Hurricane Sandy 2012: Shocked Obama flies over Atlantic City disaster ...

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Has Sandy saved President Obama? Comforter-in-chief takes center stage in Atlantic City (while Romney is left on sidelines)
President takes one-hour helicopter tour over Atlantic Coast, viewing flooded homes and wrecked buildings Superstorm Sandy has claimed lives of at least 76 people on East Coast with New Jersey and NYC badly affected Obama skipped campaigning in battleground states in favour of visit to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's state Gov Christie: 'We've got a big task ahead of us that we have to do together. This is what New Jerseyans are built for' Obama will return to campaign trail today with trips to Green Bay, Wisconsin; Boulder, Colorado; and Las Vegas
By Mark Duell, Toby Harnden , Lydia Warren and Rob Preece PUBLISHED: 12:30 EST, 31 October 2012 | UPDATED: 09:17 EST, 1 November 2012

President Obama took time out from the campaign trail yesterday to visit a stretch of the devastated New Jersey coast and take on a role of comforter-in-chief that could be a major boost to his hopes of re-election next week. The President was accompanied by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican bruiser and Mitt Romney backer who showered him with effusive praise for his handling of Superstorm Sandy, giving President Obama a bipartisan sheen that aides believe could help him secure victory on Tuesday. Leaving Republican presidential candidate Mr Romney on the sidelines holding campaign events in Florida in which he had to pull his punches and barely featured on TV, President Obama travelled to Atlantic City in New Jersey to get an aerial view of the widespread damage caused by the storm.

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Reassurance: President Barack Obama (left) hugs marine owner Donna Vanzant (right) during a tour of Brigantine, New Jersey, which was badly affected by Sandy

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Destroyed: Homes sit in ruin at the end of a bridge wrecked by flooding from Superstorm Sandy, pictured on Wednesday in Mantoloking, New Jersey

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On its own: An isolated house floats in the bay after it was washed from its foundation during Superstorm Sandy in Manotoloking, New Jersey

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Closed for repairs: Waves break in front of a destroyed amusement park wrecked by Superstorm Sandy on Wednesday in Seaside Heights, New Jersey

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Going back: Flood water from Superstorm Sandy is pumped into the ocean from the beach on Wednesday in Seaside Heights, New Jersey

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No access: The remains of a road are mired in debris and water from Superstorm Sandy on Wednesday in Mantoloking, New Jersey

Ray of hope: A peak of sun shines down on the Hudson River through the clouds with the Manhattan skyline in the distance after Superstorm Sandy hit New York City

Battered: The President was shown the damage to this amusement park at Seaside Heights, New Jersey, as he toured the area by helicopter

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Aerial view: The President saw how homes in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, have become surrounded by water after Superstorm Sandy lashed the Atlantic Coast

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Ripped apart: During the helicopter tour, the President was shown how Superstorm Sandy tore away part of the Mantoloking Bridge in New Jersey

Up in the air: The Marine One helicopter, carrying President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, takes an aerial tour of the Atlantic Coast in New Jersey

The images of President Obama offering solace to New Jersey residents who had lost their home could be of incalculable political value in the final few days of the 2012 presidential campaign. He was joined on the presidential helicopter, Marine One, for the one-hour tour by Governor Christie, who faces his own re-election bid next year and is widely believed to be laying the foundations for a presidential bid in 2016 should Romney lose this time around. 'I want to let you know that your governor is working overtime,' President Obama told victims at an emergency shelter after the tour. 'The entire country has been watching what's been happening. Everybody knows how hard Jersey has been hit.' Governor Christie said: 'It's really important to have the president of the United States here.' President Obama returned the compliment. The politicians' meeting came as people in the heavily populated US East Coast corridor battered by Sandy took the first cautious steps to reclaim their upended daily routines, even as rescuers combed neighbourhoods strewn with debris and scarred by floods and fire. Mr Romney was forced to reassure voters, a week before election day and following the massive disaster, that his administration wouldn't leave disaster victims in the lurch.

