It appears that the long-awaited news event that could change the outcome of the presidential election -- aka the October Surprise -- wasn’t an announcement of salacious details damning the competition, but Frankenstorm Hurricane Sandy.
The fast-strengthening storm moved north Monday, lashing the Northeast corridor with rain and wind gusts.
With just eight days to the national election, the storm has forced Mitt Romney to cancel crucial campaigning for two days. "Out of sensitivity for the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy, we are canceling tonight's events with Gov. Romney in Wisconsin and Congressman Ryan in Melbourne and Lakeland, Florida,” said Gail Gitcho, Romney communications director, in a statement. She added that all scheduled events for Tuesday have also been cancelled.
President Obama also cancelled his appearance in Florida and flew back to the White House Monday so as not to be seen on the campaign trail during a crisis that will affect millions of Americans. He also cancelled Tuesday events in Wisconsin.
While the impact of the storm had yet to be seen, at the very least it was a distraction as both sides were looking to make their final appeals and millions of ballots were already being cast in early voting. It threatened to dilute Romney's efforts to close the deal with voters while giving Obama a platform to show leadership in the time of crisis. And power outages could end up cutting off their message in television ads and automatic phone calls in the eastern swing states.
Republicans concede that the storm essentially pushes a pause button on the momentum Romney had been building in key states across the country, but argue that it's not necessarily a bad thing. They insist they are in strong positions in battlegrounds like Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Iowa, but acknowledge that Virginia could be a problem. Romney was forced to cancel three rallies planned for the state on Sunday and it's unclear when he'll be able to return.
The president has declared emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, a move that will allow federal relief work to start immediately.
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(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)