In the final days of his final election, President Barack Obama is finding that a storm IS his campaign.
After suspending official campaigning in deference to Hurricane Sandy for three days, he’s using the power of his office not only to oversee the government response, but also to showcase for voters the popular side of an active government while presenting a take-charge image of himself reinforced by the message machinery of the White House.
Obama addressed the nation from the White House. Cameras followed him to a Red Cross office. His staff released photos of the president being briefed on emergency preparations and readouts of his calls to governors and mayors.
Obama and his aides managed to adapt his campaign slogan — “Forward” — at least five times this week in official statements about Hurricane Sandy. (“We want to make sure that we are anticipating and leaning forward into making sure that we’ve got the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system,” he said in one example.)
The president had little choice but to turn his attention to the storm. It’s part of his job. Also, anything less would have opened him up to criticism like that former President George W. Bush faced when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.