Davenport, Iowa (CNN) – Mitt Romney spoke Monday with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the National Weather Service as Hurricane Sandy slammed into the U.S. East Coast.
Romney joined the representatives from the agencies, as well as officials from the Department of Homeland Security, on a 20-minute phone call at 4 p.m. ET while the GOP nominee was in Davenport, Iowa for an event, according to campaign spokesman Kevin Madden.
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The presidential candidate received updates on the progress of the Category 1 hurricane, as well as the status of federal, state and local disaster relief efforts, Madden said. Romney was further briefed on the potential effects to states and communities in the storm's immediate aftermath.
Romney's comments about FEMA, made at a CNN Republican primary debate in June 2011, received renewed attention Monday. At the time, Romney said he favored states taking on a large role in disaster relief. "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction," he said.
Asked Monday whether Romney held the same position he did at the June 2011 debate, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg explained the candidate believes "states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions."
"As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most," Henneberg said. "This includes help from the federal government and FEMA."
While Romney canceled his campaign plans in Virginia on Sunday, in addition to an event in Wisconsin Monday night, he still held a rally in Iowa Monday. The campaign said the event was attended by 2,250 people, according to a count of those who went through security.
"I was speaking today with the National Weather Service and the folks at FEMA as they're preparing for the landfall of a very dangerous hurricane. It's going to affect a lot of families, it already has," Romney said at the event.
He continued: "And the damage will probably be significant and of course a lot of people will be out of power for a long time and so hopefully your thoughts and prayers will join with mine and people across the country as you think about those folks that are in harm's way."
The former Massachusetts governor encouraged supporters to donate to the American Red Cross. "We love our fellow Americans, wish them well!"
President Barack Obama, who also canceled campaign events, spoke to reporters in the White House Briefing Room earlier Monday, saying "millions of people" will feel the storm's impact. He held a briefing Sunday at FEMA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. and met with officials on Monday in the White House Situation Room.
- CNN's Rachel Streitfeld, Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
Is there any presidency for a candidate to communicate with the government workers specially a shady candidate like Romney?
Why is Romney wasting the precious time and resources of FEMA at this crucial point in responding to the Hurricane. Can't he make campaign points doing somethign useful. Remeber, Romney would dismantle FEMA also.
Romney was an equivocally stated that if there is any opportunity like the 1976 hostage crises presented to him he will find a way to take advantage it on the 47% video. It seemed based on that promise Romney attacked the Libya embassy workers and the administration while Americans are dying in Libya. It is Romney's character that he can use, do and say anything to get elected. This make him an un-trust worthy candidate for the people interest because his and his sponsors interest is above everything else.
Why is Romney taking up the time of federal officials getting "briefed". They have more important things to do. Romney has no function in this current situation as he has no position in the government at this time. Butt out and let those who have a function take care of it.
What could you possibly say to the agency that helps people through natural disasters when you are on video pandering to your crazy base about "gutting FEMA, we dont need no stinking FEMA!"
So you bash them, then a year later go ahead and call "Hey guys...um...so how are things going? Sorry about saying you were a waste of resources and not needed as you deal with helping millions of Americans during this natural disaster..."
this is to funny. Why don't we go and repeat what he said back in june 2011 when he said that he wasn't for FEMA!!! Again, another LIE or should I say FLIP FLOP
Right...this from the severely conservative that wants to get rid of FEMA.....what a piece of work this one is...say anything to get elected.
This one wants to pass off FEMA responsibilities to the states and, if possible, private companies.
Mitt wants to give a lot of stuff back to the states, Where do you think that money will come from, yes tax increase, hello, you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. But Mitt could say look what I did, made Government smaller and didn't increase taxes. which would be true, he passed it on to the states so they could be blamed for tax increase. States can't afford what they have know. Don't people see what he is doing.
I am sure this was necessary because he believes that the President is not able to handle this situation. Right now there is only one President. FEMA is certainly very busy and does not need any interruptions. President Obama has done an excellent job of overseeing the recovery after these storms. He put very good people into place and trusts them to do a good job. Wish I could say we got the same service during the last administration.
Now if Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan really want to help they would lay low for a day or two until the storm passes. It would also be good for them to really understand just how far this storm reaches and just how often storms occur in these areas. Perhaps geography was not one of their strong suits. Florida is not the only state that gets hit with these storms..
One more face of the man of many faces romney
Why is Romney talking to FEMA or Homeland Security? He's just a candidate at this point.
Folks, do you believe this idiot? That said 47% of Americans are VICTIMS????? Idiot. Bain-capital tells all.
I thought Romney didn't believe the Federal Government should help storm/disaster victims? Why does he change his opinion now???
Gawd! What an insufferable blowhard. Why the hell is he talking to FEMA. Isn't he the vile creature who thought it was immoral to have disaster relief because he did not want to pass on the costs to the grandkids but had no problem with huge tax cuts for millionaires. Evil Mitt Romney wanted to privatise disaster relief.
So it turns out Romney really didn't cancel all his campaign events today, just the ones where he might have gotten wet.
Aren't the FEMA officials busy preparing for the disaster? Why did Romney take valuable time away from these professionals and interfere with their work? We already have a president in charge, and the FEMA officials should be briefing him instead.
Ha ha! That's a good one. This guy would throw the most needy in society under the bus with no medical, food stamps or housing assistance. Yeah, right! He has a profound gift for stating the obvious:
"I was speaking today with the National Weather Service and the folks at FEMA as they're preparing for the landfall of a very dangerous hurricane. It's going to affect a lot of families, it already has... the damage will probably be significant and of course a lot of people will be out of power for a long time..."
Step aside Mitt. Real leadership in Obama has things under control while you showboat your way through. What a chump. Not presidential material.
Romney is just a candidate of the republicqn party for president. He does not hold any office in federal or state governments. His running mate does. No one should really pay attention to what he says. All his ramblings are just to get votes.
It is good that ending candidates are updated.........as unlikely as it seems, Romney will, once again, put his foot in his mouth just as he has done repeatedly in the last 6 months.
Mittens wanted to talk to FEMA? What did he say, your fired and we want to privatize FEMA and give your job to someone else. And why is he talking to FEMA anyway we have one president. Miitens must be trying to give his two cents to try to score some political points after trying to sell them out. What a joke the R/R ticket has become.
What a waist of FEMA's time while they are needed.
Funny how the spokeman for Mittens came out to defend Mittens comments from back in 2011. Now Mittens said the government should help. New flash, Mittens flip flops again.
Good God Romney should just lay low. Romney has no authority to contact FEMA and hasn't got an ounce of sense. It is not about Romney it is about those affected by the hurricane. FEMA is too busy to have every citizen calling them. Romney is another citizen like the rest of us. Romney needs to check his supersized superego.
I wonder if Romney brought up the fact that they will all be fired if he gets elected?