ABC News’ John Berman, Sunlen Miller, and Ursula Fahy report:
As if battling the McCain/Palin ticket was not enough, Barack Obama has had a formidable opponent in Gustav/Ike. The combination of hurricanes has caused the Obama team to alter their plans at key moments in this campaign.
Today, after a week of trying to break through the Sarah Palin media frenzy, Obama was supposed to hold a big rally with his running mate Joe Biden in Manchester, NH, and then make an appearance on Saturday Night Live. But now, because of Ike, Obama is skipping SNL, and Biden is skipping Manchester.
Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki explained, "In light of the unfolding crisis in Texas, Senator Obama has decided it is no longer appropriate to appear on Saturday Night Live tomorrow evening."
The laughs would have been just the kind of thing of Obama needs to make some news during this period when most press coverage has been focused on the Sarah Palin Express.
Moreover, the somewhat somber mood that surrounds a storm, makes it harder for Obama to take the fight to John McCain, as his campaign promised he would do. In a public memo, campaign manager David Plouffe declared that Friday would be, "the first day of the rest of the campaign." But when Obama ultimately took the stump in New Hampshire, it seemed just like the last day of the rest of the campaign. There is at least the hint from Obama aides that he pulled some punches because of the storm (as well as the fact that the Illinois Senator is fighting a stomach bug. For Obama, when it rains, it pours, if you will excuse the pun.)
This is the second time a hurricane has stifled some Obama excitement. Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana in the wake of the Democratic convention, at just the time the Obama/Biden team was supposed to hold rousing rallies, and excite his base.
On September 1st, ABC’s Jake Tapper noted that Obama had to tell a giant, revved-up crowd in Detroit that as much as he wanted to talk to them — particularly about "the contributions of the American worker" — "I have to change my plans a little bit."
He spoke to them briefly about the Hurricane, and then said goodbye. No rah-rah, no sparks, no real rhetoric.
We are waiting to hear what Obama says in Manchester today.