AVON LAKE, OHIO – With a somber request for Red Cross donations to those who will be hit by Hurricane Sandy, Mitt Romney wrapped up a rally that was more subdued than normal – before begging off the trail to wait out the storm.

President Obama has already returned to Washington to monitor the storm and its damage, and Romney this morning announced that this mid-day rally in a Cleveland suburb would be his last.

Ohio has been drenched by Sandy-brought rains since yesterday, and the eastern part of the crucial state of will be hit by some of the hurricane’s high winds.

Romney held a rally at a packed gym in Avon Lake High School today. He dialed down his standard stump speech a bit, dropping some of his sharper jabs. The crowd, nevertheless, heartily cheered his remarks and those of Senator Rob Portman – the most successful Republican in white-collar suburbs like Avon Lake.

Obama has proxies still on the campaign trail, but the storm has basically suspended stump speeches. Voters – as long as they and their TV stations don’t lose power – won’t get a break from the campaign, though, as hundreds of millions of dollars of ads will run in all swing states.