A confluence of high wind, heavy rain, extreme tides and maybe snow could make it harder for Americans to participate in early voting, an important part of the campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney.
WASHINGTON — President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney’s meticulously arranged travel schedules, a crucial element of their final-stretch strategies, could be upended in the last full week before Election Day by a superstorm barreling toward some battleground states.
More than travel could be disrupted. A confluence of high wind, heavy rain, extreme tides and maybe snow could make it harder for Americans to participate in early voting, an important part of both campaigns’ efforts, particularly for Obama.
Romney and Vice President Joe Biden canceled weekend campaign events in coastal Virginia Beach, Va., though their events in other parts of the state were going on as planned.
The storm couldn’t come at a worse time for the presidential campaigns. Both have enormous resources invested in getting voters to the polls before Election Day, as they try to use early voting to boost turnout among supporters.
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Parts of Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina — all battleground states — are in the path of the storm, which is forecast to hit Sunday and stretch past Wednesday. New Hampshire, another battleground, could be affected. Air travel also could become a mess.
Obama is scheduled to be in New Hampshire on Saturday. With stops planned Monday in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, he moved up his departure for Orlando from Washington, D.C., to Sunday. As of late Friday, he planned to spend Tuesday in Colorado and Wisconsin, and Wednesday in Ohio.
The president could come under more pressure than his Republican rival to cancel events if the storm requires mobilizing the government resources he oversees. But that could provide him an opportunity to show command in a crisis, and perhaps win some votes.
Obama and Romney made their pitches to voters Friday in different ways.
Romney was on the road and started the day in Ames, Iowa, where he seized on new measures showing modest economic growth to argue that Obama’s policies have failed. The figures showed the nation’s economy grew at 2 percent in the last quarter.
“After the stimulus was passed, the White House promised that the economy would now be growing at 4.3 percent. Over twice as fast,” Romney said. “Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay. That’s what four years of President Obama’s policies have produced.”
The speech at Kinzler Construction Services was marked by some irony: The firm benefitted from Obama’s actions, receiving nearly $700,000 in stimulus funds, as first noted by the Center for American Progress.
Obama stayed in Washington, D.C., where he gave a series of interviews.
He told Philadelphia radio host Michael Smerconish that Romney’s policies are “not big changes, they’re a repeat, a relapse of things that haven’t worked for over a decade now.”
In the same interview, Obama again promised to get to the bottom of what happened Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya, where U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack.
Later, in a live interview with MTV, he urged younger voters to cast their ballots, saying, “there’s no excuse” not to.
Material from The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times is included in this report.