President Obama ‘confident’ in storm preparation

President Obama said in a news conference at the White House this afternoon that he is “confident that we’re ready” for Hurricane Sandy, the massive storm expected to make landfall later today and churn up much of the East Coast.

Obama said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working in concert with state and local officials and has food, water and generators prepositioned for distribution as needed.

“The conversations that I’ve had with all the governors indicate that at this point, there are no unmet needs,” Obama said.

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The president said his message to people in the storm’s path is to take public safety directives seriously. Obama asked the public not to put first responders in unnecessary danger by ignoring storm advisories.

Obama spoke for about five minutes after being briefed by FEMA and other agencies. He answered only one question, about next week’s election, and said his focus is not on campaigning right now.

“I am not worried, at this point, about the impact on the election,” Obama said. “I’m worried about the impact on families, and 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.”

“Right now, our number one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives,” Obama added, “that our search and rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter that they need, in case of emergency, and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track.”