It may be a contest to become the most powerful human on the planet, but even the US presidential race has to bow to the might of nature sometimes. As Hurricane Sandy summoned up her powers to hammer the east coast of the US, organisers of the two campaigns hurriedly changed their plans and moved inland.
The weather is likely to have two effects, according to the US press, with practical concerns about travel and safety affecting both. But the campaign of President Barack Obama will be worse hit by a second factor, as the Wall Street Journal explains:
Today is the last day for in-person and mail-in voter registration in deadlocked New Hampshire, where the weather threatens to scuttle campaign stops planned by both camps next week. First lady Michelle Obama has canceled a Tuesday trip to the University of New Hampshire campus, which will be closed Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Sandy.
Mr. Obama’s campaign team is relying on banking votes during the early voting period in many states. Campaign aides are privately nervous about a potential disruption in early voting in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.
Dave Axelrod, the Obama campaign’s chief adviser, said on NBC’s Meet The Press programme on Sunday that he was concerned the storm would hit voter turn-out in key states. To Democrats, high turn-out means better chances of victory, he conceded.
On top of that, of course, the president’s job in a time of crisis is to be at the helm of power. Not only would he face a negative impact on polling day if he mishandled the response to the storm, but time spent in a White House situation room is time he is not spending on the road.
According to the Washington Post, one of many newspapers printed on the east coast, Sandy has made plans for this stage of the campaign even more unpredictable than usual:
Obama, trying to stay ahead of Hurricane Sandy, flew out of Washington on Sunday evening for a Monday appearance in Orlando. But the campaign said he will skip a rally later in the day in Youngstown, Ohio, and return to the White House to monitor the storm. Officials said the event will go forward as scheduled with Vice President Biden and former president Bill Clinton.
There was some irony in the fact that the campaigns sought shelter in Florida, normally the hotspot of hurricane threats, as this once-in-a-lifetime storm threatened mayhem further to the north.