Washington: As a ferocious Hurricane Sandy roared up the US East Coast, both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney changed their campaign plans in their final sprint before the Nov 6 election.
With just eight days to go before what by all accounts would be one of the tightest contests for the White House, Obama scrapped his plans to campaign in Ohio Monday and instead headed back to Washington to monitor the approaching "Frankenstorm".
On Saturday, Obama's campaign cancelled another Monday event in Virginia, as well as a Tuesday morning event in Colorado.
Romney too cancelled his Sunday plans to campaign in Virginia, which is in the storm's path, and instead joined his running mate Paul Ryan for events in Ohio.
The Republican is scheduled to campaign in Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin Monday, then in Ohio Tuesday. A Romney campaign stop scheduled for Tuesday in New Hampshire was cancelled late Sunday afternoon, the campaign announced in an e-mail, CNN reported.
On Sunday, politicos from both sides said it was still too early to tell how the storm would affect the race for the White House, but that access to voting centers would be a concern if effects from the storm persist until Election Day.
"I don't think anybody really knows," top Obama adviser David Axelrod told CNN about the potential political impact of Hurricane Sandy.
"Obviously, we want unfettered access to the polls because we believe that the more people come out, the better we're going to do, and so to the extent that it makes it harder, you know, that's a source of concern. But I don't know how all the politics will sort out."
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain told CBS Sunday the storm could help boost Obama in the eyes of voters, but said he doubted the image of a strong leader would sway voters after months of campaigning.
Obama is being briefed regularly on the storm's path, CNN cited White House officials as saying, and he will balance his campaign with his responsibilities as president.
Romney too faced the task of adopting the right tone during a time of crisis for a large chunk of the East Coast.
CNN cited an unnamed top Republican as saying even "weather-safe" swing states such as Colorado and Ohio might be difficult campaign stops for Romney if Hurricane Sandy devastates the Eastern Seaboard with widespread injuries, deaths or life-threatening situations.
"It gets tricky," the source told CNN. "Optics are important." The Romney campaign will "play it by ear" as the storm unfolds, he added.