When touring disasters, politicians weigh image, distraction

Republican vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence hugs Heidi Otiker after speaking with her, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Kokomo, Ind. Otiker's home was damaged by a tornados that passed through the area Wednesday afternoon. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to leave the presidential campaign trail to tour tornado damage at home underscores the political perils of not showing up for disasters.

Pence’s visit comes just days after he and running mate Donald Trump harshly criticized President Barack Obama for delaying a tour of flood-ravaged parts of Louisiana until after his vacation.

The people of Kokomo, north of Indianapolis, were grateful for the attention.

Heidi Otiker was clearing debris from her yard when Pence stopped by with TV crews and reporters. If he stayed away, she said, it would have cost him votes.

Politicians who don’t make an appearance risk angering voters or giving political opponents a line of attack. President George W. Bush was harshly panned for his handling of Hurricane Katrina.

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