Hurricane Sandy - challenge for presidential rivals

Waves pound Carolina Beach pier in Carolina Beach, N.C., Saturday, Oct 27, North Carolina is already feeling hints of the power of Sandy

The mettle of a president is tested not during a dull routine, but in a crisis. So the Hawaiian tsunami and the very real possibility of a massive storm hitting the east coast of America in the last full week before election day is changing the candidates' calculations.

This is what leadership is about. It may even be a vital test of temperament. Some politicians would be irritated by this interruption to their long-laid plans. Others would gladly seize it with both hands.

The network and cable news weather forecasters are having a ball predicting doom - there has not been a threat like this in 30 years, according to one. They may not be correct.

President Barack Obama has cancelled some campaigning, to be in the White House on Monday night, when the storm may hit the East Coast. Mitt Romney has pulled his plans to visit Virginia. Better safe than sorry.

The Republicans cancelled the first day of their convention because of the approach of a tropical storm. It turned out to be just a bit wet and windy, no worse than any average day in a British winter.

But the memory of Hurricane Katrina, and the suggestion that the damage it did to New Orleans was callously ignored, is lodged deep in their collective consciousness. They lost a day of their Convention out of an abundance of caution but it did them no harm.

This too might turn out to be nothing. But it could be a defining moment.

Mr Obama has to look like a leader in command, perhaps gently hinting of the benefit of government. He will have to curb his recent tendency towards mockery and jokes, which may be no bad thing anyway.

Mr Romney has a difficult task - to look presidential without adopting the duties. He can't flap around disaster zones getting in the way and looking like a political ambulance chaser. But he has to find the right tone.

My family and I live near where the storm will hit and we already know the havoc American weather can cause. It's pretty frightening. Millions of people will be very nervous for the next few days. So will the politicians.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    210 AndreaNY ‘Anyone who blames one person (ex., Bush) or one party (ex., repubs) simply doesn't understand how many different players it actually took’

    I'm amazed that you say that. Since AIR for years here and on other blogs you've been explaining that everything is the fault of Obama + the Dems. Notably if the Reps are solidly against Obama, clearly that’s his fault...

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    ref #180

    Well Mass is a very forgiving state to Dems if you look at their excused transgressions which the moderators will not let me list. But he did a far better job than Snoopy or Patrick is doing now.

    Brown may lose because too many people here think d instead of looking at canidate. Brown has won every debate and Warren has proven herself to be an extremist

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    "The only way that Mutt Romney could deliver the tax cuts he promises is by severely curtailing Defence spending "


    Not really since 2/3rds od government budget is spend on unsustainable, almost bankrupt ENTILMENTS, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

    But of course those who depend on government hand-outs consider such cuts unacceptable; unlike national defence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    195. rodidog

    Screwing it up takes a great deal of cooperation.

    Anyone who blames one person (ex., Bush) or one party (ex., repubs) simply doesn't understand how many different players it actually took.

    NY Times reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, did a great job in her book, "Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Created the Worst Financial Crisis of Our Time".

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    The only way that Mutt Romney could deliver the tax cuts he promises is by severely curtailing Defence spending - reducing staffing levels and failing to replace ageing equipment. The Libya debacle was a direct result of Republican insistence on budget cuts, not on mismanagement.


Comments 5 of 213



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