October 27th, 2012
11:10 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama, Romney cancel campaign events ahead of Hurricane Sandy

(CNN) - Both presidential candidates have canceled campaign events in the coming days as the East Coast prepares for a major storm, and Virginia's governor said Sunday his state would take measures to ensure residents are able to vote, despite potential obstacles brought on by Hurricane Sandy.

"We'll be ready, but we're planning for contingencies if there's still a problem," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said on CNN's "State of the Union." He said his state would "absolutely" make polling centers like schools and fire stations a top priority for restoring power, should widespread outages occur.

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In Virginia, the effects of a major storm could linger until Election Day. Hundreds of thousands of customers in Northern Virginia lost power for more than week following Hurricane Irene in August 2011, and clean up efforts could be prioritized over making the trip to the polls.

Virginia offers early absentee voting only with an excuse, unlike other states which offer less restrictive ways to cast ballots before November 6. That means the race in the commonwealth will be won or lost on Election Day.

North Carolina and Maryland, two other states in the storm's projected path, offer in-person early voting, which has benefited Democrats in the past. Martin O'Malley, Maryland's Democratic governor, said Friday that early voting in his state could be affected by the storm.

In Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, residents only have the option of voting early by mail.

The approaching storm has already led both President Barack Obama's campaign and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney to modify campaign schedules.

Obama's final Monday campaign event in Virginia and first Tuesday event in Colorado were canceled, and the president will instead "return to the White House to continue to monitor Hurricane Sandy," Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Saturday.

Earlier on Saturday, Romney canceled his Sunday events in Virginia and said he would instead join his running mate on a bus tour of Ohio.

Vice President Joe Biden also canceled a Saturday event in Virginia.

Romney is scheduled to campaign in Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin on Monday, then in Ohio and New Hampshire on Tuesday.

On CNN Sunday, top Obama aide David Axelrod said it was too early to tell how, if at all, the storm would affect the election.

"I don't think anybody really knows," Axelrod said. "Obviously we want unfettered access to the polls because we believe that the more people come out, the better we're going to do, and so to the extent that it makes it harder, you know, that's a source of concern. But I don't know how all the politics will sort out."

While Obama and Romney have a host of battlegrounds states to visit that are out of the storm's path – including Colorado, Iowa and Ohio – the consequences of a major storm would echo beyond mere logistics. A hurricane hitting the most densely populated section of the country would also suck media coverage from the campaign, as television networks and newspapers deploy resources to cover weather rather than politics.

It could also provide a contrast between the two candidates – one who is a sitting president, and one who wants to become one.

A strong leadership image of Obama making official tours of affected areas could boost his image in the eyes of voters; conversely, any missteps in the administration's response to the potential disaster would have damaging results.

In the statement, Carney said Obama "is being regularly updated on the storm and ongoing preparations, and he has directed his team to continue to bring all available resources to bear as state and local partners continue to prepare for the storm."

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has "pre-staged resources" and that Obama "will continue to receive regular briefings."

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters earlier in the day that the campaign is "closely monitoring the storm, and we'll take all necessary precautions to make sure our staff and volunteers are safe."

Romney also faces opportunities and pitfalls. His response, like Obama's, will be closely monitored and evaluated for its tone. Rivals will be ready to pounce at any sign of politicization, while the candidate will also be able to bolster his image of a leader by making visits to damaged areas.

Romney made such a visit to New Orleans following Hurricane Isaac, the storm that forced organizers to cancel the first day of the Republican convention in August. That visit didn't generate any negative headlines for the candidate.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak, Gregory Wallace, Ashley Killough, and Steve Brusk contributed to this report

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    The President has a country to run. He always steps up and does exactly the right thing to ensure everything possible is done to help those who need it. Unlike Bush during Hurricane Katrina, the President has the sense to act in a timely and efficient manner – providing relief resources when and where they're needed. Romney will certainly try to find something about America's response to this storm. He'll likely start making political comments right in the middle of the relief effort – like he did during the Libya crisis. Romney could never serve as Commander-In-Chief.

    October 28, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  2. donna

    Wasn't this supposed to be his "Whirlwind All-Nighter"? Maybe he was just tired, and used Sandy as an excuse to go back and rest.

    October 28, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  3. freedom

    All of a sudden he's monitoring a hurricane, but couldn't monitor a terrorist attack?? I believe he was in Las Vegans during that catastrophe. We know the truth.

    October 28, 2012 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  4. micha

    come on Obama show some grit by showing up.

