While pundits from the left and right fought over the political optics of President Obama's trip Wednesday to New Jersey's ruined beach zone, aides said their boss had a pretty simple goal: See what is needed and stay out of the way.

Obama spokesman Jay Carney said, "we are very careful about making sure that the places that we visit we are not using resources that would otherwise be used in recovery efforts, that's the case here."

Carney added the president wanted to visit New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy hit, while New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg shrugged off a visit. And that was perfectly understandable, said Carney.

"It was the assessment at the WH, that because of the situation in Lower Manhattan it would not be appropriate" for president to go there "for that very resource allocation issue," he told reporters. And Bloomberg, he added, "was agreeing with our assessment."