President Obama promises ‘anything they need’ to states affected by storm

President Obama focused on preparations for a massive storm on Sunday, stepping off the campaign trail just nine days before the election.

Obama met with officials from FEMA, after attending church with his daughters, and spoke on a conference call with governors and mayors whose states and cities are likely to be affected by the storm. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was on the call.

“Anything they need, we will be there,” Obama said during a news conference at FEMA headquarters in Washington. “And we’re going to cut through red tape. We’re not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules.”

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The Obama campaign scrapped events in Virginia on Monday and Colorado on Tuesday, saying the president would return to Washington to monitor the weather system.

Anticipating severe weather, Obama declared a state of emergency in Maryland, where Governor Martin O’Malley called off early voting for Monday.

Sandy continued to move up the East Coast on Sunday, after leaving more than five dozen people dead in the Caribbean. Forecasters expect the hurricane to converge with a winter storm and a cold front after making landfall, producing a rare hybrid storm that could cause damage from the mid-Atlantic to the Great Lakes in coming days.

Flooding and utility outages could disrupt early voting — and even Election Day polling — in several states.