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Obama, Biden Scale Back Campaigning During Gustav

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

(PITTSBURGH) - Barack Obama and Joe Biden are drastically altering their campaign schedules because of concerns over Hurricane Gustav and the threat it poses to areas of the Gulf Coast.

Obama turned a rally with union workers in Detroit into a short speech about the hurricane and charity.

"I want everybody to remember there's a time for us to argue politics but there's a time for us to come together as Americans. I know John McCain wants what's best for the people who have been evacuated, I know George Bush wants what's best for them and so do I," Obama told the crowd in Detroit.

"Instead of a speech, I'd like all of us to join in some silent prayer for all those Americans who are spending this Labor Day in a shelter waiting for another storm to pass."

"I'd like to ask all of you to give what you can to the Red Cross and other organizations that are aiding in the relief effort."

Obama is heading back to Chicago tonight to monitor the storm.

Meantime, Biden canceled plans to march with union leaders in a Pittsburgh, telling reporters in Pittsburgh, "It shouldn't be a day for national politics. There's too much happening down there in the Gulf Coast."

Biden said he was impressed with the response by the Bush administration, as well as federal, state and local authorities for the evacuations of Louisiana and Mississippi areas in the path of the storm.

"Look, they evacuated over a million, 900 thousand people -- I think that's the number. I mean that's a monumental task, number one. Number two, it appears as though all the assets are in place to deal with whatever Mother Nature has to bring," said Biden.

"The focus of the administration has been on -- unlike before -- has been laser focused on the situation and that's all good and so I hope by the time this is over we can celebrate and compliment the federal agencies for having done a successful job."

Anticipation of the storm has caused Republicans to scale back their national convention in St. Paul, and Biden had no criticism for their response.

"I think what the Republicans did is totally appropriate. Look, this is not a time, with the memory of Katrina and the threat and the potential of Gustav, to be doing anything other than showing the nation and the world we are focused on the concerns, the lives, and the well being of the people along the Gulf Coast."

Asked if he would visit the region, Biden said he did not want to "get in the way" as a public official.

As for scheduled events in the future, Biden said everything was open to reconsideration in light of the storm, and the Obama campaign's plan for now is to monitor the situation.

"Now again, as you all know, we're going to have a pretty clear accounting in the next 24 hours of what the deal is. And then the question will be how we follow up. What we do? Are we going to have the kind of immediate and swift and…positive reaction that is needed to bring relief to the people in the Gulf area, depending on the severity of the storm? " asked Biden rhetorically.

"That's the test."

CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic contributed to this report.