Mitt Romney has visited America’s hurricane-battered Gulf region in an attempt to project an aura of leadership, a day after accepting the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in this year’s election.
Romney met up with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal south of New Orleans on Friday, his motorcade passing by flooded homes and submerged gas stations as residents stood in water where there should have been front lawns.
The two talked about some of the challenges facing the surrounding community, which relies on fishing for its livelihood.
“I’m here to learn and obviously draw some attention to what’s going on here,” Romney said.
“So that people around the country know that people down here need help.”
Romney shook up his itinerary to get to Louisiana and inspect Hurricane Isaac’s damage.
It was the kind of trip better associated with a president than a presidential candidate – Romney has no authority to direct help – but he did draw attention to the plight of victims there.
The White House offered no complaints.
Romney is locked in a tight race as Republicans have wrapped up their convention and Democrats prepare for theirs next week.
Hurricane Isaac forced the Republicans to cancel the first day of their convention.
Isaac left a wake of misery in Louisiana, with dozens of neighbourhoods under deep flood waters and more than 800,000 people without power.
While New Orleans was spared major damage, the storm walloped surrounding suburbs, topping smaller levees with days of rain and forcing more than 4,000 from their homes.
Meanwhile, Obama, intent on flexing the powers of the presidency in pursuit of re-election, made plans to visit the hurricane-battered Gulf region on Monday.
Obama further underscored his record as commander in chief by scheduling a visit with troops in Texas on Friday, exactly two years after declaring the end of the US combat mission in Iraq.
Democrats gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, next week for Obama’s convention.
They hope the convention will, at a minimum, neutralise any Republican bounce out of their convention in Tampa.
Obama narrowly won North Carolina in 2008 and scheduled his 2012 convention there in hopes of repeating the unexpected feat.
Romney’s path to victory is severely complicated unless he puts the state back in the Republican column.
In the lead-up to his convention, Obama was campaigning this weekend in Iowa and Colorado, before surveying storm damage in Louisiana on Monday.
He cancelled a scheduled stop in Cleveland to go to the Gulf.
Where Romney gave a shout-out to members of the military during his rally, Obama was able to sign an executive order to improve access to mental health services for veterans, service members and military families.
Obama’s campaign issued a morning-after critique of Romney’s convention speech that faulted the Republican nominee for skipping over failings in his record on job-creation as Massachusetts governor and for not being up-front with voters about details of his economic plans that Obama says would reduce taxes for the wealthy and increase burdens on the middle class.
“Thursday was Mitt Romney’s big night to tell America his plans for moving forward, yet he chose not to,” the Obama campaign said in a web video.
Romney heads into the campaign’s final days with his primary focus on jobs and the economy, and depicting Obama as a well-meaning but inept man who must be replaced.
“America has been patient,” Romney said in his speech to the nation Thursday night.
“Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page.”