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With President Obama heavily involved in getting federal funds to those in trouble, the Romney campaign moved quickly to reassure the public it supports a strong program of storm relief. Only last year, as Mr Romney hewed to the right while battling for the GOP nomination, he seemed to downplay the federal government's role in disaster response. 'Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction," Romney said at a debate last June. 'And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.' Asked by moderator John King of CNN whether that would include disaster relief, Mr Romney said: 'We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardising the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids.' However Mr Romney had altered that position when he released a statement on the disaster yesterday. 'I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. 'As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.' Mr Romney had ducked a spate of opportunities on Tuesday to personally clarify his position and the statement essentially endorsed the current disaster aid system. President Obama and Governor Christie ladled on the mutual praise on Wednesday as they toured the damage sites. Governor Christie, who has publicly endorsed Mr Romney, said: 'I want to thank the president for coming here today (Wednesday). It's really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that's going on here in New Jersey and I appreciate it very much.' The President returned the kind words, telling the crowds of beleaguered New Jersey residents who had gathered that their Republican governor was 'working overtime to make sure that as soon as possible everybody can get back to normal'. By Tuesday night, the winds and flooding inflicted by the fast-weakening Sandy had subsided, leaving at least 76 people dead along the Atlantic Coast and splintering beachfront homes and boardwalks from the mid-Atlantic states to southern New England. The storm later moved across Pennsylvania on a predicted path toward western New York State and Canada. At the height of the disaster, more than 8.2 million customers lost electricity - some as far away as Michigan. Nearly a quarter of those without power were in New York, where lower Manhattan's usually bright lights remained dark for a second night.

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Devastated: An unidentified woman struggles to come to grips with the devastation surrounding her in Lavallette, New Jersey

Marooned marina: Boats were washed ashore at a marina near Jersey City, New Jersey in the aftermath of the storm

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Dark skyline: Much of downtown Manhattan remains in dark after the huge blackout caused by superstorm Sandy

Governor Christie, who is a vocal supporter of GOP nominee Mr Romney, has changed his partisan tune after the storm, regularly singing President Obama’s praises in relation to the federal aid given toward disaster relief support. ‘The president has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency),’ Governor Christie told the Today Show on Tuesday. Governor Christie later told news anchor Soledad O’Brien that President Obama ‘has been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state, and not once did he bring up the election.’ Governor Christie continued his new tact of effusively praising President Obama and the work that the federal government is doing in response to the hurricane, saying that the two spent a ‘significant’ afternoon together touring the Jersey Shore in Marine One. ‘I cannot thank the president enough for his concern,’ Governor Christie said at the 5pm press conference yesterday. ‘The president has been all over this and he deserves great credit.’ The governor said that the two have put their partisan differences aside and had spoken six times including their afternoon-long trip yesterday. ‘It has been a great working relationship to make sure that we are doing the jobs that the people elected us to do,’ Governor Christie said of President Obama. ‘I am pleased to report that he has sprung into action immediately while we were in the car together.’ The President was slightly more reserved with his praise, as he kept the majority of his remarks focused on the efforts of FEMA and ways for those who lost homes from the storm rather than his political rival. ‘Governor Christie has been responsive aggressive, making sure the state got out in front of this incredible storm,’ President Obama said.

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Support: President Obama holds North Point Marina owner Donna Vanzant close as he tours damage done by Superstorm Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (left) stands with them

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Walkabout: President Barack Obama talks to a resident as he tours a neighborhood effected by Superstorm Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey Walking with with him are two Democrat senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez

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Tour over: President Obama waves as he follows Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate on to Air Force One at Atlantic City International Airport at the end of his visit to New Jersey

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Men dispose of shopping carts full of food damaged by Storm Sandy at the Fairway supermarket in the Red Hook, Brooklyn

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Shopping carts full of food damaged by Storm Sandy await disposal at the Fairway supermarket in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn in New York

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Surveying the wreckag: A man looks over the debris on the Seaside Heights beach on Wednesday

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Destroyed homes wrecked by Superstorm Sandy sits in the middle of a street in Seaside Heights, New Jersey

Scenes of destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, New York where a fire destroyed 110 homes

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People examine the wreckage of boats washed ashore in Great Kills, Staten Island

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Workers clean up debris left by Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach Island, New Jersey

Storm shutdown: Substantial damage was done Hoboken Terminal in New Jersey as mass transit systems were shutdown as a result of the storm

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Jackie Hoey inspects the first floor of her home which experienced heavy flooding due to Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach, New York

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A bent railing caused by Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, New York

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People stand in line for fuel at the corner of Hylan Boulevard and Reid Avenue in Staten Island, New York

