Election 2012: Obama visits New Jersey in Hurricane Sandy aftermath, Romney back on campaign trail
U.S. President Barack Obama (r) accompanied by N.J Gov. Chris Christie (l) hugs storm victim Donna Vanzant as he tours damage done by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey October 31, 2012. PHOTO/Reuters/Larry Downing
President Barack Obama joined one of his top Republican critics to visit victims of superstorm Sandy on Wednesday, giving Americans a high-profile display of presidential leadership while leaving rival Mitt Romney awkwardly on the sidelines less than a week before Election Day.
Obama visited New Jersey, the state hardest hit by the storm which hammered much of the northeastern United States, accompanied by Gov. Chris Christie. The governor has been one of Romney’s most prominent supporters, but he has been effusive in his praise of Obama’s response to the storm.
Christie greeted Obama as Air Force One landed on a sunny, breezy day in Atlantic City. The two men boarded Marine One for an hour-long aerial tour of the storm damage.
Though Obama has suspended campaigning for three days in a tight race and New Jersey is safe Democratic territory, the tour with Christie offers him clear advantages. Obama can appear to be in command, directing U.S. aid and showing concern for the storm’s victims. The appearance with Christie also makes him look bipartisan at a time of deep division in U.S. politics.
Romney, meanwhile, must walk a careful line. Aggressive attacks on Obama could appear unseemly during a national crisis. Yet he is running out of time to make his case to voters ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
Polls show the candidates virtually tied. But the winner will be determined in state-by-state votes, and a handful of states that are not clearly Democratic or Republican will determine the outcome. Obama appears to have a lead in the state tallies.
Obama’s campaign announced Wednesday he planned to resume campaign travel Thursday after a three-day pause with stops in Nevada, Colorado and Wisconsin.