Election 2016

While Obama Earns Praise from Chris Christie for Sandy Response, Romney Breaks Pledge to Suspend Campaign for Ohio “Victory Rally”

It was a tale of two very different campaigns.

Photo Credit: Ari Shapiro

There are advantages to incumbency, and one of them is that when disaster strikes you have a job to do, which means that you can gain political advantage without politicizing it – you just need to do a competent job.

Yesterday, at a White House Press briefing, Reporters asked Barack Obama what impact the storm might have on the election. His response:

I am not worried at this point about the impact on the election. I'm worried about the impact on families and I'm worried about the impact on our first responders. I'm worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation – the election will take care of itself next week. Right now, our number one priority is saving lives, making sure search and rescue teams are going to be in place and people will get the food, the water and shelter that they need.

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a frequent critic of the administration, was generous in his praise of those efforts, saying Obama did an “outstanding job.”

On “Good Morning America,” Christie said, "I have to say, the administration, the president, himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far." Then, on CNN's “Starting Point,” he added: "I spoke to the president three times yesterday. He has been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state and not once did he bring up the election. So if he’s not bringing it up, you can be sure that people in New Jersey are not worried about that primarily if one of the guys running isn’t." (via: Slate)

Obama and Joe Biden have no campaign events scheduled for today. But with Christie acting as a surrogate, they're having a good news cycle.

It's a very different picture over in the Romney camp. They're looking at the numbers – with Obama up in all the states he needs to get to 270 Electoral College Votes – and simply have no choice but to continue to campaign hard. And while there's probably no good way to do so, the Romney-Ryan campaign have had their stumbles.

They have had to defend, and then walk back, remarks Romney made during the primaries about how federal emergency management is “immoral,” and should be handled, ad hoc, by cash-strapped states and localities. Then they used a campaign bus for a photo-op – they filled it with food and supplies to distribute, only to have it pointed out that such activities hinder rather than help relief efforts.

And while Romney also said he would suspend his campaign on Monday and Tuesday, that turns out not to be true. Romney is holding a big rally in Ohio today, which the campaign is pitching as a “storm relief event” in the hope of insulating themselves from criticism. But as NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro reports via Twitter, the focus is on relieving the campaign's deficit with Ohio voters.

Via Shapiro, a sign and a press badge at today's “rally for victory.”

Again, one can't really blame Romney for trying to work in some campaigning – there are 6 days to go until the election.


Joshua Holland is Senior Digital Producer at BillMoyers.com, and host of Politics and Reality Radio. He's the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter