Obama said he told the state and local officials, “We are going to do everything we can to get resources to you and make sure that any unmet need that is identified, we are responding to it as quickly as possible.” He added that if the governors and mayors are “getting no for an answer somewhere in the federal government, they can call me personally at the White House.” Obama also urged people to look out for each other, particularly the elderly, and to donate to the Red Cross.
“During the darkness of the storm, I think we also saw what’s brightest in America,” he said, citing images of New York nurses carrying newborns to safety, firefighters battling to save homes and lives in Queens and the Coast Guard rescuing people from a sinking ship off North Carolina.
“This is a tough time for a lot of people,” Obama said. “But America is tougher. And we’re tougher because we pull together. We leave nobody behind. We make sure that we respond as a nation.”
GOP challenger Mitt Romney also shelved many of his campaign plans, but held a “storm relief” event in Dayton, Ohio, that featured the trappings of a political “victory rally.” The campaign also announced that Romney would formally resume full campaigning on Wednesday in Florida.
At the Dayton event, Romney ignored repeated questions from reporters about whether he wished to scale back the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a position he advocated during a GOP primary debate. FEMA is in charge of coordinating the federal response to disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. The Dayton event promptly drew criticism from Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who charged that Romney “chose to politicize” the storm damage by holding a campaign-style rally.
Bloomberg and other officials said they expected their jurisdictions to be ready for Election Day next Tuesday, though they did not provide details about what challenges they might face. Christie, who had been floated as a potential GOP presidential candidate and has campaigned on Romney’s behalf, offered praise Tuesday for Obama’s efforts during the storm and scoffed at speculation about Sandy’s potential impact on the election.
“I spoke to the president three times yesterday,” Christie said on CNN. “He’s been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state, and not once did he bring up the election.... If he’s not bringing it up, I’m certainly not going to bring it up.”
As the storm barreled ashore Monday night, it transformed the streets of Atlantic City into rushing rivers and inundated large swaths of Lower Manhattan, plunging much of the city’s storied skyline into darkness. A 13-foot surge of seawater flooded streets, tunnels, parking garages and parts of the electrical system in Lower Manhattan, forming white-capped cascades in the Ground Zero construction zone and inundating the financial district.