Obama cancels campaigning to monitor Sandy

By Nedra Pickler

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 8:37 a.m. MDT

Obama and his campaign have tirelessly jabbed at Romney's auto industry position, seen as a barrier to the Republican in Ohio and nearby northern industrial states. Romney's visit to Avon Lake will no doubt provide another reminder.

Romney also was scheduled Monday to campaign in Iowa and Wisconsin, trying to force Obama to play defense in a state where the president has been leading in the polls despite the addition of native son Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket.

"I know that right now some people in the country are a little nervous about a storm about to hit the coast, and our thoughts and prayers are with people who will find themselves in harm's way," Romney told supporters in Ohio on Sunday.

Former President Bill Clinton still planned to appear before voters at the Orlando rally in Obama's absence. Later Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden were appearing together in Youngstown, Ohio. Biden was originally supposed to campaign in New Hampshire Monday, but diverted to Ohio to replace Obama after the president canceled his appearance to stick to Washington.

But the abrupt cancellation meant Obama's trip to Florida was essentially a waste. The campaign bumped up the rally by two hours and rescheduled his flight to Orlando from Monday morning to Sunday night to get ahead of the storm.

The president made an unannounced stop at a campaign office Sunday night, where he told supporters the storm meant he wouldn't be able to campaign as much over the next few days.

"You guys need to carry the ball," he told the volunteers.

Polls suggest Obama has an advantage in reaching the required 270 Electoral College votes. But Romney's campaign is projecting momentum and considering trying to expand the playing field beyond the nine states that have garnered the bulk of the candidates' attention.

A senior Republican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose private deliberations, said Romney's team was discussing sending the GOP nominee, Ryan or both to traditionally left-leaning Minnesota during the campaign's final week.

Obama was briefed Sunday on the government's response at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and spoke by phone to affected governors and mayors.

"Anything they need, we will be there," Obama said. "And we are going to cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules. We want to make sure that we are anticipating and leaning forward."

Obama has declared emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, authorizing federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.

Both campaigns used social media to urge supporters to donate to the Red Cross and said they would stop sending fundraising emails on Monday to people living in areas in the storm's path.

Romney staffers in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia were collecting storm-relief supplies at campaign offices to be delivered via one of Romney's campaign buses. In an email, Romney encouraged supporters in the storm's path to help neighbors get ready.

"For safety's sake, as you and your family prepare for the storm, please be sure to bring any yard signs inside," the email read. "In high winds they can be dangerous, and cause damage to homes and property."

Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press reporters Steve Peoples in Mansfield, Ohio, and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

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