Charges of politics surround visits to hurricane damage
September 3rd, 2012
09:26 PM ET
2 years ago

Charges of politics surround visits to hurricane damage

(CNN) - Making political hay of a disaster may still be distasteful, but accusing one's opponent of doing as much is alive and well.

President Barack Obama's visit to Louisiana on Monday came three days after his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, also toured damage in the region left in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

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Both men were accompanied by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican. Both men adjusted their campaign schedules to accommodate the trips. Both men met with victims and relief workers.

And both men's campaigns took heat from the other side.

Romney's campaign responded Monday evening to comments made by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who told reporters earlier in the day that "disasters are apolitical," as are disaster responses, but charged that Romney's running mate had previously acted otherwise.

"When it comes to the kinds of choices politicians make in Washington about what their priorities are, it is worth noting that last year there was an effort to underfund the money that's used to provide relief to Americans when they've been hit by disasters," Carney said. "And that effort was led by Congressman Paul Ryan, who is now running to be vice president of the United States."

Ryan's budget proposal included lowering funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and last summer, Republicans said disaster spending should be offset by spending cuts in other areas.

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan with the Romney campaign, fired back that, "Apparently there's nothing the president's team won't politicize.

"Paul Ryan believes providing aid to victims of natural disasters is a critical obligation and should be treated as a high priority within a fiscally responsible budget," Buck continued in a written statement. "It's sad that the White House would stoop to using this heartbreaking event as an opportunity to distort his record and play politics. A Romney-Ryan administration will always ensure there is disaster funding for those in need. Period."

Charges of political play also surrounded Romney's visit to the region on Friday.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Democrat in the Senate - who has also charged that Romney went without paying taxes for a decade, which he said an unnamed person told him – harshly characterized Romney's trip as political.

"It is the height of hypocrisy for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to make a pretense of showing sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Isaac when their policies would leave those affected by this disaster stranded and on their own," Reid said in a statement.

"Under a Romney-Ryan administration, we would not have been prepared to respond to Hurricane Isaac," he charged. "If Paul Ryan and his fellow House Republicans had succeeded in blocking disaster relief last fall, there would have been no aid for the victims of Isaac today. And Paul Ryan's budget would gut disaster funding, making it much harder to get aid to our fellow Americans in their time of need."

– CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian contributed to this report


Filed under: 2012
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Jeff - Sarasota, Florida

    All you people making the comment about Obabm just getting should check the FACTS... Obama had the people of FEMA on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi BEFORE Issac hit... As he said before... The FEMA people handle it, he doesn't... They were there in advance to help them prepare before hand as best they could and were they to help during, and are still there now...

    Romney went last minute after the convention... Originally he said he was invited by Jindal, but then the truth came out that he called Jindal and had him rearrange things for Romney to show up... So Jindal wasn't expexting or wanting Romney there originally...

    So give it a break, the reality is WITHOUT Obama and the Dems stopping the Ryan budget plan, there wouldn't be any FEMA to help them out... Regardless of whether Romney or Obama showed up...

    September 4, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  2. Maxx

    The difference is, Romney is a powerless private citizen taking a weird vacation where Obama is the POTUS. Unless Romney is going to make a sizable donation, he's in the way of real work.

    September 4, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    A visit on the ground is always better than just a fly over...just ask Mr. Bush.

    September 4, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Uh, oh. The who went first playground fight is in full swing. To be honest, If I had just lost everything I owned, I am not sure it matters who came first to visit me. Fact is, only one candidate can "do" anything legally for the hurricane victims, and Obama had already taken the necessary steps even before Romney did his photo op.

    The fault lies with Bobby Jindal, who has used every Louisiana catastrophy to date to expand his own political photo opportunities. One wonders how many of these photo opportunities he has left before his term ends, or how many terms he can continue to run for as Governor.

