Barbour: Sandy Could Be 'Manna From Heaven' for Obama

Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 09:08 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is predicting a boost in the polls for President Barack Obama as Election Day approaches, due primarily to his strong response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.
 
“The biggest change in the race is to Obama’s favor — and that's been this storm,” the Republican told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, adding that he would be “surprised if he doesn’t make a little bit of a comeback here.”

Barbour said the hurricane, from a political perspective, was “like manna from heaven” for the president, because it allows him to show leadership in directing the government’s response to a natural disaster without having to spend the week before the election defending his record.

Urgent Poll: One Week Until Election Day. Obama or Romney?

“Changing the subject is great for Obama. He's been trying to change the subject all year,” said Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “Any day that Obama's record is not in front of the American people is a relief for Obama.”

Barbour knows something about dealing with natural disasters.

While he was the chief executive of Mississippi, he coordinated his own state's response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, including have to deal with a slow response from the federal government.  He also had to deal with the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Barbour defended New Jersey Gov. Chris Christies' praise of Obama on Tuesday for his quick response to the hurricane in declaring disaster declarations for the state and New York. Christie, one of Mitt Romney's strongest supporters, said Tuesday he didn't "give a damn" about the hurricane's impact on the election.

“The president has been all over this and he deserves great credit,” Christie told NBC News during one interview. “I’ve been on the phone with him, like I said, yesterday, personally three times. He gave me his number at the White House, told me to call him if I needed anything. And he absolutely means it.

“People understand that Chris Christie’s job is to try to protect the lives, the families and the property of the people of New Jersey, and to try to turn around what’s happened and get started in a recovery mode as fast as they can," Barbour said, when asked if Christie’s praise of Obama would hurt the Romney campaign.

“And so I think Chris Christie’s doing exactly what he ought to be doing,” Barbour added. “He’s doing what the people of New Jersey elected him to do."

Barbour also offered some advice to Romney in how to deal with the hurricane, saying it would be best for him “to stay away from getting in the way.”

He said Romney was right to continue campaigning in parts of the country not affected by the hurricane and to encourage people to help in the cleanup and recovery effort as he makes appearances.

Urgent Poll: One Week Until Election Day. Obama or Romney?

“We’re about to elect a president for the next four years, and there are lots of places in the country where he can be campaigning and should be campaigning,” Barbour said.

But he added: “He’s not going to go out and poke at President Obama, just like Chris Christie's not.”

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