Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

President visits victims of storm

President Barack Obama is greeted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie upon his arrival at Atlantic City International Airport (AP)

US president Barack Obama has joined one of his top Republican critics to visit victims of superstorm Sandy.

It gave Americans a high-profile display of presidential leadership while leaving rival Mitt Romney awkwardly on the sidelines less than a week before election day.

Mr Obama visited New Jersey, the state hardest hit by the storm which hammered much of the north-eastern United States, accompanied by governor Chris Christie.

The governor has been one of Mr Romney's most prominent supporters, but he has been effusive in his praise of Mr Obama's response to the storm.

Mr Christie greeted Mr Obama as Air Force One landed on a sunny, breezy day in Atlantic City. The two men boarded the presidential helicopter for an hour-long aerial tour of the storm damage.

In one town, someone had written "ROMNEY" in large letters in the sand that covered the ground.

"I want to let you know that your governor is working overtime," Mr Obama told people at an emergency shelter after the tour. "The entire country has been watching what's been happening. Everybody knows how hard Jersey has been hit."

They spoke with victims and Mr Christie said: "It's really important to have the president of the United States here."

Although Mr Obama has suspended campaigning for three days in a tight race and New Jersey is safe Democratic territory, the tour with Mr Christie offers him clear advantages.

Mr Romney, meanwhile, must walk a careful line. Aggressive attacks on Mr Obama could appear unseemly during a national crisis. Yet he is running out of time to make his case to voters ahead of next Tuesday's vote.

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