One Week To Go: Super Storm Stalls Presidential Politics (The Note)

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • THE LATEST ON THE STORM: ABC's weather guru Sam Champion reports: Sandy came on shore packing the punch of a Super Storm. It's is currently bringing heavy snow storms inland, and tropical storm force winds over the entire eastern seaboard. In New York, Sandy brought a record high tide of nearly 14 feet in the Battery. Unprecedented flooding caused back-up generators to fail at NYU medical center. Power is out in most of lower Manhattan and the latest estimates have more than 7 million people without power in 11 states. And the storm hasn't passed yet- there will be almost Hurricane force winds continuing throughout the day today in the affected areas.
  • SANDY AND OBAMA: ABC's Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper reports from Orlando, Fla.: Overnight President Obama spoke with Governors Cuomo (New York) and Christie (New Jersey), as well as Mayors Bloomberg (NYC), Healy (Jersey City) and Booker (Newark). White House officials say the president was updated throughout the night on the impacts of Sandy as it came ashore and moved inland. As for the Major Disaster declarations announced this morning for New Jersey and New York - they provide additional federal resources to the state as they respond - it makes additional federal funding streams (for additional activities) and resources available on top of all that has already been made available, including through the emergency declarations for both states that the President granted before landfall.
  • SANDY AND ROMNEY: The Romney campaign announced that today Mitt Romney is scheduled to attend a storm relief event at the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, Ohio, where he will help collect donations for storm-relief efforts. In addition: "Paul Ryan will be in Wisconsin to drop by the La Crosse Victory Center in La Crosse and the Hudson Victory Center in Hudson, where he will thank volunteers who are delivering or collecting items for storm relief efforts. … And Ann Romney will also attend events in Wisconsin and then travel to Iowa. She will visit the Green Bay Victory Office in Wisconsin, the Davenport Victory Center in Iowa as well as the Cedar Rapids Victory Office in Iowa, where she will participate in storm relief collection efforts. She will then attend a Victory Rally at the Temple for the Performing Arts in Des Moines, Iowa."
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 7 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:


Exactly one week from today Americans across the country will go to the polls to pick the next president of the United States.

But this morning people in many parts of the East Coast are waking up to the destruction left in the wake of what one ABC News reporter described as a "liquid fist" that pounded the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

According to the Associated Press, the storm took the lives of "at least 17 people in seven states" and cut off power to nearly 7.5 million residents.

Both presidential candidates curtailed their campaign schedules yesterday and while President Obama remains in Washington, DC to monitor the storm situation from the White House today, his opponent, Mitt Romney, attends a storm relief event in Ohio.

Campaign surrogates, including Bill Clinton and Ann Romney, will continue to hit the trail. And as ABC's Jonathan Karl points out, the campaign has not entirely come to a halt. Both sides traded attacks over dueling television ads on the auto bailout yesterday and those ads continue to run on cable and broadcast in the states.

Meanwhile, in response to recent polls and signals from the campaigns, ABC News moved two states - Minnesota and Pennsylvania - from "Solid Democratic" to "Lean Democratic" (more on that below).

But whatever might happen next Tuesday, it's clear that today, as the effects of the storm continue to be felt further north and as recovery and clean-up efforts begin, presidential politics will not be the focus.

Tomorrow, of course, is another day.

Keep an eye on ABC for our next ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll at 5p.m. today:


The Note's virtual political roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: The trail isn't supposed to come to this kind of dead end, and nowhere in a campaign playbook does a path out of it get mapped. Beyond disruptions in early voting and actual campaigning, there's the news vacuum in Sandy's wake. President Obama can tour damage and Mitt Romney can sling supplies, but the fact is neither candidate knows quite what to do after that. The campaign ads continue unabated - and never have they seemed more discordant than when the break up scenes of devastation. Politics will return faster than power in many homes, but the campaign must and will feel different over the last week.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: 'THE ADMINISTRATION… HAS BEEN OUTSTANDING.' Speaking to ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had high praise for the administration's handling of the storm so far. "I have to say the administration, the President himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far" Christie said. "We have a great partnership with them, and I want to thank the President personally for his personal attention to this." And in an interview on Fox News, Christie said now was not a time for politics: "I have a job in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics," he said. "I couldn't care less about that." SrsgJr

FROM A FRIEND OF THE NOTE: One smart GOP strategist and writes in: "There's a positively Giuliani-esque quality to Christie right now - seeing an opportunity and seizing it. Between his convention speech and wet kiss to POTUS on all of the morning shows, it's remarkably clear how he wants this election to turn out, and it's not with a Romney win."

