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Hurricane Sandy liveblog: Obama says government will respond 'big and fast' (+video)

President Obama met Sunday with Federal Emergency Management Officials in Washington. 'We will cut through red tape,' he said. 'We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules.'

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Sunday Oct. 28 3:20 p.m.

President Obama’s comments Sunday, plus how Hurricane Sandy is affecting Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns. From Associated Press reports.

President Barack Obama said Sunday that the storm taking aim at the East Coast is a "serious and big storm" that will be slow-moving and might take time to clear up. The government would "respond big and respond fast" after it hits, he said.

Obama met with federal emergency officials for an update on the storm's path and the danger it poses to the Mid-Atlantic and New England.

"My main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously," Obama said. He urged people to "listen to your local officials."

The president said emergency officials were confident that staging for the storm was in place.

Obama made the comments after a briefing by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials that was led by Administrator Craig Fugate. The group participated in a conference call with governors from states in the storm's path. The president also met with FEMA workers and thanked them.

"My message to the governors as well as to the mayors is anything they need, we will be there, and we will cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules," he said. "We want to make sure we are anticipating and leaning forward into making sure that we have the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama frantically sought to close to the deal with voters in the precious few days left in an incredibly close race as this year's October surprise – an unprecedented storm menacing the East Coast – wreaked havoc on their best laid plans.

Ever mindful of his narrow path to the requisite 270 electoral votes, Romney looked to expand his map, weighing an intensified effort in traditionally left-leaning Minnesota. Obama sought to defend historically Democratic turf as the race tightened heading into the final week.

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