Sandy is a political hurricane.
As the east coast braced for the wrath of Mother Nature being delivered by Hurricane "Stormin" Sandy, two men running for president braced themselves for the reality that they would have to bring their campaigns to a halt, just a week before the national presidential election.
Appropriately, President Barack Obama took off his hat as the incumbent campaigning, and put on his cap as commander in chief. And he got right to work, discussing with experts on the weather patterns, and talking with FEMA and other government offices with regards to safety, infrastructure, funding to assist the states, etc. And of course, he got on the phone with the governors of each state the storm was about to hit to find out what they need. And "he done good," as they say.
And what was Mitt Romney doing? "Storm related" meet and greets and stops. Oh, of course these just happened to be in swing states, like Ohio. And even though his campaign bus was providing help in the form of food, blankets, etc., there was Mitt Romney's face, name, and slogan painted across it—which made many feel like Mitt Romney's still campaigning. He's just handing out sandwiches while delivering his stump speech.
On my radio show last night, we addressed the politics of Sandy. And for those of you who aren't aware of it, Sandy is very political. The storm halted the campaigns of these two candidates, which restarts today as Mitt Romney travels with Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and others throughout the state of Florida, where most polls show him with a very slim 1 percent marginal lead. The president, aside from today's trip to New Jersey to survey the damage with Gov. Chris Christie, will continue working in Washington due to the aftermath of Sandy. But Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton will be making a total of four stops in three of the swing states, including Florida.
There are those that say this storm will hurt the president because it happened one week before the election. I couldn't disagree more. This is an opportunity for the president to be "presidential." To show the leadership the right accuses him of lacking. To show America where they can put their trust in times of a crisis—whether it be a hurricane like Sandy, or worse, a terrorist attack. He and his administration clearly showed what to do in the case of a crisis like Sandy, learning from the former Bush administration as what not to do in the case of Hurricane Katrina. It also affords the president a lot of exposure. He is on television, keeping Americans informed of what the White House is doing to assist those in need. And he doesn't need a Super PAC to pay for the ad.
Lastly, when a top Republican who backs Romney—Chris Christie—personally thanks the president and compliments the president on national television, I think it sends the message that "hey, maybe I'm a Republican, but President Obama steps up and does a great job in times of a crisis."
A man you can trust to help America. A man who deserves four more years? The voters will decide. But I think Sandy, or better yet the handling of Sandy, might just be the thing President Obama needed to easily win this election next week.
- Read Susan Milligan: Obama and Christie Put Politics Aside for Hurricane Sandy
- Read Robert Schlesinger: Mitt Romney's Electoral Problem and the War on Nate Silver
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