentative dinner table conversations.

He said he was also surprised by the award and, in a more serious tone, thanked his kids for putting up with "me and my crazy life."

"For me, today is really recognition for the best thing that I get to do in my life. I get recognized and criticized and praised for all kinds of other things, but the most important thing that I get to do every day is to be a father to my four children," he said.

Still, Christie couldn't quite escape the George Washington Bridge scandal that has cast a shadow on his 2016 presidential ambitions.

As she introduced the governor, joking about his "small personality" and "modesty," awards presenter Norah O'Donnell of CBS took a dig at the scandal, describing Christie as "governor of New Jersey - you know, that state right across the GW Bridge."

The governor took the remarks in stride, however, playfully raising his eyebrows.

Later he joked that while in New York, he would refer to New Jersey as "the place on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel."

Previous recipients of the award include former presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Christie was named as the award's recipient in late April. At the time, he he told the New York Times that he's tried to mimic the example set by his own father -- to be "one of those guys...who shows up."

That means attending recitals and ballgames, often as governor. He acknowledged the balance between work and family isn't always easy to strike. "I don't always do it perfectly," he allowed, "but I am always trying to get it right."

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