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October 28, 2012

Presidential candidates alter campaign plans as storm approaches

Hurricane Sandy aims for East Coast

NASHUA, N.H. — President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney held dueling rallies along the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday, but both of their campaigns were scrambling to make schedule changes to avoid Hurricane Sandy just 10 days before voters head to the polls.

Obama, who has convened a pair of conference calls with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the past two days, has ordered that all federal resources be available to help states respond to the powerful storm that is expected to crash into the mid-Atlantic region by the end of the weekend.

The president appeared at a rally with 8,500 attendees in Nashua, N.H. on Saturday, and he was planning to leave Washington again Sunday, a day earlier than initially planned, to beat the storm for a swing through Florida and Ohio on Monday. White House officials said Saturday a planned rally in Virginia on Monday night and an event in Colorado Springs on Tuesday have been canceled.

White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama is "focused on" storm preparations, even as he continues to campaign.

Romney rallied 10,000 supporters in Pensacola, Fla., on Saturday, while his campaign canceled a full day of campaigning scheduled for Virginia in the communities of Sterling, Richmond and Virginia Beach. A Romney aide said the Republican nominee instead will head to Ohio to join his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis., on a bus tour across the state.

Romney said he spoke Saturday with Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican, whom he said told him that the state's emergency personnel needed to focus on preparing for the storm. "So we're not going to be able to be in Virginia tomorrow," Romney told a rally in Kissimmee, Fla. "We're going to Ohio instead. But I hope you'll keep the folks in Virginia and New Jersey and New York and all along the coast in your minds and in your hearts. You know how tough these hurricanes can be, and our hearts go out to them."

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