The campaigns of President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney were careful with their politics Wednesday as the president toured the New Jersey coast ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. David Axelrod, senior campaign adviser to Obama, told reporters he was "hesitant" to gauge what impact the tour with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would have on the campaign.
"This is a disaster of huge proportions," Axelrod said during a conference call with reporters. "The president is doing what his responsibilities require. That includes touring New Jersey to offer the support of the people of this country, to tour the area, to speak first-hand with the first responders and the elected officials on the scene."
A White House pool report filed by Politico.com cited Christie, a Republican and regular campaign surrogate for Romney, heaping praise on Obama during a tour of Brigantine Wednesday afternoon.
"It's really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that's going on here in New Jersey and I appreciate it very much," Christie said, according to the pool report. "We're going to work together to make sure we get ourselves through this crisis and get everything back to normal. Thank you for coming, sir."
Romney senior adviser Russ Schriefer, during a later conference call with reporters, repeatedly said Christie was doing his job when asked if the tour was a political problem.
"He is the governor of a state that has been hit by a very horrific storm," Schriefer said. "The president is doing what he needs to do as president."
Don't look for this caution to last much longer. Axelrod predicted Obama would soon be back in campaign fighting form.
"We've passed a threshold here," Axelrod said. "We do have an election Tuesday. We owe it to folks to make the final argument."