CINCINNATI (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign pitched in Sunday on storm relief efforts in Ohio, where severe storms and high winds knocked out power to nearly a million people and a state of emergency was declared.
Spokesman Chris Maloney said the state campaign headquarters in Columbus was open Sunday for donations of water, flashlights, non-perishable foods and other items. A Romney bus that's in Ohio this week for campaign office openings will be diverted Monday and Tuesday to deliver supplies to shelters, fire stations and churches in hard-hit areas.
President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency late Saturday in Ohio after a request from Republican Gov. John Kasich. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials huddled Sunday in Columbus with state officials to determine the biggest needs and where to first deploy aid such as water, generators and other supplies. Nearly 700,000 utility customers remained without power Sunday morning.
Maloney said the Romney campaign office received some 5,000 bottles of water by late morning. He said the campaign will ask the American Red Cross and other relief officials for guidance on where to take the donations.
"This is about helping people in their time of need," Maloney said, calling the effort apolitical.
The swing state is likely to be pivotal in November. Obama has a campaign visit to Ohio planned later this week.
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