Hurricane Sandy: An unexpected factor in the final days of the US presidential campaign
After a year-long political saga, as the final ten days of the American presidential campaign unfold, a new unexpected factor has entered the race: Hurricane Sandy.
The storm has already proven lethal, killing 65 people in Haiti and Cuba as it continued northward to the United States. With sustained winds of 75 mph, the Category One storm is expected to collide with a high pressure area around Greenland and a cold front coming from the north and west, all of which will pull the storm inward for barrage of wind, rain and snow from the late-summer hurricane/early-autumn nor’easter.
Amidst the dire warnings from the National Hurricane Center and many media outlets, the campaigns both sought to strike a careful balance, continuing to reach out to swing-state voters while also appearing sensitive to the potential victims of the storm. The path of the hurricane includes the battleground states Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire.
The Romney campaign spent Friday and Saturday in Florida and Ohio, continuing the Republican offensive on President Obama over his proposed cuts to the defence budget, arguing it would cost Floridians roughly 41,000 jobs. These cuts were part of a deal struck between the White House and Congress to reduce federal spending, one supported by Mr Romney’s running mate, representative Paul Ryan. Pensacola, Florida, was a natural place to offer this critique, as it is home to one of the oldest and largest naval bases in the country.
President Obama faced the difficulty of balancing his political duties with that of the commander-in-chief. The publicity fight would be just as important as his actual preparations. The President had to appear responsible and compassionate, lest he attracts criticism from an ever watchful Romney camp, a campaign that has shown little restraint in speaking out, even in times of national emergency.
Both campaigns cancelled appearances in Virginia this weekend, with Mr Romney opting to travel to Ohio instead. Mr Obama campaigned in Manchester and Nashua, New Hampshire, highlighting the importance of the state’s four electoral votes. He spoke to a crowd alongside singer James Taylor, criticising his opponents plans to raise taxes on middle-class Americans.
The President also took time to address the growing emergency. Aboard his flight on Air Force One to New Hampshire, he spoke with the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. His campaign has cancelled appearances on Tuesday, and will return to the White House on Monday evening to monitor the storm’s effects.
For more information on Hurricane Sandy, visit the National Hurricane Center.