(CNN) – With a week to go until Election Day and a day after superstorm Sandy slammed the East Coast, Republican nominee Mitt Romney swapped campaign rallies for a relief event in the all-important battleground state of Ohio Tuesday.
"We have heavy hearts as you know with all the suffering going on in a major part of our country. A lot of people are hurting this morning," said Romney, adding that he had the chance to speak with some of the governors from the affected areas.
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The storm had killed 29 in the United States with a total of 97 deaths overall, including 67 in the Caribbean, as of Tuesday.
The former Massachusetts governor thanked supporters for their generosity and equated the Ohio crowd's relief effort to those of citizens of his home state in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Obama updated on Sandy through the night; praised by Christie
After addressing the crowd briefly, the GOP nominee hopped off a makeshift stage to glad-hand with supporters and collect items as they filed past to donate relief goods like bottled water, canned foods and fleece blankets.
Romney's campaign told reporters that a Red Cross warehouse in New Jersey was accepting the donation, and distributed a statement they attributed to the Red Cross.
"The American Red Cross appreciates the support from the Romney campaign and is working with the campaign to process this donation of supplies," the statement read. "We are grateful that both the Obama and Romney campaigns have also encouraged the public to send financial donations to the Red Cross. We encourage individuals who want to help to consider making a financial donation or making an appointment to give blood."
He did not answer questions from reporters on whether he would eliminate the Federal Emergency Management Agency as president - a topic the storm brought back into the political spotlight from the Republican primaries when Romney said he favored states taking a larger role in disaster relief.
Meanwhile, running mate Rep. Paul Ryan will stop by campaign offices in his home state of Wisconsin Tuesday to thank volunteers and collect items for storm relief efforts.
President Barack Obama's campaign cancelled events for Monday and Tuesday, flying back to Washington, D.C. to monitor the storm, as well as campaign events for Wednesday in Ohio.
–CNN's Rachel Streitfeld, Dana Davidsen and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
A leader doesn't pick and chose who to help based on personal interests. Chris Christie – who, by the way, endorsed you – lauded Pres. Obama and FEMA for their efforts, even though he does not agree with their politics.
In times like these, politics have no place. If you were actually Presidential material, you wouldn't be pulling a stunt like this.
Completely hypocritical from the candidate who wants to abolish FEMA!
Shameless political opportunism!!
He's urging the 47% to contribute to relief efforts while he campaigns with $$$ millions only in the swing states
How much of his own $$$ millions or the campaign funds of this 1% candidate are being donated to Red Cross & other relief efforts!?!?!
Romney keeps trying to somehow make Hurricane Sandy about the Romney/Ryan campaign, which is NOT presidential, or becoming.
Thank you President Obama for always being there. We support President Obama, because he supports US. President Obama needs to campaign, but he is putting Americans first. The President is leading by example to US and the world.
The American Red Cross is asking for monetary donations as well as blood donors. The Romney campaign and it's Super PACS would rather, and are spending their money on 50 million dollars worth of lying negative ads this week instead of charity.
Romney's number one goal is to take the White House. He is not concerned about the destituted, the needy, or the poor. And, he loves being able to fire people. This is a pattern with him.
This is America's last warning to think hard about what they are getting into before the election, if they are considering Romney as Commander-In-Chief.
"..A lot of people are hurting this morning, their servants could not make it to work and they may have lost a few of their cars and houses. Our hearts go out to them" Romney
Romney, Romney, Romney, you still don't get it.
The Red Cross wants money and blood. They have their own wholesale resources to buy the goods they need,
and they pre-package their items before they are delivered. You are dumping these donations on them, adding
to the burden of having to sort, package and deliver, most likely to the truly devastated areas.
These things should be taken to food banks, and leave the heavy lifting to those who know what they are
How many votes did you pick up today?
"He did not answer questions from reporters..............". Of course he didn't. He stuck his foot in his mouth
earlier, and heaven forbid that he admit maybe he was wrong.
Ask him how much he has donated to the Red Cross.
Romney = Shallow is as shallow does. Same for his macho-man running mate.
If you didn't know who Mitt Romney is prior, surely you must know now that he is an opportunist at the expense of others pain and suffering.
Hey Willard, what about New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine? These states were all hit pretty hard as well but since they are not swing states I guess they don't matter. Typical.
I am one of the 47% and I do vote!
Funny picture. Look at his "caring" smile. What a fraud.
Saving the East from disaster. Hope he keeps it up if he gets into office or there will be no relief for the states. I hope nothing happens in Florida. Florida can't afford it's own disaster relief. Rick Scott has already laid off state employees who investigate child abuse and welfare fraud. We simple can't afford it.
Disgrace. Romney is absolutely just....wow. There are no words.
Ignore the hardest hit areas because they lean democrat and only take supplies to the swing states.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?
Make sure to tell them how immoral you think the post storm help they are recieving from FEMA and the federal government is. Make sure to tell them you wanted to GUT and TAKE OUT the agency that is getting them back on their feet.
CNN how do you missed that Romney told flat out lie about the Jeep production plant and you are not covering it. I believe this is important because there are people actually suffering from the consequence of his action those how may have lost the future of their income to support their family. It must be devastating to hear the bad news from a campaign event. I know Romney news is generating revenue please don't forget that you have responsibility to cover the news which is actually happening not only the pandering and stage crafting relief effort from Romney campaign
Romney is trying to use hurricane Sandy for political gain and win back the 'victims' of the 47%.
Why is he talking to FEMA? He has no authority.
Mmmmm.......strange he is reaching out to Ohio , ( campaign events have been suspended mind you!) Why not go to NJ , where the need is the greatest! This is a poor excuse for a thinly veiled relief/campaign event.
Has this man no shame ! Sorry but this is not who I want as my president....Give me the man that is doing his job and doing it very well according to Gov Christie!
Do you think he might be motivated to donate some of his gazillions he got by sending peoples' jobs to China? Didn't think so.
You people above are UNBELIEVABLE! His hands are tied he can't really do anything on the political stage regarding Sandy so he is doing what he knows best. Thats Church right there. Organize Donations and filter them to the affected cities. You don't go to the impacted cities and collect the donations.. They are the ones that need it. You guys must live sad & dramatic lives. To criticize a man that is only trying to help in any way he can. How bout all of you fill your cars with canned goods, waters and relief supplies and drive it to the East coast yourselves....
Look at his face the smile is so fake ,this is not the time to try to get votes it is time to be concerned about the people we all know wht he is doing why not send donations to other states instead of trying to use a disater to gain votes, this is so low.
I have not seen this on CNN but One of Mitt Romney's biggest supporters, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, had nothing but praise for President Barack Obama today, as his state prepares to rebuild from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Your not the President Romney so Shut up!! Obama 2012
Why play Romney ads and hand out Romney t-shirts at a non-political relief event? Disgraceful.
Can someone please wipe that smirk off his face .....like I have this in the bag now! Wonder if he gave instructions for the can goods not to go to 47 percent of the people affected!
This stunt by Willard just makes his 47% comments that more credible. If you don't support him, kick rocks!
Donate your ad money from now until Tuesday? That speaks louder than empty words from a man full of them!
Romney will ALWAYS show leadership, unlike Obama, who only shows an attempt at it ONE WEEK before the election. The rest of his term has been – passing a healthcare bill that the majority of Americans did not want, adding to the deficit by astronomical amounts, ignoring requests from our brave servicemen being brutally murdered in Benghazi – in real time – and incessantly screaming angrily from a microphone for 4 years, while promoting class warfare. That is not the leadership or president or comannder-in-chief this awesome country needs or DESERVES!