Obama, Romney Cancel Campaign Events As Storm Threatens

by
Reuters
President Barack Obama suspended campaign stops on Monday and returned to Washington to monitor the impact of Hurricane Sandy, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney dropped some events as well to show respect to the storm's potential victims.

Obama, Romney Cancel Campaign Events As Storm Threatens

President Barack Obama suspended campaign stops on Monday and returned to Washington to monitor the impact of Hurricane Sandy, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney dropped some events as well to show respect to the storm's potential victims.

Obama was scheduled to make a statement at the White House at 12:45 p.m. (1645 GMT) after having a briefing about the storm in the White House Situation Room.

Obama arrived in Florida on Sunday night, coming a day early to try to beat the storm. He was to have held a joint campaign event with former President Bill Clinton. He ended plans to speak at a Florida university and canceled another event scheduled for Tuesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

"Due to deteriorating weather conditions in the Washington area, the president will not attend today's campaign event in Orlando," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

"The president will return to the White House to monitor the preparations for and early response to Hurricane Sandy," he said. Obama will remain in Washington on Tuesday to follow the storm's impact and aftermath, the White House added.

Sandy, a massive storm bearing down on the U.S. East Coast, has forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands residents.

Romney had planned to hold an event in Wisconsin on Monday night and speak in Iowa and Florida on Tuesday. All the states are out of Sandy's path but Romney does not want to be seen focusing only on the campaign while a possible natural disaster looms.

"Governor Romney believes this is a time for the nation and its leaders to come together to focus on those Americans who are in harm's way," said Romney communications director Gail Gitcho.

Romney had risked being seen as insensitive by continuing to campaign while Obama had stopped to focus on the hurricane, giving the incumbent a chance to show off the powers of his office and appear presidential.

Romney staged a campaign rally in Avon Lake, Ohio, on Monday and was still headed to Iowa for another event.

"I want to mention that our hearts and prayers are with all the people in the storm's path. Sandy is another devastating hurricane by all accounts, and a lot of people are going to be facing some real tough times as a result of Sandy's fury," Romney told supporters in Avon Lake.

Clinton, who has been a popular surrogate for Obama, will continue to hold events that he was to have done together with the president.

Obama delivered pizzas to a local campaign office in Florida on Sunday night and told volunteers that the burden would increase for them because he would have to curtail his campaign activities in the coming days.

Florida, Wisconsin and Iowa are all critical states in the November 6 election. Obama has also canceled events in the swing states of Virginia and Colorado because of the storm.