BRIGANTINE, N.J. -- President Barack Obama soberly toured the destruction wrought by superstorm Sandy on Wednesday in the company of New Jersey's Republican governor and assured victims "we will not quit" until cleanup and recovery are complete. Six days before their hard-fought election, rival Mitt Romney muted criticism of Obama as he barnstormed battleground Florida.
Forsaking partisan politics for the third day in a row, the president helicoptered with Gov. Chris Christie over washed-out roads, flooded homes, boardwalks bobbing in the ocean and, in Seaside Heights, a fire still burning after ruining about eight structures.
"I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and the people of our state," Christie, praising what he called "a great working relationship" that started even before the storm hit.
"The president has been outstanding in this," Christie said.
"Gov. Christie throughout this process has been responsive. He's been aggressive in making sure the state got out in front of this incredible storm," Obama added, thanking the Republican for his "extraordinary leadership and partnership."
Said Obama of the governor, "He has put his heart and soul into making sure the people of New Jersey bounce back stronger than before."
The president introduced one local woman to "my guy Craig Fugate." In a plainspoken demonstration of the power of the presidency, Obama instructed the man at the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a 7,500-employee federal agency, to "make sure she gets the help she needs" immediately.
Despite the tour and Romney's own expressions of sympathy for storm victims -- a break on the surface from heated campaigning -- a controversy as heated as any in the long, intense struggle for the White House flared over the Republican challenger's new television and radio ads in Ohio.
"Desperation," Vice President Joe Biden said of the broadcast claims that suggested automakers General Motors and Chrysler are adding jobs in China at the expense of workers in the bellwether state. "One of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember."