A conservative Valley political strategist said superstorm Sandy has overtaken the economy as the top presidential campaign issue.
Stan Barnes with Copperstate Consulting said there is no way for the candidates to avoid one of the worst storms in American history and they need to be delicate in addressing it.
“This storm is now in charge of the campaign,” he said. “It’s dominating everything, including the turnout for the election.”
Barnes credits both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s approaches to the crisis, but Romney is in a difficult spot.
“It has been a push for Romney,” he said. “He’s caught between looking presidential and staying out of the way while President Obama does his job. Romney has handled it very well.”
Barnes said there is now a startling similarity between the 2008 and 2012 election.
“President Obama was and is on the ticket during a national catastrophe,” he said. “The 2008 economic crisis nearly swallowed up the nation and played well for Barack Obama. Now with the storm of the century that helps Obama. Obama has been helped by unprecedented disasters twice.”
Barnes said both candidates are in uncharted territory on how to handle the storm as a campaign issue.
“There’s nothing the Republicans could have done,” he said. “Totally out of their control and not on any campaign consultant’s playbook.
“All a candidate can do is stay out of the way and let the important issue take center stage and that generally favors the incumbent and that’s what is happening right now.”