Obama cancels Florida campaign trip, returns to DC - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Obama cancels Florida campaign trip, returns to DC

Posted: Updated:
By JULIE PACE and NEDRA PICKLER
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A strengthening Hurricane Sandy disrupted the campaign for the White House Monday, with President Obama rushing out of battleground Florida to get Air Force One safely back to Washington and monitor the storm.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney was campaigning in the Midwest Monday out of the storm's path, but called off events scheduled in Virginia Sunday and New Hampshire Tuesday. He told supporters in the storm's path to bring in their yard signs so they don't damage property.

Obama, mindful of his need to show command in crisis while in the final throes of a tough re-election campaign, met with federal emergency officials Sunday before flying to Florida that night ahead of a rally scheduled for Monday at noon. But the intensifying storm heading to the East Coast took priority, with the president signing emergency declarations for New England states in the middle of the night from his Orlando hotel room.

By dawn the White House decided to call off the politicking.

"Due to deteriorating weather conditions in the Washington area, the president will not attend today's campaign event in Orlando," spokesman Jay Carney said in a written statement. "The president will return to the White House to monitor the preparations for and early response to Hurricane Sandy."

About an hour after the statement went out, Obama slipped into his black armored limousine and his motorcade sped toward the airport under sunny Florida skies. The president jogged up the steps, and Air Force One quickly lifted off for the two-hour flight to Washington. Most of the White House press corps was left behind after the pilots of their separate chartered plane determined it was unsafe to follow Air Force One back.

Obama's aides considered moving the Orlando event even earlier Monday morning but were told that would put Air Force One back too late to land safely. Nearly all commercial flights had already been canceled in the Washington area as heavy rains soaked the capital ahead of Sandy's expected landfall Monday night.

With eight days before Election Day, neither campaign could afford to fully shut down its political activity in a race that remains tight. Four critical election states are affected by the storm - North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire - but there was still unthreatened ground to cover across the rest of the country.

While the impact of the storm had yet to be seen, at the very least it was a distraction as both sides were looking to make their final appeals. It threatened to dilute Romney's efforts to close the deal with voters while giving Obama a platform to show leadership in the time of crisis. And power outages could end up cutting off their message in television ads and automatic phone calls in the eastern swing states.

Romney was scheduled Monday to campaign in the perennial battlegrounds of Ohio and Iowa. He also was visiting Wisconsin, trying to force Obama to play defense in a state where the president has been leading in the polls despite the addition of native son Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket.

"I know that right now some people in the country are a little nervous about a storm about to hit the coast, and our thoughts and prayers are with people who will find themselves in harm's way," Romney told supporters in Ohio on Sunday.

Former President Bill Clinton still planned to appear before voters at the Orlando rally in Obama's absence. Later Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden were appearing together in Youngstown, Ohio. Biden was originally supposed to campaign in New Hampshire Monday, but diverted to Ohio to replace Obama after the president canceled his appearance to stick to Washington.

But the abrupt cancellation meant Obama's trip to Florida was essentially a waste. The campaign bumped up the rally by two hours and rescheduled his flight to Orlando from Monday morning to Sunday night to get ahead of the storm.

The president made an unannounced stop at a campaign office Sunday night, where he told supporters the storm meant he wouldn't be able to campaign as much over the next few days.

"You guys need to carry the ball," he told the volunteers.

Polls suggest Obama has an advantage in reaching the required 270 Electoral College votes. But Romney's campaign is projecting momentum and considering trying to expand the playing field beyond the nine states that have garnered the bulk of the candidates' attention.

A senior Republican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose private deliberations, said Romney's team was discussing sending the GOP nominee, Ryan or both to traditionally left-leaning Minnesota during the campaign's final week.

Obama was briefed Sunday on the government's response at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and spoke by phone to affected governors and mayors.

"Anything they need, we will be there," Obama said. "And we are going to cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules. We want to make sure that we are anticipating and leaning forward."

Obama has declared emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, authorizing federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.

During the GOP primaries, Romney suggested the responsibility of responding to natural disasters should be stripped from FEMA and delegated to the states or private businesses.

Earlier this year his running mate Ryan, the chairman of the House budget committee, tried to eliminate $10 billion a year in federal disaster aid. Under Ryan's failed proposal, when emergencies arise, Congress would pay for the disaster costs by cutting the federal budget elsewhere.

Both campaigns used social media to urge supporters to donate to the Red Cross and said they would stop sending fundraising emails on Monday to people living in areas in the storm's path.

Romney staffers in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia were collecting storm-relief supplies at campaign offices to be delivered via one of Romney's campaign buses. In an email, Romney encouraged supporters in the storm's path to help neighbors get ready.

"For safety's sake, as you and your family prepare for the storm, please be sure to bring any yard signs inside," the email read. "In high winds they can be dangerous, and cause damage to homes and property."

The storm was hitting as millions of Americans were already voting. Early voting has been a particular focus for Obama's campaign, which is banking on its massive get-out-the-vote operation to build up advantages ahead of Election Day.

Obama advisers said they didn't expect earlier voting to be significantly affected in any of the competitive states in the storm's path.

A small percentage of voters cast their ballots early in New Hampshire and Virginia. Obama's campaign was encouraging voters in Virginia, however, to take advantage of the state's decision to ease early voting restrictions because of the storm.

But early voting is robust in Ohio and North Carolina. Obama advisers said they were confident they had built up solid totals in the states before the storm that would serve as firewalls if the storm does keep other supporters from casting their votes.

"This is going to be a really close election, in every battleground state, and we're going to need turnout," the president told American Urban Radio Networks in an interview Friday posted online Monday. "As important as turnout was in '08, this is going to be even more important."

