As Hurricane Sandy whirled across a huge swath of the United States' Eastern seaboard on Monday, the storm disrupted a presidential campaign that is now in its final week.
With November 6 swiftly approaching, Sandy has injected a fresh dynamic into the election. While Obama had to leave the campaign trail in a potentially pivotal state, he did so to lead the government's handling of Sandy.
The extent of the devastation and the robustness of the government's response will shape how voters perceive Obama's reaction.
President Obama canceled a campaign event in the crucial swing state of Florida, returning to Washington, D.C. to oversee the response to Sandy. The president, who had been scheduled to appear at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, instead handed the baton to former president Bill Clinton.
"The election will take care of itself next week," Obama told reporters on Monday. "Right now, our number one priority is to make sure we are saving lives, that our search-and-rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter they need in case of emergency and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track."
The president will spend Tuesday in a city shuttered against Sandy's wrath. The federal government and the Metro, Washington's public transit system, are both closed.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney is ensconced in the swing state of Ohio, where he spent the night after adjusting his plans. His campaign canceled some events on Monday and Tuesday, but Romney is still planning to appear at a "storm relief event" in Kettering, Ohio at 11 A.M. From there, he will proceed to Florida for a Wednesday appearance.