WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday expressed confidence that his administration is prepared to take on Hurricane Sandy and said he's not concerned about the impact it will have on the elections.
During brief remarks at the White House, Obama said he has been working with the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to coordinate for what is "obviously" going to be a "big and powerful storm." He said the center of the storm is expected to make landfall along the East Coast on Monday night. But because of its size, millions of people across the country will be affected, particularly when it comes to power outages and transportation.
"The most important message that I have for the public right now is, 'Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying,'' Obama said. "When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay. Don't pause. Don't question the instructions being given because this is a serious storm and could potentially have fatal consequences."
Obama gave his remarks right after coming out of a Situation Room briefing on the storm. Among those in the meeting, via video teleconference, were Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Energy Secretary Chu and National Hurricane Center Director Richard Knabb.
The president emphasized that he has been working with state and local officials to ensure everybody has the resources they need, including food, water and electricity generators.
"At this point, there are no unmet needs," Obama said.
Straddling the line between his presidency and his candidacy for reelection, Obama added that "the great thing about America" is that people pull together in tough times. "We set aside whatever issues we may have otherwise to respond appropriately and with swiftness, and that's exactly what I anticipate is going to happen here."
Asked by a reporter if he is worried about the storm affecting the election, he said no.
"I am not worried at this point about the impact on the election. I am worried about the impact on families. I am worried about the impact on our first responders. I am worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation," Obama said. "The election will take care of itself next week."