US PRESIDENT Barack Obama and Mitt Romney may have officially suspended their election campaigns to concentrate on relief for victims of hurricane Sandy, but with just a week to go before the election, it’s clear some political foot soldiers and commentators have not got the message.
Mr Romney five times ignored questions put to him at an Ohio event – officially a storm relief fund-raiser – about comments he once made advocating stripping funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Instead, he told the audience in the city of Kettering: ”We have heavy hearts, as you know, with all of the suffering going on. I appreciate what you have done.” Reporters at the event noted women showing off T-shirts that read ”Obama – you’re fired”.
Having spent Monday night at the White House keeping tabs on the storm’s progress and overseeing the emergency response, Mr Obama visited a Red Cross shelter in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.
”We certainly feel profoundly for all the families whose lives have been upended … The most important message I have for [those affected] is that America’s with you,” Mr Obama said.
But even before the storm surge had peaked, high-profile conservative columnists attacked the President for playing politics.
”He says he’s not concerned about the impact on the elections,” Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News.
”I’m sure he’s very sincere on that. It is a little odd that he shows up in the [White House] Briefing Room, where he hasn’t shown up in the Briefing Room for about, what, a month-and-a-half on Libya, or for everything else for that matter? Then you get the photo-ops of him in the Situation Room deploying, I guess, the utility crews who will restore power all over America.”
Meanwhile, a Salon南京夜网 commentator wrote that Mr Romney’s Ohio event was ”surreal enough to be a campaign parody, with the candidate comparing the federal government’s hurricane relief efforts to the time he and some friends had to clean up a football field strewn with rubbish and paper products”.
Perhaps the weirdest political comments on the storm came from Michael Brown, the Bush administration’s emergency management chief who was widely blamed for that administration’s lacklustre response to hurricane Katrina.
On Sunday night, he accused the President of getting involved too soon. He stood by those comments on Tuesday.
One man who has garnered universal praise for his response is the combative New Jersey governor Chris Christie, one of Mr Romney’s most high-profile surrogates. On Monday, he attacked the Democrat mayor of Atlantic City before praising Mr Obama for his response.
How the storm will have an impact on the election is unclear. Three of the eight major daily tracking polls have been suspended.It is also unclear whether its impact could hinder people from getting to the polls next Tuesday. If that is the case, polling places could open longer.
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