MIAMI (CBS4) – They are called “October surprises” – events which happen days before an election which could change the results.
The past 24 hours may just be that.
As states pick up the pieces in the wake of Hurricane Sandy all eyes are on the federal response. Already President Barrack Obama is getting praise from an unusual place.
“The cooperation from the President of the United States has been outstanding. He deserves great credit,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on CBS This Morning.
The praise was surprising given just a few months ago Christie endorsed Governor Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention.
Later in the day when asked about it at a press conference Christie replied, “I don’t give a damn about election day. It doesn’t matter a lick to me at the moment. I’ve got much bigger fish to fry than that and so do the people of the state of New Jersey.”
For the moment both parties are playing it down.
U.S. Representative Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) said Christie “Enthusiastically supports President Romney instead of President Obama but you dance with the one who’s there. And President Obama is the chief right now.”
Meanwhile former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said Christie was just being truthful.
“Governor Christie of New Jersey could not have been kinder about the president and the federal government’s response. That’s the right thing to do first. People can make a political judgment after that,” said Emmanuel said in an interview Tuesday afternoon via satellite with CBS4.
“It could have some bearing on the outcome,” according to University of Miami Political Science Professor Gregory Koger who believes hurricane response could impact swing states.
“There is research on the effect of disasters and one strand of research says ‘yes, if the incumbent administration really screws up the response, it’s too slow, disorganized, people suffer, that incumbent and his party will suffer serious losses’,” said Koger.
On the other hand, if the recovery is done right, Romney could be judged on something he said on the campaign trail when he suggested to privatize federal emergency management or hand it over to the states.
“That position may be an interesting sell based in the context of a massive hurricane,” said Koger.
It is an issue that could impact hurricane damaged Virginia, a swing state that was split before Sandy arrived.
For the moment it is unclear how this will play out.
Romney is already ramping of effects to get back on the campaign trail and in front of cameras. He is expected to arrive at the University of Miami on Wednesday to discuss hurricane recovery. He then will head to Virginia trying to make an impact with just days left in this election.