Inside Politics: Obama squeezes in some electioneering at briefing

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President Obama may have suspended his campaign rallies due to Hurricane Sandy, but he managed to squeeze in his campaign slogan — intentionally or not — during a briefing Tuesday with federal emergency officials.

“The president made clear that he expects his team to remain focused as the immediate impacts of Hurricane Sandy continue and lean forward in their response,” the White House said in a statement about Mr. Obama’s video conference conducted from the White House Situation Room. “Forward” is the slogan of his re-election campaign.

Mr. Obama canceled all campaign events Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as the storm lashed the East Coast, causing billions of dollars worth of destruction, resulting in several deaths and interrupting power for millions of residents.

MISSOURI

Gingrich raising profile, money for Akin campaign

JEFFERSON CITY | Shunned by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Missouri Senate candidate W. Todd Akin instead turned Tuesday to former presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich to help raise his profile and cash in the closing week of his campaign against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Mr. Gingrich was appearing with Mr. Akin at a pair of Kansas City area fundraisers and touring a packaging business Tuesday, then rallying with Mr. Akin on Wednesday in a series of events intended to draw public attention and private contributions to fuel advertising for the final days before the Nov. 6 election.

Ms. McCaskill, whose mother died Monday, had no campaign events scheduled but has continued to wage an aggressive TV advertising battle against Mr. Akin. Finance reports analyzed Tuesday by The Associated Press show Ms. McCaskill, who already held a cash advantage, has drawn more four-figure donations than Akin in the final days of their campaign.

Missouri’s Senate seat had long been considered one of several tossups nationwide as Republicans and Democrats battle for control of the chamber. But Mr. Romney and many deep-pocketed fundraising groups that aid Republicans abandoned Mr. Akin after he remarked in an August TV interview that women’s bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in “legitimate rape.”

Mr. Akin apologized and forged forward with a retooled campaign that relied more on an anti-establishment message and small-dollar donations. Mr. Gingrich was the first prominent Republican to headline a fundraiser for Mr. Akin after the rape remark, appearing at a St. Louis area event in September as it became clear that Mr. Akin would not drop out of the Senate race. Mr. Akin also has been aided by former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who has appeared in TV ads for Mr. Akin.

The Gingrich fundraisers Tuesday were not high-dollar affairs. Tickets for a “power lunch” were listed online at $50 per person, and $40 each for an evening “dessert social” at a suburban golf club.

CAMPAIGN

Storm’s impact likely to affect poll hours

Could superstorm Sandy postpone the presidential election?

The question has come up now because it could take days to fully restore power across the East Coast — and the election is just a week away.

Congress sets the date for the presidential election and could change it, but that’s unlikely. Congress would have to come back from recess and pass a law. Plus, it would wreak havoc on state and local elections scheduled for the same day.

It’s more likely that states will extend voting hours or relocate polling places that are damaged or without power.

Elections have been postponed in the past, but not at the presidential level. New York City rescheduled mayoral primaries scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001. And New Orleans pushed back municipal elections after Hurricane Katrina.

New York

Lawmaker’s home burns during storm’s onslaught

The home of New York congressman Robert L. Turner was one of about 80 in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens that burned down during the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy.

The Republican lawmaker said in a statement that, along with many other Breezy Point residents, he had lost his home. He expressed gratitude that he and his family were safe after the destructive storm.

The cause of the blaze was still under investigation.

Mr. Turner won his seat in the Queens and Brooklyn area in a special election after Democrat Andrew D. Weiner was forced to resign because of a tweeting scandal. His district is about to be eliminated because of redistricting and he ran unsuccessfully to be the Republican candidate for the Senate in the race against Democratic Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand.

CAMPAIGN

GOP lawmakers unleash ads on Democratic candidate

Imagine a stampeding herd of angry elephants, and you get an idea of what Democrat Richard Carmona is facing now that he’s offended Arizona Republican Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain.

The two Republican incumbents unleashed a television ad Tuesday accusing Mr. Carmona of dishonesty after he implied in a recent ad that they had endorsed him in the hard-fought Arizona Senate race.

“Richard Carmona’s latest ad is the most shameful of all, implying Jon and I support him. We don’t,” says Mr. McCain in the 30-second television spot, which shows him standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Mr. Kyl.

Says Mr. Kyl: “We helped Carmona 10 years ago, but found he’s not the kind of man to represent you in the U.S. Senate. We support Jeff Flake. He’s a proven reformer, and he’s honest.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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