Obama to visit storm victims as campaign rolls on

Associated Press
President Barack Obama is greeted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie upon his arrival at Atlantic City International Airport, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in Atlantic City, NJ. Obama traveled to region to take an aerial tour of the Atlantic Coast in New Jersey in areas damaged by superstorm Sandy,  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
.

View gallery

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — President Barack Obama put campaign battleground travel on hold to tour the ravaged New Jersey coast Wednesday, while down-to-the-wire campaigning resumed in swing state Florida that is critical to Republican Mitt Romney's victory plan.

Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie boarded the presidential Marine One helicopter upon its arrival in southern New Jersey for an aerial tour of the damage. White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president's aides and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office agreed Obama should not visit there and distract from the response to devastation in lower Manhattan.

Obama was spending a third day focused on storm response in lieu of voter contact in the swing states. The president planned to resume campaign travel Thursday with gusto, with stops in Nevada, Colorado and Wisconsin, before both candidates descend on Ohio Friday.

Obama left Wednesday's sharp-elbowed politicking to Vice President Joe Biden, who accused Romney of perpetrating "an outrageous lie" in an ad airing in Ohio that suggests Obama's policies are shipping Jeep manufacturing to China. Biden told Florida voters the ads are "scurrilous" and "one of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember in my career," which stretches more than 40 years.

Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan doubled down on the criticism in a written response to Biden. "American taxpayers are on track to lose $25 billion as a result of President Obama's handling of the auto bailout, and GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas," Ryan said. "These are facts that voters deserve to know as they listen to the claims President Obama and his campaign are making. President Obama has chosen not to run on the facts of his record, but he can't run from them."

Superstorm Sandy has created an air of uncertainty in Romney's Boston headquarters. Aides report that their internal polling offers a better outlook than recent public polling that gives Obama an edge in some swing states, but they concede that the national distraction has frozen any momentum Romney had coming out of this month's debates.

Romney's final travel schedule is not yet set, but aides suggest he will focus his time in traditional swing states instead of traveling to less competitive areas where the campaign is trying to expand the map. This week, for example, he is scheduled to focus on Florida, Virginia and Ohio with a brief stop in Wisconsin. But the campaign is leaving open the possibility that Romney makes a surprise visit to a state like Pennsylvania, given their recent investment in television advertising there.

Florida is among the most closely fought and the biggest prize among the swing states, with 29 electoral votes. Without victory in Florida, Romney will have an uphill and limited path to electoral victory.

"This is quite a time for the country. We're going through trauma in a major part of the country, the kind of trauma you've experienced here in Florida more than once," Romney said and encouraged donations to the Red Cross. He then launched into a critique of Obama's leadership in tough economic times and said he would do better.

"I don't just talk about change. I actually have a plan to execute change and make it happen," Romney told about 2,000 people gathered in a hangar at Tampa's airport.

Romney scheduled stops in some of the most populous parts of the state, with rallies also planned in Jacksonville and Coral Gables in the Miami area on Wednesday. The Obama campaign dispatched Biden to play defense in Florida on Wednesday, with stops in the smaller, more conservative markets of Sarasota and Ocala aimed at narrowing the margin where Republicans usually fare well.

Ryan was campaigning across his home state of Wisconsin before planning to take his children trick or treating. Wisconsin is part of the Romney-Ryan campaign's eleventh-hour strategy of trying to put Democratic-leaning states in play and forcing Obama to shift resources to areas he has expected to win.

In tempered remarks, Ryan never explicitly criticized Obama and asked for prayers and donations for storm victims. The move reflected advice from his top aides to eschew partisanship for fear of appearing too shrill and strike a more civil tone in his critique of the president heading into the heart of the crisis. Plus, Romney and Ryan are still making attempts to win over moderate and undecided voters who have little patience for unbridled partisanship.

Ryan argued that Wisconsin was a battleground that will help decide the election and urged supporters to work hard for the next week so they have no regrets. "When we wake up a week from this morning, let's make sure we did everything we could," Ryan said.

Rather than use the campaign's final Wednesday to woo voters in tossup states, Obama donned hiking shoes for a disaster tour with Christie, one of Romney's most prominent supporters and a frequent Obama critic. But Christie praised Obama's handling of the storm, a political twist the president's visit is sure to underscore.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden declined to echo Christie's positive reviews.

"I refer to Gov. Christie's remarks. I believe the response is still going on, so I'm not in a position to qualify the response by the federal government," Madden said aboard Romney's campaign plane. At the same, he said Romney would continue to moderate his tone while campaigning in Florida while Obama toured the damage in New Jersey.

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said the president and his campaign agreed that his job was to stay in Washington in face-to-face touch with those responsible for recovery.

But Axelrod added: "We passed a threshold here. And we do have an election on Tuesday. So we owe it to folks to make the final arguments and we're going to do that."

Overall, though, Axelrod said the superstorm "tended to freeze this race. Wherever you think the race is, it tended to freeze the race. Because people are focused on the storm. That's what's been in the news."

