President Obama is facing a dilemma that could make or break his campaign for reelection. The east coast is about to be pounded by the biggest storm to hit the area in decades, possibly ever. Hurricane Sandy, also known as the Frankenstorm, is threatening to hit the eastern seaboard on Monday. The storm has several Governors ordering mandatory evacuations and New York City also taking the extraordinary step of closing down the subways and other modes of public transportation.
Public utilities are warning customers all along the east coast to prepare for days without power as residents stocked up on food and prepared for the worst.
The President has long tried to balance his need to campaign with his duty to run the country. This will be his ultimate test.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney is also stuck with a dilemma as it becomes increasingly difficult to conduct his campaign as the storm nears. Obama will bear the responsibility for any successes or failures during the storm but Romney doesn’t want to seem to be capitalizing on a natural disaster either.
Obama cancelled campaign events Monday and Tuesday and plans to be at the White House monitoring the government’s response to the superstorm.
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman said:
“This is an example, yet again, of the president having to put his responsibilities as commander in chief and as leader of the country first, while at the same time he pursues his responsibilities as a candidate for re-election.”
Senator John McCain, Obama’s opponent in 2008, says that Obama’s leadership during this crisis could change the game for the President.
“I think that the president of the United States is the commander in chief. The American people look to him, and I’m sure he will conduct himself and play his leadership role in a fine fashion. So I would imagine that might help him a little bit.”.
Obama needs to be careful of the fallout if he seems to detached from the crisis. President George W. Bush was widely criticized for his response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Bush was seen as ineffective and out of touch during the crisis
Bush’s presidency never recovered from the bad press.
Hurricane Sandy is expected to merge with a storm headed towards the east coast from the west and a cold front coming down from Canada. The superstorm is expected to cover more than 800 square miles.