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Pollster: Christie's Sandy Performance Shows He's Nobody's Opening Act

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Governor Chris Christie's handling of Hurricane Sandy has done little to water down interest in him as a candidate for president in 2016.

It's not that he wasn't already on the short list, but Mitt Romney's loss appears to be Christie's gain, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday.

We saw it with our own eyes -- the empathy of Christie on his hurricane-hugging tour during an embrace of President Barack Obama to get help for his devastated state of New Jersey.

Ironically, it happened at the tail end of campaign 2012. And maybe it was the law of unintended consequences, but it catapulted him to the front of the heap for campaign 2016.

It's even showed up in the national polls.

"He worked with Barack Obama to establish bipartisan leadership in the handling of the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy. People noticed that. We saw it in our battleground state polls. Florida and other states, not just in the Northeast," Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff said.

Miringoff said Christie being Christie in handling the storm made a splash on the national political stage that money can't buy.

"People responded to what was going on and how he provided leadership. He's no longer just the guy who keynoted for Mitt Romney at the GOP convention. He's the guy with Barack Obama, to work for the people of New Jersey," Miringoff said.

Gov. Christie and Presdient Obama
Governor Chris Christie and President Barack Obama (Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

It's not that Christie didn't already harbor ambitions. At the Repubican convention New Jersey delegates sported buttons reading "America's Governor." And he made sure his personal videographer and photographer got plenty of footage of him and his wife on the stage in front of the red, white and blue. You never know when that will come in handy.

"I would vote for him. He's good," Englewood, N.J. resident Anat Best said.

"I like Christie. I call him my 'big baby.' He has a good spirit ,a Christian spirit," added Josephine Oates of Hackensack.

"I think he's a gold guy right now, very high score," said Eddie Castano of Teaneck.

"I love the guy," said Sandra Robinson of Patterson.

On Wednesday, Christie didn't say he wasn't interested in the top job, but ...

"First thing's first -- do the job you have in front of you as well as you can and your future will take care of itself," Christie said.

Before he can seek to run for president there's another small political matter Christie has to take care of. He has to seek re-election next November, and you can be sure the Democrats will try and find a candidate to give him a stiff challenge ... If they can.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below ...

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