Romney Scrubs Campaign Schedule, Calls on Americans to Unite As Sandy Bears Down
AVON LAKE, OHIO - Mitt Romney's campaign has canceled fifteen events over the course of several days as national attention turns toward Hurricane Sandy. Romney told a crowd in this critical swing state that the storm is a time for Americans to come together.
"We've faced these kinds of challenges before and as we have it's interesting to see how American's come together and this, this looks like another time when we need to come together all across the country, even here in Ohio, and make sure that we give our support to the people who need it," Romney said to a crowd of thousands gathered in a school gym to hear him speak.
President Obama has also cancelled campaign stops. He returned to Washington D.C. Monday. Instead of attending a rally in Florida with former President Bill Clinton, Obama briefly spoke from the White House and told Americans to listen to local authorities during the storm. In total, Hurricane Sandy has forced the cancellation of 27 campaign events between the two campaigns.
Shortly before Romney took the stage here, the campaign's Communications Director Gail Gitcho released a statement announcing that Romney's evening event in Wisconsin and all three campaign stops on Tuesday - both in Ohio and Iowa - were canceled due to the storm. Additionally, Romney's running mate Paul Ryan's two events in Florida tonight as well as three scheduled for tomorrow are also scrapped.
Romney will still hold a rally this afternoon in Iowa and Ryan will hold one event in Florida.
"You with full hearts and clear eyes can see what's happening across the country right now," said Romney, quoting one of his favorite lines from the television show "Friday Night Lights." "And on the eastern coast of our nation a lot of people are enduring some very difficult times. And our hearts and our prayers go to them as we think about how tough it's going to be there."
As Romney spoke here in Ohio, people in the storm's path on the East Coast were bracing for a storm threatened to cut powers to millions, flood major cities and leave extensive damage in its wake.
"I don't think there's been a hurricane in Ohio in a long time," Romney said. "But there's been some hurricanes that have caused a lot of damage across this country and hurt a lot of families and there are families in harm's way that will be hurt either in their possessions or in perhaps something more severe. And so I'd like to ask you who are here today to think about making a contribution to the Red Cross or to another relief agency to be of help if you possibly can in any way you can imagine to help those who are in harm's way."
Romney cancelled three events in the battleground state of Virginia over the weekend, flying instead to Ohio to tag on to Ryan's bus tour there on Sunday. Romney also canceled an evening rally in New Hampshire just hours after announcing it on Tuesday night and his wife, Ann Romney, scrapped two events of her own in the Granite State that were supposed to take place today.
ABC News' Shushannah Walshe contributed to this report.