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Gary Silberman surveys his home that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Lindenhurst, New York

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A front end loader pushes sand back on the beach in Long Beach Island, New Jersey

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Engulfed: A collapsed house along the central Jersey Shore coast

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What Obama saw: This aerial photograph of storm damage in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, was taken from a helicopter travelling behind Marine One

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Aftermath: Another view of the damage to Seaside Heights, New Jersey, taken from a helicopter travelling behind the aircraft carrying President Obama

Bearing the brunt: The President took the helicopter tour to see for himself how homes in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, were destroyed in the storm

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Lifted: A row of beach homes rest off their foundations after Superstorm Sandy came ashore near Asbury Park, New Jersey

Topsy-turvy: Part of a home rests upside-down in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, one of the areas worst affected by Superstorm Sandy

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Broken in two: Another view of the top of a house which was torn apart when Superstorm Sandy struck Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The rest of the property was found some way away from its original spot, sitting in the middle of a street

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Chaotic: Streets in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, are covered with fallen power lines and debris following heavy damage by Superstorm Sandy

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Major problem: Emergency workers attend homes heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. A van is stuck under debris in the foreground

Electioneering: The name 'Romney' is spelled out in sand during an aerial tour of the Atlantic Coast being taken by President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

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Crossing the political divide: Barack Obama comforts the New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie, a Mitt Romney supporter who has sung the President's praises since Superstorm Sandy struck

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Joint effort: The President was joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate (right) as he met the Republican New Jersey Governor (left), who has put party politics aside after the storm caused widespread damage

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On his way: The shadow of Air Force One is seen as it approaches Atlantic City International Airport before the President's helicopter tour of the devastated region

During his introduction, Governor Christie, known for his brash demeanor, said that he forgave residents of Brigantine for not following his order to ‘get the hell out’ before the storm hit Monday night. (He jokingly said ‘you’re forgiven this time.’) President Obama made a reference to the colorful language, turning back to give the Governor a smile during the remark. The President pledged to streamline the federal funding process, explaining that he has instituted a so-called 15 minute rule for his team, meaning that if a mayor, state politician, or governor calls them, they have to respond with firm answers in a matter of minutes. ‘We are not going to tolerate red tape,’ he said. ‘When you see neighbors helping neighbors you’re reminded of what America’s all about. ‘We’re going to have a ton of work to do. I don’t want anyone thinking that this will be cleaned up overnight. We want to make sure people have realistic expectations. We will not quit… We don’t leave anybody behind.’

'This is a tough time for millions of people. But America is tougher' US President Barack Obama
New Jersey was one of the hardest-hit in Monday night’s storm, and power outages in the state’s two biggest cities - Newark and Jersey City - have prevented progress, as traffic lights remain out of action. The visit came after the President’s second visit to FEMA headquarters for an update on federal progress. President Obama took a motorcade to FEMA's offices in Washington D.C. to meet with agency chiefs before the flight to Atlantic City to meet with Sandy's victims and relief workers.

VIDEO: Obama visits Hurricane ravaged New Jersey...
Days before the election, the President has kept up a steady public presence overseeing the storm response, while cancelling a series of public campaign rallies. It was President Obama's second visit in four days with the agency. On Sunday, he met FEMA officials, then told reporters the government will ‘respond big and respond fast’ after the massive storm made landfall. The President also paid a visit to the headquarters of the Red Cross on Tuesday, saying he wanted ‘no bureaucracy, no red tape’ to interfere with recovery, and suggested the military might be able to help in view of the enormity of the damage.

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‘This is a tough time for millions of people ... But America is tougher,’ he said. The speed of their response has prompted criticism from Michael ‘heckuva job’ Brown, the former FEMA director who was roundly criticised for the agency’s response to the devastation from Hurricane Katrina. ‘One thing (President Obama’s) gonna be asked is, why did he jump on (Sandy) so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when (after) Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas? Why was this so quick?’ Brown told a Denver news station.

