Sometimes when major news breaks out around the country that overshadows whatever we are doing on Capitol Hill, one of us will often say, “We’re off the radar,” knowing that we have little chance of breaking through the top story and getting on the air.
One week before Election Day, the race for the White House has hit that point, at least for a day or so.
As pictures started coming in last night of water pouring through the streets of Lower Manhattan and into the New York subway system, it wasn’t hard to imagine how that would be the top story on the major networks for more than just Tuesday, especially since both President Obama and Mitt Romney weren’t planning a quick re-start on their campaigning.
Romney did have one stop in Davenport, Iowa on Monday before pulling the plug on his first trip to Wisconsin since August; Romney will make his next appearance in the Dayton, Ohio area on Tuesday, transforming a rally into an event to raise Hurricane Sandy relief money.
President Obama will be at the White House on Tuesday after scrapping a trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin.
It was unclear on Monday night as to when both men would resume serious campaign travel.
It’s hard to believe that’s where we find ourselves with just seven days to go until Election Day.
This is our October Surprise – where the campaign for President is not the lede story with a week to go.
While the candidates are not holding rallies, their surrogates and allies are still going full tilt.
One Super PAC that backs Romney, Restore Our Future, will start running ads in Pennsylvania against the President, a move that has forced the hand of the Obama campaign into paying for its own ads in the Keystone State.
Pennsylvania is a very intriguing state at this point; maybe in a week we will look back and say it was crazy to think that Pennsylvania would suddenly go from a ‘safe’ state for Democrats to Mitt Romney’s column.
Or we might look back and realize that Romney’s victory in Pennsylvania was the key to him winning on Election Night.
Democrats on Monday scoffed at the idea that Romney had anything akin to momentum in Pennsylvania or other states, as they slapped down any talk about a Romney win.
“We know, and you know that we are winning,” said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a conference call with reporters.
Republicans meanwhile continued to send out detailed memos to reporters on why they believe the GOP is winning the early vote battle in key states, like in Florida, where the GOP said that on “a county by county basis there is more evidence of GOP momentum.”
This is part of a tit-for-tat back and forth that has been going on for days; one party will claim the advantage in early voting, and then the other party will fire back by mining its own data points from the exact same early vote/absentee ballot information, coming up with a completely different conclusion on which party has the edge.
One of them will be right next week.
And one of them will not.
But for the next day or two, the highlights of this campaign won’t be in the big time rallies being held by the candidates – instead, it will be the grunt work being done in the trenches by local campaign organizers and volunteers.
They are the ones who work under the radar for months at a time, gearing up for one final week of work before Election Day.
As veteran sportscaster Don Criqui loves to say on fourth down in a football game, “Everybody loves a gambler until he loses.”
Both sides are now ready for that fourth down call. We’ll see who wins this battle of strategies on get out in the vote efforts in Ohio, Florida and other key states.
You have one week to do your work.