ABC MOVES PENNSYLVANIA, MINNESOTA FROM SAFE TO LEAN. ABC News Political Director Amy Walter explains the changes to the electoral map: With one week to go, states that were once considered Obama strongholds now look less solid. Republican groups are putting resources into Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Team Obama brushes off these incursions as wishful thinking by Republicans, but noticeably they are putting money and muscle into both states. Minnesota has been added to Bill Clinton's schedule. And, Obama campaign officials admitted that they will once again start running ads in Pennsylvania.


with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

BIDEN, CLINTON CAMPAIGN IN OHIO AS OBAMA MONITORS HURRICANE SANDY. While Hurricane Sandy punished the East Coast, Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton stayed on the campaign trail Monday, speaking at the Covelli Center in Youngstown, Ohio Monday afternoon reports ABC's Arlette Saenz. President Obama canceled his campaign appearances for Monday and Tuesday to monitor the hurricane from Washington. Biden and Clinton, campaigning together for the first time this election cycle, did not let up on their attacks on the GOP ticket, furthering the criticism of Mitt Romney for a misleading campaign ad suggesting President Obama allowed Jeep operations to move to China. President Clinton called Romney's ad "the biggest load of bull."

POLITICS OF FEMA: MITT ROMNEY SUGGESTED LESS FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT. ABC's Zach Wolf reports, as the nation's attention turns to the storm and the federal government gears up to assist states, it is worth noting how funding for FEMA and disaster relief have featured in national politics and the presidential race. Should FEMA be reformed to put a stronger emphasis on the states and less of an emphasis on federal aid? "Absolutely," said Mitt Romney during a June 13, 2011, GOP primary debate. But a Romney campaign spokeswoman said today not to read too much into the exchange from 2011, that it does not mean Romney wants to institute cuts for FEMA. "Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions," said Amanda Hennenberg.

PERILS OF PRE-TAPE: PRESIDENT OBAMA TALKS IPOD ON RADIO AS HURRICANE HITS. ABC's Jake Tapper and Devin Dwyer report, as Hurricane Sandy barreled toward the Mid-Atlantic and the White House scrambled to get the commander in chief back to Washington, President Obama could be heard on the radio airwaves in battleground Ohio talking about his iPod. "I've got a pretty good mix. I've got old school. Stevie Wonder and James Brown. I've got Rolling Stones. Bob Dylan. And then I've got everything from Jay-Z to Eminem to the Fugees to you name it," Obama told DJ E.J. Greig of Cincinnati's 101.1 The Wiz in a pre-taped interview. The seven-minute interview was taped Saturday during Obama's campaign stop in New Hampshire.

MISLEADING ROMNEY AD ON JEEPS DRAWS OBAMA RETORT. ABC's Devin Dwyer and Emily Friedman report, a misleading TV ad from Republican nominee Mitt Romney has prompted spirited objections from independent fact-checkers and Democrats for suggesting incorrectly, just days before the election, that automaker Chrysler is moving Jeep production out of Ohio to China. "Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China," the Romney ad says. "Mitt Romney will fight for every American job."

SWING STATE SNAPSHOT: WILL VIRGINIA STAY WITH OBAMA? In this final week before the election, ABC News takes a closer look at the 10 battleground states that will make or break the election. Today we look at Virginia. Virginia is a new swing state. In the last 40 years, going back to 1972 it has only gone blue once - and that was in 2008 reports ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield. Prior to Barack Obama's victory in the commonwealth, no Democratic presidential candidate had won Virginia since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The state's changing demographics - an increase in the minority population, plus the increase in young white college graduates living in the state - has contributed to the state becoming more friendly to Democrats in recent years. Plus, the state's low unemployment rate - 5.9 percent in September - helps boost Obama and the Democrats.

