Romney Trades Barbs for Optimism in Subdued Speech, First Since Hurricane Sandy

Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

TAMPA - Mitt Romney was back on the stump in Florida for his first full day of campaigning since Hurricane Sandy devastated areas of the East Coast. But with President Obama headed to storm-ravaged New Jersey for a tour with Gov. Chris Christie and many Americans still feeling the effects of the storm, Romney maintained a more subdued tone here, trading harsh attacks on President Obama's tenure for a more positive set of remarks then one might be expect just days before election day.

"We come together in times like this and we want to make sure that they have a speedy and quick recovery from their financial and in many cases, personal loss," said Romney, opening his remarks here by encouraging Red Cross donations for storm relief efforts. Romney was joined by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, who also made mention of Sandy and encouraged donations.

Hurricane Sandy: Full Coverage

"Now people coming together is what's also going to happen, I believe on November 7th," Romney continued. "I know that we have differing viewpoints with regards to the campaigns. Up until that point - when we get to vote on November 6th and on November 6th, you're going to see us describe our respective visions for the country."

"Mine is pretty straight forward, and that is I believe that this is the time for America to take a different course, that this should be a turning point for our country," he said.

"I will bring real change and real reform and a presidency that brings us together," he said.

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But noticeably missing in Romney's speech today were some of his most frequently used outright attack lines - ones that suggest Obama is "out of ideas" or the others that say Obama's a "nice guy" but doesn't know how to run an economy. Gone was his riff on President Obama's campaign focusing in the "small things," such as Big Bird and their invention of the term "Romnesia."

The GOP candidate made only a fleeting reference to his challenger's leadership style saying, "Now, I don't just talk about change; I actually have a plan to execute change and to make it happen!"

Romney instead sought to emphasis his own optimism about the country, rather than his perceived downfalls of President Obama. "You should know I could not be in this race if I were not an optimist," said Romney. "I believe in the future of this country I know we have huge challenges, but I'm not frightened by them, I'm invigorated by the challenge. We're going to take on these challenges we're going to overcome them!"

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Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said that the decision came for Romney to deliver a more subdued speech because they wanted to keep a "positive tone."

"He also wanted to make sure because there are some people are still feeling the effects of the storm that he also recognized that and spoke to that and reminded people that there are ways they can contribute to the relief effort still through donations to the Red Cross," said Madden. "Our focus today is going to continue to be to strike a positive tone, about what the Governor would do on Day One of a Romney presidency."