FLORIDA COURIER STAFF
It’s the last lap of the election and President Barack Obama finds himself in the midst of a storm during the last few days of his campaign.
Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney both temporarily halted their last-minute campaign pitches after Hurricane Sandy does serious damage to the nation’s east coast.
The president and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an unlikely pair – were thrust together by a national crisis. They toured ravaged stretches of the coast on Wednesday. The sun came out, the stock exchange reopened and the electricity crisis ebbed — but the rolls of the dead rose, and some areas were still coming to grips with Sandy’s staggering destruction.
Obama pledges support
By the Florida Courier’s presstime on Wednedsay night, the death toll from superstorm Sandy had risen to 72 and was expected to keep climbing as workers combed through floodwaters, rubble and fallen trees in the more than a dozen states affected by the 900-mile-wide weather system.
“We are here for you, and we will not forget,” Obama said. “We will follow up to make sure you get all the help you need until you rebuild.
“I don’t want anybody to feel that somehow this is all going to get cleaned up overnight,” Obama said. “But what I can promise you is that the federal government will be working as closely as possible with the state and local officials, and we will not quit until this is done.”
Christie has been a vocal supporter of Romney. However, Christie has praised the president for his overseeing of federal emergency efforts.
Too close to call
A CBS Times/New York Times/Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday gave Obama 50 percent and Romney 45 percent in Ohio, a state without which a Republican has ever won the White House. Obama led by six to 10 points in earlier CBS/Times/Quinnipiac polls.
In Florida, Obama had a one-point advantage, 48 percent to 47 percent, after leading by nine points a month earlier. His 49 percent to 47 percent edge in Virginia is less than half the five-point spread found in a poll earlier last month.
“After being subjected to what seems like a zillion dollars’ worth of television ads and personal attention from the two candidates reminiscent of a high-school crush, the key swing states of Florida and Virginia are too close to call with the election only days away,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute in Hamden, Ct.
First lady in Florida
Obama was to return to campaigning Thursday with events in Green Bay, Wis., Las Vegas and Boulder, Colo.
Romney scheduled stops in some of the most populous parts of Florida, with rallies planned in Jacksonville and Coral Gables in the Miami area on Wednesday.
The Obama campaign dispatched Biden to play defense in Florida on Wednesday, with stops in the smaller, more conservative markets of Sarasota and Ocala aimed at narrowing the margin where Republicans usually fare well.
The first lady, meanwhile, was to head to Florida on Thursday, where singer Stevie Wonder was to perform at a rally in Jacksonville and singer Marc Anthony was to deliver remarks and introduce the first lady at events in Miami and Daytona Beach.
The Associated Press and MCT were used in compiling this report.