    October 28, 2012 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  5. Janine

    President Obama will always be there for you – always.

    October 28, 2012 03:42 am at 3:42 am |

    Team Obama originally asserted that the storm would not impede its campaign schedule . I have the copy of CNN article right here - along side this article. Team Obama is modifying its plans to keep from letting Romney make it look like snakes. POTUS earns NO POINTS for doing his job as "commander-in-chief" during natural disasters - NO POINTS. But POTUS will lose more than he already has if he is observed putting self over American public safety and health . The whole world is watching the POTUS. Just remeber - marshalling all Federal resources is the tax-paid duty of the POTUS - not a sign of valor and heroism. Conversely, failure to show competence as POTUS will only make the hammer of disgrace pound him harder and deeper into the ground of political death.

    October 28, 2012 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  7. bassman

    Why is our media covering up the report that urgent requests for backup during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command? Isn't our media supposed to be "watchdogs"?

    October 28, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  8. ducky657

    He is getting his butt kicked wherever he goes so he might as well stay home. The more he talks the deeper the hole gets– never mind his idiot running mate Joe (all mouth no brain) Biden. He called our former Governor Tom Kaine yesterday (for all you Obama voters his first name is Tim). Doesn't it make you all warm and fuzzy to know he is a heartbeat away from the oval office? He chose not to act in Libya so now he will go back to the White House so he can act Presidential for once–anyone buying this crap?

    October 28, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  9. nina

    so why doesn't the news report properly? obama is actually cancelling events as is VP Joe.....Romney's not cancelling, he's just going to campaign elsewhere.
    another question: Why in the US are the votes for the Oscars held with more regard than election votes? At the Oscars, the votes are counted by an accounting firm with access by only a few pple but in the elections, when pple are voting for someone to govern the country, there is no oversight nor any monitoring of the results! No wonder elections like 2000 and 2004 happen! And this year likely again, considering the romneys own the Diebold voting machines that the country is using!!!
    Again, the world around is watching (as it is all over our tv's) and how sad....the US has turned around from the mess WB left, just took some time, and now i guess pple still think white is more right. Romney is the least transparent candidate I've ever seen and he's changed his positions more than most change their undies.
    Really pple???? he's a rich white dude who could care less about reg folk.....funny how he said it privately,,,that info was leaked.....he stood by it....then admitted he was wrong.....and all you fools believe him.
    Well come nov 7th, the joke will be on all of you.....cuz in the next year or 2 all you who are complaining of your sitting pres will be wishing you had it this good.....say good bye to your jobs (they'll be going overseas)...oh and your vets who served your country for your safety......haven't romney say anything at all about those returning from war...maybe cause his sons hid behind their money.
    anyway, just venting......its frustrating to watch a good man (obama) be held at a different standard than any of your preceeding presidents....hmmmm wonder why?

    October 28, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  10. Dave

    Obama represents the audacity of hypocrisy:

    He said he would close GITMO, but he didn't.
    He said he would pass comprehensive immigration reform, but didn't.
    He said he opposed executive privilege but used it on fast and furious.
    He said he would be transparent, but the health care bill was debated in private.
    He said he would not pursue the single payer option, but did.
    He said the health care bill would reduce costs, but they increased.
    He said it doesn’t make sense to increase taxes when the economy is bad, but he is doing it anyway.
    He said he would cut the deficit in half, but didn't.
    He blasted Bush for debt, but then increased it by $6 trillion.
    He said he would unite the country, but divides it along income and race.
    He said the stimulus would save the economy, but it didn't.
    He blasts Romney for outsourcing, but the stimulus outsourced jobs.
    He said green energy would work, but his investments have failed.
    He said his plan would reduce unemployment to 4%, but it is still nearly at 8%.
    He opposes torture such as waterboarding, but he is willing to drone strike terrorists.
    He bashed Bush for his foreign policy, but Obama can't get his story straight on Libya.
    Obama says Romney lies, but Obama lied about FEMA not giving aid to New Orleans and much more.

    October 28, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  11. jpmichigan

    Excuse me, a little to late to show leadership. 4 Americans were murdered on your watch, but you of course had excuses. American people do now see you , as a President playing at governing and leading this great nation. Your policies have not worked, you promised hope and change . Now the only change wanted is for you to leave the White House, go back to Chicago. Then maybe there will be hope for a better USA, guided by a person who wil answer the 3am phone call !!

