With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the northeast United States, President Barack Obama and Republican contender Mitt Romney were forced to alter campaign plans Monday ahead of the storm.
Several swing states including North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire and Ohio could be impacted by the storm. Both candidates cancelled campaign appearances in some of the swing states in the path of the Hurricane, sending surrogates to appear instead.
Former President Bill Clinton appeared Monday at a Florida rally on behalf of Obama, who boarded Air Force One ahead of the rally to return to the White House to monitor the storm from Washington, a move democratic strategists say makes the president look “presidential” and in control a week before the November 6 election.
“My message to the governors as well as to the mayors, anything they need we will be there,” said the President after a meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials.
The White House announced that Obama’s trip to Wisconsin on Tuesday was also called off.
Romney cancelled a Monday afternoon campaign rally in Wisconsin and all campaign events on Tuesday, according to campaign aides.
Early voting has been suspended in several states and Washington, DC.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said early voting facilities that lost power from the storm would be “moved up to the same level as hospitals and police stations to have power restored.”
“Obviously, we want unfettered access to the polls, because we think the more people that come out, the better we're going to do," top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod told CNN. “So, to the extent that it makes it harder, that’s a source of concern.”
While both campaigns depend heavily on early voters, Axelrod said he is concerned Hurricane Sandy could reduce turnout for Obama voters.
Both campaigns have also suspended fundraising emails in many of the states expected to be affected by the storm and are turning to websites like Facebook and Twitter to urge supporters to donate to the Red Cross.
"The top priority is the safety and security of people who may be in harm’s way,” senior Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden said on Sunday.