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.
Wait a minute, Romney wants to get rid of FEMA, don't tell me he flipflopped again.
Victor, what are you smokin brother? mitt was 47 in job cfeation, lies, proven lies, all the time no solid position, lower women workers, and had to have help balancing olympic budget, he made money buying companies, loading with debt, pay themselves obscene amounts of money, let the company go bankrupt, or simply outsource the jobs, tell me again, hows that good, you cant fix government by selling its contracts to other countries. you need to google bain capitol my friend, please do this, dont vote uniinformed
FEMA should've hung-up the phone after telling Romney "it may turn out that you're able to fire us next year, but for now we work for President Obama and we've got important things to do – no time for a PR plug".
Didn't he want to cut FEMA???? He's nothing but a politician and will say anything to get into office. Everything he does is for political purposes and his advancement. This man has no soul and it's scary at this point...
Let's move FORWARD with a President that has proven that he cares about the people!!
Seems like Mitten's well-known position on FEMA is coming back to bite him in the behind. How many times does he have to do another 180 before people see him for what he really is?
One thing to think of, under Romney the phone at FEMA would not answer. That's one of the things going to go back to the state or private industry. Can you picture a poor state like Mississippi coping with a storm like Katrina without federal help. It was bad enough with the slow response under Bush. One not oft mentioned factor was the number of national guardsmen who had been deployed to Iraq. The lack of a full national guard held back state response there. It is one thing for a candidate to decry federal apending when he does not have to deal with a hurricane. It is quite different for a President, who has to deal with many situations and not just take pot shots on one topic.
I hope the people of our great nation, and the people of FEMA remember that Mr. Romney has said he wants to do away with FEMA. More poor judgement, more lies. Thanks Romney.
Romney reminds me of a little kid. He sees someone riding the mechanical horse at the grocery store and imaptiently states "my turn! my turn!" because he believes he has more right to the horse than the kid that is on it. When he can't have it, he wants to get rid of the contraption so no one else can have it too.
Boy, the libs are angry today!
Shame of you Romney and all those idiots supporting you This is really a cheap shot!!! when so many people suffer and you try to benefit from their suffering. Although this is your habit with firing American workers and outsourcing to China.
Shame on you.
Romney has no business being involved in FEMA calls or on the ground operations. He is not employed in any way by the Federal Government. Correct me if I'm wrong but Romney is one of the American unemployed as far as I know he has no job. He is just a candidate for President. It is no different than a homeless man on the streets of New Jersey calling into FEMA. Actually a homeless man in New Jersey would have more input to give FEMA about the storm and resulting damage than what an unemployed politian in Iowa has to offer FEMA.
PLEASE AMERICA...WAKE UP...TAKE A GOOD HARD LOOK AT HIM....How could even possibly think about voting for him?? Do the right thing..and back the man that has our backs!!! OBAMA 2012!!!
I have never seen anything like this in my life. Why is Mitt interjecting himself into a situation for which he has no authority. I hope the people who are thinking about voting for this clown wake up soon. God help us all if he becomes President.
What the hell is he talking to FEMA for. He has no role in this. All he is at this point is a candidate for President and nothing else. He holds no elective office of any kind, State, Local or National. He's just a citizen. One good thing, is he reminded people of his comment about FEMA a few months ago.Go Obama
Why is he wasting FEMAs time? First off, this isn't happening under Romney's "presidential" watch. Second, IF he is elected, all of this will be taken care of BEFORE he even would take office. Romney needs to get out of the way and let people do their jobs. Third, he wants to dismantle the very program that will be taking care of these people hit. But he "loves Americans"...riiight.
why are they taking his call? As of this moment, he has NO AUTHORITY. Surely, if I wanted to be in on a conference call, I'd be laughed out of the room. The same should have occurred here.
Can't we blame Sandy on Obama? That would assure victory for Romney. I am sure CNN and the so called Liberal media is working on it. You know just blame Sandy on Obama like you are blaming the two wars, the unemployment, the deficit, the national debt, and Benghazi on him. I know, the media is just taking advantage of the racism at large and getting economies out of their skewed analysis and polls.
I hope FEMA realizes that they cannot bank on anything he said. He is already on record as wanting to eliminate FEMA and give it to the states, or, better yet, privatize it to a wealthy friend for profit.
The arrogance of this liar is unbelievable. There is not one thing he says about anything that has any credibility.
Ya know, come to think about, Romney and his people may very well have been lying about Romney being in on that call. Why would FEMA, NWS and DHS need to talk to him? And I'm sure his people didn't know how to get in touch with those agencies anyway. Anything to look Presidential. Give it a rest, Mitt!
Wasting time of FEMA during an emergency with his lies and his impotence. Nothing he can do. At least Palin was comical. This one is worse.
No Frank, Libs aren't angry, we're just calling them as we see them. The truth is in plain sight. FLIP FLOP!!
Mitt said he wants to ban FEMA.
romeny is talking to FEMA? why? get out ot their way, they have a job to do.
Romney will hold a storm relief event in Ohio. His campaign is shipping relief supplies to Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. New Hampshire? No New York, New Jersey, or Massachusetts, or other Northeast states? Naked political calculations are involved here. Romney wants these states in his column. What about everyone else?
By the way, does Romney still want to shift more responsibility for disaster relief to the states?
Romney speaking publicly last year saying FEMA should be eliminated and states are left in fending for themselves after disasters like Sandy just struck..You want tax problems you ignorent republicans you'd have them if states were held responsible for their own weather calamities not the federal government and talk about assistence now states wouldn't help each other because it would cut into their own emergency budgets and there'd be no so called assistence from anyone basically being on your own,nice scenario ha!!Talk about inconveniences you'd be stuck without power possibly for months instead of days because power companies may not cross company lines in some states to give relief so you better rethink again in your praise of Romney because thats just another cut in something that nobody can do without in FEMA..Weather is unpredictable and so is Romney so if you don't want massive insurance rate hikes or state tax issues tell Romney to take a hike unless you don't mind spending more for less because Romney doesn't care ,it doesn't effect him,he's covered!!