Romney visits areas hit by Isaac

Mitt Romney has visited America's hurricane-battered Gulf region in an attempt to project an aura of leadership, a day after accepting the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in this year's election.

Romney met up with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal south of New Orleans, his motorcade passing by flooded homes and submerged petrol stations as residents stood in water where there should have been front lawns. The two talked about some of the challenges facing the surrounding community, which relies on fishing for its livelihood.

"I'm here to learn and obviously draw some attention to what's going on here," Mr Romney said. "So that people around the country know that people down here need help."

Mr Romney shook up his itinerary to get to Louisiana and inspect Hurricane Isaac's damage. It was the kind of trip better associated with a president than a presidential candidate - Mr Romney has no authority to direct help - but he did draw attention to the plight of victims there. The White House offered no complaints.

Mr Romney is locked in a tight race as Republicans have wrapped up their convention and Democrats prepare for theirs next week. Hurricane Isaac forced the Republicans to cancel the first day of their convention.

Isaac left a wake of misery in Louisiana, with dozens of neighbourhoods under deep flood waters and more than 800,000 people without power. While New Orleans was spared major damage, the storm walloped surrounding suburbs, topping smaller levees with days of rain and forcing more than 4,000 from their homes.

Meanwhile, Mr Obama, intent on flexing the powers of the presidency in pursuit of re-election, made plans to visit the hurricane-battered Gulf region on Monday.

Mr Obama further underscored his record as commander in chief by scheduling a visit with troops in Texas on Friday, exactly two years after declaring the end of the US combat mission in Iraq.

Democrats gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, next week for Mr Obama's convention. They hope the convention will, at a minimum, neutralise any Republican bounce out of their convention in Tampa. Mr Obama narrowly won North Carolina in 2008 and scheduled his 2012 convention there in hopes of repeating the unexpected feat. Mr Romney's path to victory is severely complicated unless he puts the state back in the Republican column.

Mr Romney heads into the campaign's final days with his primary focus on jobs and the economy, and depicting Mr Obama as a well-meaning but inept man who must be replaced. "America has been patient," Mr Romney said in his speech to the nation on Thursday night. "Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page."