Mitt Romney Campaign Eyes Hurricane Sandy as Storm Garners Voters Attention

Chris Schneider/AP Photo

CELINA, Ohio - One of Mitt Romney's senior advisers said today that despite impending wall-to-wall news coverage dedicated to Hurricane Sandy, he feels confident that voters in the key swing states in the region have received enough information ahead of the election and reiterated the campaign's focus on the safety and well being for those in the storm's path.

"For people that are living in these states that are going to be impacted you know they're trying to get as much information about what they can do to keep their families and their properties safe," said senior adviser Kevin Madden when asked about the potential that storm coverage could make it harder for the campaign to get their message out to voters in the crucial final days before the election. "And I think that's an important priority for them. It's been a long campaign I think a lot of folks have gotten a lot of information about the two candidates and so we have a certain degree of confidence that we've delivered a message to voters."

"I wouldn't even want to even trivialize it by talking about the state of the race when you have so many people right now that are going to be adversely impacted by the storm," said Madden. "And their safety is the top concern and that's the focus of state officials and I think it's the focus for the campaign's as well."

Romney made a last minute decision to scrap all three events planned for today in the battleground state of Virginia, flying to Ohio instead to join his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan to ensure that emergency resources could remain focused on the storm and not his visit.

Hurricane Sandy: Full Coverage

But the presidential nominee, who did offer his thoughts to those impacted by the storm during a campaign event in Florida on Saturday, made no mention of the storm during his first of three events in Ohio.

Ryan, however, did, telling a crowd at the first event here, "First let me start on a slightly different note, let's today when we get home, put in our prayers the people who are in the East Coast in the wake of this big storm that's coming, let's not forget those fellow Americans of ours," Ryan said at Celina High School's education complex, in front of a boisterous crowd of about 3,000 people, including those gathered outside who couldn't get in.

As to why Romney did not mention the storm during his remarks here today, Madden said "right now a lot of stuff is changing" and that "folks in headquarters are staying in contact with folks in the states to get the best assessment on the storm and how its impacting the states."

At his second event of the day, Romney made reference to the storm during a rally in Findlay, Ohio.

"I know that right now some people in the country are a little nervous about a storm about to hit the coast," Romney said. "And our thoughts and prayers are with the people who will find themselves in harm's way."

Madden said that the Romney campaign has decided to halt fundraising e-mails to the states in Sandy's path, including Washington D.C., North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The campaign will also collect items to distribute after the storm to those in need at all of their Victory offices in Virginia, a campaign aide said. Ann Romney's two events scheduled for Monday in New Hampshire were also canceled because of the storm. Romney also cancelled a rally in Milford, N.H., that was scheduled for Tuesday night.

Hurricane Sandy is not the first time mother nature has put a kink in the Romney campaign's plans. In August, Hurricane Isaac forced the Republican National Committee to cancel the first day of its convention in Tampa as the storm threatened the Gulf Coast and Florida.

And as Hurricane Sandy heads toward the East Coast, Madden said mother nature is just one of those things the campaign can't control.

Hurricane Sandy: Live Storm Tracker

"We just try to have focus on what we can control and part of what we can control is making sure that safety is a priority for the people that are in harm's way in some of these states that are going to be directly impacted and so that's top concern and it'll remain a top concern," he said.

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