Obama, Ryan cancel central Fla. rallies due to Sandy; Clinton speaks at UCF

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ORLANDO, Fla. - President Barack Obama abruptly left central Florida Monday morning.

Obama left former President Bill Clinton and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to host a rally at the University of Central Florida on his behalf while he flew back to Washington to monitor Hurricane Sandy.

WFTV's political analyst Dr. Rick Fogelsong said he believes one of the main reasons the president would pull out of the event at UCF while in a heated race with Mitt Romney is because he looks more presidential handling the national crisis than campaigning there.

With Obama heading out of town, his motorcade left drivers frustrated during rush hour Monday morning as both sides of Interstate 4 were shut down. And his departure left some of those who had waited hours to see him disappointed.

"I just wanted to be here to see what he had to say and thought it would be a great honor to meet him and come out. It's a big disappointment," said UCF student Ross Applegate.

But it didn't stop a majority of his supporters from sticking around.

"One of the best presidents of the United States has ever had," U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told the crowd.

Nelson introduced Clinton, who seemed to win over the crowd of more than 7,500 people, mostly Obama supporters.

The former president talked about his conversation with Obama last night about Hurricane Sandy's projected path along the northeast coast.

"He called me, said, 'I gotta go back. It's gonna be worse than we thought,'" Clinton told the crowd.

But Fogelsong said there could be strategy behind the move.

Fogelsong said that as long as the president handles the storm situation well, heading into the final week, he'll look more presidential, which is key to grabbing undecided voters.

According to Fogelsong, while most polls show Romney leading in Florida, it's a state Obama would like to take but doesn't necessarily need to win a second term.

Fogelsong said Florida is a state Romney likely feels he needs to win to have a shot, and both sides will continue to spend money there.

Republican candidate for vice president Paul Ryan canceled two events in central Florida because of the storm Monday. He canceled a campaign stop at Florida Tech in Melbourne and a stop scheduled for Lakeland.