JEAN LAFITTE, La. — The day after accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Mitt Romney abruptly canceled a campaign appearance in a crucial swing state yesterday to tour a flood-ravaged area of the Louisiana bayou near New Orleans, acknowledging the damage caused by Hurricane Isaac.
The hurricane disrupted the party’s national convention in Tampa, Fla., forcing the cancellation of the first day and causing officials to worry about the message it would send to celebrate the GOP ticket while the storm slammed into New Orleans almost seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina.
“I’m here to learn and obviously to draw some attention to what’s going on here, so that people around the country know that people down here need help,” Romney told Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, both Republicans, in an informal roadside conversation.
Romney’s rival, President Barack Obama, scuttled a speech planned for at a Labor Day festival on Monday in Cleveland, Ohio, to arrange a visit to Louisiana. Yesterday, though, Obama flew to Fort Bliss, Texas, to highlight one of the signature achievements of his presidency: the end of the Iraq war.
He marked the two-year anniversary of the end of combat missions, speaking in an airplane hangar with soldiers standing on an Apache helicopter and two M1 Abrams tanks. Obama’s remarks — and the striking stagecraft — came as his campaign tried to change the focus from the grim picture of his presidency presented during the Republican National Convention to a topic that it views as an overlooked, bright spot.
Obama’s foreign policy generally wins high marks with voters, even if it not foremost on their minds. Romney has typically avoided much discussion on foreign policy. He spent just two minutes of his 37-minute acceptance speech on it and did not mention the on-going war in Afghanistan.