DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Seeking to strike a positive tone on the trail even as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday afternoon told a crowd of supporters here in eastern Iowa that he is optimistic about the future of the country and that he will reach across the aisle to work with Republicans and Democrats alike.
"I also want you to know how optimistic I am," Romney said at an outdoor rally at Seven Cities Sod, under a clear blue sky that gave no hint of the storm making its way across the East. According to the campaign, 2,250 people were at the event. "I wouldn't be doing what I've been doing if I were a pessimist, all right? This job is quite an undertaking. It's a thrill to get to do what I get to do," he said.
"I get so much energy from you that, by the way, at the end of the day it takes a long time for me to slow down and fall asleep," he added.
As his campaign had planned to do before Hurricane Sandy threw the candidates' schedules into upheaval, Romney spent more time at Monday's rally focusing on various parts of his agenda -- tax reform, repealing the national health-care law -- than on attacking President Obama.
But he also made note of the storm, as he did at a rally earlier in the day in Avon Lake, Ohio, telling the crowd that "the damage will probably be significant" and urging supporters to donate to the American Red Cross.
Romney added that he had spoken with the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Among those introducing Romney at the event was wrestler and Iowa native Dan Gable, who hailed Romney as a leader whose campaign is well prepared and has "done their homework."
Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, is slated to return home from Florida to Janesville, Wis., later Monday. Romney will head to Dayton, Ohio. But his plans remain in flux; there were reports that Romney might attend a disaster-relief event in the Dayton area on Tuesday, but a spokesman said the campaign could not immediately confirm whether that was the case.