Rick Wilson/Associated Press
Rick Wilson/Associated Press
KETTERING, Ohio - With less than a week to go before Election Day, Mitt Romney – after several days dominated by talk of Hurricane Sandy – will try to make the most of the few campaign days he has left.
His campaign ramps back up Wednesday after canceling events and dialing back rhetoric because of the superstorm.
Since the hurricane began pounding the East Coast on Monday, the Republican nominee has largely followed President Obama’s lead, putting aside overt politicking.
In many ways, neither campaign has really stopped. Television ads still ran in key states and outside groups and surrogates for both nominees continued to argue the case around the country.
Romney held an event at an arena here Tuesday that was initially scheduled as a rally, but the campaign insisted it was now a “storm relief” event. Still, it bore a very strong resemblance to the rallies he has conducted across the country – complete with a biopic of the Romneys that has been a campaign staple.
Attendees were encouraged to bring disaster relief supplies, and Romney helped bag them for shipping to affected areas of New Jersey. Romney has urged supporters to bring supplies to campaign offices and promised they will be delivered to the affected communities – meaning his campaign offices have a new task to manage in the week before the election.
Shortly after Romney’s remarks about hurricane aid and coming together, the campaign released a new ad attacking President Obama titled “Crushed by Your Policies” targeting voters in Pennsylvania coal country.
Romney is resuming his regular campaign schedule and will hold three events in Florida, even as Obama heads to New Jersey to assess hurricane damage side-by-side with Gov. Chris Christie – one of Romney’s top allies.
Asked about the risk of attacking a president who is touring the destruction, Romney adviser Kevin Madden said: “The plan is to strike a positive tone. Focus on the governor’s vision for the country and what he hopes to achieve as president.”
The presidential race is playing out in a few key states, so on Thursday Romney will return to Virginia, where he scrapped three events on Sunday because of the hurricane.
Romney adviser Stuart Stevens said the campaign would stay out of areas where they could interfere with relief efforts, but otherwise the campaign must go on.
“The world doesn’t stop for the campaign,” he said.
Tuesday’s event outside Dayton demonstrated how fine a line Romney is trying to walk in running an aggressive challenge to a sitting president and being respectful of the tragedy brought the storm.
The campaign initially canceled all events Monday night and Tuesday out of respect for the storm victims, but on Monday evening announced this event would take place with a different theme.
Two huge screens with messages to donate money to the Red Cross framed a stage draped with a huge American flag set for a concert by Randy Owens, the lead singer of Alabama, who performed after Romney’s speech.
Romney avoided the stage and, standing instead on a platform in front of stacks of relief supplies, scrapped his usual speech, focusing his brief remarks on the relief effort.
“One of the things I’ve learned in life is you make the difference you can, and you can’t always solve all the problems yourself, but you can make a difference in the life of one or two people as a result of one or two people taking an effort,” Romney said.