Sweeney revises Sandy "prayer" comment

January 08. 2013 5:38PM

By Jared Kaltwasser

Sen. Pres. Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) made unintended headlines Monday when he suggested Gov. Chris Christie had "prayed for" a hurricane and "got lucky" when Hurricane Sandy hit because it drew attention away from the state's economy.

Sweeney quickly apologized for the comments, but that didn't stop a torrent of Republican criticism. Christie's spokesman, Michael Drewniak, called the comments "heartless."

Thus it wasn't surprising that when Sweeney called a news conference Tuesday to discuss Christie's State of the State speech, the first question wasn't about the speech, but about Sweeney's Sandy flub.

Sweeney reiterated his apology, but stood by his (intended) point, that in his view the governor wouldn't have an economic recovery plan without the hurricane.

"So yes, I misspoke and I apologized immediately for it," Sweeney said. "You know, I understand the politics here and I'm a big boy and I'll accept it. But I am not going to back away from the fact that his economic policy is the storm."

Sweeney then took another swipe at the governor.

"But we have a governor that's said a lot of things that are very offensive over the years and honestly (he) still hasn't apologized," Sweeney said.

Sweeney, incidentally, was sitting next to Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) at the press conference. In 2011, Christie famously urged reporters to "take the bat out" on Weinberg, a frequent Christie critic.

Reached for comment Tuesday, Drewniak sought to put the issue to rest, saying there's "no need for a tit-for-tat on this." Drewniak said the governor and Sweeney have been able to work together on important issues.

"Along the way, they've had their differences, have had some heated public debate, and they've always gotten back to the people's business," he said. "Nothing has changed in that regard."


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