As the U.S. East Coast awaits Hurricane Sandy’s expected landfall either Monday or Tuesday, both U.S. President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have had to make last-minute changes in their presidential-election campaign schedules to avoid the potentially catastrophic Frankenstorm.
Hurricane Sandy most likely will make landfall in the mid-Atlantic area one week before the Nov. 6 general elections. Forecasters expect the storm to bring flooding, high winds, and power outages to the entire region, which could have significant effects on early voting as well as political campaigning there over the next few days.
Both major presidential candidates had planned campaign rallies in the mid-Atlantic area shortly before the election, but, because of the danger posed by Hurricane Sandy, the Democratic incumbent Obama and the Republican challenger Romney have been shifting gears.
This Sunday, Romney had originally scheduled a trip to Virginia, a swing state where the RealClearPolitics average of public-opinion polls indicates the two candidates are in a dead heat at 47.8 percent. However, forecasters expect Virginia to be hit hard by Hurricane Sandy's winds that day, so Romney will instead make an appearance in Ohio, another swing state, where Obama leads Romney, 48.0 percent to 45.7 percent, according to the RCP average.
Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had already planned a stop in Ohio on Sunday, and it appears Romney will be joining him.
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Meanwhile, Obama also may have to cancel a campaign event in Virginia due to Hurricane Sandy. He is scheduled for an appearance in the state with former President Bill Clinton on Monday night. However, the storm has caused the president to delay his plan for departure from Florida. He will be heading north not Sunday but Monday, so the delay could cause his appearance with Clinton to be cancelled.
"We're closely monitoring the storm and will take all necessary precautions to make sure our volunteers and staff are safe," Obama campaign representative Jen Psaki told Reuters. "We can't predict, just as no one can predict, how the storm will impact local communities."