orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Government

October 31, 2012

Obama to visit storm victims as campaign rolls on

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama put campaign battleground travel on hold to tour the ravaged New Jersey coast Wednesday, while down-to-the-wire campaigning resumed in swing state Florida that is critical to Republican Mitt Romney's victory plan.

Obama is emphasizing his incumbent's role for a third straight day, skipping voter contact in the handful of states that will decide the election to meet with officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Washington headquarters and visit victims of Hurricane Sandy around Atlantic City. Obama planned to resume campaign travel Thursday with gusto, making stops in Nevada, Colorado and Wisconsin.

The president's actions have forced Romney to walk a careful line and make tough choices. The former Massachusetts governor must show respect for the superstorm's casualties all along the Eastern Seaboard. But Romney can ill afford to waste a minute of campaign time, with the contest virtually deadlocked in several key states and the election six days away.

Florida is among the most closely fought and the biggest prize among the swing states, with 29 electoral votes. Without victory in Florida, Romney will have an uphill and limited path to electoral victory.

Romney has stops scheduled with former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio in some of the most populous areas of the state — Tampa, Jacksonville and Coral Gables in the Miami area. The Obama campaign dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to play defense in Florida on Wednesday, with stops in the smaller, more conservative markets of Sarasota and Ocala aimed at narrowing the margin where Republicans usually fare well.

GOP running mate Paul Ryan was campaigning across his home state of Wisconsin before planning to take his children trick or treating. Wisconsin is part of the Romney-Ryan campaign's eleventh-hour strategy of trying to put Democratic-leaning states in play and forcing Obama to shift resources to areas he has expected to win.

In tempered remarks, Ryan never explicitly criticized Obama and asked for prayers and donations for storm victims. The move reflected advice from his top aides to eschew partisanship for fear of appearing too shrill and strike a more civil tone in his critique of the president heading into the heart of the crisis. Plus, Romney and Ryan are still making attempts to win over moderate and undecided voters who have little patience for unbridled partisanship.

Ryan argued that Wisconsin was a battleground that will help decide the election and urged supporters to work hard for the next week so they have no regrets. "When we wake up a week from this morning, let's make sure we did everything we could," Ryan said.

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