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Obama to return to campaign trail following 'superstorm'

The US president is set to officially resume the election campaign this Thursday after three days off the campaign trail due to a storm that severely disrupted life in the New York region.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to address campaign rallies in the states of Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado on Thursday, a day after visiting New Jersey, one of the states hardest hit by the high winds and heavy rains of what has been dubbed a "superstorm."

"You guys are in my thoughts and prayers. We are going to be here for the long haul," the US president told a group of evacuees at a makeshift shelter in the New Jersey town of Brigatine.

While the main focus of his visit was on New Jersey and New York, the incumbent also expressed his concerns about people in the wider area affected by the storm Sandy, including Connecticut and West Virginia, which have been hit by heavy snow.

"We are here for you, and we will not forget. We will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you've rebuilt," Obama said.

The Democrat president hasn't attended a campaign event since Saturday, when he returned to Washington to oversee the government's response to the damage caused by Sandy. His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, also cancelled a number of events at the height of the storm, which caused widespread damage and claimed the lives of at more than 70 people across 15 US states.

Recent opinion polls show Obama and Romney running neck-and-neck with just five days to go ahead of the vote.

pfd/hc (Reuters, AFP, AP)