Both presidential campaigns are effectively ignoring the tut-tutting about electioneering in Sandy’s wake, with the air wars continuing unabated and campaign staffs bickering over whether Mitt Romney really intends to make a play for Pennsylvania. Romney had a pseudo-campaign event today and is back on line tomorrow in Florida. President Obama won’t be far behind.
As it should be. Beyond Obama’s ability to put the force of the federal government into disaster response, there’s only so much either he or Romney can do. Disaster cleanup is really a governor’s game, and the gang of Beltway Corridor chief executives tasked with responding to this particular storm appears on it. Governors are moving to mitigate the destruction.
But the larger issue is that the week before the election is when the largest numbers of voters are paying attention, and why should the starkly divergent visions for governing laid out by Obama and Romney be sublimated? The election will decide how people get health care, perhaps how the next war will be fought, and how and to what extent the government is funded. It will determine who wields federal power when the next big storm hits.
Both Obama and Romney will abide by the cosmetic boundaries around appearing overtly political. But that charade can only last so long before they get back to the business of determining who will run the country in three months. Have at it, gentlemen.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Poll: Storm Puts Close Race on Pause
[CBS News, 10/30/12] Obama leads Romney 48 percent to 47 percent among likely voters in a CBS/New York Times poll released on Tuesday. The poll has Romney leading on the economy and deficit, but Obama leading on representing the interests of the middle class.
Misleading New Romney Ad Leaves Wrong Impression About Auto Industry
[National Journal, 10/30/12] A new Romney campaign radio ad about the auto industry makes insinuations that fact-checkers, Chrysler, and GM say are wrong. The ad suggests that that the car companies have moved American jobs to China as a result of Obama’s auto industry policies.
Ryan Budget Could Hammer Storm Aid, Critics Say
[Politico, 10/30/12] Ryan’s proposed cuts to discretionary spending would deeply slash aid to states, much of which goes to disaster relief, according to some analysts. This week, Romney has also said he would devolve more responsibility for disaster relief to state-level authorities.
The Statistical Significance of Sandy Could Alter Electoral, Popular-Vote Math
[National Journal, 10/30/12] Storm-diminished turnouts in several key states hit hard by the storm, particularly Pennsylvania, could cost the president tens of thousands of popular votes. NJ’s Major Garrett explores the possibility of a split decision, a remote scenario made a little more plausible by Hurricane Sandy.
Romney Rally Turns into Storm Relief Event
[Toledo Blade, 10/30/12] A planned “victory rally” in Kettering, Ohio, purported to avoid politics on Tuesday. Instead, Romney spoke for about five minutes then helped attendees package emergency supplies to send to New Jersey.
Obama Visits Red Cross, Warns Storm is Not Over
[CNN, 10/30/12] The president made a stop at the group’s Washington headquarters Tuesday. Praising the work of state and local governments, Obama also cautioned that the storm continues to move north and could still threaten parts of the country.
Clinton Swipes at Romney on Climate Change
[Politico, 10/30/12] In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, former president Bill Clinton assailed Romney’s views on climate change at a rally in Minnesota on Tuesday. Most scientists believe the uptick in extreme weather in recent years is likely a result of man-made global warming.
Hurricane Sandy’s Impact on Early Vote[Atlas Project, 10/29/12] A state-by-state summary of changes made to voter registration, absentee voting, and early voting deadlines in response to the storm. It will be updated as new information emerges.
Poll: Romney, Obama in a Virtual Tie Nationwide
[National Journal, 10/30/12] Although Obama is ahead in 12 key battleground states, a new NPR poll shows the race is in a virtual deadlock just a week ahead of Election Day. The last time the poll came out, the morning of the first debate, it showed Obama with a seven-point lead.
Romney Campaign Training Poll Watchers to Mislead Voters in Wisconsin
[Think Progress, 10/30/12] Romney’s campaign has been training poll watchers in Wisconsin with highly misleading—and sometimes false—information about voters’ rights, the liberal group Think Progress reports.
Sandy Unlikely to Prompt Change in Date of the Election
[Wall Street Journal, 10/29/12] States’ reliance on voting by electronic machines raises the prospect of a disruption from Sandy, which caused widespread power outages in several states. But Congress is unlikely to take action to set another Election Day unless they see evidence of such a disruption. Far more likely is that individual states and municipalities would lengthen their voting hours.
Rhetoric Returns to Auto Bailouts
[Columbus Dispatch, 10/30/12] In the final week of this campaign, the Obama administration’s decision in 2009 to funnel $82 billion toward General Motors and Chrysler has emerged as a defining issue in Ohio. The Obama campaign released a new ad rebutting Romney's claims on the bailout, while Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne also contradicted the statement.
Opinion: A President Who Doesn’t Seem to Care
[Washington Post, 10/29/12] Liberal columnist Richard Cohen laces into the president, saying that “Obama never espoused a cause bigger than his own political survival.”
Despite Rain, Columbus Had Busiest Day of Early Voting Yet
[Washington Post, 10/30/12] Reports indicate that 4,432 people voted on Monday in Franklin County. The high vote tally is good news for Democrats, who hold a strong majority in Franklin County and have been heavily pushing early voting in the Buckeye State.
Storm Throws a Wrench Into the Works of Va. Campaigns, Voting Efforts
[Washington Post, 10/29/12] Sandy’s biggest political impact will likely be in Virginia, one of the most hotly contested swing states of the year and the likeliest of those battlegrounds to get smacked by the storm. The central challenge now to officials is how to allow voting to proceed in the event of power loss.
Watch What You Say About FEMA
[National Journal, 10/30/12] NJ’s Fawn Johnson writes that, despite the controversy over Romney’s remarks about the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a primary debate, Obama and the GOP nominee are in pretty close agreement about how federal disaster aid should work. Both want state and local officials to run the show, with FEMA functioning as effectively a big checkbook.
Obama, Romney Have Bypassed Pennsylvania in Advertising War—Until Now
[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/30/12] Pennsylvania has not been the key presidential battleground it has been in years past, which is partially reflected in the lack of network TV advertising there. But as polls show the Keystone State leaning ever so slightly away from Obama, the Romney-supporting super PAC Restore Our Future announced a $2 million statewide ad buy.
Provisional Ballots Could Keep Ohio’s Outcome in Doubt for Days After Election
[Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/30/12] A wild card in declaring a winner on Election Night could be thousands of provisional ballots in Ohio, given to voters when their eligibility is in question. Election officials hold the ballots 10 days to determine eligibility.
Electoral Tie Could Bind the Senate
[Roll Call, 10/30/12] An Electoral College tie would vest the responsibility of choosing the country’s leaders squarely in what polls say is one of the least popular institutions in the country: Congress.
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