Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney urged his supporters on Tuesday to keep up their efforts to help those impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and pitched in to box up donations.

"We have heavy hearts, as you know, with all of the suffering going on in a major part of our country," he said at an appearance in Dayton, Ohio, touted by the campaign as a "storm relief" event. "A lot of people are hurting this morning and they were hurting last night."

He thanked the crowd for bringing goods, which he said will be sent to New Jersey.

"I appreciate the fact people right here in Dayton got up this morning, some went to the grocery store, I see, and purchased some things that these families will need," he continued. "I appreciate your generosity. It's part of the American spirit, the American way, to give to people that are in need."

Romney is in a tough spot: If he continued campaign events as planned, he could be painted as insensitive to those impacted by the storm. But completely halting appearances could be a major hindrance to his campaign.

The campaign has since tried to thread the needle, by canceling events Monday evening and Tuesday, but then adding this event to collect goods for storm victims. He also has encouraged supporters to donate to the Red Cross.

Tuesday's event took place in a large room that, for all intents and purposes, looked like a rally location, other than a line of tables with volunteers accepting donated items.

NPR's Ari Shapiro tweeted that before the event, the campaign played Romney's bio video, which praises his work and experience.

Romney entered the event to little fanfare, eschewing his usual campaign music and instead simply walking to the stage. After delivering brief remarks, he assisted in boxing up the donated goods, while supporters listened to a concert. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) stood next to him to accept donations from supporters who walked by.

Romney told the crowd that even small donations would help.

"We're looking for all the help we can get," he said.

Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), will visit two campaign offices in Wisconsin on Tuesday to thank volunteers who are accepting donations for the storm.

Romney and Portman continued to collect donations until around 12:30 p.m. and then moved outside to load them into a truck, a task that took about 15 minutes, according to a pool report. All told, they spent slightly less than an hour on the volunteering effort.

Romney ignored questions after the event about how he would deal with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and specifically whether he would eliminate it, according to a pool report.

Romney said during a CNN Republican primary debate that he would support handing over disaster relief to the states and private groups. He said then that it would be "immoral" to continue to run disaster relief at the federal level and increase the deficit.

CORRECTION: 2:13 p.m. -- This article has been updated to remove a statement that Romney said he would "absolutely" shut down FEMA. He did not use the word in that context.

This story has been updated to include information from after the event.

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  • President Barack Obama

    In a hastily organized press briefing at the White House, Obama said Monday that his race with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is the furthest thing from his mind as the East Coast braces for what could be its worst storm in history. "I am not worried at this point about the impact on the election. I am worried about the impact on families. I am worried about the impact on our first responders," he said. "The election will take care of itself next week." ... He also sent out a campaign email on Monday urging supporters to heed advice from local authorities and extending an early thank you to first responders. “Michelle and I are keeping everyone in the affected areas in our thoughts and prayers. Be safe,” reads the email, signed by Obama. -- <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-obama_n_2042403.html?1351610452">HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery and Lynne Peeples </a></em>

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney

    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took a moment in an overflow room ahead of a campaign rally Monday to express his concern for those in the path of Hurricane Sandy and encourage the people of Ohio to do what they could to help those out east. “I want to mention that our hearts and prayers are with all the people in the storm's path," he said in Avon Lake, Ohio. "Sandy is another devastating hurricane by all accounts, and a lot of people are going to be facing some real tough times as a result of Sandy's fury." He went on to encourage those who can afford it to make a donation to the Red Cross. "If there are other ways that you can help, please take advantage of them because there will be a lot of people that are going to be looking for help and the people in Ohio have big hearts, so we're expecting you to follow through and help out," he said. Romney concluded the rally by echoing his comments from the overflow room. "This looks like another time we all need to come together," he said. -- <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/mitt-romney-hurricane-sandy_n_2039620.html?1351610466">HuffPost's Elise Foley</a></em>

