With less than a week before the general election next Tuesday, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is no longer sidelined from the campaign trail by Hurricane Sandy. While President Obama surveys the hurricane damage in New Jersey on Wednesday, Romney will attempt to gain ground in the key battleground state of Florida, as the latest national Pew Research Poll places the two candidates in a virtual tie in the Sunshine State
Romney will make three campaign stops in Florida — a state “too close to call” according to the most recent poll from the New York Times, Quinnipiac University and CBS. The poll showed Obama ahead by one point, well within the poll’s 3% margin of error.
Obama’s campaigning was brought to a halt as Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Monday. The storm forced the president to cancel all of his campaign stops on Monday in Florida and on Tuesday in Wisconsin and Colorado, as he oversaw the federal response to the disaster. When talking to reporters on Monday, the president said he is “not worried at this point on the impact on the election…right now our number one priority is to make sure we are saving lives.”
The Obama administration was praised for its preparedness and response to Hurricane Sandy, with Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), a longtime critic of the president, calling Obama's response to the disaster “outstanding.” Christie will join the president on Wednesday as he tours the disaster-affected region, lending the appearance of bipartisan cooperation during difficult times.
While Obama gave up official campaigning for the third straight day in a row Wednesday, Romney took only a brief pause before Sandy’s gales. He campaigned on Monday in Ohio and Iowa, canceling only the evening events for the storm. In Davenport, Iowa, he told supporters, "We love our fellow Americans. Wish them well!” as he rallied more than 1,000 miles away from where the hurricane was to make landfall.
On Tuesday, Romney changed his scheduled Ohio rally to a “storm relief event.” He put his normal jabs at the president largely on hold as he appealed for donations to the Red Cross, and left the stage for a performance by Randy Owens, the lead singer of Alabama.
Romney’s campaign stops since the hurricane could give him the critical edge he needs to win battleground states, but Obama is not missing the opportunity provided by the storm to lead effectively and appear presidential. On Tuesday, he visited the Red Cross national headquarters to encourage victims of the hurricane and aid workers.
"This is a tough time for millions of people," the president said. "But America is tougher."
Whether the storm will change the perceptions of voters remains to be seen, but one thing seems clear, neither candidate intends to allow Sandy to rain on their parade.