(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in Washington, D.C., for meetings with the nation’s governors this weekend. But he’s taking a pass on a dinner Sunday at the White House — despite his public embrace of the president after 2012′s Superstorm Sandy and the criticism he got from Republicans for their warm interaction just before the election.
Instead, the governor, who’s been haunted by the George Washington Bridge lane closures scandal and the two investigations, will return home Sunday to celebrate his daughter Sarah’s 18th birthday.
A Christie aide tells ABC News the governor will participate in events for both the National Governors Association, which is holding their annual Winter Meeting this weekend at the J.W. Marriott, and the Republican Governors Association, for which he serves as chairman. On Friday he is attending a series of RGA committee meetings, executive roundtable events, donor meetings, as well as the evening’s reception.
On Saturday, Christie will participate in the NGA opening session, but will not be at the opening press conference, according to the same aide. Christie will also attend the governors-only lunch.
The NGA’s annual meeting attempts to bring together governors from both sides of the aisle to work on policy issues together.
At a town hall meeting Thursday in Port Monmouth, N.J., Christie was not asked about the George Washington Bridge scandal by constituents. Instead the questions were focused on the state’s continued recovery from the storm and he was critical of the Obama administration’s help with that recovery and specifically the addressing of flood insurance claims.
On Friday, President Obama turned the tables, criticizing the potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate at a White House meeting with Democratic governors.
“Many of the governors in this room are pushing to raise their state minimum wages to benefit more working families and help to grow their economies,” Obama said. ”[I]n fact, where we’ve seen some of these issues going to referendum, for example, in New Jersey, even though the Republican governor opposed it, it passed by 60 percent.”
In November, when Christie won by a landslide in New Jersey, voters also approved by a 61 percent margin a state-constitutional amendment raising the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour.
Christie will hold his next town hall, his 111th, on Wednesday in Long Hill, N.J., a day after his budget address, and he’s likely to focus on some of his budget priorities he outlines on Tuesday. It’s in Morris County, the same county where he lives, and he’s likely to get a friendly crowd.
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Eric Bradner, CNN
Theodore Schleifer, CNN
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