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Inside Politics

The politics of Hurricane Charley

Government response could impact election

By Bill Schneider
CNN Political Unit

more videoVIDEO
Bill Schneider looks at how government response to storm could impact election.
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Hurricane Charley
Florida

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- There was lots of political turmoil this week. But suddenly, a bigger source of turmoil has moved in.

It puts everything in perspective, and claims the political Play of the Week.

That would be Hurricane Charley, the powerful storm that slammed into Florida on Friday.

There were big stories coast-to-coast this week.

On the East Coast, the governor of New Jersey shakes things up by announcing his resignation and the fact that he is a "gay American."

On the West Coast, the Bush and Kerry campaigns made landfall at the same time. On Thursday, the candidates blew into Los Angeles, California, where the subject seemed to be bodybuilding.

"Arnold has massive biceps, and I have massive hair," Kerry said on Thursday, referring to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-born former bodybuilder and action movie star.

Bush, comparing himself to Schwarzenegger, joked, "We both married above ourselves. We both have trouble with the English language. We both have big biceps. Two out of three ain't bad."

The next day, Bush and Kerry both show up in Portland, Oregon.

It's almost like the two are tracking each other.

Meanwhile, on the Gulf Coast, the news media tracked two very dangerous characters -- Bonnie and Charley.

Politics was dwarfed by the awesome force of nature.

This is a real battle.

``We were bringing in approximately 1,500 soldiers and airmen into our facilities to stand by for any missions that may come to us," said Col. Mitch Perryman of the Florida National Guard

Does it have political implications? Of course it does. Florida, where 2 million people have already been evacuated, is also ground zero in American politics.

"This morning I have requested from the president of the United States a presidential disaster declaration," Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on Friday. Remember, that's the younger brother of President Bush.

Both Bushes now face a tough political challenge in Florida. And it's not Kerry; it's Charley. Voters all over the country will be paying attention to how the government responds.

The outcome of this election could be in Charley's hands. And so is the political Play of the Week.

People said this election could turn on events: a terrorist attack; a sudden upturn or downturn in the economy; the capture of Osama bin Laden and one nobody was counting on -- Charley.


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