New York mayor's backing a boost for president


PRESIDENT BARACK Obama’s re-election campaign received an unexpected boost last night following the endorsement of New York City’s independent mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

Mr Bloomberg, who believes climate change contributed to Hurricane Sandy, said he felt President Obama was the best candidate to tackle the issue.

The endorsement came as Mr Obama returned to the campaign trail with gusto, criticising his opponent, Mitt Romney, and reviving his 2008 campaign slogans of “hope” and “change”.

He resumed his re-election rallies after overseeing the response to the hurricane for the past three days, which devastated parts of the eastern seaboard and claimed at least 80 lives.

In a campaign appearance on an airport runway in Wisconsin, Mr Obama returned to the key themes that defined his last presidential campaign and insisted that a vote for Mr Romney would send the country backwards.

“He’s saying he’s the candidate of change. Well, let me tell you Wisconsin, we know what change looks like. And what he’s offering isn’t change,” he told a crowd of about 2,700 people.

Mr Obama said his rival’s proposals in relation to taxes, regulation and social policy were a throwback to the past.

“I know what change looks like because I fought for it,” he said. “And after all we’ve been through together, we sure as heck can’t give up now,” he said. Mr Obama’s return to campaigning came after a day that saw images of co-operation between the president and one of his harshest critics, Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey.

The two men toured the state’s storm-damaged coast, declaring themselves partners in the recovery effort.

Yesterday’s campaign stop in Wisconsin also appeared designed to reinforce the image of Mr Obama as commander-in-chief.

Television pictures showed Air Force One in the background, while the president addressed the crowd wearing a leather US Air Force-style leather jacket.

Mr Romney, boosted by his surge in the polls over the past month, yesterday dismissed Mr Obama’s arguments.

After avoiding attacks on Mr Obama for several days due to the storm, he mocked the president for proposing the creation of a cabinet-level post devoted to business development.

Mr Obama discussed the idea during an interview earlier this week.

“I don’t think adding a new chair in his cabinet will help add millions of jobs on main street,” Mr Romney said at a rally in Virginia yesterday.

“I mean, unfortunately, what you’ve seen before your very eyes is a campaign that keeps on shrinking and shrinking and shrinking to smaller things,” he said.

Mr Romney has played down his record as a businessman in recent times, focusing instead on how he would govern should he win the election.

Yesterday, however, he put much greater emphasis on his track record as a champion of business during his governorship of Massachusetts.

“We don’t need a secretary of business to understand business – we need a president who understands business, and I do,” he told the crowd.

Polls, meanwhile, indicate that the candidates are running neck and neck.

Real Clear Politics, which provides an aggregate of published opinion polls, shows both Mr Obama and Mr Romney tied at 47.4 per cent each.

The candidates are due to continue with a hectic schedule of campaign stops across crucial swing states over the next four days, ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Five days to go: The latest figures

National polling shows the candidates neck and neck, with both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on 47.4%

In the top five swing states, the picture is as follows:

Ohio: Obama +2.3%

Florida: Romney +1.2%

Virginia: Romney +0.5%

Wisconsin: Obama +3.7%

Iowa: Obama +2.2%