___

Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in Tampa, Fla., Philip Elliott in Eau Claire, Wis., Ben Feller, Charles Babington and Ken Thomas in Washington, Matthew Daly in Sarasota, Fla., Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minn., and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

View Comments (418)

Recommended for You

  • Police officer shot after responding to wrong home

    ATLANTA (AP) — A police officer was shot and critically wounded Monday when he responded to a call of a suspicious person and showed up at the wrong house, authorities said.

    Associated Press
  • Man sentenced to life with no parole walks free in Missouri

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge walked out of a Missouri prison a free man on Tuesday, after spending two decades behind bars.

    Associated Press
  • Woman Becoming Nun Needs Friend's Interest, Not Concern

    DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a…

    Dear Abby
  • View

    Kentucky county clerk refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses (26 photos)

    Gay couples in a Kentucky county are expected at the courthouse door Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against a defiant clerk who has refused to hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court ruled against the county clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses,…

    Yahoo News
  • Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announces she's pregnant with twins

    As with the birth of her son three years ago, Mayer writes that she plans to limit the amount of maternity leave she takes.

    CNET
  • Boko Haram killers on horseback massacre nearly 80 in NE Nigeria

    Suspected Boko Haram gunmen on horseback shot dead nearly 80 people in attacks on three villages in Nigeria's restive northeast at the weekend, a vigilante and residents told AFP on Monday. Babakura Kolo, a vigilante fighting Boko Haram, said 68 people were killed in the attack on Baanu village in…

    AFP
  • All eyes on Manchester United as deadline day dawns

    Manchester United were the centre of attention as the Premier League's transfer deadline day dawned on Tuesday, with moves involving David de Gea and Anthony Martial awaiting completion. Goalkeeper De Gea had appeared on the brink of a move to Real Madrid worth between 30 million ($33.8 million)…

    AFP
  • Big guns in east Ukraine fall silent, two more die from wounds in Kiev protests

    Sporadic shelling and shooting, which each side has blamed on the other, had ensured a steadily mounting death toll despite the ceasefire called as part of a peace plan worked out in Minsk, Belarus, in February. More than 6,500 people have been killed since a separatist rebellion erupted there in…

    Reuters
  • Sheriff: Suspect kills mother, stepfather, grandmother

    Outfitted in camouflage and armed with a high-powered rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, Robert Seth Denton fatally shot his mother, stepfather and grandmother while six children witnessed the carnage in the family's double-wide mobile home in eastern Tennessee, a sheriff said Monday.

    Associated Press
  • Investigators: Arizona woman acknowledges drowning twin sons

    PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona woman told investigators that she drowned her 2-year-old twin sons and tried to kill her 3-year-old stepbrother in the same way because she didn't want them to live with the difficulties she faces.

    Associated Press
  • Daughter Deep In Debt Needs Counseling, Not More Money

    DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay off her debts because she couldn't pay her bills. She and her husband maintain separate accounts, which I find odd. He pays certain expenses; she pays others. Now I find she's deep in debt again…

    Dear Abby
  • At Home Drug Testing Kits

    Easy to use 12 panel testing kits. Get results in minutes not days. Free shipping on orders over $25.

    WalgreensSponsored
  • View

    The back alleys of one of America’s most dangerous cities (31 photos)

    High-tech policing and a renewed focus on community-officer partnerships are helping to bring calm to Camden, N.J., but it hasn’t been a cure-all. The impoverished town of 77,000 is still the most violent and crime-plagued city in the Garden State. A local policeman recently took Yahoo News…

    Yahoo News
  • Women are not getting treated for menopausal symptoms

    By Roxanne Nelson (Reuters Health) - Many women with severe menopausal symptoms are not being treated for them even though safe, effective remedies are available, a study from Australia suggests. The findings may be applicable to other countries, too, according to senior author Dr. Susan R. Davis…

    Reuters
  • Nadal survives Coric scare at US Open

    Two-time champion Rafael Nadal survived a scare at the hands of Croatian teenager Borna Coric to reach the US Open second round. Nadal, who won his second New York title on his last appearance in 2013 before injury forced him to sit out 2014, prevailed 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 against his 18-year-old…

    AFP
  • Flip Houses, Build Stacks

    Tell-All Book Shows You What Works & What Doesn't. Get Yours - Free!

    REI Success AcademySponsored
  • Sword-wielding Patel crusader threatens Modi's 'model' in India

    By Rupam Jain Nair AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) - A sword-wielding 22-year-old activist has emerged overnight as the most pressing political threat to Narendra Modi, accusing the Indian prime minister of breaking a promise to provide jobs that helped him win last year's general election. Hardik…

    Reuters
  • Missouri man faces execution for raping, killing 15-year-old

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — An inmate scheduled to be executed Tuesday for killing a 15-year-old Missouri girl has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his punishment, saying the death penalty is unconstitutional.

    Associated Press
  • CERN: Test results show more detail about 'God particle'

    GENEVA (AP) — After three years of scrutinizing the elusive Higgs boson closely, scientists say they've determined that the "God particle" behaves just as predicted.

    Associated Press