Destroyed: An aerial view of the Breezy Point neighbourhood in New York, where more than 50 homes were burned to the ground as a result of Superstorm Sandy

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Burned down: Residents living in the beachfront neighbourhood at Breezy Point, New York, were told to evacuate as Superstorm Sandy approached. When they returned, dozens of homes were gone

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Cloud of smoke: Debris smoulders as residents of Breezy Point in the Queens borough of New York assess the damage caused by a fire during Superstorm Sandy

Nothing left: Tom Duffy (left) and his family look through the debris of his home which was destroyed in the fire

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Fire damage: Neighbors Lucille Dwyer (right) and Linda Strong (left) embrace after looking through the wreckage of their homes in Breezy Point, Queens, New York

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Distraught: A woman stares at the ground as she walks past damaged homes after the fire at Breezy Point in the Queens borough of New York

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Surveying the destruction: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (centre) views storm damage in the Breezy Point area of Queens after fire destroyed homes

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Exposed: This home in the Sea Gatee area of Brooklyn, New York, had one of its walls and part of its roof ripped off by the force of Superstorm Sandy

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Emptied: Residents take belongings out of a home in Sea Gate part of Brooklyn, New York, that was condemned after being damaged during Superstorm Sandy

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Meaningful: A damaged home in the Sea Gate part of Brooklyn, New York, bears the sign: 'The most important things in life... aren't things'

After tamping down his partisan tone on Tuesday at an Ohio event that emphasised victims' relief, Mr Romney planned three full-blown campaign rallies yesterday in Florida, the largest competitive state. Sandy largely spared Florida, so Mr Romney calculated he ciykd campaign there without appearing callous. But President Obama’s revised schedule is also a political gamble. Rather than use the campaign's final Wednesday to woo voters in the tossup states that will decide the election, President Obama decided to go before cameras with Governor Christie. When Governor Christie stopped in Belmar, New Jersey, during a tour of the devastation, one woman wept openly and 42-year-old Walter Patrickis told him: ‘Governor, I lost everything.' Governor Christie, who called the shore damage ‘unthinkable,’ said a full recovery would take months and it would likely be a week or more before power is restored to everyone who lost it.

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Water ride: John Okeefe walks on the beach as the rollercoaster that once sat on the Funtown Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, rests in the ocean

No play: This US Air Force photo shows an aerial view of the rollercoaster from the Seaside Heights amusement park on the New Jersey shore submerged in surf

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Mangled: The rollercoaster was severely damaged as Superstorm Sandy destroyed the boardwalk and pier in Seaside Park, New Jersey

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Pet rescue: Olivia Loesner, 16, hugs her uncle, Deputy Fire Chief John Ruff, after she was brought from her flooded home in a boat in Little Ferry, New Jersey, Her mother, Janice Loesner, carries their dogs to safety in a basket

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Huge task: Workers try to clear boats and debris from the New Jersey Transit Morgan draw bridge in South Amboy, New Jersey, after the storm surge pushed them on to the train tracks

‘Now we've got a big task ahead of us that we have to do together. This is the kind of thing New Jerseyans are built for,’ he added. Governor Christie had said that he would ask the President to assign the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start working on how to rebuild beaches and find ‘the best way to rebuild the beach to protect these towns’. President Obama cancelled his campaign appearances up to yesterday but is staying in the public eye as commander of federal relief efforts. ‘This is a tough time for millions of people,’ the President said. ‘But America is tougher.’ Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod said yesterday that the President intends to resume campaigning today. Campaign officials say the President will make stops in Green Bay, Wisconsin; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Boulder, Colorado. President Obama’s last campaign event was last Saturday in New Hampshire. He flew to Orlando on Sunday to attend a campaign rally on Monday with former President Bill Clinton but scrapped his campaign plans to return to Washington D.C. to monitor preparations for Superstorm Sandy. Mr Romney wavered in his strategy. First the campaign said he would skip a rally in Ohio on Tuesday out of sympathy for the storm victims. Then Mr Romney decided to do the event but recast it as a storm-relief effort, shorn of the usual campaign speech.

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Clean-up: Sanitation workers clear sand from streets in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York

Wheels of misfortune: A BMW car was washed up on to a bench when Superstorm Sandy struck the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York

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Unusual picture: A woman takes a photograph of the car in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York

Crushed: Freddie Nocella, Jr, looks at his grandfather's damaged Trans Am as he helps to salvage belongings from his grandparents' heavily damaged home in Babylon Village, New York

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Unbelievable: A woman looks at damage in the Rockaway neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, where the historic boardwalk was washed away during Superstorm Sandy

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Stuck: A car is pictured on Wednesday, partially buried by sand that was washed ashore by Superstorm Sandy in Atlantic City, New Jersey

