As East Coast residents prepare for Hurricane Sandy, the political campaigns of President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are under the gun. If the storm — expected to hit New York City on Tuesday morning, and other states like Virginia and Delaware as early as Sunday night — destroys power lines or lingers, the damage could affect voters accessing their local polls, reports NBC News.
Extensive damage, power outages, and the resulting news coverage could push the election into the background, at least in that region, and could wreak havoc on campaign plans for the final week of the race between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Travel schedules, television advertising buys, and voter outreach could all be impacted … and in some cases, already have been.
A Romney official said Friday that the campaign is keeping a very close eye on the storm and had already decided to cancel a planned rally on Sunday night in Virginia Beach. Vice President Joe Biden also cancelled a Virginia Beach event on Saturday, and a rally for First Lady Michelle Obama planned for Tuesday at the University of New Hampshire in Durham was also canceled, officials said Friday.
Thus far, states with early voting are expecting a decline in turnout as locals hunker down. And though Obama is a candidate in the November race, he's also the POTUS, and has returned to Washington, D.C., in light of the impending hurricane, according to the Boston Herald:
… Obama scrapped campaign events Monday night and Tuesday morning. He planned to return to the White House late Monday to monitor the storm and the government's response.
"This is an example, yet again, of the president having to put his responsibilities as commander in chief and as leader of the country first, while at the same time he pursues his responsibilities as a candidate for re-election," Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, told reporters traveling with Obama to a campaign event Saturday in New Hampshire.
Still, ripping up Obama's strategically planned travel schedule was something his Chicago-based campaign was loath to do unless absolutely necessary.