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Hurricane Isaac slows, sucking up energy over the Gulf (+video)

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The hurricane has churned into the middle of the tight U.S. presidential election, with Republicans this week meeting nearby in Florida to nominate Mitt Romney to challenge President Barack Obama.

Obama, mindful of how his administration's response to the storm could be judged, spoke on Isaac from the White House on Tuesday morning before departing on a three-state campaign trip. The storm already had delayed the planned Monday start of the Republican National Convention.

"Now is not the time to tempt fate," Obama said. "You need to take this seriously."

The storm system was centered about 80 miles (128 kilometers) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) and was moving northwest at 10 mph (16 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was 165 miles (265 kilometers) southeast of New Orleans. Yesterday, Isaac was moving at 14 m.p.h.

Although Isaac's approach on the eve of the Katrina anniversary invited obvious comparisons, the storm is nowhere near as powerful as Katrina was when it struck on Aug. 29, 2005. Katrina at one point reached Category 5 status, with winds of more than 157 mph (252 kph), and made landfall as a Category 3 storm.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu did not activate a mandatory evacuation for Isaac. Instead, officials urged residents to hunker down and make do with the supplies they had.

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