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All that's left: The foundations to the historic Rockaway boardwalk are all that remain after it was washed away during Superstorm Sandy in Brooklyn, New York

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Snap: A man takes a picture of a woman in front of a crumbled public bathroom following Superstorm Sandy, on Tuesday in Belmar, New Jersey

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Wrecked: A closer look at the collapsed properties in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, which President viewed from the air

‘It's part of the American spirit, the American way, to give to people in need,’ Mr Romney said in Kettering, Ohio, before supporters lined up to hand him bags of canned food for storm victims. Adding to Mr Romney's dilemma are the candidate's previous statements on the federal government's role in emergency management. He said he believes state and local governments should have primary responsibility for emergency clean-up. Mr Romney refused yesterday to answer repeated questions from reporters about what he would do with the Federal Emergency Management Agency if he wins the election.

'A Romney-Ryan administration will always ensure that disaster funding is there for those in need. Period' Spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
Asked about federal aid to help recover and rebuild from Sandy, a spokesman said: ‘A Romney-Ryan administration will always ensure that disaster funding is there for those in need. Period.’ For President Obama, missing a few days of active campaigning for vital presidential duties may be a good trade, politically speaking. Lingering anger about President George W. Bush's performance when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005 could provide a backdrop to benefit President Obama if he does a solid job. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, of the University of Pennsylvania, said a natural disaster gives a president ‘unlimited access to the media to say things the public wants and needs to hear in a fashion that reinforces that he is president.’ For President Obama, the federal response to the natural disaster could make or break his bid for a second term. His reputation could suffer if the federal government's response is feeble or botched.

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Scenes from New Jersey: A man carries his wife through the floodwaters in Hoboken (left), and cars and vans are buried in sand on Long Beach Island (right)

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Unusual pile-up: An aerial photograph shows boats lying next to a house near Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, where they were washed ashore during Superstorm Sandy

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Resting place: A wider view shows dozens of damaged boats piled up by the house next to a marina close to Monmouth Beach, New Jersey

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On fire: This photo from the New Jersey Governor's Office shows damage north of Seaside, New Jersey, on Tuesday after Superstorm Sandy made landfall

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Severe damage: This picture provided by the US Coast Guard shows property damages along the New Jersey coast caused by Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday

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Underwater: This picture provided shows flooded homes in Tuckerton, New Jersey, after Superstorm Sandy made landfall on the southern New Jersey coastline

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Flooding: A portion of Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island, New Jersey was underwater after Superstorm Sandy blew across the state with devastating results

BEFORE AND AFTER: THE DEVASTATING IMPACT OF SUPERSTORM SANDY ON ATLANTIC CITY'S HOLIDAY HOMES
These startling before-and-after pictures reveal what is left of parts of the East Coast. Just one solitary house was left standing on the east side of New Jersey's Mantoloking Bridge in Brick. Rows of Atlantic holiday homes were wiped out by the 900-mile storm with its surging waters and winds of 95mph.

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How it was: This image from Google Maps shows Mantoloking Bridge in Brick, New Jersey, before the devastation was caused by Superstorm Sandy. All but one of the houses in the highlighted area above were destroyed in the storm. The only one to still be standing is circled above

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Severe destruction: An aerial view from Greenpeace taken by Tim Aubry of the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy along the New Jersey coast in Brick

Shock: Brian Hajeski, 41, of Brick, New Jersey, reacts as he looks at debris of a home that washed up on to the Mantoloking Bridge the morning after Superstorm Sandy

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Contenders: US President Barack Obama (left) talks about damage done by Hurricane Sandy and rescue efforts while at the National Red Cross HQ in Washington D.C. on Tuesday; while Republican candidate Mitt Romney loads relief supplies for people affected by Hurricane Sandy into a truck at a relief campaign event in Kettering, Ohio

Speech: President Obama talks during his visit to the Disaster Operation Center of the Red Cross National HQ to discuss Superstorm Sandy on Tuesday

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Talks: President Barack Obama visits the FEMA headquarters following Hurricane Sandy in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. Pictured with President Obama are (from second left to right) Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan

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From above: In this National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration image, the remnants of Tropical Sandy move across eastern America on Wednesday

Gone: A boardwalk (left) and waterfront property are heavily damaged following Superstorm Sandy, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Wednesday

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Uprooted: This picture provided by the US Coast Guard shows property damage along the New Jersey coast caused by Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday

