Sunday, with the threat of hurricane Sandy looming, former President Bill Clinton stands accused of politicizing the threat of the storm as he rallied for President Obama, whose polls have been described as “flat-lining.” In Waterbury, Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Mirror, Clinton warned, “We’re coming down to the 11th hour. We’re facing a violent storm,” adding, “It’s nothing compared to the storm we’ll face if you don’t make the right decision in this election.”
President Obama has opted for a high-visibility presidential role, appearing Sunday to discuss preparations on Hurricane Sandy, prior to its landing on the East Coast. The president vowed to “Respond big and respond fast.” However, he warned that the the storm was going to be “slow moving,” so it would take time to to get resources into the areas, perhaps, where assistance is most needed.
CBS reported Monday morning the president has canceled campaign events, today, in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia plus one for Tuesday, in Wisconsin. The reason CBS gave for the cancellations was to free up time “so he can monitor storm developments.” In the long run, these decisions may ultimately benefit the president’s campaign more than the appearances which were canceled. This may provide an opportunity for President Obama to stress the benefits of “big government,” if there is an immediate need for FEMA to swoop in with aid where needed, while again, affording the president the opportunity to be highly visible.
The worst scenario, for the president, would occur if the response teams fail to provide timely aid to urgent needs. Although the last week before an election is crucial campaigning time, strategic risks the Obama campaign must balance is that the president must not seem to be placing politics above Americans who face the crisis of a major storm.
President Obama’s challenger, Mitt Romney, has also mentioned the upcoming storm, suggesting that all political signs should be removed that might pose a danger to person or property in high winds. Sunday, in Ohio, Romney vowed to keep the victims of the storm in his thoughts and prayers, saying, “I know that right now some people in the country are a little nervous about a storm about to hit the coast; and our thoughts and prayers are with the people who will find themselves in harm’s way.”
On his campaign site, Romney is encouraging supporters to actively involve themselves in reaching out to those who may be in the eye of the storm, urging, “I hope that if you can, you’ll reach out to your neighbors who may need help getting ready for the storm, especially your elderly neighbors.” A supply drive is underway at Romney offices in North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.
A Red Cross donation box was added to the campaign site plus the Romney campaign, as did the Obama campaign, canceled fundraising emails to the following areas:
- Washington, D.C.
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- New York
Romney intends to put his campaign bus into service to deliver donations to the victims as per a recent suggestion on Twitter: “Bring donations to VA Victory offices. Romney bus will deliver them to those affected by #Sandy. #RomneyRyan2012pic.twitter.com/NHdoUPEQ”