May 22, 2013
Obama, Romney put aside campaign for storm relief - for now
US President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday briefly put aside their fierce battle for the White House, as they avoided politics to focus on relief efforts after mammoth storm Sandy left millions of citizens struggling to recover.
With a week left in a deadlocked election race, Obama cancelled campaign trips planned for Tuesday and Wednesday to stay in Washington and supervise storm recovery, while Romney held a storm relief event in the swing state of Ohio but ducked most political talk.
The campaign truce was likely to be short-lived.
Romney planned to hit the trail again for rallies in Florida on Wednesday, and Romney's running mate, US Representative Paul Ryan, and Vice President Joe Biden also added new planned campaign stops as the race heads to a tense finish on Nov. 6.
Obama on Wednesday will visit New Jersey, which along with New York City bore the brunt of the storm, although he was expected to return to campaigning on Thursday for the final sprint to Election Day.
Both candidates have been forced to walk a delicate line, trying to avoid appearing insensitive or crassly political after Sandy inflicted heavy property damage, killed at least 30 people and left millions on the eastern seaboard without power.
Obama held a video conference at the White House on Tuesday with top members of his emergency team and spoke to governors and other officials in storm-damaged areas before visiting the national headquarters of the American Red Cross, where he warned that the risks were "not yet over."
The president's crisis leadership got an endorsement from a surprising source: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican and prominent Romney backer who said Obama should get credit for expediting federal aid to the state.
"Cooperation from the president has been outstanding," Christie told CBS "This Morning," adding he had spoken to Obama three times, including during a midnight call. "He deserves great credit."
In Ohio, Romney struck a politics-neutral tone before helping load a rental truck with crates of water and canned goods to be sent to a distribution center in New Jersey.
"We have heavy hearts this morning with all the suffering going on in a major part of our country," Romney told several hundred people, many of whom came with grocery bags of canned goods and other items that will be shipped to the East Coast.
But politics were not far from the surface at Romney's event. A campaign video on the former Massachusetts governor's biography and family life was played to the crowd.