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Changed landscape This photo from the New Jersey Governor's Office shows flooding on the bay side of Seaside, New Jersey, on Tuesday after Sandy made landfall

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Just still there: The damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, in a photo taken during a search and rescue mission

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Extraordinary: Sand and debris covers the streets near the water in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Tuesday, after the area was wrecked by Superstorm Sandy

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Complete devastation: A lone piece of colour in a children's playground is pictured surrounded by sand and debris near the ocean in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Tuesday

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Rubble: A toy truck sits among the post-Superstorm Sandy destruction on Tuesday in the devastated Atlantic City in New Jersey

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Rebuild project: A man in a hooded jacket and jeans walks past debris left by the floodwater from Superstorm Sandy on Tuesday in Hoboken, New Jersey

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No sales: A small shop that rents personal water craft rests in a huge sinkhole on the bayside in Ocean City, New Jersey, on Tuesday, after a storm surge

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On the rails: This photograph, provided by the state of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, shows a boat resting on the tracks at Metro-North's Ossining Station in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy

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Smashed: Captain Charles Bodien, Jr, posts a condemned sign on a summer camp at Webster Lake in Franklin, New Hampshire, after a tree crashed down on it

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Destitute: In this U.S. Coast Guard photo, a helicopter crew from Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, observe property damage in New Jersey caused by Sandy

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Misery on the beachfront: This aerial photograph provided by the U.S. Air Force shows how the storm left homes on the New Jersey shoreline surrounded by water

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What to do? Zelphia Connor stands outside her garage in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Wednesday, damaged by pieces of the boardwalk that Superstorm Sandy broke

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Still moving: A vehicle drives on a flooded street in Little Ferry, New Jersey, on Tuesday, after Superstorm Sandy made landfall on Monday evening

Sea crash: Boats clustered together at a marina in Brant Beach, on Long Beach Island on the New Jersey shore on Tuesday, a day after Superstorm Sandy blew across

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Devastation: A beachfront home is gutted in Manasquan, New Jersey, following the dramatic storm which caused havoc across the US East Coast

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No Halloween: This photo taken on Tuesday shows a store with 'Boo Sandy' and 'Trick or Treat?' writing on wooden boards in Atlantic City, New Jersey

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Wreckage: The remains of a boardwalk and other debris is washed ashore following Superstorm Sandy, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Monday

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Aid: Bill Johnson is helped by a friend to remove one of his kayaks from a pile of debris in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Tuesday

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Ruined: People walk past debris in the area where a 2,000ft section of the boardwalk was destroyed, with the Showboat Casino in the background in Atlantic City

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Shock: People stand on a mound of construction dirt to view the area where a 2,000ft section of the boardwalk was destroyed by flooding in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Smashed up: The damaged front of an auto repair shop on Atlantic Avenue is seen in the aftermath of Sandy's landfall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Tuesday

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Collapse: Beach houses are left destroyed in the Bell Harbor community after Sandy inundated the Rockaway Peninsular in the borough of Queens, New York

While President Obama and Mr Romney moved cautiously yesterday, their campaigns exchanged sharp words in Ohio and expanded their operations into three Democratic-leaning states. Mr Romney's campaign is running ads in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, and a pro-Romney group is doing the same in Michigan. The three states were considered fairly safe for President Obama, but his campaign is taking the threat seriously. It sent former President Bill Clinton to Minnesota yesterday and it is buying airtime in all three states. The Republican efforts could indicate that Mr Romney is desperately searching for a last-minute path to victory without all-important Ohio, where polls show President Obama has a slight edge.

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Response: Firefighters try to put out blazes at Breezy Point on Tuesday in Queens, New York. A fire broke out in the flooded community late on Monday night

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Pointing: Two men look at damage in the Breezy Point area of Queens, New York, on Tuesday after fire destroyed about 80 homes as a result of Superstorm Sandy

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Taking cover: The scene at 130th St and Newport Ave in Rockaway, Queens, New York, where many houses were burned down after Superstorm Sandy hit the area

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Destruction: A beach house is left destroyed in the Bell Harbor community after Superstorm Sandy inundated the Rockaway Peninsular in Queens, New York

Or it could mean just the opposite, that Mr Romney's so confident in the most competitive battlegrounds that he's pressing for insurance against President Obama in what's expected to be a close race. Or perhaps the Republican simply has money to burn. Use it now or never. The U.S. president is chosen not by the nationwide popular vote but in state-by-state contests. That has made a handful of states whose voters are neither reliably Republican nor Democratic the focus of the November 6 election, expected to be one of the closest in U.S. history. Ohio and Florida are prominent among those, and no Republican has been elected president without winning Ohio.

