Can Hurricane Sandy and the Presidential Election Mix?

To say that Hurricane Sandy happened at an inopportune time for the 2012 presidential candidates would be an understatement. Not that there is ever a good time for a Frankenstorm of epic proportions for anyone under any circumstances, but with our presidential election a mere days away, how do President Obama and Mitt Romney manage their campaigns without seeming to take political advantage of a true national emergency?

How does the President do his job overseeing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and relief efforts without losing campaign momentum in an election that looks like it’s going to be a squeaker? And can Romney turn his scheduled campaign stops in swing states into “relief events” without looking like an opportunist?

Is it possible to race to the wire for every last vote in the days after Sandy without seeming like a Halloween ghoul?

Neither candidate has an easy choice. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney must figure out how to thread this particular needle in a way that makes them appear to be more concerned about a huge national catastrophe than Election Day, but at the same time still be cognizant of the fact that the election is only a few days away and at this point, every moment and every decision they make is crucial to the outcome.

I think both men are making mistakes today — Romney shouldn’t say he’s going to suspend his campaign to focus on “relief” efforts, and then just change existing campaign stops into opportunities to still make his stump speech, as long as he mentions a few words about the millions upon millions of Americans without power and who need some assistance.

As for the President, he can’t be seen in full campaign swing, and he has to be focused on the national emergency situation and how to get resources to the folks who aren’t going to have power or clean drinking water, among other things, for days or weeks. But isn’t it important for him to mention that that it’s FEMA, the federal government agency that Romney said in the primary debates that he wanted to dismantle, that is going to manage to helping those in need (and that his FEMA director worked for Republican Jeb Bush before coming to Washington?).

How has your family been impacted by Hurricane Sandy? How do you think President Obama and Mitt Romney should be focusing their efforts?

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