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World Map / Upcoming Elections / US Presidential election 2016 / US Election Updates / Obama, Romney cut back on campaign events in face of Sandy

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US Election Updates - October 30, 2012

Obama, Romney cut back on campaign events in face of Sandy

President Barack Obama suspended campaigning and returned to Washington on Monday to oversee the federal government’s response to Storm Sandy.

During a short appearance in the White House briefing room, Obama urged East coast residents to heed to evacuation orders, adding that he was more concerned about the safety of those in Sandy’s path rather than the elections.

"When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay. Don't pause," he told reporters. "Don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a serious storm and it could potentially have fatal consequences."

"I am not worried at this point about the impact on the election. I'm worried about the impact on families, and I'm worried about the impact on our first responders. I'm worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation…The election will take care of itself next week. Right now our number one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives."

Obama returned to the White House after cutting short a trip to battleground state Florida where he was due to appear at a rally with former President Bill Clinton.

By scrapping campaign plans, Obama sought to show voters ahead of the November 6 election that his top priority was his duty as president and not his bid for re-election in a virtually tied race.

He also looked set to prove that his administration had learned the lessons of White House predecessor George W. Bush's failed handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush was seen as out-of-touch during the Katrina crisis, which battered New Orleans early in his second term.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney also cut back on political events out of respect for the storm's potential victims in a bid to avoid being perceived as inappropriately political.

Obama and Romney are neck and neck in the presidential contest, according to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll released on Monday. The Democratic incumbent leads by a single percentage point ahead of the November 6 election.

Romney canceled events in Wisconsin on Monday night and in Iowa and Florida on Tuesday.

"The damage will probably be significant and, of course, a lot of people will be out of power for a long time," he said in Davenport, Iowa. "So hopefully your thoughts and prayers will join with mine and people across the country as you think about those folks that are in harm's way," he told supporters, urging them to donate to the American Red Cross.

Sandy hit the East Coast on Monday night with hurricane-force winds, bringing flooding, cutting power and killing at least 13 people.

It lost its hurricane status as it neared the coast and collided with winter weather systems.

Obama has declared emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.