Will there be enough time to restart the presidential campaigns? With a week to go candidates want to do what they can to get their message out to any potential voters. But in the aftermath of a disaster, that is pretty much impossible.
Especially when major U.S. cities are shut down, people without power, transportation, or basic necessities.
On Tuesday and Wednesday both campaigns were on a unique schedule.
The president is busy monitoring the situation and the federal response. In the middle of the night, the president signed disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey, making it easier to execute disaster relief plans.
Obama won praise today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said, “it’s been very good working with the president. He and his administration have been coordinating with us. It’s been wonderful.”
Meanwhile the situation is tricky for Republican nominee Mitt Romney. He cannot campaign as normal. Today he was expected to be in Kettering, Ohio, with country musician Randy Travis and racecar driver Richard Petty. The idea now is that people will bring donations to send toward the relief effort. Joe Biden canceled events in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Paul Ryan returned to Wisconsin instead of a scheduled rally in Colorado.
However other Republicans and Democrats will be on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton will travel to Minnesota and Colorado for rallies. Ann Romney is at events in Iowa tonight.
The benefits of early voting are clear after a disaster such as Sandy.
The Washington Post reported that a record number of people showed up in Franklin County, Ohio, the Columbus area, to cast an early ballot. “It’s unclear if voters were getting their civic duty out of the way in anticipation of the weather worsening, and it’s possible early voting will drop off Tuesday. The weather in the Columbus area has been windy, rainy and cold, worsening overnight into Tuesday, though it is nothing like the dangerous weather on the East Coast,” The Post said.
In Maryland, on the other hand, state officials cancelled early voting for Monday and Tuesday. They planned to extend the process by a day on Friday. Before the storm, early voting centers were packed with more than 134,000 voters across the state. “Everyone needs to remember that there is still Election Day, next Tuesday, that’s available to everybody to vote,” state elections administrator Linda Lamone told The Baltimore Sun. “We really need time to get ready.”
The U.S. Elections Project reports that 16.1 million people have already voted.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester announced a campaign swing across the state’s Indian reservations.
“Jon has a deep commitment to Montana’s Indian communities and he looks forward to visiting all of them in the days ahead,” said Montanans for Tester spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff. “With a record of responsible decisions and accountability, Jon will be working hard to earn every vote and get out every vote possible on and before Election Day.”
Traveling across Montana’s reservations totals more than 1,700 miles of roads.
Tester’s opponent, Rep. Denny Rehburg, did his own campaign swing across the state. He called it the “pro-coal tour” with Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma. The pro-coal tour said the Obama administration – and Tester – have hindered coal development (a notion that Tester disagrees with).
Of course this is the year where the top of the Republican ticket, Mitt Romney, proclaims, “I love coal.”
Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org.