It's hard to tell what's happening to the race right now, though as per my two previous posts, I suspect this enforced interruption is better for Obama than it is for Romney. To those observations, I'd add that Obama is lucky to have two heavy hitters on his side helping him out during this time.
One of them is literally weighty: Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who can be seen above being rude to Fox News anchors before going to on to praise Obama's response to the crisis in the most glowing terms. It's a powerful moment, because Christie, one of the most prominent Republican governors in the country, has been a very active supporter of Mitt Romney, whose people must have been less than pleased to see this. This is an authoritative endorsement of Obama's performance at exactly the right moment.
Why was Christie so effusive? Well, first of all, it's probably what he felt. Christie is one of the few politicians to have the confidence to say what he feels at any particular time without worrying too much how it will go down. Second, his focus, politically speaking, is not on Romney or the national Republican Party, but on his electorate at home. He has a tough reelection fight coming up. So it's vital that he's seen to be 100% focused on the welfare of New Jersey, and part of that is being a guy who can work with a Democrat president.
The other big hitter, of course, is Big Dog. Bill Clinton stepped in to take Obama's place at a big campaign rally in Florida and will no doubt be doing more of the same. Nobody else can do this, because nobody else is enough of a draw. These rallies are very important to the Obama campaign, not just because of the coverage they generate, but because they fire up the troops, and provide an opportunity to collect data on potential voters. So they need as many people to come along as possible. Imagine, if you were planning to go to this rally and you found out Obama would be replaced by Clinton. You wouldn't be too disappointed. In fact you might be more excited about going than before. So, just as he did at the convention, Clinton is doing Obama a crucial favour.
Not that he needed to be asked. Stepping into the president's shoes will come naturally to Clinton, whom I suspect spends half his day assuming that he is president and the other half furious that he's not.
This raises a question: has any modern president played such a big and influential role in national politics after leaving office? I can't think of any. JFK, posthumously, perhaps. But that's about it.