AVON LAKE, Ohio -- Trying to strike a delicate balance of sensitivity about the impending hurricane with stumping for votes, Mitt Romney told thousands of supporters here on Monday that he and storm victims were relying on Ohio for support.
“We’re counting on Ohio. I know the people of the Atlantic Coast are counting on Ohio and the rest of our states,” he said, after urging them to donate to the American Red Cross or another relief agency. “But I also think the people of the entire nation are counting on Ohio. Because my guess is – my guess is that if Ohio votes me in as president, I’ll be the next president of the United States.”
Hurricane Sandy’s impending landfall, just eight days before election day, puts the GOP nominee in an awkward position. President Obama is dealing with hurricane preparation, which helps him because he will be on the airwaves looking authoritative, but hurts him because it takes him off the campaign trail.
PHOTOS: Hurricane Sandy
Romney has free reign to campaign throughout the battleground states, but his message will likely be drowned out by storm coverage and he has to avoid looking craven by politicking as millions of Americans are in danger.
Romney has canceled campaign rallies Monday night and Tuesday, as the hurricane makes landfall and batters the East Coast. And at his first event Monday, he closed by urging supporters to help those who will be suffering.
“You with full hearts and clear eyes can see what’s happening across the country right now 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. 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 perhaps in something more severe.”
“So I’d like to ask you that are here today to think about making a contribution to the Red Cross or 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,” he said, and the crowd roared in approval. “We’ve faced these kind of challenges before and as we have it’s interesting to see Americans come together, and this looks like another time when we need come together all across the country even here in Ohio and make sure that we give of our support to the people who need it. So I’m asking you to look for a way to do that. I know our victory centers are making collections of items and cash that we can send along to the Red Cross. But whether you come to our victory center or instead you just do it from your email, your Internet account, do your very best to help.”
INTERACTIVE: Battleground states map
Romney also began laying out his closing pitch to voters, which involves emphasizing one policy area each day that he will tackle on the first day he would take office.
On Monday, Romney focused on tax policy, saying he would propose lowering corporate and individual tax rates on Day 1.
“Now at the same time we’re going to have to get rid of some deductions and exemptions and loopholes so we keep getting the revenue we need, but we want to bring the tax rates down to make America and Ohio an even more interesting place to invest,” he said.
Democrats have criticized the proposal saying that it is impossible for it to be revenue neutral, and will force cuts that will harm the middle class.