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) continued his praise of President Barack Obama's work responding to Hurricane Sandy, using a press briefing Monday evening to note that he appreciated the "leadership" Obama was showing in the emergency. Christie, a prominent surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said that he and Obama had a private phone conversation on Monday to discuss how the federal government could help New Jersey. He said that Obama told Christie that he could call him directly over the next 48 hours if the state government had issues with federal response to the hurricane in New Jersey. “I appreciate that type of leadership," Christie said of Obama. The Republican governor said most of the call centered on Obama's concern for New Jersey and then he continued to heap praise on the president, saying Obama's work has been "proactive." Christie shortened a campaign trip for Romney to return to New Jersey to handle the storm response. Christie started his praise of Obama during press briefings on Sunday, when he said "appreciated" Obama's outreach to him and the governors of other states being impacted by Hurricane Sandy. During a press briefing on Monday afternoon, Christie described another call he had with Obama and said that the president and his aides have been working to benefit New Jersey. “We appreciate the president’s efforts in that regard," Christie said earlier Monday. "He and his staff worked tremendously hard.” -- <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/chris-christie-sandy-obama_n_2041673.html">HuffPost's John Celock</a></em>

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

  • Newark Mayor Cory Booker

  • Former Vice President Al Gore

    This week, our nation has anxiously watched as Hurricane Sandy lashed the East Coast and caused widespread damage--affecting millions. Now more than ever, our neighbors need our help. Please consider donating or volunteering for your local aid organizations. The images of Sandy’s flooding brought back memories of a similar--albeit smaller scale-- event in Nashville just two years ago. There, unprecedented rainfall caused widespread flooding, wreaking havoc and submerging sections of my hometown. For me, the Nashville flood was a milestone. For many, Hurricane Sandy may prove to be a similar event: a time when the climate crisis—which is often sequestered to the far reaches of our everyday awareness became a reality. While the storm that drenched Nashville was not a tropical cyclone like Hurricane Sandy, both storms were strengthened by the climate crisis. Scientists tell us that by continually dumping 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every single day, we are altering the environment in which all storms develop. As the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, storms are becoming more energetic and powerful. Hurricane Sandy, and the Nashville flood, were reminders of just that. Other climate-related catastrophes around the world have carried the same message to hundreds of millions. Sandy was also affected by other symptoms of the climate crisis. As the hurricane approached the East Coast, it gathered strength from abnormally warm coastal waters. At the same time, Sandy's storm surge was worsened by a century of sea level rise. Scientists tell us that if we do not reduce our emissions, these problems will only grow worse. Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

    "Our thoughts and prayers rest with the families, friends, and loved ones of all those who have lost their lives in the course of Hurricane Sandy, and our hearts go out to the millions of Americans waking up to destruction and devastation in their homes and communities today. "We are all grateful to the rescue workers and first responders working around-the-clock to save lives, restore power, and deal with the immediate aftermath of the storm. Federal, state, and local authorities have worked hand-in-hand to prepare for and respond to this natural disaster, and we will continue to do so as Americans begin to take stock of the damage, recover, and rebuild. "All Members of Congress stand ready to offer our aid and assistance to communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. As we have done in the past, the American people will stand united to confront the impact of this storm and start the work of recovery."

  • Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)

  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

  • Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)

  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

  • Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

  • Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.)

  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)

  • Rep. Steve Austria (R-Ohio)

  • Former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.)

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

    “Hurricane Sandy hit New York and the Northeast hard last night and will complicate life in our region for the coming days. I am astounded at what I have seen in my own congressional district: flooding throughout Coney Island, Battery Park City, and other areas; widespread power outages; felled trees everywhere you look; and some very tragic fatalities. I am grateful to our local responders and laborers, who are doing a tremendous job on emergency response. And, through the President’s declaration of New York as a major disaster area, we will be able to immediately allocate FEMA funds to begin to repair the billions of dollars in damage locally and bring relief to New Yorkers whose lives have been turned upside down.”