(WASHINGTON) — Exactly one week to Election Day, President Obama has benched Candidate Obama, hunkering down at the White House for a second straight day to monitor superstorm Sandy and the federal government response to the storm.
The Obama campaign canceled two campaign rallies that had been planned on Tuesday in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Green Bay, Wisc. The president will remain in Washington on Tuesday with no planned political events, an unprecedented step off the campaign trail days before voters head to the polls in a race that many polls say is tied.
As Sandy came ashore and moved inland Monday night, the president placed calls to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and Newark Mayor Corey Booker to offer his support and assistance, an administration official told ABC News.
Obama “called me last night around midnight … to ask what else could be done and offered any other assets that we need,” Christie, a Republican and avid Romney surrogate, said on Good Morning America. “I have to say the administration, the president himself and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far. We have a great partnership with them, and I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this.”
The president signed “major disaster” declarations for New Jersey and New York early Tuesday morning, making available additional federal resources to both states on top of all that has already been made available. Those resources include funds on a case by case basis for rebuilding roads, sewer systems and government buildings in the days ahead, officials said.
The disaster declarations also green-light aid for individual victims who lost their homes or businesses or endured uninsured losses through FEMA.
Obama could return to the stump on Wednesday. He has two planned events in Cincinnati and Akron, Ohio, that have not yet been cancelled by his campaign.
“He has real responsibilities and those responsibilities come first,” senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said Monday. “In terms of the logistics, we’re obviously going to lose a bunch of campaign time. But that’s as it has to be, and we’ll try to make it up on the back end. For us, it’s not a matter of optics. It’s a matter of responsibility.”
Added Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, “We’re going to go day by day on his schedule.”
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