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Super storm Sandy has taken by storm the East Coast of the United States. Wreaking untold havoc on people, homes, infrastructure like roads, bridges and power lines, and the psyche of people, it blew over on Wednesday. Leaving a destructive trail and setting into motion a stellar mop-up and rescue operation, the storm not only had meteorologists going into an overdrive, but also saw pollsters brainstorm its impact on the choice of the president by the American people. A week before the most influential nation on earth chooses its leader, Sandy has exacerbated the electoral maelstrom triggered by Obama and Romney in the presidential race.
Even before the storm bore down completely, Obama announced suspending his campaign for a day to get to his bearings and focus on overseeing the relief and rescue. The former Illinois senator was in New Jersey on Wednesday, rubbing shoulders with and chatting up Governor Chris Christie—an unrelenting critic of his. The two went around meeting storm-hit families. Obama took stock of the damage and assured residents all help from the Republican administration in the state at the same time promising federal assistance in front of officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accompanying him. Praising Christie, the affable Obama told residents that “your governor is working overtime.” In the same vein, Christie appreciated Obama’s concern for the storm-hit and said that the president cared for the people. At a relief centre, Obama stopped near some cooks and said aloud “the people have been cooking for 18 hours straight.”
Meanwhile, Obama’s Republican rival Mitt Romney stepped back on the campaign trail, carefully avoiding naming the president in his pronouncements to the electors.
The storm has hit at a critical juncture, punctuating the often vituperative campaign in a way that tested the waters of the dispensation. Obama’s response to the natural disaster has been commendable. The Nobel-laureate understands that it is not only right to be sincere, but also important to seem so. A poll showed Obama winning acclaim from voters for his approach to the natural disaster which has so far killed close to 50 people. This stands in stark contrast to former president George W Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina that spread death and destruction over a large swathe of the country. It was Katrina that proved to be the junior Bush’s undoing.
Re-entering the campaign just days before the election day, Obama is likely to be seen as a president who won over a large number of hearts at an opportune moment. The first black president of the United States is lucky in a way that he got key opportunities — eliminating Osama bin Laden, for one — to prove himself. After the debacle in the first debate with Mitt Romney, Obama did well to redeem himself. But with the latest crisis response, he will move many voters to his side. With a large number of undecided voters, this is a golden opportunity for the president to brighten his chances of a second term in the White House.