‘The hurricane is what broke Romney’s momentum,’ Romney supporters say
On Sunday morning, amid the ongoing questions about the attacks in Benghazi and the predictable expressions of confidence from both presidential campaigns, the Sunday show guests tried to make sense of Hurricane Sandy and what effect such a late-breaking storm would have on tomorrow's outcome.
"The hurricane is what broke Romney's momentum," said Haley Barbour, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, on CNN's "State of the Union."
Barbour said the storm was much more helpful to President Obama than the surprise endorsement of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"I don't think there's any question about it," Barbour said. "Any day that the news media is not talking about jobs and the economy, taxes and spending, deficit and debt, Obamacare and energy is a good day for Barack Obama.
“You had a blackout on all of those issues,” he went on. “It started about last Saturday and lasted until about yesterday. That is what really was good for Barack Obama. Now, whether it will be good enough remains to be seen.”
The comments echoed the opinion of Karl Rove in a Washington Post interview over the weekend, who called it the "October surprise" and said it had provided a beneficial "stutter" in the campaign for the president.
“Obama has temporarily been a bipartisan figure this week. He has been the comforter-in-chief and that helps,” Rove told the paper.
But appearing on "Fox News Sunday," he downplayed his own assessment.
"I think it helped him initially, but, I think it has been — whatever small advantage he gained from it is being eroded by the images that people are seeing on their television screens...People without food, you know, people dumpster-diving in Manhattan. And these images don't particularly say confidence and quick response. And, look, the president again is out there campaigning as opposed to appearing to be tending to business."
The president's own spokesmen tried to dutifully downplay any political talk, with adviser David Plouffe saying on "Meet the Press" that the new harmony between Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was just "what leaders should do," and downplaying the political talk as "irrelevant."
But a Pew poll over the weekend suggested the president may have received some benefit from his response to the storm, with 69 percent of voters approving of the president's handling, including 63 percent of swing voters.
The storm also made for some strange bedfellows within New Jersey's state politics.
Newark mayor Cory Booker, a possible challenger to Christe in next year's race for governor, took a different tack from his counterpart in Atlantic City, who engaged in a war of words with the governor, and praised both Christie and the president.
"I'm going to give everybody high marks," Booker said. "I'm going to give President Obama, I'm going to give Governor Christie, I'm going to give countless local leaders. This is the best I've seen it."