WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Barack Obama canceled campaign events in Florida and Wisconsin to return to Washington on Monday and monitor the impact and response to Hurricane Sandy, the White House said.
Obama ended plans to speak at a Florida university in Orlando on Monday and flew back to Washington, a White House spokesman said. Another event scheduled for Tuesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was also canceled.
“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 in a statement.
“The president will return to the White House to monitor the preparations for and early response to Hurricane Sandy,” he said. Obama will remain in Washington on Tuesday to follow the storm’s impact and aftermath, the White House added.
Sandy, a massive storm bearing down on the U.S. East Coast, has forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands residents.
Obama arrived in Florida on Sunday night, coming a day early to try to beat the storm. He was to have held a joint campaign event with former President Bill Clinton.
Clinton, who has been a popular surrogate for Obama, will still attend the rally.
The president delivered pizzas to a local campaign office in Florida on Sunday night and told volunteers that the burden would increase for them because he would have to curtail his campaign activities in the coming days.
Florida and Wisconsin are both critical states in the November 6 election. Obama has also canceled events in the swing states of Virginia and Colorado because of the storm.
Despite the drawback of canceling events roughly a week before Election Day, the storm gives Obama an opportunity to appear presidential in the middle of a natural disaster.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has also canceled campaign events as a result of the storm.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech and Mohammad Zargham)