`Frozen’ Presidential Race Thaws, Heating up for Homestretch

Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Damage in the Rockaway neighborhood, on Oct. 31, 2012, where the historic boardwalk was washed away during Hurricane Sandy in the Queens borough of New York City.

Superstorm Sandy “tended to freeze” the presidential race while Americans focused on the storm, President Barack Obama’s strategist David Axelrod said on a conference call with reporters today.

Axelrod, saying he was reluctant to discuss the political impact of an incident that resulted in “the death of 50 people and the loss of $50 billion in property,” said Obama was doing “what his responsibilities require,” including traveling to New Jersey today.

As for the president’s decision to return to campaigning tomorrow, Axelrod said:“Our judgment was that, until we got a handle on the scope of this disaster, the president’s job — and this was his judgment — was to remain in Washington and in face-to-face touch with those who were responsible” for relief efforts.

Now, Axelrod said, “We’ve passed a threshold here and, you know, we do have an election on Tuesday, so we owe it to folks to make the final arguments and we’re going to do that.”

The storm and the lull in campaigning by both the president and Republican Mitt Romney “ tended to freeze this race,” Axelrod said. “Wherever you think the race is, it tended to freeze the race, because people are focused on the storm. That’s what’s been in the news.

“Normally the election would have been in the news. So I think it’s fair to say that that is the case. But in the final days of this campaign, I’m sure both Governor Romney and the president will be out making their final arguments and they should.”


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