(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.
R....... cant save Us...I need someone from Democrat O.........
What was it Romney said about cutting FEMA? CNN hosted that discussion...play again, so we can decide!
If only those people had a for profit company looking to make money off of their tragedy that they could turn to. Instead they have to settle for a government organization that has no pressures from the market to push them to doing quality work. Just this abstract notion that a governmental body may actually have an interest in the welbeing of people.
Folks now have yet another reason to reject Romney when they go to the polls. He can't even show a measurable level of class during a disaster. He's trying to make the disaster relief part of his campaign circus. What a spoiled, flip-flopping, pathological lying jerk.
His intervention during the Libya crisis was bad enough, where he was trying to make political points WHILE THE CRISIS WAS HAPPENING! He's now doing the same thing with an American crisis event. Watch President Obama manage this crisis and remember Bush during Katrina. Compare... Obama=Commander-In-Chief.... Romney=Bush.
The comments on here are ridiculous... What did you expect?! You think ANY potential presidential nominee would just sit around and wait for the storm to blow over so he could get back to his campaign? Obama went back to DC to monitor the storm. Romney isn't the president, so he went out to provide service and help with the relief efforts. The entire country would think he's a complete jerk if he didn't!
Call it pandering if you want. But you ALL know that if it was anyone else (Dem or Rep), they would be out there helping out. Otherwise, their chances at the presidency would be over.
It's pretty outrageous that the supplies collected are only going to swing states. That's not a mistake at all. Using a disaster to try and buy votes. The media needs to blow this up.
This guy needs to get he heck out of the way and let the volunteers do what they're there to do! He's SLOWING DOWN RELIEF EFFORTS in order to score political points. Pathetic and disgusting to say the least.
Shameful .....wonder why he did not go to NJ .....Ohio was not hit with the storm, oh NJ is a democratic state, and Gov Christie said the Prez has done a great job. .
So this is really a campaign ploy afterall
SHAME ON YOU MR ROMNEY!
This should be your wake up call to the Romney/Ryan agenda who use the misfortune and despair of others to self promote!!! Its disgusting these guys do not represent my values or those I instill in my child!!!! Obama thank you for being real!!
CNN, PLEASE tell the real story about Romney & FEMA. You don't have to work hard to report this. Just run the footage of him in the debates claiming that he wants to dismantle the agency. This is what he means by small government. Voters, we do not want to elect a man to the presidency who does not believe in government. Imagine what the people of New Jersey would be doing today if we had no government. Imagine how much higher the body count would be. You don't need to imagine it. Remember Bush. Remember Katrina.
this is nothing more than a backpedaling, since Robmey said he wants FEMA to go away and let states handle their mess.
Flip Floppy doo doo.
Why isn't he in his home state of MA helping out people
I have come to the conclusion that many Democrats are hateful unhappy people. Sad.
Wow, there is no off button on this guy,why only swing states, that reaffirms your 47% comment, cant wait til this guy goes away and let the realists get back to work. this is not a shameful campaign tour, its relief, for the ones who might vote for me, no, nothing political there, VERY tired of him insulting every sense i have. Right now you are witnessing the difference between acting presidential, and being presidential
Donation vs. need. I suspect that if you compare one bus full of random donated relief supplies - maybe the supplies that are needed, maybe not - to the magnitude of the short and long term needs - literally tens of millions affected across wide swaths of ten states, flooding, power outages, home and infrastructure damage - you will understand why we need a strong and effective Federal government to cope with major disasters (and, I would argue, plenty of other problems as well). Private charity just doesn't cut it. The whims of donors don't match the real immediate needs of real diverse people caught in real diverse situations. Only the government of all of us, by all of us and for all of us is focused on serving all of us, without prejudice or favor. That's the "beast" that Grover Norquist and his acolytes want to starve and drown - all of us working together to help all of us who really need it for the good of all of us. No debt, no fealty, no future obligation except to be a good citizen - it's easy to see why the would be plutocrats hate the (small "d") democratic ideal.
By the way, I'm happy to hear that the Romney relief bus is only going to swing states on the fringes of the real disaster (I'm assuming NH will escape more or less o.k. away from the coasts. Unlike Irene). The whole thing sounds half cocked; I assume they are unprepared for any real trouble. That's the last thing the people on the ground need to have wandering around the real disaster areas, looking for photo ops.
Betcha he won't go to NJ, Delaware, Maryland to help, I wonder why? Maybe it's because you know he won't win those states and could care less, just a 47% comment coming from a 47% citizen!
"People are hurting this morning"? As my kids would say "DUH!!"
Once again, Mittens is using a tragedy as political gain..disgraceful!!! First, let Detroit go bankrupt- no wait.."that's not what I said." Then, dismantle FEMA- no wait.."let the state's manage their own diaster relief."
Mitt, how can someone actually vote for this chameleon!!!
Never let a disaster, natural or otherwise, go to waste. Besides, he can scout out more hotel sites for Trump while he's in NJ. The property values will certainly be cheap.
The man is a disgrace. His game at bain was greed. Plain and simple. He seems giddy like a little boy at the chance to start a war with Iran. Im not sure disgrace is the right wold to describe romney and his kind. This world is going to shit if he is elected. FACT!!!
Everyone Just Calm Down who are you kidding, but yourself. This is the time to speak up and not let them ring the bell of shame!!!!
So his bus is taking supplies to the "swing states" that were impacted by Sandy? Gosh, it's not "too" political is it? What about New Jersey.......you know.......the state that got hit the hardest? Oh yeah.......that's a "blue" state.......no help for them. Romney......you are a jewel.
"..he can't really do anything on the political stage regarding Sandy......."
That's the point. He is acting politically, and "Sandy" is NOT a political event. It is total devastation for all Americans.
And Americans will do what we do best. Put aside politics and help in ways that are responsible and
reasonable. Romney could have made a donation to the Red Cross, and then stayed out of the way. But, moooo,
he had to "talk to FEMA" for 20 minutes, then contact the Governors. He is helping himself "doing what he knows
best", which is-not much.
isn't it funny that first off, he is collecting items that the RED CROSS has stated NOT to collect since it creates a logistical nightmare; secondly, he makes people wait 40 minutes to hand HIM the donation and last but not least: WHY is he in OHIO??? Didn't he get a briefing from FEMA to know WHERE the storm hit???
Really? With all of the issues that are caused/created by President Obama, you are criticizing Gov. Romney's for urging that people help those in need. Wow.