Update: Obama is speaking about Sandy now live at WhiteHouse.govHurricane Sandy, which is currently battering much of the Eastern Seaboard, has managed to partially bring the presidential campaign to a stop a week before the election. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have cancelled their campaign event which were planned for today and tomorrow.
Obama announced the cancellation of his event earlier this morning to return to Washington to monitor the disaster relief efforts. From USA Today:
President Obama canceled campaign events for Monday and Tuesday in Florida and Wisconsin, flew back to the White House to monitor the deadly trek of Hurricane Sandy, and will address the nation on the storm at 12:45 p.m.
Obama had flown Sunday night to Orlando — where he delivered pizzas to a local campaign office — and had planned to attend a rally at Central Florida University on Monday morning with former president Bill Clinton.
But just a few hours before the event, the White House announced that Obama would head back to the White House “due to deteriorating weather conditions in the Washington, D.C., area.”
Clearly, the Obama campaign doesn’t want Sandy to turn into Obama’s Katrina. Elections with an incumbent are often about the perception of competence. Even if a president can’t do much directly in an event like this, it is important to look like you care more about doing your job than keeping your job.
Mitt Romney has also cancelled his remaining events for today and tomorrow. While there is really nothing for Romney to do about the storm, making stump speeches while cities flood and people’s lives are in danger can be end up having extremely bad optics. It is not worth potentially looking very callous to the whole country just to talk to a few hundred voters in a swing state.
Both the Obama and Romney campaigns are encouraging their supports to donate to the Red Cross’s storm relief efforts.
For the next two days the Presidential campaign remains in a holding pattern.