Published: Dec 31, 2010 10:32 PM EST
Updated: Dec 31, 2010 7:33 PM EST

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is defending himself against criticisms leveled at him for vacationing in Florida as a blizzard pummeled the East Coast and dumped nearly three feet of snow in parts of his state.

The rising Republican star's lieutenant governor also was away while Jersey was getting buried in snow this week. Democratic state Senate President Stephen Sweeney was left to deal with the storm and declare an emergency.

Christie was unapologetic Friday at his first news conference since returning home. He says all major decisions on the state's response to the storm he made in consultation with Sweeney. He gives the state an A for effort and a B-plus for results.

 He has signed a letter seeking money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help cover cleanup costs.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)