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Little left: Beachfront properties in Rockaway, Queens, New York, where many houses were destroyed after Superstorm Sandy hit the area

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Throught the wreckage: After Superstorm Sandy hit New York, extensive damage and flooding was apparent throughout the city. Breezy Point in Queens is pictured

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Not moving: Lucy the Elephant is still standing, seemingly unscathed on Tuesday after Superstorm Sandy blew across the area along New Jersey shore

In a sign that Ohio looms large for the Romney campaign: a guest-filled rally in suburban Cincinnati is planned for Friday to kick off the campaign's final four days. Set to join Mr Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are golf legend Jack Nicklaus, ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Texas Governor Rick Perry and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Vice President Joe Biden planned to campaign yesterday in Florida. Mr Ryan was scheduled to campaign in his home state, Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Democratic groups bitterly complained about a TV ad the Romney camp is running in the Toledo and Youngstown areas of Ohio. The ad suggests that Jeep will move its Toledo car-making facility to China, a claim Jeep executives deny. Democrats called the ad a brazen lie and a sign of desperation. Even some Republicans worried that Mr Romney has gone too far in a state where voters follow the auto industry closely. ‘It's the kind of thing that happens late in the campaign, when everybody's tired and you're not quite yourself,’ said GOP pollster and strategist Mike McKenna, who does not work for the Romney campaign. ‘It didn't help. But I don't think it's a big thing. At this point, everybody has made up their mind.’

ONE YEAR AGO: OBAMA AND CHRISTIE PICTURED TOURING DAMAGE CAUSED BY HURRICANE IRENE IN NEW JERSEY

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All smiles: Political rivals Chris Christie (left) and Barack Obama (right) were pictured together last September after Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey

Barack Obama and Chris Christie were memorably pictured together one year ago when the President toured damage caused by Hurricane Irene. They looked like best friends, sharing a warm embrace and laughing in New Jersey - with the meeting coming at a time when Governor Christie was under pressure to run for the Republican presidential nomination. Governor Christie won major plaudits for his authoritative command of preparations and the following clean-up after Irene, which hit last August. He made what became a famous quote, after his frustration came through after seeing people surfing on the beach in TV interviews. 'Get the hell off the beach,' he told surfers in a press conference that was replayed on news programmes around the US. Governor Christie announced last October that he would not run for president against Mitt Romney, after weeks of speculation that he might reverse his long-held stance of staying out of the 2012 race. 'This is not the time to leave unfinished business,' Governor Christie said at the time. 'New Jersey - whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me'.

Surveying the damage: Governor Christie (left) won major plaudits for his authoritative command of preparations and the following clean-up in New Jersey after Irene

