Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Presidential Election

October 31, 2012

Obama tours storm damage, Romney mutes rhetoric

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — President Barack Obama got an up-close look at the devastation wrought by superstorm Sandy on Wednesday, forsaking partisan campaigning days before the close election in favor of a disaster tour guided by the Republican governor of New Jersey. Rival Mitt Romney muted criticism of his foe as he barnstormed battleground Florida.

Yet a controversy as heated as any in the long, intense struggle for the White House flared over Romney's late-campaign television and radio ads in bellwether Ohio. "Desperation," Vice President Joe Biden said of the broadcast claims that suggested automakers General Motors and Chrysler are adding jobs in China at the expense of Ohio workers. "One of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember."

Republicans were unrepentant as Romney struggled for a breakthrough in the Midwest.

"American taxpayers are on track to lose $25 billion as a result of President Obama's handling of the auto bailout, and GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas," said an emailed statement issued in the name of Republican running mate Paul Ryan.

The two storms — one inflicted by nature, the other whipped up by rival campaigns — were at opposite ends of a race nearing its end in a flurry of early balloting by millions of voters, unrelenting advertising and so many divergent public opinion polls that the result was confusion, not clarity.

National surveys make the race a tight one for the popular vote, with Romney ahead by a statistically insignificant point or two in some, and Obama in others.

Both sides claim an advantage from battleground state soundings that also are tight. Obama's aides contend he is ahead or tied in all of them, while Romney's team counters that his campaign is expanding in its final days into what had long been deemed safe territory for the president in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

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Presidential Election