Kevin Drum and a friend discussed the possibilities yesterday:
Friend: This may be the election right here. If Obama can look like he’s handling this competently and in control he should be okay. But I’m sure Romney’s people are all in a room trying to figure out how to make this Obama’s Katrina.
Me: Benghazi didn’t work for them, so Sandy is their last hope. But I do think this is a challenge for Romney. Any criticism will look nakedly opportunistic unless there’s really a good reason for it. I think the press is probably waiting for Romney to say something obviously excessive.
Friend: I’d watch Drudge for the cues. He should have a picture of a stranded black person up at some point tomorrow.
The wingers will certainly be looking for some kind of Sandy-related incompetence to hang on Obama, but I really do think the press will be on the watch for this and ready to pounce. It’s such an obvious thing for a desperate campaign to do, and exploiting a tragedy like this a week before an election would a little too raw even for our conflict-loving media. Unless Obama really screws up something badly, Romney would probably be best served by quietly telling his surrogates to cool it on Sandy.
MEANWHILE, Romney was actually very busy yesterday — exploiting the disaster and playing politics. Via Addicting Info:
1. Romney Batters President While Sandy Batters Coast
As Hurricane Sandy started bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard on Monday morning, Obama was in the situation room with top advisors, planning his deployment of aid to the 60 million Americans who are threatened by the storm.
“Obviously, my first priority has to be to make sure everything is in place to help the families and prepare,” Obama said today. The President has canceled campaign events for the next few days to focus his full attention on responding to the hurricane.
Elsewhere, Romney didn’t relent in his attempts to gain an edge in the swing states of Ohio and Iowa, even while cities on the East Coast started to flood on Monday. “I know they are chanting ‘four more years’ [for Obama], but we’re chanting all over this country ‘nine more days,’” Romney said callously, as the nation braced for catastrophe. After campaigning all day on Monday, the Romney campaign has reported cancellations for an event on Monday night and Tuesday.
2. Romney’s Impeding Red Cross Relief Efforts
This blunder is reminiscent of Paul Ryan’s fake photo-op visit to the soup kitchen. Romney’s team is reportedly gathering supplies to gain points with Virginia swing voters, but they’re not demonstrating their compassion as much as their ignorance of how officials operate in a disaster situation.
Even I know that, if you truly want to help, you should communicate with the agency you are seeking to assist – or just check its website.
According to the Red Cross:
Unfortunately, due to logistical constraints the Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual donations or collections of items. Items such as collected food, used clothing and shoes must be sorted, cleaned, repackaged and transported which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel.
3. Romney’s Playing Partisan Favorites With Calls To Governors
Gov. Romney has made calls exclusively to Republican Governors, namely Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) and Chris Christie (R-N.J.), to offer support and talk about storm preparation.
Romney is seemingly unconcerned about Dem-led states in the storm’s path, neglecting to call any Democratic governors bracing for the storm in states such as Maryland (Gov. O’Malley), Massachusetts (Gov. Patrick), New York (Gov. Cuomo), and North Carolina (Gov. Perdue). And it’s Romney who wrongly accuses Obama of rejecting bi-partisanship.
Of course, Obama hasn’t played any partisan favorites. Gov. Christie said today of Obama’s response efforts: “I appreciated the president’s outreach today in making sure that we know he’s watching this and is concerned about the health and welfare and safety of the people of the state of New Jersey.”
Fox “news” focusing on the big issues today: