President Obama canceled a campaign rally in Orlando, Fla., with former President Bill Clinton on Monday morning and headed directly back to Washington as weather conditions worsened ahead of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall.
“Due to deteriorating weather conditions in the Washington area, the president will not attend today’s campaign event in Orlando,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday morning. “The president will return to the White House to monitor the preparations for and early response to Hurricane Sandy.”
The campaign show will go on without the president. Mr. Clinton still plans to attend the rally at the University of Central Florida, scheduled for this morning at 10 o’clock, at which former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson will speak before him.
Mr. Obama previously canceled events planned for Youngstown, Ohio, and Sterling, Va., on Monday. Shortly after leaving for Washington, Mr. Obama also canceled a Tuesday rally in Green Bay, Wis., to continue to monitor the intensifying storm.
But Mr. Obama managed to drop by his local Orlando campaign office Sunday night to speak with volunteers and deliver pizza, in what Bloomberg’s Hans Nichols described on Twitter as “the most expensive” pizza delivery in history. The president and the White House press corps were in Orlando for just more than 12 hours before the campaign scrapped the appearance, though a majority of the press who weren’t flying on Air Force One were left behind in Florida because pilots deemed it unsafe to fly back to Washington.
Before leaving for Florida on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Obama visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters in Washington for a briefing on the latest preparations for the hurricane.
Mr. Obama met with FEMA Director Craig Fugate and held a conference call with governors and mayors whose states and cities are most likely to be impacted by the storm. Afterward, he said he would cut bureaucratic red tape to speed aid to the states most affected and urged everyone on the Eastern Seaboard to take the storm seriously, visit www.ready.gov to get information on how to prepare, and look out for neighbors and the elderly in their community.
“This is a serious storm,” he said. “[M]y first message is to all the people across the Eastern Seaboard, Mid-Atlantic, going north, that you need to take this very seriously and follow the instructions of your state and local officials, because they are going to be providing you with the best advice in terms of how to deal with this storm over the coming days.”
On Facebook, Twitter and BarackObama.com, Mr. Obama urged everyone to take appropriate safety precautions and encouraged supporters to donate to the Red Cross.
“If you’re on the Eastern Seaboard, please make sure to follow instructions of your state and local officials. Stay safe. -bo,” Mr. Obama tweeted.