— WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama dives back into campaigning after three days immersed in managing the federal response to the storm that battered the East Coast. The contours of the presidential race remain much the same, with Obama and Republican Mitt Romney locked in a tight contest and both campaigns predicting victory.
The president's advisers insist his break from campaigning had minimal impact on his standing. If anything, it gave Obama a chance to offer the type of comfort and command in a crisis that only a president can deliver.
Still, the Democratic campaign is seeking to make up for the lost time with a heavy travel itinerary in the coming days, including rallies Thursday in Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado. Obama's remarks Thursday will focus on boosting middle-class security, the key message the campaign is expected to push in the final days of the race.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said that while the president remains focused on the storm recovery, "there is a reality of a political election happening in five days and he will return to the trail to make the case to the American people on why they should send him back for four more years."
Before traveling to Wisconsin, Obama was to hold a storm briefing at the White House with Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate and other administration officials. The White House said Obama would stay in touch with Fugate throughout the day. The president also planned to hold conference calls while traveling with local elected officials from affected areas.
The storm created headaches for Romney, diverting the public's attention away from the campaign as he was trying to build momentum. It also forced the Republican challenger to temper some of his harshest critiques of the president to avoid looking insensitive as people coped with the impact of Superstorm Sandy.