Mitt Romney revived – delicately – his campaign Tuesday in battleground Wisconsin, with his wife in Green Bay, his vice presidential pick on the western edge of the state and plans for Romney to headline a rally Friday in West Allis.
With superstorm Sandy continuing to slam the East Coast, Romney’s team refashioned its campaign efforts into a relief program, with Ann Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan visiting Republican Party offices where volunteers were collecting donated food and supplies for storm victims.
Romney canceled an appearance Monday night in West Allis because Sandy was expected to make landfall around the same time. He scuttled his plans shortly after President Barack Obama announced he would not appear Tuesday in Green Bay because of the storm.
With a week until election day, the storm has created an awkward situation for both campaigns. Both candidates need to keep themselves in voters’ minds but can’t appear to be acting overtly political.
Charles Franklin, a political scientist who has conducted extensive polling for Marquette University, said Obama could receive a temporary improvement in the public mind from this opportunity to exercise his role as the nation’s commander in chief. If Mitt Romney were still governor of Massachusetts, he could have had a similar, if smaller, role as well.
But this blade has a double edge, Franklin said, noting President George W. Bush saw a bump in his polling following Hurricane Katrina until mismanagement of the crisis turned it into a political, as well as a natural, disaster.
For now, both candidates and particularly Obama have to be careful not to appear to be focusing on the campaign more than on the devastation facing large sections of the East Coast, he said.
Despite the canceled appearances in Wisconsin by Romney and Obama, visits by others to the Badger State were quickly planned. After his La Crosse stop on Tuesday, Ryan headed to a similar event with volunteers in Hudson, where he could capture the attention of the Twin Cities media. Ann Romney on Tuesday visited volunteers collecting food in Green Bay and then headed to Iowa to do the same.
Ryan is making campaign stops Wednesday in Eau Claire, Green Bay and Racine. Also Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton will stump for Obama in Eau Claire.
On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden is to campaign in Beloit and Superior, though Obama’s campaign noted plans could change because of weather.
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