by Ray Fleming

If their preparation has not been affected by Hurricane Sandy, America's employment figures for October should be published in Washington today. The September figures gave President Obama some encouragement after his dismal failure in first TV debate and it has been assumed that the October job statistics would be significant in shaping last minute opinion before next Tuesday's voting. Whether that will prove to be the case in the dramatically changed situation in several key States and, to a leser extent in the nation as a whole, is difficult to judge.

What can be said is that in the TV coverage of President Obama's visit to New Jersey on Wednesday to examine for himself the damage inflicted by Sandy, and in the brief speech he made there, the nation was able to see a man totally in control of an appalling situation and showing an authority that had the stamp of a commander-in-chief. Barack Obama has been careful not to let the slightest political dimension into his handling of this disaster. His brief summary of how the resources of the Federal Emergency Agency have been brought into play was particularly impressive. By contrast, keen political observers have recalled that during the Republican primaries Mitt Romney said very clearly that central government could not afford disaster relief and should hand it to the States or, even better, to the private sector.