Image: Mitt Romney
Brian Snyder  /  REUTERS
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gets off his campaign plane in Moline, Ill. October 29, 2012.
NBC News
updated 10/30/2012 11:20:49 AM ET 2012-10-30T15:20:49

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will be the first candidate to campaign in hurricane-stricken Virginia with a rally on Thursday in the Richmond area.

The Virginia Republican Party released an invitation Tuesday morning to a Romney event in Doswell, Va. later this week, the GOP candidate's first trip to the state since preceding Hurricane Sandy.

Storm aftermath not likely to delay election

The afternoon event was promoted by the Virginia GOP as a makeup for the rallies in Virginia the Romney campaign had scheduled for last Sunday. The Republican's campaign canceled those events so as to not distract resources from preparing for the hurricane, and subsequent relief efforts.

Northern Virginia — one of the state's population centers and a firm chunk of battleground territory — was more heavily affected by the storm; power outages and storm damages are thought to be less severe in central and southern Virginia, which includes Richmond and was not as severely struck by the hurricane. Moreover, Romney called Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Monday to consult about emergency preparedness.

In Sandy's wake: Obama needs smooth recovery, Romney can't look too political

But the decision to return to Virginia for the first time carries a degree of sensitivity. President Barack Obama was set to resume campaigning later this week, though his schedule doesn't call for any stops in states most acutely affected by Sandy, including the battleground states of Virginia, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

But with the election just a week away, it's not clear that Romney could afford to stay out of Virginia much longer. His last visit to the state was on Oct. 17, for a rally in Leesburg.

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Video: Obama, Romney cancel all campaign events Tuesday

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    >>> the wrath of sandy has blown the presidential race off course with just seven days until the election. chuck todd is nbc's political director and chief white house correspondent. chuck, good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, savannah. it's hard to believe, believe it or not, election day is a week away, but the reality is that neither candidate for president may hit the campaign trail for another couple of days which leaves, of course, precious little time to persuade voters in this incredibly close election . with the campaign largely on hold, president obama hunkered down at white house prepared the nation monday for what could be sandy's long lasting impact.

    >> the public needs to prepare for the fact that this is going to take a long time for us to clean up. the good news is we will clean up, and we will get through this

    >> reporter: president awoke monday in orlando for what was supposed to be a one-day three-state blitz alongside former president clinton . instead, he and aides called an audible and they headed back to washington to focus on the storm. at the midday briefing mr. obama insisted the campaign was not on his mind.

    >> i'm worried about the impact on families, and i'm worried about the impact on our first responders. i'm worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation. you know, the election will take care of itself next week.

    >> reporter: meanwhile, for much of monday mitt romney tried to walk a fine line, balancing campaigning in ohio and iowa with compassion for storm victims. in ohio he appealed for americans to put politics aside.

    >> we've faced these kind of challenges before, and as we have, as soon as americans come together, and this looks like another time when we need to come together, all across the country, even here in ohio .

    >> reporter: still, romney did not entirely abandon politics.

    >> the people of the entire nation are counting on ohio because my guess is -- my guess is that if ohio votes me in as president, i'll be the next president of the united states .

    >> reporter: both candidates have cancelled all of their own public events for today. the president was supposed to be in colorado and wisconsin, and mr. romney had planned to be in new hampshire, but this doesn't mean the campaigns are not still battling below the radar. the latest flashpoint, a romney tv ad running in ohio making this claim about jeep.

    >> obama took gm and chrysler into bankruptcy and sold chrysler to italians who are going to build jeeps in china.

    >> reporter: campaigning in ohio with former president clinton , vice president biden blasted the ad as false.

    >> chrysler has fellow bliged to go public and say there is no truth to this. jeep has no intention of shifting production of its jeep models out of north america to china.

    >> reporter: and while mitt romney is technically not campaigning today, he's doing a storm relief event, savannah, in the state of ohio .

    >> all right. chuck, a lot of folks are asking us this morning, is there a possibility with these widespread power outages that could last days, if not weeks, is there a chance the election day itself could be delayed?

    >> reporter: it's very unlikely. look, the presidential election day is something that is set in the constitution. now, states run elections, and they can decide to postpone, if they wanted to, it's happened before . new york city , of course, postponed new york city elections on 9/11 on the day that it happened. they postponed that. now, that said what did come up yesterday during the fema calls with craig fugate and state officials was could states get reimbursed for having to, for instance, move voting precincts, get extra generators in to get the election going, that is what states are figuring out now, and that's the most likely scenario here is that people may find out their voting place is moved in order to get power to them, things like that, but the idea of a delay right now, that seems to be way, way out of the question and very, very unlikely.

    >> and very quickly, chuck, we are seeing an effect on early voting in swing states affece? by the storm.

    >> reporter: well, that is true. particularly virginia is the place when you look at the battleground states that's most affected by this, a little bit in ohio . so some things i know that maryland delayed some early votes so there's some of those delays. right now it doesn't seem to have a huge impact yet.

    >> all right. chuck todd , thank you.


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