President Obama is scheduled to make his sixth visit to New Hampshire on Saturday, even as both presidential campaigns were keeping a watchful eye on Hurricane Sandy and confronting the possibility the storm might force them to reshuffle plans as the campaign enters its final week.
The president is slated to appear with singer James Taylor at a middle school in Nashua. Mitt Romney also plans to visit next week.
But the storm has injected an element of uncertainty into the final scramble by the candidates to nail down swing states, especially East Coast states that could be affected by the storm. The Romney campaign canceled a rally scheduled for Sunday in another battleground state, Virginia, and the Obama campaign announced on Friday it was canceling an appearance in Virginia on Saturday by Vice President Joe Biden. An appearance by Michelle Obama scheduled for Tuesday in Durham, N.H., was also canceled.
In New Hampshire, Obama has led in most polls, and he won the state by nearly 10 percentage points in 2008. But the Romney campaign has been competing more aggressively in the Granite State in recent days, and the Republican’s visit to Manchester on Tuesday will be his first New Hampshire campaign event in weeks.
Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said that while Obama still probably has the upper hand in the state, it made sense for him to guard his flank there, especially in light of polls that show Romney gaining nationally since the first presidential debate.
“Obama spent a lot of time and attention on this state, he wants to make sure it doesn’t get away from him,” Scala said. “And Romney may finally see an opportunity here. After months when he was underwater with his favorables, he wants to steal one here at the last minute.”
The Granite State has only four electoral votes. But with the election so tight, and the electoral map increasingly uncertain, both campaigns are investing precious campaign time there.
Biden is scheduled to campaign with Caroline Kennedy in Keene on Monday, and his wife, Jill Biden, barnstormed the state on Friday, visiting Democratic volunteer headquarters in Concord, Berlin, Conway, and Laconia.
Obama spent Friday at the White House, giving television and radio interviews.
The campaign released an ad in Florida, seemingly aimed at Jewish voters, reiterating his promise not to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Romney campaigned in Ames, Iowa, lambasting Obama after the release of economic data showing the economy grew at a 2 percent rate in the third quarter of the year.
That exceeded analysts’ expectations, but Romney accused Obama of doing too little to turn around the economy.
“There is nothing in what the president proposed or defended that has any prospect of meeting the challenges of the times,” he said.
The Obama campaign fired back: “Romney has started promising ‘big change,’ but the only change Romney’s offering is to take us back to the same failed policies that crashed our economy in the first place,” said a spokeswoman, Lis Smith, in a statement.Alan Wirzbicki can be reached at email@example.com.