The “October Surprise” turned out to be a monster storm that is forcing President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney to overhaul campaign plans.
The political calculus for Hurricane Sandy is a delicate balancing act for both.
Obama, who returned to Washington Monday from a campaign trip to Florida, doesn’t want to be seen as politicking during a crisis potentially affecting 50 million people.
Yet it’s also an opportunity to appear in control and presidential. “I’m not going to be able to campaign as much over the next few days,” he said.
Romney stumped in the Midwest on Monday but canceled stops in Virginia on Sunday and in New Hampshire on Tuesday. He does not have as commanding a platform as the president and was tempering criticism of the president while expressing concern for storm victims and support for relief efforts.
“Ann and I are keeping the people in Hurricane Sandy’s path in our thoughts and prayers,” Romney said. He urged people in a tweet to support the Red Cross.
Four critical battleground states are directly affected — North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire. Consider the millions of dollars spent on political TV ads that potentially won’t be seen because of power outages.
Presidents and hurricanes have had a stormy relationship.
President George W. Bush drew wide criticism for his administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
President Bill Clinton cut short a New Zealand trip in 1999 to deal with Hurricane Floyd.
President George H.W. Bush was blamed for a slow federal response to Hurricane Andrew in August 1992.
The previous November, Bush suffered heavy personal loss when a fierce hurricane-like nor’easter — later memorialized as “The Perfect Storm” — devastated the ground floor of his seaside home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
“The sea won this round,” he told reporters as he inspected damage.
Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile’s Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APcampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2
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Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
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Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
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When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
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A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
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