By Amie Parnes - 10/29/12 05:26 PM EDT
President Obama said on Monday that he's not "worried" about the impact Hurricane Sandy could have on the election but that his No. 1 priority is "saving lives" and making sure those impacted by the storm get the resources they need.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, after returning from Florida where he had been scheduled to speak at a campaign rally, Obama called the slow-moving hurricane a "big and powerful storm" and said that those in its path should take the proper precautions.
"For folks who are not follow instructions, if you are not evacuating when you've been asked to evacuate, you're putting first responders in danger," he added.
With eight days to go until Election Day, Obama canceled his campaign events for Monday and Tuesday, choosing to remain at the White House so he can closely monitor the storm. After returning from Florida, he held briefings on the storm with top officials in the White House Situation Room. Obama's opponent, Mitt Romney, also canceled events on Monday.
While observers are calling the storm an "October surprise," that could sway the outcome of the election, with Obama unable to campaign in swing states, the president said he's "not worried at this point about the impact on the election."
"I'm worried about the impact on families," Obama said. "I'm worried about the impact on our first responders. I'm worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation.
"The election will take care of itself next week," he said. "Right now our No. 1 priority is to make sure that we are saving lives, that search and rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter they need in case of emergency and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track."