Sandy Complicates Final Stretch Of Tense U.S. Presidential Race

A tense and unpredictable race for the White House became even more so on Monday, as mammoth storm Sandy created delicate political challenges for President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney and raised the possibility of a chaotic voting process.

As the deadly storm barreled ashore on the paralyzed East Coast, the presidential campaign went into what amounted to a deep freeze just when Obama and Romney had planned to launch their final push for votes in the November 6 election.

It also forces the Republican challenger to walk a fine line when considering whether to launch political attacks against Obama as the president deals with a crisis.

And if the government's response to the storm is broadly deemed a success, it could be a stark reminder that Romney has advocated dramatically cutting back funding for federal relief agencies, saying that such duties should be shifted to the states or perhaps the private sector.

"This throws a monkey wrench into the campaign for both sides," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. "Nobody wants to look political in the middle of a crisis."

Read more from John Whitesides and Patricia Zengerle at Reuters

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