The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Breaking News

October 31, 2012

Obama tours storm damage, Romney mutes rhetoric

(Continued)

BRIGANTINE, N.J. —

His reference to a $25 billion cost to taxpayers reflected the Treasury Department's most recent estimate of the amount General Motors and Chrysler still owe the government from the financing it received during a managed bankruptcy in 2009.

Ryan didn't mention that the two companies have repaid billions more than that. Nor did he refer to Obama's frequent claim that the administration's bailout, which Romney opposed, saved large numbers of jobs and prevented the collapse of the U.S. auto industry itself.

Obama's aides said the president would return to political travel on Thursday with stops in Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado. But for one more day, he was hands-on commander of the federal response to Sandy, and consoler-in-chief for its victims.

Obama's New Jersey itinerary included a community center in Brigantine Beach that is serving as a shelter for local storm victims. Officials said about 200 people were sleeping in the center's gym at the height of the storm, a number that has been reduced.

The political impact of the storm on the race was difficult to gauge.

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod told reporters it had "tended to freeze this race" in place because "people are focused on the storm. That's what's been in the news."

Not everyone, and not all the time.

In the race's final days, Romney's campaign aired ads in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, two states long considered safe for the president. Republican's allies are airing commercials in Michigan and New Mexico.

Obama's aides insisted the states were safe for him, but it dispatched former President Bill Clinton to Minnesota, and purchased airtime in the other three states to respond to the Republicans.

Both campaigns invested in get-out-the-vote operations in the run-up to Election Day.

Officials in Florida said more than 2.6 billion ballots had been cast as of Tuesday night. Democrats voted in slightly higher numbers than Republicans, but nearly 450,000 voters were independents.

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