    October 28, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  12. Dar

    What he should do is cancel the rest of his campain stops too and save his money for the move home come January

    October 28, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  13. Name

    The president has nothing to do with this storm, the states governors have already done everything, stop grabbing the spotlight for everything as you have done nothing in 4 years..

    October 28, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  14. Respectful President

    Now there is a president to respect. He's putting his campaigning on hold to do what he was elected for.

    October 28, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. Denny

    As long as he doesn't cancel the election he can do whatever he wants with his own schedule. I don't fear a tropical storm. I fear a president who would love to cancel an election to gain more time.

    October 28, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. MarieL

    A Canadian to US Citizens re Presidential Election

    Looking at these comments from afar, US citizens should consider what they are voting for if they support Obama.

    We already have a Socialist-leaning government here in Canada and that is what you are in for if you elect Obama to a second term. The "ObamaCare" is what we presently have here in Canada (only under a different name). You will have huge waiting times for medical care – in particular scans, operations, specialist appointments – sometimes up to 2 years or longer. With Socialism, costs for food, clothing, gas, personal items, mortgages, rent, car prices, transportation, medical costs, utilities, and the list goes on and on, is extremely high. A vote for Gov. Romney would be in your best interests – especially for poor and middle class citizens.

    October 28, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. geggyg

    @ name
    If their is a massive loss of life because of the hurricane , you will blame Obama for not doing more , you wont say the governors did everything that was possible and that is the states responsibility. You will scream where was Obama , where was FEMA , where was the military.

    October 28, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. Vazquez

    Mr. Obama since being the CEO of this country you have made bad decisions and you should have just stepped down after 4 years but you choose to take advantage of the ignorant who do no know any better and try to convince the minority you are on their side when all along you are a wolf in sheeps clothing I hope the true American people will vote you out Nov. 6th and put an end to this self proclaimed I'm for all Americans crap. When we all know your goal is to destroy America if you got 4 more years and I pray and vote it doesn't happen

    October 28, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Jake from Canada

    Obviously the President is acting as a President should. He's canceling campaigning to focus on the storm. And the President DOES have a responsibility to ensure the safety of those citizens. To those of you who say that the President is doing it because it's a good political move, I disagree. Everything the President does is political. That's true for every President ever. Presidents are politicians. However, in this case the politics lined up with what was right to do. I'm sure most people would agree that fighting the Nazis in WW2 was not a political thing, it was the right thing to do and it happened to line up with politics. These things aren't on equivalent terms obviously, but you get the point. Also, I remember a president who didn't fare so well when it came to responding to a storm. Wouldn't you conservatives want someone to be prepared for the response?

    October 28, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  20. Holly Hilt

    I can't believe some of you are actually saying that Obama will do exactly what needs to be done, like always. WHAT?!?! Where was he during the embassy attack? Watching it happen Did he send in Marines that were 1 hour away? NO! Did he admit it was a terrorist attack, which he knew within 2 hours? Again, no. He went to bed, then to Vegas the next day. Wake up. He needs to go. And not to Vegas for a fundraiser!

    October 28, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. pjoe

    Didn't Obama cause the oceans to recede?

    October 28, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Jim

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said on CNN's "State of the Union." He said his state would "absolutely" make polling centers like schools and fire stations a top priority for restoring power, should widespread outages occur.
    Did anybody complaining about the President actually "READ" this article? He is doing what he should do as President and he has the resources to help the states if they need it as the states or their Governor's cannot do it all by themselves. Also he Gov. statement that polling places would be the "top" priority. WOW I would think people in harms way and suffering would be the "top" priority. And will all polling places be top priority or mostly Republican leading areas? HMMMM....

    October 28, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. robinstl68

    "Doing a fine job there Brownie!!" – George Bush to FEMA Director Michael Brown who had NO disaster experience whatsoever.

    October 28, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. robinstl68

    Holly Hilt:

    Obama failed to protect some little tiny building in a country we don't belong in anyway thanks to what we started in Iraq and Afghanistan thanks to Republicans. A handful of people died.

    George W Bush failed to protect OUR OWN NATION. Thousands died in three different locations. Tens of thousands in the countries we invaded.

    You really want to go there?

    October 28, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  25. NVa Native

    Pat Robertson must be proud of his protégé' McDonnell doing so much of his god’s work. I wish some one would probe both of them and see how they like it? Bunch of arrogant self-righteous jerks....................oh yea; they’re Repubs who worship their faux bullies.
    How could any self-respecting person vote for these conservative religious radicals who are more aligned with the Taliban than the American people?

    October 28, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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