Republicans were unrepentant as Romney struggled for a breakthrough in the Midwest.
"American taxpayers are on track to lose $25 billion as a result of President Obama's handling of the auto bailout, and GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas," said an emailed statement issued in the name of Republican running mate Paul Ryan.
The two storms -- one inflicted by nature, the other whipped up by rival campaigns -- were at opposite ends of a race nearing its end in a flurry of early balloting by millions of voters, unrelenting advertising and so many divergent polls that the result was confusion, not clarity.
In the race's final days, Romney's campaign aired ads in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, two states long considered safe for the president. Republican's allies are airing commercials in Michigan and New Mexico.Obama's aides insisted the states were safe for him, but it dispatched former President Bill Clinton to Minnesota, and purchased airtime in the other three states to respond to the Republicans.
Obama's aides said the president would return to political travel on Thursday with stops in Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado. But for one more day, he was hands-on commander of the federal response to Sandy, and consoler-in-chief for its victims.
National surveys make the race a tight one for the popular vote, with Romney ahead by a statistically insignificant point or two in some, and Obama in others.
Both sides claim an advantage from battleground state soundings that also are tight. Obama's aides contend he is ahead or tied in all of them, while Romney's team counters that his campaign is expanding in its final days into what had long been deemed safe territory for the president in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
The storm added yet another element of uncertainty, as Obama spent a third straight day embracing his role as incumbent and Romney tried to tread lightly during a major East Coast disaster.