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‘Image game’: Obama, Romney grapple with Sandy

Updated

With Hurricane Sandy pummeling several battleground states a mere week before Election Day, President Obama and Mitt Romney are facing a delicate balancing act in trying to handle the deadly storm.

“This is, for better or worse, an image game now,” The Nation’s John Nichols told msnbc’s Chris Matthews on Monday, adding: “Nobody wants to be seen out having fun campaigning or having a big event.”

In light of the storm, which could ravage swing states like North Carolina, Virginia, and New Hampshire, Obama and Romney have cancelled  scheduled campaign events on Monday and Tuesday.  The president says he is focusing on the federal response to the potentially deadly weather. Meanwhile, Team Romney said it’s now “time for the nation and its leaders to come together to focus on those Americans who are in harm’s way.

Nichols said Romney’s challenge will be deciding when to go back into campaign mode. “How hard do you attack a president who seems to be putting all of his energy into helping the American people survive a storm? It’s very hard to go out there and say what a bad guy he is. This scrambles the rest of the campaign.”

He said the president is in an “ideal position so long as the response to this disaster is well done. If there’s a messup…that can blow back on the leader.”

Matthews said it had been “bothering me for weeks” that Obama had not been able to gain a natural advantage due to his incumbency. “Now he’s forced to take advantage of his incumbency. He has a job to do,” said Matthews.

Still, neither campaign is putting things on hold entirely: Both are continuing to run TV ads in swing states.

'Image game': Obama, Romney grapple with Sandy

Updated