VIDEO: New York to New Jersey. THE footage which has kept people informed

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Comments (517)
Newest Oldest Best rated Worst rated View all Wake up! this is a photo op. It is just a few days before the election. Obama knows all eyes are on him and he is putting on his best acting skills. Where was this empty suit when the US had other disasters like in Texas and Colorado. He only rescheduled his plans to visit Louisiana after Hurricane Issac after Romney went there first, he had no intention of going. Why did he fly to Las Vegas for a fundraiser after 4 Americans including the American Ambassador died in Benghazi, after they begged for help and as far back as April. Are we expected to ignore the failures of the last for years like 23 million Americans unemployed, gas prices up, food prices up, millions more Americans dependent on government handouts and 6 trillion in new Obama debt that my kids and grand kids have to pay back. Again wake up! just giving that woman a hug and trying to look concerned for the cameras does not change the failure that Obama is and will be for the next 4 years if he is re-elected. - Somewhere , Here, 01/11/2012 14:54 Click to rate Report abuse Yeah...it's great that he is there, but I am still voting Romney. - Stephanie , Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 01/11/2012 14:53 Click to rate Report abuse I cannot understand people trying to play politics with the aftermath of Sandy. Leaders of all parties should be working together to help get the clear up sorted asap - its what grown ups do. Mitt has kept out of it as it currently he has no role in disaster management and can only provide moral support to these communities. Obama is the president and is expected to turn up and show support - Bush left it too long after Katrina before turning up in New Orleans. As Christie said now is not the time for politics - patti28 , kent, United Kingdom, 01/11/2012 14:37 Click to rate Report abuse To the ignorant people who keep saying we should not build wood stuctures, concrete and brick are porous, rocks sink, wood dries faster and floats. - Arena , Kissimmee, 01/11/2012 14:29 Click to rate Report abuse if obama wanted to do actions to "win an election" he would be campaigning in swing states. NY electoral votes are already for Obama. he was not there for a photo op. just llike Bush "toured" damage after 9/11/01 and Katrina, he too is surveying the needs to get support from congress/senate, and clearly he showed genuine compassion. All you other commenters full of hate due to other reasons out of obama's control (e.g., military F-ups in Benghazi, texan FEMA mess, etc.) .... you need counseling to learn skills to better focus your anger rather than blaming/hating wrong places with wrong reasons. Obama is just doing his job with basic human compassion. If you want to vote for him or not - fine. Leave the dude alone to do his job supporting the people and NJ gov Mr. Christie who needs much support (he had to battle Atlantic City Mayor who helped cause much of the disaster). He's not surveying damage for votes. Knock of the false blame and bullying - and gr - ilivea , london, 01/11/2012 14:22 Click to rate Report abuse Rating 4 Rating 3 Rating 3 Rating 2 Rating 1

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Obama did his one day of photo ops with victims - back to the campaign trail. And by the way, this disaster was somewhat preventable. Why didn't Obama build a sea wall off New York? This was a foreseeable storm and he's had 4 years to attend to the matter. At least that's what he said about Bush and Katrina. The truth hurts. - SW , San Francisco, 01/11/2012 14:19 Click to rate Report abuse if obama wanted to do actions to "win an election" he would be campaigning in swing states. NY electoral votes are already for Obama. he was not there for a photo op. just llike Bush "toured" damage after 9/11/01 and Katrina, he too is surveying the needs to get support from congress/senate, and clearly he showed genuine compassion. All you other commenters full of hate due to other reasons out of obama's control (e.g., military F-ups in Benghazi, texan FEMA mess, etc.) .... you need counseling to learn skills to better focus your anger rather than blaming/hating wrong places with wrong reasons. Obama is just doing his job with basic human compassion. If you want to vote for him or not - fine. Leave the dude alone to do his job supporting the people and NJ gov Mr. Christie who needs much support (he had to battle Atlantic City Mayor who helped cause much of the disaster). He's not surveying damage for votes. Knock of the false blame and bullying - and grow up. - ilivea , london, 01/11/2012 14:17 Click to rate Report abuse Obama takes a rare break from playing golf and appearing on countless TV shows in feeble attempt to look "presidential". Still refuses to explain why he couldn't be bothered to make the same effort to save the lives of Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. - Brokeback Barry , Sorrento, Italy, 01/11/2012 14:17 Click to rate Report abuse Yeah, THAT'S it... Obama's victory is due to the hurricane, and NOT the fact that he's an incumbent running against a hairdo in an empty suit. - Albatross , Minneapolis, United States, 01/11/2012 14:14 Click to rate Report abuse By contrast, after Katrina, George Bush did a "Flyover" a week later and that was all. - Resident , somewhere in America, ~~~~~~~~ I can't speak for Louisiana, but he didn't come to Mississippi for a week at the request of our Governor. Bush wanted to come within days, but the devastation was so extensive that our local government needed to time to ascertain the damages and get their people (us local Mississippi residents) settled with shelter, food, water and other basic necessities before entertaining the President. Bush respected our Governor's request and waited for when our state was able to handle a Presidential visit. Barbour put his constiguents first, and rightly so, and the President let him take the lead. He only did a flyby because most roads were impassable for weeks and months. The Bushes made many trips here, meeting people, working at soup kitchens, etc. He also took the time out to thank our military, including my Seabee husband. And no, I'm not a Republican. - Alexa , Gulfport_MS, United States, 01/11/2012 14:13 Click to rate Report abuse The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Find this story at www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2225865/Hurricane-Sandy-2012-Shocked-Obama-flies-Atlantic-City-disaster-zone.html Rating 18 Rating 19 Rating 23 Rating 3 Rating 26

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