TAMPA, Fla. -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged yesterday to deliver the "real change" he says his Democratic opponent promised but has not achieved.

With President Barack Obama in New Jersey surveying storm damage, Romney softened his line of attack against the president. He did not mention Obama's name in his first two rallies in Florida -- a third was planned in the evening -- but in a race that polls show to be extremely close, he found an avenue to challenge Obama nonetheless.

"I don't just talk about change," Romney told an estimated 2,000 supporters at an airport rally before outlining general plans to improve the nation's economy. "I actually have a plan to execute change and make it happen."

Romney aides concede that the political balancing act is not over as the nation continues to focus on Hurricane Sandy's aftermath. The day before, Romney canceled some rallies and converted one into a storm relief event aimed at collecting donations for those in need.

Back on the campaign trail yesterday, Romney encouraged Floridians to donate "a dollar or two" to storm victims across the East Coast. "Today we wanted to make sure we kept a positive tone and talked about what the governor would hope to do on Day One of his presidency," adviser Kevin Madden said aboard Romney's campaign plane.

That's exactly what Romney did in campaign speeches in Tampa and Coral Gables that were stripped of his standard anti-Obama political jabs.

"We can't change the course of America if we keep on attacking each other. We have got to come together," the Republican told a largely Latino crowd inside the University of Miami basketball arena.

Earlier at the Tampa rally he said, "People coming together is what's also going to happen, I believe, on Nov. 7," a reference to the day after the election.

The Romney campaign stopped short of praising Obama's disaster-relief leadership, which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has described as "terrific."

"I refer to Governor Christie's remarks. I believe the response is still going on, so I'm not in a position to qualify the response by the federal government," Madden said.

Latest videos

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access