___

Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press reporters Steve Peoples in Mansfield, Ohio, and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • 5 things to know this morning

    5 things to know this morning

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 7:46 AM EDT2014-04-23 11:46:48 GMT
    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:1. Supreme Court deals blow to affirmative actionBy a 6-2 majority, the court declares that state voters can outlaw using race as a factor in college admissions.2. Pro-Russian gunmen hold American journalist hostageVice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky was kidnapped in Ukraine's eastern city of Slovyansk.3. South Korean captain's image at odds with handling of disasterOne colleague calls ferry ...More >>
    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:1. Supreme Court deals blow to affirmative actionBy a 6-2 majority, the court declares that state voters can outlaw using race as a factor in college admissions.2. Pro-Russian gunmen hold American journalist hostageVice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky was kidnapped in Ukraine's eastern city of Slovyansk.3. South Korean captain's image at odds with handling of disasterOne colleague calls ferry ...More >>
  • Pancake Days underway at Sioux Falls Convention Center

    Pancake Days underway at Sioux Falls Convention Center

    Pancake Days underway at Sioux Falls Convention Center

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:04 AM EDT2014-04-23 09:04:28 GMT
    It is that time of year again for one of the most popular and beloved pancake events in Sioux Falls. More >>
    It is that time of year again for one of the most popular and beloved pancake events in Sioux Falls. More >>
  • FBI: Vahey molested at least 90 students

    FBI: Vahey molested at least 90 students

    FBI: Vahey molested at least 90 students

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:14 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:14:59 GMT
    They say William James Vahey is a suspected serial child molester, who began the acts in the early 70's.More >>
    They say William James Vahey is a suspected serial child molester, who began the acts in the early 70's.More >>
  • South Dakota tribes take their KXL fight to Washington

    South Dakota tribes take their KXL fight to Washington

    South Dakota tribes take their KXL fight to Washington

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:31 PM EDT2014-04-23 02:31:07 GMT
    The president's decision to approve or reject the Keystone XL Pipeline may be months away, but South Dakota's tribes are joining with other Native American groups, landowners, and environmental advocates this week in demanding they not only be heard - but seen as well. And the spot they chose could hardly be more visible.It's a sight that wouldn't phase most South Dakotans, but in Washington D.C., tipi's, horses, and headdresses stand out.Members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance - tribal mem...More >>
    The president's decision to approve or reject the Keystone XL Pipeline may be months away, but South Dakota's tribes are joining with other Native American groups, landowners, and environmental advocates this week in demanding they not only be heard - but seen as well. And the spot they chose could hardly be more visible.It's a sight that wouldn't phase most South Dakotans, but in Washington D.C., tipi's, horses, and headdresses stand out.Members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance - tribal mem...More >>
  • Ranch uses horses to help mental health

    Ranch uses horses to help mental health

    Ranch uses horses to help mental health

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:39 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:39:17 GMT
    Joy Nelson owns the ranch, and her horses have been used by guests of the ranch for over 12 years. Now, with the help of equine specialist Carmen Werning, people will be able to improve their mental health on a whole new level."This is just another part of service that we can provide for people that may want to do equine assisted learning, or it could be psychotherapy with people that may really be struggling whether it's mental, or addictions," equine specialist, Carmen Werning said.The prog...More >>
    Joy Nelson owns the ranch, and her horses have been used by guests of the ranch for over 12 years. Now, with the help of equine specialist Carmen Werning, people will be able to improve their mental health on a whole new level."This is just another part of service that we can provide for people that may want to do equine assisted learning, or it could be psychotherapy with people that may really be struggling whether it's mental, or addictions," equine specialist, Carmen Werning said.The prog...More >>
  • Summit League basketball championships bring more than $8 million to Sioux Falls

    Summit League basketball championships bring more than $8 million to Sioux Falls

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:37 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:37:29 GMT
    The 2014 Summit League Basketball Championships contributed an estimated $8.52 million in total business sales to the Sioux Falls economy, according to a new economic impact report from the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau.More >>
    The 2014 Summit League Basketball Championships contributed an estimated $8.52 million in total business sales to the Sioux Falls economy, according to a new economic impact report from the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau.
    More >>
  • Volga pastor thanks Hamlin Co. sheriff's deputy for saving his life

    Volga pastor thanks Hamlin Co. sheriff's deputy for saving his life

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:32 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:32:35 GMT
    A Volga pastor thanks a Hamlin County sheriff's deputy for saving his life. The pastor and his son were playing with a football at Lake Poinsett Monday morning when the ball went into the lake, along with the father and his son.More >>
    A Volga pastor thanks a Hamlin County sheriff's deputy for saving his life. The pastor and his son were playing with a football at Lake Poinsett Monday morning when the ball went into the lake, along with the father and his son.More >>
  • Suspects in Sioux Falls robbery three young teens

    Suspects in Sioux Falls robbery three young teens

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:25 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:25:23 GMT
    Sioux Falls Police are looking for three white teenage boys between 13 and 14-years-old.Just after 1 Tuesday morning, the Cubby's convenience store at 49th and Western was robbed at gunpoint.According to the clerk, two of the suspects had guns and were each wearing a dark colored cloth or bandana covering their faces.He told police he believes the suspects are 13 or 14 because of their voices and height.Both Sioux Falls Police and the director of the Minnehaha County Regional Detention Center...More >>
    Sioux Falls Police are looking for three white teenage boys between 13 and 14-years-old.Just after 1 Tuesday morning, the Cubby's convenience store at 49th and Western was robbed at gunpoint.According to the clerk, two of the suspects had guns and were each wearing a dark colored cloth or bandana covering their faces.He told police he believes the suspects are 13 or 14 because of their voices and height.Both Sioux Falls Police and the director of the Minnehaha County Regional Detention Center...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KSFY. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service or our EEO Report.