President Obama, Gov. Christie tour hurricane damage in NJ - FOX 32 News Chicago

President Obama, Gov. Christie tour hurricane damage in NJ

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In addition to claiming dozens of lives and causing billions of dollars in damage, Hurricane Sandy also brought the Presidential campaign screeching to a halt.

With the cleanup continuing and power slowly returning, the candidates and their running-mates were all back in the spotlight Wednesday.

But, incumbent Barack Obama enjoyed a special status. By turns Wednesday, President Obama was consoler-in-chief to storm victims grieving their losses and commander-in-chief deploying the vast disaster-relief resources of the federal government.

As the President greeted residents of the devastated New Jersey shore, Republican Governor Chris Christie was beside him every step of the way. But the Mitt Romney surrogate, who was recently blasting Barack Obama as a hack "Chicago ward politician" and a failed leader, had only warm praise for the President today.

"We're doing the jobs that people elected us to do," Gov. Christie said. "And I cannot thank the President enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state, for the people of our state."

"We are here for you. And we will not forget. We will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you rebuild," President Obama said to the people of Atlantic City.

Without any of the advantages held by an incumbent President, challenger Mitt Romney campaigned with Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Jeb Bush at a series of high-energy rallies in Florida, appealing at each stop for donations to storm relief.

"If you have the capacity to send a dollar or two or a lot more to people there, you can send that through the Red Cross or Salvation Army or any other group," Mitt Romney said in Coral Gables. "But I want you to know that's one of the great characteristics of our people. We come together in times of trial. And this is one of those times for millions of people in our country."

One opinion survey found nearly 80% approve the President's handling of the storm crisis, including 63% of Republicans.

For the second day in a row, former President Bill Clinton was linking the disaster to the issue of climate change. In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Wednesday, Clinton again lambasted Romney's speech to the Republican Convention. It mocked President Obama's 2008 promise to address climate change and to slow down the rising of the ocean levels, which scientists say was one cause of the catastrophic flooding that just hit New York.

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