Six days before the election and as polls are nearly tied in most critical battlegrounds, the relative cease-fire between President Obama and Mitt Romney in the days after a hurricane ravaged the East Coast remained intact Wednesday -- but their campaigns were a different story.
As Obama toured the damage in New Jersey with Gov. Chris Christie, Romney spent his first full day of campaigning since Hurricane Sandy's landfall talking about his ideas, urging donations to the Red Cross and avoiding even a mention of Obama's name.
His effort succeeded at his first rally in Tampa, where supporters crowded into an airplane hangar on the cool, cloudless morning packed with such Florida political stars as former governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
"I believe this is the year for us to take a different course; I would bring real change and real reform. I don't just talk about change, I actually have a plan to execute change," Romney said, stressing themes like bipartisanship and the importance of working together for a common good.
By the second rally at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, his surrogates appeared ready for something more combative.
As the Red Cross donation number beamed near him, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., slammed the president's foreign policy.
"Remember, and he went to Egypt to apologize, to tell the world that the United States was going to be humbler and mellower and that, frankly, we are so sorry for the sacrifices of the Americans for generations," he said. "Well, now -- now Egypt is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, in Libya, they murder our ambassador, kill three other brave Americans, and the president is nowhere to be found to answer what happened."
Later, Bush, who at the first rally had focused on the changes Romney would make to the country for the better, said the president was more focused on shifting the blame than bringing people together.
"His entire strategy is to blame others -- starting with my brother, of course," he said, referring to former president George W. Bush. "Basically, he blames every possible thing rather than having the humility to be able to reach out and to find common ground."
Meanwhile, Democrats -- other than Obama -- continued to pound Romney for a controversial ad running in Ohio that says the president allowed American automaker General Motors to move operations to China.
Campaigning in Sarasota on Wednesday, Vice President Biden called the auto ad an "outrageous lie."
"They are running the most scurrilous ad in Ohio. And I mean this sincerely one of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember in my political career," Biden said, according to ABC News. "It's an outrageous lie. A lie, a lie that is so deceptive and so patently untrue that the Chrysler corporation, including the chairman of the board of Chrysler, they actually spoke up."
A GM spokesman rejected the notion that the company was moving jobs to China in a statement to the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday, and called the ad "campaign politics at its cynical worst."
Romney adviser Kevin Madden defended the ad saying it "makes the case for why Gov. Romney would be stronger for the auto industry and why the auto industry's an important part of a strong economy."
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