Storm throws election schedule
Hurricane Sandy's approach to land coincides with the final full week before the US presidential election, forcing Mitt Romney to call off a visit to Virginia and raising questions about how president Barack Obama would balance governing and campaigning in the event of a potentially devastating natural disaster.
But neither team showed any signs of slowing down the pace of campaigning in battleground states not directly threatened by the specter of flooding, high winds and power outages. Mr Romney abruptly cancelled a full day of rallies scheduled for today in Virginia as the major storm approached the East Coast.
His campaign said he would head to Ohio instead. To get ahead of the weather, the White House said Mr Obama would leave a day early for a planned campaign event in Florida on Monday. Both campaigns cancelled rallies in Virginia Beach this weekend.
Mr Obama, in particular, faces a delicate balance: how to marshal the government's response while also rallying votes ahead of the November 6th election. Some of the swing states necessary to Mr Obama's re-election hopes - Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire - are directly in the storm's projected path.
But with 10 days to go until Election Day, both campaigns sought to make good use of the good weather Saturday. At a rally in Nashua - attended by 8,500, who were entertained beforehand with a performance by James Taylor - Mr Obama accused Mr Romney of raising taxes and fees on the middle class while he was governor of neighboring Massachusetts."
He raised fees to get a birth certificate, which would have been expensive for me," Mr Obama said, grinning. Before the rally, Mr Obama stopped at a local Teamsters office in Manchester to energize campaign volunteers."New Hampshire is going to be very important," he said.
"We don't know how this thing is going to play out; these four electoral votes right here could make the difference."In Pensacola, Fla., yesterday, Mr Romney zeroed in on a local worry: cuts to military spending that could impact a naval station in town. Speaking at a rally of 10,000 supporters, some of whom dressed in red, white and blue shirts to assemble an American flag in the stands, he assailed Mr Obama for what he said were the administration's plan for $1 trillion in reductions to the defence budget.
Recalling a pointed jab from the president in their final debate Monday, he said, "In fact we do use bayonets, and a modern Navy is one of the critical elements that allows us to protect sea lanes and to keep the world more free and prosperous."
Mr Romney suggested that president's re-election could cost Florida 41,000 jobs tied to the military. "Think of all the businesses that depend on all those jobs. It's extraordinary," Mr Romney said. "But the president's agenda keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller."
On the first day of early voting in Florida, Mr Romney also urged his supporters not to wait until the last minute."The earlier you vote, the more help you can give us getting other people to the polls," Romney said. "We need to turn out our people. This election counts."Still, the impending storm shadowed the day.