Washington Daybook: Storm Brewing

Photograph by Dieu Nalio Chery/AP Photo

A resident on the roof of a damaged house after heavy rains brought by Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Oct. 25, 2012.

Written with Jim O’Connell

Economic reports today may aid Mitt Romney’s bid to put the focus of the last days of the presidential campaign on the economy. Romney is giving what his campaign bills as a major address on the issue in Iowa.

An estimate of Gross Domestic Product, the value of all goods and services the U.S. produced, to be released this morning, will probably show the economy expanded 1.8% in the third quarter from 1.3% earlier, according to a survey of economists. A second report may show consumer sentiment climbed this month to a five-year high.

Romney and his allies entered the last three weeks of the campaign with $151 million to spend — $50 million per week — while President Barack Obama and Democrats had  $114 million, according to reports filed yesterday with Federal Election Commission. Obama has stepped up television advertising in Florida, the biggest battleground in Nov. 6 election, and in Wisconsin, home state of his opponent’s running mate. Romney is airing more ads in Ohio, historically a must-win for Republicans.

The state of the economy and even the presidential campaign itself may be overshadowed soon by Hurricane Sandy, which will probably grow into a “Frankenstorm” next week that may become the worst to hit the U.S. Northeast in 100 years, causing flooding and power outages along the East Coast and wash out both candidates’ plans to hold rallies in Virginia. The upside? If the lights go off, so do the attack ads.

Today in Washington, American Chemistry Council CEO Cal Dooley and Chief Economist Kevin Swift discuss shale gas, energy innovation, and jobs over breakfast with Bloomberg Government. SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro delivers keynote remarks at a George Washington University symposium on Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reforms. Television broadcasters invited to sell airwaves for use by mobile providers such as Verizon Wireless get a close look at the process during an FCC briefing.

Also today, NASA previews a spacewalk involving U.S., Japanese astronauts aboard the International Space Station to repair an ammonia leak. And the Pentagon is planning to open its network for first time to Apple Inc.’s iPhones and devices running Google Inc.’s Android operating system, in a new threat to BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd., Bloomberg News reported today.

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