Which of these is more nakedly political?:
1. Mitt Romney traveled to the swing state of Ohio to load boxes of relief items into a truck bound for the hurricane ravaged East Coast.
Okay - nice gesture, but the relief event had some trappings of a campaign event. Jon Karl snapped a pic of some nice ladies juggling anti-Obama t-shirts and canned goods. Romney ignored reporters' questions about whether he'd cut FEMA funding five times. http://abcn.ws/V5yYXj
2. Barack Obama will head to New Jersey on Wednesday to tour parts of the hurricane ravaged region with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the Republican and loud Romney backer who heaped praise on Obama's response to the hurricane on pretty much every TV network this morning. You don't have to be a total cynic to wonder at visiting Christie over Cuomo or Bloomberg - Those could be powerful pictures with less than a week 'til election day. http://abcn.ws/Sv8XOe
Romney, who doesn't have the day job, is back to campaign events in Florida on Wednesday. Obama could be officially back on the trail Thursday.
Sage Words from Matthew Dowd - My advice to everyone is to hold your breath, say a prayer for everyone affected or donate to the recovery, wait as patiently as you can, and ignore any polls until this weekend at the earliest. Up until Sandy hit the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, this extremely tight race had been roughly stagnant for two weeks. Mitt Romney had a slight advantage in the national popular vote, and Obama had a slight advantage in the Electoral College. (A split between the popular vote and Electoral College I spoke about as a possibility in a column in June.) That is the last signal we had as of Monday a.m. - http://abcn.ws/XU7q6M
Playing in Pennsylvania - On The Road To 270, Obama And Romney Campaigns See Very Different Electoral Maps - With exactly one week to go before Election Day, the Romney and Obama campaigns are both planning to air television ads in Pennsylvania - a state that had long looked to be safely in the president's column, but which ABC News and other outlets shifted into "lean Democratic" territory last week. http://abcn.ws/SaowZ4 (Michael Falcone)
Jake Tapper reports the pro-Romney superPAC Restore Our Future went up with a $2 million ad buy in Michigan, so the Obama campaign will match that and start airing its own ads in Michigan, an Obama campaign official tells ABC News.
"We're not going to let them make a play anywhere," the Obama campaign official says
The ad will be auto related.
Rick Klein adds a piece of context to Jake's reporting - Michigan joins Pennsylvania and Minnesota as states that Democrats are advertising in that were long considered (by ABC News and others) as safely Democratic.
Romney is not advertising in any states that have long been in the safe Republican column. That includes the Obama '08 state of Indiana, which has long been considered back in the red column.
Democrats are insisting the map isn't shifting, that they have the money so why not spend it wherever the other side is.
But if that's entirely true, Democrats are admitting that they are simply wasting money.
Final thought from Amy Walter - Another thing to remember is that the campaigns and the outside groups have lots of money to spend and not a lot of places to spend it.
Not only is it prohibitively expensive to try to buy last minute ad time in places like Ohio and Virginia, there simply may not be any ad time to buy. TV stations have to make ad time available to campaigns, but not to outside groups. Moreover, the TV stations aren't required to provide the most highly desired times (like prime time or morning time).
If an outside group wants to get the biggest bang for its buck, it's states like MN, PA and MI where they'll get it.
EXPLAINER: How Exit Polls Work - Here are some of the frequently asked questions about exit polls, along with information about how to find out what exit polls are reporting. http://abcn.ws/Rn00Di (Robin Sproul)
ABC / Washington Post Tracking Poll - Romney - 49, Obama - 48 - A tightening of the gender gap and a closer race among political independents mark trends among likely voters the past several days, but with no meaningful change to the bottom line in the evenly matched 2012 presidential race. Likely voters divide by 49-48 percent between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the latest ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll. That's exactly where it's been in seven of the nine ABC/Post tracking poll releases since the start of last week, albeit with movement in some underlying measures - toward Romney in the middle of last week, then easing back since.
Gary Langer on The Storm - A more immediate question, if not yet answerable, is the impact on the election, if any, of Monday's devastating hurricane. It's a prognosticator's paradise, with little probative experience. Credit or blame for the response likely will be based on how smoothly or shakily it proceeds; the public's patience is bounded by the magnitude of the disruption and the strength of the recovery effort. The answer, then, may take time - and with the election a week away, there's precious little of that available. http://abcn.ws/PFuiGA
Anti-Campaign Ad - Great Richard Tisei campaign ad offers break from all the other campaign ads. (Although Amy Walter notes you can only do this if you're comfortably ahead - http://bit.ly/SaQXX1
2016 Preview? - Russell Goldman looks at Cuomo vs. Christie vs. Bloomberg vs. Sandy - The storm, which has affected seven states and left more than 30 people dead and millions without power, offers a rare opportunity to test our leaders and compare them side by side. While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each project his own brand of command - Cuomo comes off as cool under pressure and Bloomberg as a tough but loving manager - Christie with his extra-large podium and outsize personality seems to be winning people over by just being his brassy self. http://abcn.ws/YjWmPy
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Praises President Obama for Sandy Response - One of Mitt Romney's biggest supporters, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, had nothing but praise for President Barack Obama today, as his state prepares to rebuild from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. http://abcn.ws/SrsgJr (Abby Phillip)
Al Gore on Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change - http://abcn.ws/RrrbQY (Krieg)
Does Paul Ryan's Budget Cut FEMA? - As spokesman Michael Steel put it - Ryan's spokesperson, Michael Steel had this to say on the record, per Shushannah Walshe:
"There are no FEMA cuts in the House passed budget," Steel said. "And if you are comparing this to the president's budget I would note it got zero votes in the House or Senate."
Strictly speaking, he is correct. But the budget cuts a larger pool of money that includes FEMA - "function 450? by 40 percent for next year. It is probably not reasonable to assume that none of those cuts would hit FEMA.
What's more, a report that accompanied Ryan's budget specifically mentioned FEMA as a program ripe for reform.
Election Delay? Doubt It - The chance of the election being postponed anywhere is slim in part because there are few legal provisions for it - http://abcn.ws/V63D6Z
Obama's Closing Pitch to Latinos - http://abcn.ws/Ru9Zc7
Romney, Obama Volunteers Campaign Through Sandy - President Obama and Mitt Romney may be canceling campaign events, but their volunteers in swing states are still going door-to-door and making phone calls during the final week before Election Day. http://abcn.ws/SrPajQ (Sarah Parnass)