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.
Another reason not to elect Romney. Shame on you Romney !
Wow, he gave FEMA a full 20 minutes on the telephone. And Romney considers that to be statemanship? What a joke...
Mr. Romney, why are you wasting their time? You have zero business bothering Fema right now.
But I am sure it was a great photo op right?
Shut up Romney and get the hell out of the way. There are people working for a living here that other folks depend on. Not something that you could relate to.
Romney "I like FEMA, I do. But I dont want to borrow money from China to pay for it"
This clown has stated he wants to cut all funding to FEMA... Americans do not have that short of an attention span!!!
Romney is digrace let Obama do his job.
Romney going to lose this election because he getting on every body nerve.
Private Citizen Romney playing to Fear and Despair calls FEMA in attempt to appear Presidential. The Republican Party has no shame in its game. Death and Sorrow have no place in politics, yet to the GOP just another opportunity to continue campaigning.
I thought Romney cancelled campaign appearances on Monday and Tuesday? Pictures don't lie.
Why is Romney even talking with FEMA? Romney is NOT an elected official. Romney is not in any official capacity to consult with anybody. Stick to campaigning Mr. Romney and allow those officials "in charge" to conduct their business.. Your phony attempt to inject yourself into the discussion is disgusting...
What a snake, President Obama goes back to Washington to do his job and mitt launches a disaster relief effort in the battleground state of Ohio. Real slick mitt.
God is trying to tell us something. You are looking at pure evil. Romney is not good and people please don't fall for this man.
God trying to tell you something, Romney is not the one to serve America. He will not serve the people he will serve self. Look he talked with FEMA come on now., Romney was against FEMA and the GOP was too. They try to cut their budget. He has a ego bigger than the earth. If you but into this than you will be crying in the next few years. This man is not right....
WAKE UP BETTER ITS TO LATE
Romney. How about donating a million to the Relief Effort on Sandy. You can afford it or you can amend your taxes and recoop a 1/2 million and use that for relief.
You made the case why we need Federal Emergency Management. The national disasters are too big for state and local governments to handle alone.
It takes a coordinated effort of people and agencies working together to help, but Romney wants to get rid of that. Not presidential material.
Remember the difference....Romney referred to this in one campaign stop as a "little storm" and has to TALK to FEMA. President Obama immediately ceased campaigning and DIRECTS FEMA.
The Republican Party Office of Emergency Pandering is fully operational. No disaster, no amount of Pain or Suffering will halt its operation. This Party will reek havoc on this country, nothing is Sacred, not even Human Life.
Did he go there to tell them that this was their swan song activity, because after next week he plans on closing the agency? Mr. Etch a Sketch!
Hah! He'll talk to FEMA in order to look presidential or to look like he cares, but he won't talk to the press about how he would enact his plans for this country. Including getting rid of FEMA and turning everything over to the states. He'll go to a rally and let everyone know that "he was on the phone with FEMA" because he has to look like he cares. How many of these people in the path of this storm are part of the 47% he criticized at his fundraiser? Gov. Christie (R) of New Jersey highly praise President Obama for doing an excellent job during this crisis. Ask yourself – what would a President Romney do in this situation?
This Liar don't care a dam about anyone, he only want to win, He claim that he call FEMA the next thing this LOOSER will try to claim credit .
Is Mitt Romney the POTUS? Did I miss something? He is as low as it gets and sooooo disrespectful. It's presumptuous of him to think that someone would care about him being on a phone call with FEMA. The same agency that he wants to terminate.
Why would he want to talk to FEMA. He's the one that wanted to get rid of it and leave their job up to private citizens?
But I thought Romney wanted to get rid of FEMA?
A multi-state event (Katrina, Sandy) cannot be addressed when every state goes it on its own. Federal coordination is a necessary function of our national government. Oh, Mitt, the ideology you espouse is so lame.
Romney needs to step aside and let our President do his job. Romney is just a private citizen at this point and if wants to pitch in and help some people that's all well and good but he shouldn't be using up FEMA's precious time by having them relate to him.
I am sooooo very disappointed with CNN and thier coverage this election cycle :(
@Yanni – "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."
Thank you for this...it should have been brought out also like the 47% comments. There has been little mention of this fact that Romney actually said this and that he is looking for any incident to take advantage of. I'm with you in that I wonder if the Libya thing was coordinated for political reasons???