CITING SANDY, SEN. SCOTT BROWN PULLS OUT OF FINAL MASS SENATE DEBATE. Hurricane Sandy isn't just affecting the presidential race. It's hitting farther down the ballot as well reports ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield. The campaign for Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who is in a tightly contested race with a Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, announced that Brown would not be participating in the fourth and final televised Senate debate scheduled to take place on Tuesday night.

GAFFE-PRONE CANDIDATE'S HURT GOP SENATE CHANCES. The Associated Press's Andrew Taylor reports: "Republicans hopeful of taking over the Senate should be measuring the drapes. But a series of blown opportunities two years ago and again this year has cost Republicans dearly in their quest for a Senate majority. Flawed, gaffe-prone nominees may have cost them the chance to win three seats in the 2010 GOP wave. Now, an easy pickup in Missouri and a longtime GOP seat in Indiana are in question after high-profile stumbles on rape and abortion."

PROVISIONAL BALLOTS COULD KEEP OHIO'S PRESIDENTIAL OUTCOME IN DOUBT. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Harlan Spector reports: "As the presidential race narrows in Ohio, the Buckeye State runs the risk of preventing the United States from calling a winner for days after the Nov. 6 election. A wild card in declaring a winner on Election Night could be thousands provisional ballots. Provisionals are given to voters when their eligibility is in question, often because of address changes or discrepancies. Election boards hold the ballots 10 days to determine eligibility. Ohio is said to have one of the highest provisional ballot rates in the country. More than 200,000 provisional ballots were cast in Ohio in 2008. About 40,000 were determined to be ineligible."

SANDY COULD DELAY FINAL PRE-ELECTION JOBS REPORT. The Washington Post's Rachel Weiner reports: "The Labor Department has not yet ruled out delaying Friday's jobs report due to the havoc caused by Hurricane Sandy. "The employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are working hard to ensure the timely release of employment data on Friday, November 2," the BLS said in a statement. "It is our intention that Friday will be business as usual regarding the October Employment Situation Report." Intense security measures surrounding the monthly jobs reports mean the numbers cannot be crunched remotely."

WILL THIS ELECTION BE A REPRISE OF 2000? USA Today's Susan Page reports: "If the election were held today, national and statewide polls indicate there might well be a split decision: President Obama winning the Electoral College and Republican Mitt Romney carrying the popular vote. Activists on both sides are braced for Election Day problems over new voter procedures in such key states as Virginia and Ohio. And a razor-close finish automatically would prompt recounts in Colorado, Florida, Ohio and elsewhere. The Romney camp dismisses speculation about the prospect of winning the popular vote only to lose the Electoral College. 'We are confident we will win the election decisively on Nov. 6,' press secretary Andrea Saul says. In an interview just before the Democratic National Convention last month, USA TODAY asked Obama if he had thought about the possibility of a split decision. 'I won't speculate on how the election is going to turn out,"' he replied. 'This is going to be a close election.'"

MEDICARE FAILS TO SWAY SENIOR VOTERS. The Wall Street Journal's Arian Campo-Flores reports: "Mr. Romney needs not only to win among senior citizens but to win big. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican Sen. John McCain captured the group by an 8% margin in Florida but lost the state to President Barack Obama. Florida opened eight days of early voting on Saturday. Polls now show Mr. Romney leading among the state's elderly voters by 6% to 12%-a sign he may be weathering reasonably well the charges by Democrats that he and running mate Paul Ryan would undermine Medicare. Among all voters in Florida, Mr. Romney leads Mr. Obama by an average of less than 2%."


@senijr_ABC : #Sandy caused damage to piers and parts of the famed boardwalk across Atlantic City as the cleanup begins

@jodikantor : Lots of hopeful tweets asking if campaigns and Superpacs would donate their remaining millions towards Sandy relief.

@ByronYork : Obama campaign scoffs, but Romney aides believe OH is moving, and Romney is moving up.

@RealClearScott :My story from Fri on Romney eyeing 3 "reach" states: PA, MI & MN. …

@Ari_Shapiro : Lots of Qs in the press corps today on how Romney's OH "storm relief event" is diff from a "campaign event." Same venue, same celeb guests.

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