ORLANDO, Florida - President Barack Obama scrapped his planned campaign appearance here with Bill Clinton on Monday and planned to return to Washington to oversee the response to deadly Hurricane Sandy.
"Due to deteriorating weather conditions in the Washington area, the President will not attend today's campaign event in Orlando," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. "The President will return to the White House to monitor the preparations for and early response to Hurricane Sandy."
Obama had flown down to Florida on Sunday, earlier than scheduled, in order to get ahead of the storm and attend the campaign rally. The show will go on, campaign aides said, including remarks by former Florida governor Charlie Crist and Democratic Senator Bill Nelson before Clinton speaks.
But with tens of millions of Americans in the path of the largest hurricane ever to churn through the Atlantic, and forced evacuations up and down the northeast seaboard, the president apparently judged that taking part in a political campaign event was non-optimal.
The president still officially planned to campaign in Wisconsin on Tuesday — but that event seemed likely to be cancelled as well. He has already scrapped his participation in events in Virginia and Ohio — both also to feature Clinton.
Obama has signed emergency declarations for Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington DC, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, freeing up federal dollars and materiel to help respond to Sandy.