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Opinion

Bessent: Hurricane Sandy offers pause from a very ugly campaign

Former New Hampshire governor and former chief of

Former New Hampshire governor and former chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, John Sununu, questioned Colin Powell's motivation for endorsing President Barack Obama. Credit: Patrick Whittle

Hurricane Sandy has forced a time-out in the increasingly nasty presidential campaign.

Sandy-anticipation has essentially shut down the New York City region and much of the East Coast. But to borrow a cliché, “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.” The consequences of the storm are yet to be assessed, but for now, the public could use a break from this mean-spirited race as it enters the homestretch.

A persistent racial gap – polls show blacks and Hispanics overwhelmingly support Obama while the majority of whites favor Romney -- has prompted some ugly, tactics.

Take Mitt Romney campaign co-chairman John Sununu’s dig that former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Obama recently only because he’s black. “When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President
Obama,” he told CNN Thursday. “I think when you have someone of your own race that you’re proud of being president, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”

Criticized for his racial reductionism, Sununu walked back the comment in subsequent days. But it followed previous Sununu takes that Obama tanked in the first debate because “he’s lazy,” and in July, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”

Reasonable people might wonder if racial identification figures in Sununu’s decision about whom he supports.

Romney has not disavowed his staffer’s comments, or widespread Republican attempts at voter suppression via voter ID laws and early voting restrictions that have a disproportionate impact on poor and minority voters.

And “birther” in chief Donald Trump, is still pursuing the bogus assertion that Obama isn’t a real American, now offering $5 million to the charity of the president’s choice if he discloses his passport and college applications. Apparently his birth certificate isn’t good enough.

Amid the rabble-rousing President Barack Obama left the campaign trail Sunday, maybe for two or three days, to do his day job managing the federal emergency response. Republican Mitt Romney cancelled appearances in Virginia and New Hampshire and instead joined running mate Paul Ryan Sunday in tiny, rural Celina Ohio, before moving on Monday to Wisconsin. But with Mother Nature providing a compelling alternate story-line, voters may be paying little attention.

The television advertising blitz won’t stop, but even there, candidates are competing with round-the-clock storm coverage.Sandy is a timely reminder that we’re all in this together.

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