What's a Veep to do?
Image by John Moore / Getty Images
As President Barack Obama flew into Atlantic City Wednesday to survey storm damage, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declared, when asked about Mitt Romney's comments on FEMA funding, that "it's not a time for politics."
"This is a time to focus on what was a devastating storm and the terrible aftermath of that storm," Carney said. "New Jersey was by many measures the hardest hit state, I believe that's correct. It is entirely appropriate for the president to visit New Jersey and receive updates on the efforts there to recover and to view first hand the damage inflicted by Sandy. This is not a time for politics."
Just as Carney was speaking those words, Vice President Joe Biden was in Florida and seemingly missed the memo, returning to a campaign schedule and vigorously attacking the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Biden prefaced his remarks saying that he was going to give voters "the whole load," because he was angry with the Republicans' statements over the past few days. He accused Romney of trying to scare the "living devil” out of voters in Ohio with his auto-bailout ad, saying union members called their unions representatives to ask if the erroneous report that Jeep was moving jobs China was true.
"What a cynical, cynical thing to do," Biden added.
And, Biden wasn't just campaigning for Obama — he joked with a Republican at a Florida restaurant that "after it's all over when your insurance rates go down, then you'll vote for me in 2016."
As both campaigns struggle with the politics of a natural disaster, some of the contradictions may be inevitable. These are political campaigns geared toward a re-election just six days away. President Obama's posture is simple: He has a job to do, and he's doing it. The Vice President's job is, as is often the case, less clear.