The weather provided the October surprise in the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, in the form of Megastorm-nee-Hurricane Sandy, which killed dozens of people, knocked out power for millions of utility customers, unleashed flooding or blizzards in many states and suspended the campaigns of President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney.
Obama spent two days last week monitoring Sandy's progress as the storm snaked up the eastern seaboard before making landfall Tuesday in New Jersey. On Wednesday, Obama toured the flood-ravaged Garden State with Gov. Chris Christie, a Romney surrogate who praised the president for the administration's response and walked with him through a state that resembled a war zone.
Romney was busy, too, changing rallies and campaign events to relief opportunities to help Sandy's victims by collecting donations of cash and goods. A few campaign offices in several states became collection sites for several days last week.
By Thursday, though, the two candidates were back at it and multiple polls showed the election too close to call.
Get ready for a dizzying finish, as Obama and Romney wear out shoe leather, shake hundreds of hands, stride across multiple stages and exhort anyone who's undecided (and admits it) to vote for him on Election Day.
Iowa, where Obama began his run for the presidency in 2007, will be the state where he makes his closing arguments, CNN reported.
During the day Monday, Obama is scheduled to stump in Wisconsin and Ohio before heading to Iowa, capping off a weekend of cross-country campaigning.
Romney makes his closing arguments in New Hampshire, a state that he won in the early days of the Republican primaries. His final rally will be in Manchester, with Kid Rock as a special guest.
Late last week, MSNBC.com reported Obama's travel schedule for Sunday and Monday included stops in New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Romney, meanwhile, is scheduled to visit Iowa Sunday and has campaign stops in Virginia and Ohio before arriving in New Hampshire, his schedule indicates.
As far as the election goes, Sandy has prompted a discussion about contingency plans. Several states announced early voting was suspended as floodwaters and snow drifts rose. Accommodations, such as extended hours for early voting or voter registration, more voting machines and temporary poling places, were implemented.
Meanwhile, thousands of attorneys representing the two major presidential candidates, their parties, unions, civil rights groups, good-government watchdog organizations and others have fanned out across the country, ready to challenge any election result that could raise eyebrows because of machine failure or accusations of intimidation or other illegal activities, The Washington Post said.
"Election law has become a part of the candidates' political strategy," said Richard Hasen, a professor at the University of California at Irvine.
Sandy has introduced a some wrinkles that could lead to litigation, Hasen told the Post.
"If there are lingering problems, lack of power, impassable streets, closed polling places -- all of those things could lead to litigation just before or on Election Day," Hasen said.
Obama's and Romney's campaigns both declined to discuss with the Post strategy specifics but indicated they were prepared for Election Day contingencies.
"We've retained or opened pipelines to the nation's top experts on voting systems, registration databases, ballot design, student voting and provisional ballots," an Obama campaign official said. "We're deploying attorneys primarily to battleground states, to a wide variety of polling locations in all kinds of neighborhoods."
A Romney representative said, "We have all the resources and infrastructure we need for any potential dispute or recount."
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