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President Obama abandoned campaigning today for the third day in a row. Instead, he toured storm devastation in New Jersey. Not Mitt Romney. After paring back his schedule for two days, the challenger held three events in a state that knows something about storm damage. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from Florida.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: With less than a week until the presidential election, the challenger decided it's time to get back to politics. He started the day at an airplane hangar in Tampa.
MITT ROMNEY: I don't just talk about change. I actually have a plan to execute change and to make it happen.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
SHAPIRO: That was the most aggressive Romney got in this stump speech. Instead of his usual attacks, he emphasized bipartisanship and optimism. Romney asked people in the crowd to help their neighbors up north.
ROMNEY: You see up on our screens a way to give to the Red Cross. People are doing that all over America, gathering their support in any way they can to help the people that have been subjected to this tragedy. And so, please, if you have an extra dollar or two, send them along.
SHAPIRO: Many people here in Florida have firsthand experience with the devastation that a hurricane can leave behind. Bob Sang is concerned about Sandy's impact on victims and on this presidential race.
BOB SANG: Because momentum was definitely going in the right direction and, you know, it's a nice little deal for the president. But, you know, good publicity for him contrary to where he's been.
SHAPIRO: He's frustrated with Chris Christie too. The New Jersey governor has been effusive, praising President Obama's performance in the storm.
SANG: I'd be disingenuous if I didn't say I thought he could've toned down his appreciation for the president doing his job.
SHAPIRO: This is one swing state where the Romney campaign feels like it has an edge over President Obama. But the fact that the candidate is spending a full day here shows just how tenuous that edge is. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, traveling with the Romney campaign. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.