Obama gets Sandy update, scraps more campaign plans

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

ORLANDO, Fla.—President Barack Obama scrapped plans to campaign Wednesday in the pivotal battleground state of Ohio and will stay in Washington, D.C., to monitor the federal government's response to the superstorm, the White House said.

On Tuesday, Obama got an update on Hurricane Sandy via teleconference in the White House's Situation Room.

"The president expressed his concern for those impacted by the storm, as well as the heroic first responders who are selflessly putting themselves in harm's way to protect members of their communities," read a statement from the White House. "He also noted his sadness over the loss of life associated with the storm so far."

Obama got an update on the storm's path and the resources deployed to respond, and he heard from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "on conditions in financial markets and the operations of the financial system."

Overnight, Obama approved major disaster declarations for New Jersey and New York at the request of those states' governors. That freed up additional federal aid for state and local governments.

"The president told his team that their top priority is to make sure all available resources are being provided to state and local responders as quickly as possible and directed them to identify and resolve any potential bottlenecks or shortfalls should they arise," the White House also said.

Obama also directed the Department of Defense and Department of Energy to help restore power.

"The president urges Americans to continue to follow the direction and advice of local officials, governors and mayors, many of whom the president will speak with later today," the statement continued.

The teleconference included many senior advisers. In the photo above, from left: John Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Tony Blinken, national security adviser to the vice president; David Agnew, director for intergovernmental affairs; Alyssa Mastromonaco, deputy chief of staff for operations; and chief of staff Jack Lew.

Joining the briefing by phone were Vice President Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Winnefeld, USNORTHCOM Commander Gen. Charles Jacoby, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb and Geithner. Other officials also took part.