BELMAR, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he still loves state Senate President Steve Sweeney despite the Democrat’s assertion that Superstorm Sandy provided political cover for his failed economic policies.

Speaking Wednesday at a ceremony to mark the start of Belmar’s boardwalk reconstruction, the Republican governor was asked about the status of his relationship with Sweeney, a Democrat and possible opponent in the fall gubernatorial election.

Christie said, “I love him, but our love is strained” as the crowd laughed.

Sweeney apologized for the remark, but says Christie uses Superstorm Sandy to avoid discussion of his record on other topics.

Christie also said the fist-bump he and Sweeney shared after Tuesday’s State of the State speech came because Sweeney is sick and didn’t want to infect the governor with a handshake.

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