WHITE HOUSE — U.S. President Barack Obama plans to visit the eastern state of New Jersey Wednesday to see the extent of the damage from Hurricane Sandy. The president is promising a quick and effective government response to the storm.
White House officials say Obama will view the devastation the hurricane inflicted on New Jersey and talk with victims and rescue workers. He also plans to meet with the state’s governor, Chris Christie, a Republican who has surprised some people by praising the president’s response to the storm.
At American Red Cross headquarters Tuesday, Obama said he had assured governors and city mayors in areas hit hard by the storm that agencies in Washington will do everything possible to help.
“We are going to do everything we can to get resources to you and make sure that any unmet need is identified. We are responding to it as quickly as possible, and I told the mayors and the governors if they are getting ‘no’ for an answer somewhere in the federal government, they can call me personally at the White House,” said the president.
Obama called off his campaign activities for Tuesday and spent most of the day at the White House, receiving updates on the massive storm and federal, state and local governments' response.
The president held a video teleconference with Vice President Joe Biden, along with the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, several Cabinet secretaries and other top advisers.
Obama issued major disaster declarations for New Jersey and New York, speeding government relief money to those states, where several dozen people have died and tens of billions of dollars in property have been lost.
The president’s trip to New Jersey will take the place of a previously scheduled campaign trip to the swing state of Ohio.
His Republican election opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, was in Ohio on Tuesday, where he switched a campaign rally near Dayton into a drive to collect canned food for storm victims.
“We have heavy hearts, as you know, with all the suffering going on in a major part of our country. Lot of people hurting this morning. They were hurting last night, and the storm goes on," said Romney. "I have had the chance to speak with some of the governors in the affected areas, and they have talked about a lot of people having hard times.”
Romney plans to resume his campaign Wednesday with appearances in Florida. His aides say he may visit areas affected by the storm later this week.
Both Democrats and Republicans are being cautious about resuming their full campaign schedules. The candidates are trying to avoid the appearance of concentrating on politics when tens of millions of people are suffering the effects of the hurricane.