Not worried about elections now: Obama
"I am not worried at this point about the impact on the election. I'm worried about the impact on families, and I'm worried about the impact on our first responders. I'm worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation," Obama told reporters at a White House news conference soon after he held a situation room meeting on the hurricane preparedness.
Obama, who is seeking his re-election and was intensively campaigning in key battleground states, has halted his election campaign midway and returned from Florida this morning after cancelling his meeting in Orlando.
He has also cancelled his election meetings on Tuesday. "You know, the election will take care of itself next week. Right now, our number-one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives, that our search-and-rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get food, the water, the shelter that they need in case of emergency, and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track," Obama said.
Florida is one of the key battle ground States, the results of which would determine the next occupant to the White House.
On Monday, a CNN/ORC poll revealed that Obama is tied up with his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Florida. Fifty likely voters opted for Romney and 49 per cent picking Obama.
"The results are unchanged from a similar survey in mid- October, and indicate the number of truly undecided voters in the Sunshine State is nearly non-existent," the reports said.
The poll also shows men in Florida continue to prefer Romney, 55 per cent to 43 per cent, while women tend to prefer Obama, 54 per cent to 45 per cent.
"The President's priority right now is the safety and security of Americans who are in the path of the storm and who will be affected by it. It's essential, in his view, that he be in Washington, one of the areas that will be affected and where his team is, to oversee that effort and to be updated on it," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
"It is true that the President is President 24 hours a day. This is one of the circumstances where, in his view, it makes the most sense for him to be in place in the White House fulfilling those responsibilities," he said responding to questions as to why Obama is returning to the White House.
"This is a time not for politics, but at a moment like this, with a storm as severe as this, with likely impacts as consequential as we will see, the President is very focused on making sure that the federal response effort is comprehensive, that every state and locality has what it needs," Carney said.
"That includes all the prepositioning of resources that FEMA has done in key locations prior to landfall. It includes embedding FEMA officials in state emergency centers so that that communication is immediate. And it includes at the presidential level, directing all responsible parties in the federal government to be taking the necessary steps to ensure that everything possible is done to protect the American people in a storm like this," he said.
Obama Campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki said this is not the time for politics.
"I think this is a case where politics takes a backseat. The President's role is governing the country and doing what he was elected to do four years ago, which is to make sure people have the resources and the information they need. That will be his focus as long as it's needed. And we're not worried about the other piece of this," she said.