(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.
Romney's shameless political opportunism at campaign stops in swing states while Pres. Obama is dealing with Sandy's aftermath is absolutely shameless!!
How hypocritical is it to ask the 47% to contribute to relief efforts while pumping $50 million into campaign ads!?!?
He wants to cut Federal funding for FEMA & "send it back to the private sector"!?!? Well then, how much of his personal $$ millions, his PAC $$, or Bain profits from outsourcing American jobs to China are being donated to Red Cross & other relief efforts???
Put your money where your mouth is, Robmey 1% candidate!!!!!
Fox News asked Christie if he'd be willing to give Mitt a photo-op of rescue efforts. His response: "I'm not the least bit interested. I've got a job to do that's much bigger than Presidential politics. I couldn't care less about Presidential politics at this point. I've got people to look after."
Too bad that a real man didn't run as the RNC representative.
Hey CNN, what's up with all the Romney stories on the Ticker? Everybody knows he's going to use this disaster for political gain, pander, lie, and pander some more. Has CNN gotten a piece of the Romney SuperPac money? Geesh
Critical thinking, I would think that all those comments from conservatives like the Texan here, screaming that Obama is just doing his job for political reasons is way more funny.
THough one does wonder if conservatives were so upset that Obama didn't meet with Benji (Israel) when he was in New York, then why didn't Romney call democratic governors in states that were hit. Or why his relief efforts are only centered in up for grabs states.
I mean, if we are gonna just pull conspiracy theories out the wazoo, why not make it funny?
I hope this hypocritical mormon cult follower ends up on the planet of kolob with rapists Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. I am quite sure that fictional book of mormon says nothing about helping non-mormons. I hope Willard has property in Jackson County, Missouri and find his garden of eden there. The book of mormon as Mark Twain said chloroform in print.
@everyonejustcalmdown I agree except for one obvious point HE IS ONLY HELPING SWING STATES WHICH MAKES IT A POLITICAL MOVE> enough said. You know New Jersey was hit really hard and NY think he could lend a hand to one of those democratic states?
This just in: the Romney campaign has decided to extend hurricane relief efforts to Ohio, Iowa and Colorado.
Kirk in michigan
Marcia, if he were planning to help all effected, orn worse affected, that would land him in a democratic voting state, and that does not seem to be the game plan. yes he really is as slImy as this seems, this guy has no bottom, sad that he even hasb a chance to win, i am truly dissappointed in america right now. vote straight ticket and send a message
October 30, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm
Modern campaign politics being what they are, Romney probably has reliable local contacts only in swing states - I would bet we wouldn't send anything to a red state either, because he would have no one to send it to. Which tells you something about Romney right there.
Of course, he could support the efforts of the Red Cross or any other organization that knows what it's doing and works by going to the most affected places to solve the most immediate needs, but that would require some faith and trust on Mitt Romney's part, and it wouldn't make much of a photo.
Opportunistic low life!
Everyone Just Calm Down
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.
October 30, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm
What are you blind????
He only sending relief to the least effective states that just happen to be swing states that are in play VA, PA, NC, NH. You don't see him sending relief to NY, NJ who were badly hit worst then any of those other four states. The difference is since NY and NJ is out of play, he doesn't care. That lead to his comments about the 47%. Romney will do anything, say anything to win this election. The man is pathetic!