The massive superstorm barreling toward the Eastern Seaboard will keep President Barack Obama from a planned campaign visit today in Youngstown.
The White House late Sunday announced that Obama plans to make his scheduled campaign visit to Orlando, Fla., earlier in the day today, however, with the impending landfall of Hurricane Sandy, Obama scratched Youngstown off his list to head back to Washington, the White House announced. The Youngstown event will move forward with President Clinton and now include Vice President Joe Biden.
Doors will now open at 2 p.m., and the event is expected to begin at ap-proximately 3:30 p.m. at Youngstown's Covelli Centre.
Obama instead will be at the White House where he will be receiving regular briefs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Hurricane Director and others.
Sunday's planned Obama campaign event with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Youngstown also was canceled.
Emanuel, who was set to visit the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, canceled his visit due to scheduling conflicts. Emanuel, President Obama's former Chief of Staff, was supposed to be promoting early voting for Obama.
The unprecedented storm menacing the East Coast was wreaking havoc on the best-laid campaign plans of both Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, frantically seeking to close the deal with voters with precious few days left in an incredibly close race.
Romney on Sunday canceled three stops he had planned in Virginia and instead opted to stay in Ohio for a bit longer.
The White House hopefuls aren't letting the storm dampen their political prowess completely, instead they are fighting to show their concern for the areas to be effected by Hurricane Sandy.
Obama, preparing to depart for Florida Sunday, a day early to beat the storm, got an update from disaster relief officials before speaking by phone to affected governors and mayors.
"Anything they need, we will be there," Obama said. "And we are going to cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules. We want to make sure that we are anticipating and leaning forward."
An opportunity for Obama to demonstrate steady leadership in the face of crisis was offset by the risk that the federal government, as in past emergencies, could be faulted for an ineffective response, with the president left to take the fall.
Romney campaigned with running mate Paul Ryan in Ohio before heading Monday to Wisconsin, where Romney has chipped away at Obama's lead.
"Let's today when we get home put in our prayers the people who are in the East Coast in the wake of this big storm that's coming," Ryan said in Celina, Ohio.
Romney's wife, Ann Romney, called off her Monday events. Campaign staffers planned to collect supplies for Virginia storm victims, and a Republican party spokesman said Romney's campaign bus would be used for "relief efforts throughout the East Coast."
Also vexing to Obama and Romney was the prospect that bad weather could hinder early voting and get-out-the-vote efforts.
"Obviously, we want unfettered access to the polls, because we think the more people that come out, the better we're going to do," said David Axelrod, a top adviser to Obama's campaign. "To the extent that it makes it harder, that's a source of concern."
In Virginia, one of the most competitive states in the race, election officials eased absentee voting requirements for those affected by the storm.
"The state board of elections is already planning for extended hours in advance for absentee voting, and it's now a priority, moved up to the same level as hospitals and police stations to have power restored," said Gov. Bob McDonnell, a top Romney ally.
Getting voters to the polls - whether early or on Election Day - is one of the few elements of the race still in the candidates' control. Although Romney and Obama are in a close contest for the popular vote, the president continues to have the upper hand in the most contested states.
Reince Priebus, the GOP chairman, pointed to recent gains for Romney that have lifted him to a virtual tie in most national polls. "The challenger always wins in a tie race," he said.
With time running out, both campaigns appeared to be fine-tuning their map of the states where they're campaigning the hardest.
A senior Republican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose private deliberations, said Sunday that the Romney team was seriously discussing sending Romney, Ryan or both to Minnesota during the final week. The state hasn't gone Republican in the presidential race since 1972, but recent polling shows a tighter race there than most anticipated.
In a flashback to the 2008 race, Obama's campaign announced that Biden will campaign Thursday in Pennsylvania, reprising a visit to his hometown of Scranton that he made during the final week four years ago. Pennsylvania, too, has been Democratic territory in recent years, but Romney has continued to contest the state with an advertising assist from the Republican Party.
Axelrod, Priebus and McDonnell spoke on CNN's "State of the Union." Warner spoke on "Fox News Sunday."