Campaigns despise the unpredictable nature of real world events unfolding in real time. Schedules and events are planned weeks, sometimes months in advance, resources and teams deployed, and then boom, Russia invades Georgia or a hurricane strikes the Gulf Coast, and everyone has to scramble.
Case in point: Joe Biden (appropriately) scrapped plans today to march in Pittsburgh's labor day parade, and Barack Obama is back this afternoon in Chicago monitoring the storm. Here in Minneapolis what was once supposed to be a GOP coronation is being turned into a Gustav telethon.
Senators Obama and Biden were right to take themselves out of the spotlight this afternoon--with press attention focused on Gustav, any politicking they might have engaged in would not have gotten much coverage anyway and would have left the two open to attacks that they were playing politics in the middle of a national emergency. Today Senators Obama and Biden can place calls to leaders in the Gulf Coast, offering assistance and checking on the storm's status. At the request of Governor Jindal, Senator Obama had already called into New Orleans' radio stations urging residents to leave.
One danger is appearing unconcerned. The other is appearing intrusive. None of the candidates have any specific responsibility in this situation and woe to any who get in the way of serious work. Both campaigns will be monitoring the storm and its impact minute by minute. Both will be prepared to send its candidate to the Gulf Coast when the storm subsides and the cleanup, evacuation or recovery begin. Will one be the first to suggest a joint visit to the other in the spirit of bipartisan unity?
In the meantime, the campaigns will sit and wait and watch for the appropriate moment to appear Presidential, or, if necessary, outraged by the lack of governmental response.