A week to go: Sandy disrupts presidential campaign

Associated Press Modified: October 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm •  Published: October 29, 2012
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Chuck Sikes, manager of a furniture store in Concord, also said both candidates did the right thing. A self-described Obama supporter, he said the president "would have been criticized if he had continued campaigning as not caring for people, yet others will criticize him for returning to Washington as making it a photo op. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't."

The machinery of the campaign ground on. According to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University, about 15 million ballots already have been cast, including 1.8 million in Florida and 1.5 million in North Carolina.

Democratic early voters so far outnumber Republicans in Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada, while the reverse is true in Colorado. The two sides are at rough parity in Florida. No votes will be counted until Nov. 6.

The expansion of television advertising into Pennsylvania began with Restore Our Future, the group that was instrumental to Romney's success in the primaries and has worked to defeat Obama. The commercial says a "new normal" has developed as a result of the president's economic policies, where unemployment is high, "millions of Americans have simply given up, where our children will grow up under the weight of crushing debt in a world where America is no longer the leader."

Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, told reporters to expect an ad in response. "They are not close in Pennsylvania. We're going to win Pennsylvania, but we aren't taking anything for granted." Vice President Joe Biden is expected to campaign in the state before Election Day.

Yet another controversy erupted over a late-campaign television ad the Romney campaign was airing in parts of Ohio.

It says the Republican challenger will do more to support the auto industry than the president. "Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China," the narrator says.

The commercial does not mention that under the 2009 auto industry bailout, the Obama administration made sure that billions in federal loans were available to GM and Chrysler to allow them to emerge from bankruptcy and continue operations, a course that Romney opposed.

Additionally, while Chrysler may move some of its Jeep product line to China, that doesn't threaten production in the United States, as the ad seemed to suggest.

Obama's campaign countered with a commercial that opens with a photo of a shuttered factory, then shows a New York Times column that Romney wrote in 2008 that was headlined: "Let Detroit go Bankrupt."

Says the narrator, "When the auto industry faced collapse, Mitt Romney turned his back. ... And now, after Romney's false claim of Jeep outsourcing to China, Chrysler itself has refuted Romney's lie."

With Obama at the White House at least through Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton campaigned solo in Florida, then joined with Biden in Ohio. Obama's campaign booked Clinton into Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire and Wisconsin for the race's final days.

Biden events in Ohio on Tuesday and in Pennsylvania on Thursday were canceled because of the storm.

Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, campaigned in Florida, and like the man at the top of the ticket, urged supporters to help those in need. "Here at home, people are packaging supplies at our victory centers throughout Florida. Swing by, give a hand," he said.

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Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in Avon Lake, Ohio, Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minn., Norma Love in Concord, N.H., Beth Fouhy in New York, Ken Thomas, Julie Pace and Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington and AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report. Espo reported from Washington.