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.
So is this done as a courtesy? How does one with no authority over these organizations arrange for these updates? What if FEMA heads just told him to stuff it? Can I call up and arrange a 20 min phone call too? Did Gary Johnson also get an update? Makes you wonder sometimes who's really calling the shots.
This idiot wanted to DO AWAY WITH FEMA. Now flip flops. God is there to save us, folks.
"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"
Actually, Romney is on record as stating that disaster relief and recovery should be privatized, not even in the hands of local & state governments. So if that comes to pass, better be sure you have your credit card handy before you try to get help in an emergency. :-\
Why is fema speaking to him? He doesn't have a horse in the race. He doesn't have responsibility for anything. He's just an arm chair commando trying to score political points.
Romney is surely a piece of work! He is just another slick mobster trying to use a disaster for political points. Lowest of the low. We saw what the last REPUBLICAN president did when our last major disaster hit – can anyone say Katrina? Let the DEMOCRATS handle it. We don't need Mitt and his twits running around like Keystone Cops – let the Democrats handle it and something might actually get done!
anyone know what Mitts stance on FEMA is today?
Wow!! Talk about arrogance, you're NOT the president yet and hopefully you'll never be. Talk about opportunistic tendencies, using such a tragic event to further a failing campaign, wow!!!
Wait a minute>>>>> for a person that thinks states should handle their own disasters it is interesting now that he includes the federal government to help. This man is so out of touch it is scary! Please vote for Obama; he has the brains to deal with situations of this caliber. Romney is totally lacking in not only character but brains. Mr.Romney is the say anything to get elected. I bet he will bring the people in from China to clean up the mess; lord knows he sure does not care about American workers only the company CEOs. Obama 2012.
Romney: FEMA is not needed. States are better equipped to deal with Sand? When emergency hits one place, all its preparedness may be destroyed. Very basic DR planning involves resources in different places, as far from each other as possible. Federal agency is the only way to go.
According to Romney NJ should have prepared trucks, construction equipment, water, supplies, personnell etc on the West coast.
What an idiot!
Just think, Mitt Romney said if he was president he'd do away with FEMA and put the responsibility on the states. With many of the states struggling with their local budgets, how is that a smart idea.
And IF he is elected President he would end FEMA and send all the expense back to the states who are strapped for funds because we NEVER have national disasters
Mittens speaking to the same people he was pledging to put out of work just a few months ago. Priceless.
LOL! Romney said he wanted to gut funding for FEMA in the Prez debate. Let me guess, another Romney flip flop is in the works.
Why is CNN reporting this, a few months ago this guy said t5hat he would get rid of FEMA. and put the burden on the states and make plenty of money for his buddies.
How does Romney expect the states to provide money for disaster relief? Their budgets are strapped already! There are not enough state personnel to help out. And then he said we could turn it over to the private sector! Yes..pay some company to help you through a disaster! His words are coming back to haunt him once again! GOD HELP US IF HE IS ELECTED!!!
Romney meets with FEMA to tell them they will not exist if he's elected. FEMA is an impediment to Robme's ability to profit from misery, and he can't have that.
Flip Romney said he's shut down FEMA. Yet there he is getting FEMA briefings, quoting FEMA advisories, and doing a complete photo op with FEMA officials.
This takes brass. Romney wanted to put the screws to FEMA.
This guy is such a flip-flopper. The Republican Party knows that Mitt is a flipper and yet they defend him and his actions. He has changed his position/opinion on just about everything and most of all he agrees with the President on almost every issue. Mitt makes a good case why the President deserves four more years. When you get the chance check out what Mitt said, with regards to FEMA, during the debates with his fellow Republicans. (Do your own research)
Why is this imbecile speaking with FEMA? He is a private citizen. Does he think he's president? I guess he wants to act presidential. It is inappropriate.
I feel another flip-flop coming on.
Mitt is right. States are better able to administer emergency funds than the federal government. There needs to be federal oversight to make sure the funds are used appropriately. Give the funds to the states, who, hopefully, will pass the funds down to the local governments, who are best able to allocate funding and resources.
This shows that Romney doesn't fundamentally understand how government works. There is not enough tax revenue generated by each state individually to handle disasters like the magnitude of a Sandy or Katrina.
Surprised he decided to hang around the WH for this storm instead of going on the campaign trail like he did wihen our guys in Benghazi were killed. Probably trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the voters. It will take more than that for me.
Why is Romney wasting the time of FEMA officials at this crucial time? This is not a campaign moment. This is a serious crisis. He has no role in their work whatsoever. What a loser.