Republican challenger Mitt Romney also shelved many of his campaign plans but held a "storm relief" event near Dayton, Ohio. Romney ignored repeated questions from reporters about whether he wished to scale back the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a position he advocated during a GOP primary debate.
Obama will visit New Jersey today, touring damage with Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican with his own presidential aspirations. Christie said early Tuesday that 2.4 million New Jersey households were without power, twice the number that lost electricity during Irene.
"I spoke to the president three times yesterday," Christie said on CNN. "He's been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state, and not once did he bring up the election. . . . If he's not bringing it up, I'm certainly not going to bring it up."
Later in the day Christie toured the coastal towns by helicopter.
The governor vowed to rebuild:
"This is the kind of thing New Jerseyans are built for - we're plenty tough, and now we have a little more reason to be angry after this," he said. "Just what we need in New Jersey - a chance to be a little more angry."
After claiming 69 lives in the Caribbean, Hurricane Sandy was officially reclassified as a nontropical storm because of its unusual dynamics shortly before it came ashore at 8 p.m. Monday in Atlantic City. But it still packed sustained hurricane-force winds of 80 mph or more, and it produced dangerous flood tides as high as 13 feet , the National Hurricane Center said.
By about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sandy was classified a post-tropical cyclone. Meteorologists said Sandy lost some characteristics of a tropical storm because of its collision with arctic air. But that collision also created an unusually large and dangerous storm system spanning nearly 1,000 miles and dumping as much as 2 feet of snow in mountainous areas.
In its latest incarnation, Sandy was weakening while moving slowly westward across southern Pennsylvania, its maximum sustained winds dropping to 45 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. It said high-wind warnings were in effect along the central to southern Appalachians and across portions of the Great Lakes. Storm warnings remained in effect along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts from Virginia to Massachusetts and across the Great Lakes.
U.S. stock markets remained closed for a second day Tuesday. It was the first time that the New York Stock Exchange was closed for two straight days because of weather since a major blizzard struck the city in 1888.
Sandy also forced the evacuation of coastal communities in Massachusetts while authorities in Maine shut down the Port of Portland.
Earlier Monday off the North Carolina coast, the tall ship HMS Bounty sank; 14 crew members were rescued by the Coast Guard, but one crew member drowned and the captain was missing.
"We are certain that this is going to be a slow-moving process through a wide swath of the country, and millions of people are going to be affected," Obama told reporters at the White House on Monday before Sandy came ashore. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has pre-positioned supplies and is working closely with state and local officials.
The storm touched an estimated 60 million people in its path from North Carolina to New England and is expected to wreak billions of dollars in damage. "Sandy is unfolding as the Northeast's Katrina in terms of impact," said AccuWeather meteorologist Steve Wistar, referring to the hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2005.