Steve Kornacki believes that “Sandy has for now frozen the race in place – and where the race is right now isn’t good for [Romney]”:
For one thing, it has overtaken the presidential campaign as the top national story and will continue to do so for several days. Obama, as the president, has an obvious place in this story. The actions of the White House and the response of the federal government are integral to the clean-up, and Obama has a platform to showcase his presidential leadership. Romney, though, has no official role, and really can’t force his way into the story. There’s also the matter of unseemliness – it wouldn’t look too good for Romney to keep right on campaigning as the rest of the country takes stock of a natural disaster. Thus did Romney cancel events yesterday and again today.
But he has to do something to stay visible, so Romney is today attending what his campaign is billing as a “storm relief event” in Ohio with Nascar driver Richard Petty and Randy Owen of country music fame. Attendees are being asked to bring canned goods and other disaster relief supplies or to make donations to the Red Cross. Romney may speak but his remarks probably won’t be political in nature. This is probably the best his campaign can do today, just getting images of him showing some concern for the victims of the storm into the news media.
Marc Ambinder’s take:
[I]f you’re President Obama, you probably schedule a visit to New York City on Wednesday, returning to the campaign trail, probably in New Hampshire, on Thursday. You’ve got little to gain from leaving your post until order is restored. In fact, you look better if you stay in D.C. It’s true that in such a tight election everytime Air Force One touches down in Ohio or Colorado you’ll gain votes, but the headlines you’ll get if you assume the mantle of leadership right are better. Another benefit: You’ll get to rest your voice and brain a bit for the last 72 hours of the campaign, when you’l need all the energy you can muster.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Chait defends the politicization of Sandy:
What you are going to see over the next week is an overt effort by Democrats to politicize the issue of disaster response. They’re right to do it. Conservatives are already complaining about this, but the attempt to wall disaster response off from politics in the aftermath of a disaster is an attempt to insulate Republicans from the consequences of their policies.
Funding for FEMA is something the parties wrangle over, with Republicans pushing to limit the agency’s budget, and Democrats pushing back. FEMA has to fight for its share of a constricted pot of money for domestic non-entitlement spending, a pot of money that the Republicans propose to radically constrict. How radically? Romney’s budget promises require shrinking domestic non-entitlement spending as a share of the economy by about two-thirds.