Anyone stuck at home watching daytime TV news in a swing state Monday knows presidential campaigning is not taking a backseat to Hurricane Sandy: ad breaks in the DC market were chock full of campaign spots from both sides. But on the national level, the candidates are making an effort to step back from the trail as the Northeast braces for the worst of the massive storm.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney left the campaign trail Monday. Obama canceled events to tend to presidential duties ahead of Sandy’s landfall. Romney followed suit, canceling events “out of sensitivity for the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy.”
The electoral effects of Sandy aren’t entirely clear yet, but the storm has already forced both candidates off the road in the crucial days before Nov. 6.
On the national level, the campaigns are projecting a focus on disaster relief. A Romney campaign bus began gathering donations for those affected by Sandy. The Obama campaign sent an email to its national fundraising list urging donors to give to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.
But just as the ads are staying on TV, the campaign continues apace even as Sandy bears down. The Obama campaign announced plans for a new ad blitz to combat the Romney Jeep ad that has been the subject of much criticism from the media and fact checkers. Both campaigns held events in the hours before the storm, and announced plans for more in the days following the storm when massive power outages and cleanup are expected to dominate the headlines.
With national polls showing the race extremely close, neither campaign can afford to abandon the race entirely. And with key swing states like Iowa, Colorado and Nevada unaffected by Sandy, there’s plenty to be done. But the competing goals of campaigning hard while not appearing to ignore what meteorologists continue to say will be one of the biggest storms in recent memory could make for some awkward split-screen images over the next several days.