DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The presidential candidates searched for the right moment to get back to politicking after superstorm Sandy's destructive interruption, with President Barack Obama monitoring relief efforts and Republican Mitt Romney struggling to strike the right tone.
Romney and running mate Paul Ryan initially announced they were canceling events out of sensitivity for the millions of American's in Sandy's path. But with only a week left to try to toss Obama from office, the GOP campaign was back on Tuesday with events in the critical Midwestern swing states of Ohio and Iowa, albeit with changes to the program.
Romney was holding a "storm relief event" in Kettering, Ohio, at the same arena as his previously scheduled political rally and with the same celebrity line-up — NASCAR driver Richard Petty and country music singer Randy Owen. The event was moved up by four hours and aides said the tone would be changed, with no attacks on the president back at the White House overseeing the response.
Obama was updated throughout the night as Sandy came ashore and moved inland. He spoke with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and issued major disaster declarations for both states. He also spoke with the mayors of New York, Jersey City and Newark and provided additional federal assistance for local efforts. He planned an additional call Tuesday with affected mayors and governors.
Millions were left without power as the deadly storm whipped its way through presidential battlegrounds like North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire and sprawled as far as the Great Lakes, where gales threatened Ohio's and Wisconsin's lakeside regions.
David Letterman, continuing his "Late Show" in storm-damaged New York without an audience, joked: "The storm has stopped the presidential campaign, so at least some good has come of it."