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Romney set to return to hurricane-stricken Va. on Thursday


Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will be the first candidate to campaign in hurricane-stricken Virginia with a rally on Thursday in the Richmond area. 

The Virginia Republican Party released an invitation Tuesday morning to a Romney event in Doswell, Va. later this week, the GOP candidate's first trip to the state since preceding Hurricane Sandy.

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney walks off of his campaign bus at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Oct. 29, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The afternoon event was promoted by the Virginia GOP as a makeup for the rallies in Virginia the Romney campaign had scheduled for last Sunday. The Republican's campaign canceled those events so as to not distract resources from preparing for the hurricane, and subsequent relief efforts. 

Recommended: Storm aftermath not likely to delay election

Northern Virginia — one of the state's population centers and a firm chunk of battleground territory — was more heavily affected by the storm; power outages and storm damages are thought to be less severe in central and southern Virginia, which includes Richmond and was not as severely struck by the hurricane. Moreover, Romney called Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Monday to consult about emergency preparedness.

MSNBC Political analyst and former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Former Democratic Senator from Arkansas Blanche Lincoln and USA Today's Susan Page talk about where President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are Tuesday and how Hurricane Sandy could impact the last week before the election.

But the decision to return to Virginia for the first time carries a degree of sensitivity. President Barack Obama was set to resume campaigning later this week, though his schedule doesn't call for any stops in states most acutely affected by Sandy, including the battleground states of Virginia, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. 

But with the election just a week away, it's not clear that Romney could afford to stay out of Virginia much longer. His last visit to the state was on Oct. 17, for a rally in Leesburg.