As Sandy took aim at the East Coast, President Barack Obama discarded campaign events in Florida and Virginia to return to Washington and address the storm from the White House.
Mitt Romney adjusted his schedule to hit the battleground state of Ohio and direct campaign resources in Virginia and New Hampshire to focus on storm relief.
The candidates sought to balance the real threat of a killer storm against the need to squeeze out any last-minute advantages in battleground states ahead of next Tuesday's vote.
For the next few days, routine campaigning may be put on the shelf. This week, it may all be about who can behave the most presidential.
Obama was staying put in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, while Romney attended an event in Ohio where his campaign sought goods and other help for those in states affected by the storm.
David Gergen, a professor of public service at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, said Obama did the right thing by returning to the nation's capital as the storm approached.
"People will claim he did it for political reasons, but I believe he deserves the benefit of any doubts. He did exactly what he should be doing as president," said Gergen, who is also a CNN contributor. "That is part of the job. Presidents are expected to lead in a time of crisis."
The candidates are treading carefully in dealing with the storm's political fallout. Both the president and Romney canceled more than a dozen campaign events since Saturday so as not to appear insensitive, chew up resources and otherwise get in the way of storm preparations.
For the moment, the political optics may favor Obama, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
"The better the response the better Obama is going to look," Sabato said. "The worse the response ... the worse he's going to look. This presidential moment could help or hurt him."