The plan was for supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies to the event, and then deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman. To complete the project and photo-op, Romney would lead his crew in carrying the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside.Not that you needed any more evidence that Romney's event was more about helping his campaign than helping storm relief victims, but the fact is the only reason they collected supplies is because they thought it would make for a better picture than encouraging financial donations. The thing is that the Red Cross does not ordinarily accept physical goods because processing them is a logistical nightmare; instead, they ask for financial donations.
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it "did donate supplies to the relief effort," but would not specify how much it spent.)
But apparently Romney's campaign bullied the Red Cross into accepting the physical goods that they didn't want, because by the end of the day yesterday, the campaign was distributing a statement from the Red Cross thanking them for their donations.
Romney's campaign told reporters that a Red Cross warehouse in New Jersey was accepting the donation, and distributed a statement they attributed to the Red Cross.That statement is a polite way of saying: "Please don't do what the Romney campaign did with physical goods because we don't need the logistical challenge of processing donations of supplies. Instead, please make a financial contribution or donate blood." In other words, if Romney wanted to help he should have donated the $5,000 instead of spending it on props to make his storm relief photo op look good.
"The American Red Cross appreciates the support from the Romney campaign and is working with the campaign to process this donation of supplies," the statement read. "We are grateful that both the Obama and Romney campaigns have also encouraged the public to send financial donations to the Red Cross. We encourage individuals who want to help to consider making a financial donation or making an appointment to give blood."