AVON LAKE, Ohio --Although Mr. Romney cancelled his campaign rally in the Dayton suburb of Kettering, he announced tonight that instead he would attend a storm relief event at the same site with Alabama's Randy Owen and former NASCAR driver Richard Petty.
He is not expected to give formal remarks, but will greet supporters and volunteers and urge them to donate non-perishable food items, water, batteries, and other items for victims of the storm as well as to make donations to the American Red Cross.
With eight days to go before Election Day, Mitt Romney spoke to a crowd of 2,900 at Avon Lake High School today, telling those in the western suburb of Cleveland he would give them "real change" as soon as he takes office, helping businesses grow with lower taxes.
Mr. Romney largely focused on economic issues in his address and his much-touted five-point economic plan of taking advantage of all forms of energy, furthering exports and trade, training for workers, a balanced budget, and championing small business.
He also asked the crowd to keep in mind those Americans on the East Coast in the path of Hurricane Sandy and to donate aid to assist those who could be harmed by the storm.
Mr. Romney was scheduled to return to Ohio on Tuesday, but his event in Elida was canceled, and the storm relief event will be held at 11 a.m. at James S. Trent Arena, 3301 Shroyer Rd., Kettering, instead of the previously scheduled formal rally.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden has also canceled Tuesday's planned visits to Gambier and Wooster because of the storm.
"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 difficult it is going to be...We'd like to ask you who are here today to think about making a contribution to the Red Cross or another relief agency," Mr. Romney said.
"This looks like a time when we need to come together, all across the country, even here in Ohio."
President Barack Obama also has temporarily halted campaigning to focus on the storm. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to appear in place of the President at a previously-schedule campaign event in Youngstown today, with former Democratic President Bill Clinton.
Prior to Mr. Romney's remarks, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) told the crowd that the Republican presidential candidate would be better for the U.S. auto industry, a statement Obama campaign officials strongly refuted.
“Senator Portman looked straight into voters’ eyes and falsely claimed Mitt Romney would have saved the auto industry," said a statement from Danny Kanner, a spokesman for the Obama campaign. "That’s just not true – when it mattered most, Romney turned his back on the industry and more than one million jobs up and down the supply chain. Then Romney said he’d cut taxes for everyone and save Medicare – but he’d raise middle class taxes to pay for $250,000 tax cuts for multi-millionaires and end the Medicare guarantee by turning it into a voucher system. If middle class families can’t trust Mitt Romney to tell them the truth now, how can they ever trust he’d tell them the truth as president?”
During his speech, Mr. Romney singled out the high school students in the audience, telling them, "I'm going to make sure people coming out of college are going to have good jobs." Mr. Romney also told the students they were being burdened by excessive government spending.
"It's immoral for us to keep spending what we don't have," he said.
A poll of likely Ohio voters commissioned by The Blade and the Ohio Newspaper Organization, released Sunday, found Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama in a dead heat, tied at 49 percent each, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
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