In Ike's Wake, Obama Drops SNL, Biden Skips Rally

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - Barack Obama's campaign toned down its events Saturday in response to Hurricane Ike, canceling plans for the Democratic presidential nominee to crack jokes on "Saturday Night Live" and for his running mate to appear at a joint rally.

Obama was to appear in a skit on the NBC comedy show's season premiere, hosted by Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps. Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Obama decided it was no longer appropriate because of the devastation in Texas.

Obama and Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden were to campaign together at an outdoor rally in Manchester's Veteran's Memorial Park. But the campaign decided to scale back the event as the storm battered the Gulf Coast. Biden decided not to appear, the campaign said.

Obama planned to open with a request that the audience keep the Texas victims in their thoughts and prayers, the campaign said, then follow with a discussion of the "quiet storms" that people face in their everyday lives.

Obama spoke by telephone Friday with David Paulison, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Houston Mayor Bill White to get an update on the approaching hurricane. Obama spokeswoman Linda Douglass said the senator told White he would do whatever he can to help, including using his campaign Web site to raise funds for relief efforts.

Obama planned to return to Chicago after the New Hampshire rally and spend the rest of the weekend at home.