POLITICS

Hurricane Joaquin causes a few presidential candidates to scramble campaign schedule

From left to right: Gov. Chris Christie, Hurricane Joaquin and Donald Trump. (Photos: Getty Images)

From left to right: Gov. Chris Christie, Hurricane Joaquin and Donald Trump. (Photos: Getty Images)  (2015 NOAA)

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

The immovable object reschedules his presidential campaign stop in Virginia Beach.

The looming threat of the category 4 Hurricane Joaquin has caused Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump to postpone his rally in the beach town on Friday after Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency.

"While we were expecting 10,000 people based on demand, and it would have been a happening, everyone's safety is of far more importance to me," Trump said in a statement. "We will reschedule the event very soon, and I look forward to being there."

Joaquin pounded the lightly populated islands of the eastern Bahamas on Thursday, and forecasters said it could grow more intense while following a path that would near the U.S. East Coast by the weekend. It was a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph and hurricane-strength winds extending 45 miles from the eye, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. As of 11 a.m. Eastern time, the center of the storm was passing over Samana Cays, Bahamas, and was moving west-southwest at 6 mph.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center's long-term forecast showed the storm could land near the U.S. East Coast along North Carolina and Virginia on Sunday or Monday.

"Residents of the Carolinas north should be paying attention and monitoring the storm. There's no question," Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the center, told the Associated Press. "If your hurricane plans got a little dusty because of the light hurricane season, now is a good time to update them."

One presidential candidate whose storm planning doesn't appear the least bit dusty is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who rose to national prominence during the Hurricane Sandy disaster in 2012.

Christie has already suspended his campaign until the storm passes and has declared a preemptive state of emergency in New Jersey.

Some of Christie's strongest moments in office came during and after Hurricane Sandy, when he and his now famous blue fleece were a constant presence on the news and throughout the Garden State. Christie also took major hits from fellow Republicans for embracing Pres. Barack Obama when he came to survey the storm damage just a few days before the 2012 election.

"Many of us have been through this before with Irene and with Sandy," Christie said at a Thursday morning news conference in Trenton. "I'm much better prepared; the lieutenant governor is better prepared; and for all the people up here who lived through Sandy, they're much better prepared."

While Christie could bill himself as the hurricane candidate, other presidential hopefuls have their own experience dealing with massive storms.

Jeb Bush, who while governor of Florida dealt with 2004's destructive Hurricane Ivan, said that government officials need to be prepared and also outlined an evacuation plan for some of the areas that could be affected.

"It's easy for people to be prepared, and public leaders, mayors, and governors have a duty to let them know they'll be there to help them the day the storm passes," Bush told ABC News Wednesday in New Hampshire. "But in the interim it's up to citizens to be prepared and evacuate if they're in low-lying areas. And, you know, be safe basically."

On the other hand, Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had a radically different answer when asked how he would deal with the threat of Hurricane Joaquin.

"Uh, I don't know," Carson said.

All of the other candidates in the presidential race – Democrats and Republicans – have events scheduled, mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire, but the only one to have changed his plans so far is Sen. Bernie Sanders, who on Thursday announced that an outdoor rally planned for Saturday will be held indoors, at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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