Since the beginning of the week the presidential campaign has essentially been on hold as we all awaited the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. Preliminary indications were that the storm could have a rather serious effect when it arrived, but there was no absolute certainty of that since we have been conditioned to believe that the Weather Channel and others give us worst case scenarios that often turn out to be not quite so bad–but not always. This time the arrival of the storm at the New Jersey-New York shores gave us all worse than we expected.
Now two days later it’s clear that both states are still in shock, but pushing to begin recovery. Today President Obama visits New Jersey to review the damage. Governor Mitt Romney cautiously resumes his campaign for the presidency. President Obama will be back to campaigning tomorrow.
Since last weekend, both campaigns have taken a break out of respect for the storm and those who would have to endure it’s wrath. As the campaigns are resumed today and tomorrow, it appears that not much has changed. The race is still close and most of the swing states that were in play over the weekend are still in play now and new polls have not been that surprising expect for showing a few traditionally strongly democratic states to be closer in the polls than one might have expected. Both candidates will be cautious to try to not make any mistakes and expectations are that we will have 5-6 days of relatively mild campaign activity on both sides.
If anything, the last several days have so far been kinder to President Obama than to Governor Romney even though both have seen polls indicating that the race is tightening in states they think they had a stronger hold on. Regarding the issues and what each has been doing–President Obama has been acting presidential and working very well with the governors and mayors of the states and municipalities affected by Hurricane Sandy. He personally intervened to accelerate the response of disaster declarations, FEMA and the U.S. Core of Engineers, which in some cases has resources unavailable to municipal and state power companies that can be brought to bear on problems caused by Sandy. The notion that we should get rid of FEMA will certainly come up in the last few days of the campaign. This is because Mitt Romney is on record as favoring getting rid of the organization. That could come back to haunt him as federal high efficiency pumps and other equipment is on its way to New York and may allow the city to reactivate the subway system much more rapidly than it could have on it’s own. Getting people back to work and restoring activity in New York–where there is now near paralysis–will be important. So we can expect some discussion of that especially if FEMA & U.S. Core of Engineers begin to play a major role. Don’t expect President Obama to make a big deal about this, but making information available to the press will be more than enough.
In addition, Governor Romney has tried to walk back his role in deciding what to do about the automobile industry back in 2009 and further has made inflammatory and untrue remarks that primarily have focused on jeep plants and jeep jobs in Toledo. These remarks have not been well received in Detroit or in Northwest Ohio. Expect a continued discussion on this matter in the final days of the campaign.
Finally, a rather big clean-up is now underway in New York and New Jersey. All indications are that this will not be easy as transportation systems are down and about eight million are without power–primarily in New York and New Jersey. One can certainly expect that to continue. Many to be without power even through election day. One can be certain that President Obama will continue to keep one eye on the rate at which power and infrastructure are coming back on line. The President may need to reduce direct campaigning again as he demonstrates that he is involved when it may again become necessary.