CELINA, Ohio – The Mitt Romney campaign has adjusted activities so as not to complicate Hurricane Sandy emergency and relief operations, senior campaign adviser Kevin Madden told WND at the conclusion of a Romney-Ryan rally in Celina, Ohio – itself a last-minute reschedule after the campaign cancelled rallies Gov. Romney had originally planned to attend in Virginia on Sunday.
“The schedule we have locked down for now involves the states not directly impacted by the storm,” Madden said. “Our top concern is for the safety of the people in harms way.”
Late Sunday, the Romney camp cancelled plans for Gov. Romney to travel to New Hampshire for campaign rallies on Tuesday.
Rumors circulated among the press traveling with Romney that the campaign would stay in the Midwest next week, traveling to Iowa and continuing to focus on Ohio, with the possibility campaign trips might be scheduled for Minnesota and Wisconsin, two states that until recently had been considered safely in Obama’s column.
Reporters asked Madden if the story would disrupt the news cycle such that the Romney campaign might not be able to make the planned closing argument in pivotal East Coast states including Virginia and New Hampshire.
“It’s been a long campaign and a lot of folks have gotten a lot of information about both campaigns,” he responded. “Right now the safety of the people in the states affected by the storm is the top concern of the campaign, not additional campaigning.”
Madden reinforced this point by telling reporters the Romney campaign has halted fundraising in states likely to be affected by the storm, including D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York and New Jersey.
He explained to WND the campaign’s strategy was to hold margins in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s most densely populated county encompassing Cleveland, a bastion of Democratic Party strength, and to increase both turnout and margins in the state’s traditionally Republican smaller towns and rural areas.
“Our strategy in Ohio is pretty simple,” Madden quipped. “Get more votes than the other guy.”
Evidencing the importance of Ohio to Romney winning the presidency, the campaign decided to bring Romney and Ryan together to barnstorm Ohio.
Though Celina was originally billed as a Ryan-only rally point, the town of approximately 10,000 people in central western Ohio on the border with Indiana got an unexpected in-person visit from Gov. Romney, as 2,000 packed in the town’s high school basketball arena for a rally, while another 1,000 overflow Romney supporters gathered on a grandstand on the adjoining football field.
When the rally in the arena was concluded, Romney and Ryan walked over to the grandstand to address the outdoors overflow crowd for another 10 minutes.
Reporters asked Madden if Romney’s economic message would resonate in western Ohio where unemployment is typically much better than the national average.
“We’ve talked to voters about America reaching its full employment potential,” Madden commented, noting that unemployment in Mercer County is currently at 3.9 percent, an achievement the state’s Republican governor attributes to implementing strategies compatible with the presidential campaign’s emphasis on creating business-friendly tax and regulatory environments.
As Romney joined Ryan in Ohio, a controversy was developing over a TV advertisement produced by the Romney-Ryan campaign – hitting back at Obama campaign claims Romney did not support the auto bailout – pointing out Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and is now allowing Fiat, a major shareholder in the government-restructured Chrysler, to build Jeeps in China.
The Obama campaign has denounced the ad as misleading, insisting that Chrysler was building a plant in China to sell Jeeps in China, not closing its U.S. Jeep production or planning to import from China into the U.S. Jeeps made in China.
Late Sunday afternoon, the Romney campaign traveled northeast to Findlay, Ohio, where a rally originally scheduled for Ryan alone at the Koehler Athletic Complex at the University of Findlay was attended by another 2,000 enthusiastic Ryan/Romney supporters.
Romney also made a plea for fans in Ohio to help victims of the storm. Video here: