United States President Barack Obama returned to full-force campaigning yesterday, ending a three-day pause to manage the federal response to the historic storm that battered the East Coast. He held slim leads in many of the key United States battleground states five days before the November 6 election.
Polling, however, also shows Obama locked in a tie nationwide with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who tempered his criticism of the president this week to avoid the appearance of seeking political advantage in the midst of a natural disaster.
Both candidates faced a day of trying to strike the right tone in an intensely stressful race. Romney aimed at patriotism and the heartland in his first speech of the day, mentioning Boy Scouts, football, America the Beautiful and the flag.
Romney also returned to criticism of Obama on economic issues, the most important in this election. The last of the closely watched monthly unemployment reports comes out today. Last month's report said unemployment had dipped below the psychological barrier of eight per cent.
At his first stop of the day in Wisconsin, Obama returned to the aftermath of the storm, saying he saw yet again "that there are no Democrats or Republicans in a storm. There are just Americans".
He implicitly reminded his audience of Romney's habit of making dramatic changes on issues.
"You know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know that I'll make tough political decisions even when they are not popular," Obama said. "After all, we've been through together, we can't give up now."
Obama also got a boost yesterday from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a political independent, who announced he was endorsing the president.
Bloomberg said Obama would bring leadership that is critically needed to fight climate change after the East Coast devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.