President Barack Obama cut his campaign schedule short Monday to return to Washington and monitor Hurricane Sandy, the White House said. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had campaign stops in Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin after altering his schedule Sunday because of the potentially life-threatening megastorm, canceling events in Virginia. He spent an extra day in battleground state pf Ohio with running mate Paul Ryan, who was to campaign in Florida Monday.
"This is an election about change," Romney told about 2,000 supporters Sunday in Celina, part of a northwest region of Ohio that Republican nominee John McCain won in 2008.
"The president thinks this is a time to just keep on doing what we've been doing," Romney said to the crowd in a high school gym. "Do you want more of the same, or do you want change?"
"Change!" the crowd roared back.
A Romney campaign stop in New Hampshire Tuesday was canceled because of the storm, the campaign said.
Obama, who issued a series of disaster declarations Sunday up and down the East Coast, skipped a scheduled campaign event in Orlando, Fla., as conditions deteriorated in Washington because of the storm.
"This is a serious and big storm," Obama told reporters after a briefing by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "And my first message is to all the people across the Eastern Seaboard, Mid-Atlantic going north, that you need to take this very seriously."
He said he promised state and local officials they would have "anything they need."
"And we're going to cut through red tape," he said. "We're not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules."
Obama had been scheduled to appear with former President Bill Clinton at 10 a.m. Monday at Orlando's University of Central Florida -- the largest university in the nation by enrollment. Clinton was expected to make the appearance and then head for Youngstown, Ohio, and northern Virginia where he was to join up with Vice President Joe Biden, the White House said.
The Obama campaign separately said it would halt fundraising emails Monday to supporters in states expected to get hit hardest by Sandy -- Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and New Jersey, as well as the District of Columbia.
"On Facebook, Twitter and BarackObama.com, supporters are being invited to donate to the Red Cross to support the relief effort," campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said.
Chris Maloney, the Romney campaign's Ohio spokesman, was quoted by The Washington Post as saying, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays our grassroots organization from the swift completion of their tasks to make Barack Obama a one-term president."
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