WHITE HOUSE - Three days after Hurricane Sandy soaked the U.S. East Coast and five days before the U.S. elections, President Barack Obama resumed his reelection campaign on Thursday. The president and challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are expected to campaign almost non-stop from now until Tuesday.
After a three-day pause, Obama was back on the campaign trail, speaking at an airport rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The president began his speech by discussing the devastation he saw on Wednesday, while touring New Jersey with the state’s Republican governor.
“There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm. There are just fellow Americans. Leaders of different parties working to fix what is broken, neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy; communities rallying to rebuild," Obama said.
But Obama, a Democrat, quickly pivoted to the familiar message of his campaign speeches.
“You will be making a choice between two fundamentally different visions of America - one where we return to the top-down policies that crashed our economy. Don’t boo, Wisconsin. Vote. A future that is built on a strong and growing middle class," he said.
Green Bay was the first of the president’s four stops on Thursday. The day’s itinerary also included stops in Las Vegas, Nevada; Denver, Colorado and Columbus, Ohio.
Romney was scheduled for three campaign stops during the day, all in the swing state of Virginia.
At a rally near the state capital, Richmond, the Republican candidate also acknowledged the damage from Hurricane Sandy, and asked his supporters to help the victims.
“And I hope you will keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and if you have a few extra dollars, sending them along to the American Red Cross or to the Salvation Army or to other relief organizations can make a difference in the lives of our fellow citizens," he said. "We care about them. It is part of who we are as Americans to step forward when people need our help, and this is one of those times."
Romney sharply criticized the president’s performance on the economy, and he ridiculed Obama’s proposal to consolidate several Cabinet agencies into a Department of Business.
“I just do not think another cabinet chair is going to create the jobs that America needs. And so I am entitled to make sure that we get a president who understands business, as opposed one who to tries to hire someone into the Cabinet who has a background in business," he said.
Vice President Joe Biden and his opponent, Representative Paul Ryan, are campaigning intensely, as are first lady Michelle Obama and Romney’s wife, Ann. Former Democratic President Bill Clinton has also been making numerous appearances on Obama's behalf.
Public opinion surveys show the race virtually tied, with the president holding small leads in a few of the states where analysts say the election might be decided.