    September 4, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    "If Paul Ryan and his fellow House Republicans had succeeded in blocking disaster relief last fall, there would have been no aid for the victims of Isaac today. And Paul Ryan's budget would gut disaster funding, making it much harder to get aid to our fellow Americans in their time of need."
    ----------------------
    Harry Reid makes an irrefutable point. Recall how House Republicans, led by Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, had blocked flood relief to Cantor's own district in Virginia because they wanted cuts to social programs. Isn't disaster relief a type of social program?

    September 4, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  6. That Guy

    Pleease change the picture of this article. That shot of Romney on the right, boasts a highly unflattering shot of an American citizen. Eek.

    September 4, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  7. BJ

    The Reason the President had to wait to come to Louisiana was because he was speaking to our troops on Friday at Fort Bliss who was in the process of being shipped out to a war zone some people always talking things that they don't lknow or don't want to know will you people please find out what other important thing is on the Presidents plate before you start downing him.

    September 4, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  8. FLIndependent

    Not only did Paul Ryan buck needed aid but so did his mentor Eric Cantor who said any aid had to be offset by spending reductions putting their ideology before the citizens of our great country. This is the Republican way now – ideology/party first, country/people second!

    September 4, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  9. FLIndependent

    It was rather ironic that Jindal welcomed the President and shook his hand – does that mean he is now going to be blackballed like Charlie Crist was when he "hugged" the President?

    September 4, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. GI Joe

    Romney took resources away from rescue teams. He's as useful as teets on a bull.

    September 4, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  11. FLIndependent

    @Scott who said Romney & Ryan genuinely care about the middle class – this has got to be the post of the day!! Are you serious??????? What in the world has the Republican party done for the middle class ever? And, now with the Tea Party infiltration, the focus will be on gutting all the programs that made the middle class and what we rely on. How anyone can honestly believe the R&R team will help the middle class & poor and not just the rich is beyond comprehension. Go ahead and believe their lies...if these guys take over you'll see the middle class vanish in no time!!

    September 4, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  12. ge

    republicans are allways screaming and crying ,for tax money they don,t want to pay

    September 4, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. UDidntBuildThat

    Jeff – Sarasota, Florida

    All you people making the comment about Obabm just getting should check the FACTS... Obama had the people of FEMA on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi BEFORE Issac hit... As he said before... The FEMA people handle it, he doesn't... They were there in advance to help them prepare before hand as best they could and were they to help during, and are still there now...
    ___________________________________________________________
    Not true. Jindal even expressed frustration at getting OBama's FEMA there. Jindal took matters into his own hands and organized himsef. So give me a break
    As far as Romney going there is policital at least he made an effort. When Bush did not want to go there during Katrina to disrupt the relief effort, u same Dems politicize it. Now u r screaming Romney is inteferiing with relief effort by going there. & Reid is a typical idiot that will politicize anything himself, he should be put out to pasture so that he can enjoy his pomergranate trees all day long!

    September 4, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  14. Fair is Fair

    Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    And besides, we don't have any government HANDOUTS to give to Louisiana, except for the decent minorities in the state.
    -------
    I find it hard to believe there aren't any decent "non-minorities" in Louisiana. But by all means, continue...

    September 4, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  15. UDidntBuildThat

    FLIndependent-It was rather ironic that Jindal welcomed the President and shook his hand – does that mean he is now going to be blackballed like Charlie Crist was when he "hugged" the President?
    ___________________________
    Unlike Crist, Jindal did not approve of the President's stimulus which is Crist was kicked out of office. Jindal did not take a penny of it. It is the Gov's job to greet a President when they visit your state regardless of your political affiliation. Get your facts straight.

    September 4, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  16. lolo

    Really sad. Romney wants to be president so bad, he will use any trick in the book. Just wait your turn Romneyhood. It is not your turn yet. There is only one president at a time and obvisiously you do not go by the rules with this stunt and taxes. We the people have not decided on that one yet. While you are relaxing after the RNC convention, you should be taking time to get those tax returns together instead of going out on your speed boat.

    September 4, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. Puddin

    I was amused when I saw Romney walking around with Jindal as though he was already the president just as I was amused when he went overseas and sat with leaders as if he was already president. He's so transparent, and he should remember there can only be one US president at a time. Romney has no shame.

    September 4, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
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