Voters watch Obama navigate Sandy
Tue, 30 Oct 2012 6:07p.m.
By Tova O'Brien
By Tova O’Brien
Hurricane Sandy isn't only affecting millions of people across the eastern seaboard, it's also having an effect on the US presidential election.
As the storm rolls in, both US President Barack Obama and candidate Mitt Romney have been forced to put their campaigns on hold.
Mr Obama flew back to Washington from campaigning in Florida this morning. His convoy drove to the White House situation room through a capital city of deserted streets.
In the polls, the race against Mr Romney is a dead heat – time for a decisive show of leadership from Mr Obama.
“When they tell you to evacuate you need to evacuate,” says Mr Obama. “Do not delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions you are given - it could potentially have fatal consequences.”
He toured the emergency centre tracking the storm. He must carefully consider how he navigates the next few days.
“I'm confident that we're ready, but I think the public needs to prepare for the fact that it's going to take a long time to clean up,” he says. “But the good news is that we will clean up and we'll get through this.”
The election so far has been about the US economy, but with the stock exchange and Wall St both closed by the storm, who's best at the business of crisis management?
Mr Romney is turning to faith.
“On the eastern coast a lot of people are enduring some very difficult times, and our hearts and our prayers go to them as we think how tough it's going to be there.”
While Mr Obama is keeping calm.
“I am not worried at this point about the impact on the election. I’m worried about the impact on families and worried about the impact on first responders.”
So neither candidate will dare to be seen exploiting the storm, but neither can afford to ignore it.
Mr Obama can't let this become his Hurricane Katrina. George W Bush’s bungling of the disaster left a major dent in his presidency. But as commander in chief through a crisis like this, Mr Obama has the power to take the election.
It may be more frustrating for Mr Romney, who has had to cancel campaign events. His camp is saying the storm has only frozen the election and nothing will change until the worst of it is over.
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