Trump, Clinton weigh in on Hurricane Matthew as storm batters Florida

The presidential candidates are responding to the threat of Hurricane Matthew

Hillary Clinton asked her followers on Twitter to “follow emergency instructions and evacuate if you’re told to.” Donald Trump said in a statement, “nothing is more important than the safety of your family.” The hurricane will not delay Sunday’s town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis, however. 

In New Hampshire, Trump opened with an appeal to Floridians in the destructive path of Matthew. 

“Our hearts are with all of the people and prayers to the millions in the path of what’s now known as Hurricane Matthew,” Trump said Thursday at a town hall in Sandown. “You have a great governor, Governor Scott, and you gotta listen because it could be a -- it could be a really, really bad one.”

Trump’s running mate and sitting Indiana Gov. Mike Pence deployed emergency responders to assist

“Our hearts and our prayers tonight are with our neighbors in Florida,” Pence said during an event in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Hillary Clinton sent one tweet that read in part “stay safe Florida.” 

Her running mate Tim Kaine recalled a hurricane watch in Virginia. 

“I was a governor,” Kaine said. “We are thinking hard about the safety of our citizens.”

Clinton was off the trail raising money and preparing for Sunday’s second face-off with Trump. But the GOP nominee had another take. 

“Do you really think that Hillary Clinton is debate prepping for three or four days?” Trump said at the New Hampshire event. “Hillary Clinton is resting. Okay?”

That town hall, however, had all the intensity and unpredictability of a New England hay ride. 

“Let’s have a fun question,” a moderator said at one point Thursday night. “What is one of your earliest memories as a child and why do you think it stands out... and then she says ‘go Donald!’”

“This has nothing to do with Sunday,” Trump later said, denying that the event was meant to prep him for Sunday’s second presidential debate, which will take the format of a town hall. “This was set up a little while ago, they were going to cancel it... I said why are you going to cancel it? You wanna debate prep. I said forget debate prep, I mean give me a break.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traveled here with Donald Trump and is taking a much more  prominent role in his debate prep, cutting the size of the prep team by more than half, trying to keep the team and the candidate more efficient.