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Obama tours N.Y., vows to help region rebuild from storm

NEW YORK — President Obama got his first look Thursday at the devastation that Hurricane Sandy waged on New York City, with a helicopter tour above flood-ravaged and burned-out sections of Queens and Staten Island and meetings with victims and emergency workers.

Obama said that he was assigning Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and ­Urban Development, to oversee the area’s long-term recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

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“I’m very proud of you, New York,’’ the president said after meeting with emergency workers on Staten Island. ‘‘You guys are tough; you bounced back just as America always bounces back. The same is going to be true this time.’’

The president said he wanted federal officials to work with state and local leaders in New York and New Jersey, ‘‘to come up with a game plan for how we’re going to be able to resource the rebuilding process.’’

‘‘It’s going to require everybody to focus on getting the job done,’’ the president said. ‘‘We’re going to have to put some of the turf battles aside, we’re going to have to make sure everybody’s focused on doing the job as opposed to worrying about who’s getting the credit or who’s getting the contracts and all that stuff that sometimes goes into the rebuilding process.’’

Obama toured Staten Island on a day of thin, almost hazy sun, a bright contrast to the ominous, slate-gray sky just before and just after the storm hurled a wall of water against the coast. He flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport and boarded a helicopter that took him over the Rockaway Peninsula and over Breezy Point, a waterfront community where 100 homes were destroyed in a fire.

The storm killed more than 100 people as it churned up the East Coast, with most of the deaths in low-lying sections of New York and New Jersey. But it exacted a particularly high toll on Staten Island. Of 43 deaths attributed to the storm in New York City, 23 were on Staten Island. But the storm also left millions without power and thousands in need of homes.

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Obama met privately with Damien and Glenda Moore, whose young sons, Brandon and Connor, died after being swept away in the storm. He also met with people waiting in line at an emergency response center at Staten Island’s New Dorp High School, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Administration, IRS, Red Cross, and city agencies have tents to help survivors.

Obama’s reelection support
from gays called decisive

NEW YORK — While President Obama’s lopsided support among Latino and other minority voters has been a focus of postelection analysis, the overwhelming support he received from another growing demographic group — Americans who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual — has received much less attention.

But the backing Obama received from gay voters also has a claim on having been decisive. Mitt Romney and Obama won roughly an equal number of votes among straight voters nationwide, exit polls showed. And, a new study argues, Romney appears to have won a narrow victory among straight voters in the swing states of Ohio and Florida.

Obama’s more than 3-to-1 edge in exit polls among the 5 percent of voters who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual was more than enough to give him the ultimate advantage, according to the study, by Gary J. Gates of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, in conjunction with Gallup.

GOP congressman’s wife had two abortions, records show

NASHVILLE — Republican Representative Scott DesJarlais testified during divorce proceedings that he and his former wife made a ‘‘mutual’’ decision for her to have two abortions.

The 2001 court transcripts were released Thursday by the state Democratic Party, which had tried to air the documents before the Nov. 6 election. A DesJarlais spokesman didn’t return a message seeking comment. DesJarlais easily won a second term despite revelations that he once urged a patient with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion. DesJarlais, who opposed abortion, acknowledged the conversation but said he was only trying to get her to admit she wasn’t pregnant. Transcripts show the woman testified under oath that she had been pregnant. She declined to elaborate on the outcome of the pregnancy.

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