Hurricane Sandy continued its assault on the eastern seaboard Monday, threatening to shake up the crucial last days of a hotly contested presidential campaign.
Both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney cancelled official campaign events and sought to do their part to help those likely to be affected by the so-called “Frankenstorm.”
The Romney campaign sent its bus to collect and deliver donated supplies to storm relief centers, while the Obama campaign emailed supporters asking them to volunteer at a campaign phone bank in Annapolis, Md., this afternoon—precisely when the full force of the hurricane is expected to hit the region.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal advocacy group, seized on news of the storm to solicit donations.
The Obama campaign has adopted a heightened urgency in recent days, as evidenced by a series of increasingly frantic-sounding fundraising requests.
Leaders in northeastern states likely to be most affected by Sandy felt a similar sense of urgency.
“People will die in this storm,” Democratic Maryland governor Martin O’Malley told constituents.
The National Weather Service in New Jersey issued a stern warning to residents on Sunday, urging those reluctant to evacuate high-risk areas to “think about your loved ones, think about the emergency responders who will be unable to reach you when you make the panicked phone call to be rescued, think about the rescue/recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured or recover your remains if you do not survive.”
“This is a serious storm, and could potentially have fatal consequences if people haven’t acted,” the president said Monday.
Obama’s decision to cancel campaign events scheduled for Monday and Tuesday underscored the gravity of the situation as his resolve to appear at rallies and fundraisers is not easily shaken.
For example, the president attended a fundraiser in Las Vegas just after the United States ambassador and three other Americans were killed during a terrorist attack on an American consulate in Libya.
Though the storm has arrived at an especially crucial moment in the campaign, it is unclear what impact it will have on the election, set to take place in one week.
However, the storm-caused flooding in northeastern coastal areas is a stunning meteorological rebuke to a president who once claimed his victory in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary would signal “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
Nobel prize-winning economist and psychohistorian Paul Krugman has yet to weigh in on the potentially stimulative economic effects of the hurricane.
However, the storm could end up having a stimulative effect on President Obama’s reelection odds if the Bureau of Labor Statistics is forced to delay a potentially negative jobs report scheduled for release on Friday.
The effects of the storm are already being felt across the country. Former President Bill Clinton is seeking refuge in Minnesota, a traditionally blue state the Washington Post recently moved from “Solid Obama” to “Lean Obama” following a recent state poll showing the president leading Mitt Romney by just three points.
The storm also seems to have delivered a setback to Vice President Joe Biden’s reputation for judicious eloquence. The Delaware train enthusiast suffered a number of uncharacteristic gaffes on the campaign trail as Sandy was gathering strength, referring to Ohio as “Iowa” and Fmr. Gov. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) as “Tom.”
At least one Washington, D.C., resident is coping with the storm by donning a horse mask and running shirtless through the rain.
The affable David Axelrod, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, vented storm-rage at a reporter with the Des Moines Register, the Iowa paper that recently endorsed a Republican presidential nominee for the first time in 40 years.
Additionally, as dozens of Twitter users pointed out on Monday, the word “hurricane” sounds a lot like “Herman Cain.”