Storm pre-empts stump stops on East Coast

Oct. 27, 2012 at 1:47 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Rallies for President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have been canceled, campaign officials say, as the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy.

The storm's pending landfall -- and the prospect it might combine with another weather system to form a so-called superstorm -- could force alterations in both campaigns in the few remaining days from the election, The Hill reported Saturday.

The Romney campaign said Friday a Sunday night rally in Virginia Beach, Va., would be rescheduled. The Obama campaign said Vice President Joe Biden's Saturday trip to Virginia Beach had been canceled.

The change will allow the resources of local law enforcement and emergency management personnel to "stay focused on ensuring the safety of people who might be impacted by the storm," the Obama campaign said.

First lady Michelle Obama's speech at the University of New Hampshire, scheduled for Tuesday, was canceled because of the storm, campaign managers said.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, told reporters Saturday the campaign was monitoring the storm and would defer to local authorities if it became necessary to change campaign plans.

Deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest said preparation for the storm was the president's top priority.

Sandy is forecast to bring heavy winds and snow to the mid-Atlantic region. Its strength could be increased by an expected merger with a cold front moving in from the west.

The storm could affect Election Day voting if it causes power outages and flooding.

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