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.
@Not Ann: and yet it appears that 50% of the country still plans to vote for him...
By Romney contacting FEMA, it's as bad as Paul Ryan posing as a soup kitchen dish washer. They are so phony-bologna it makes me ill...
You would think by now we would be used to Romney flip flopping again. He is always looking for something to do to boost his likeability – now FEMA is important to him. And the bad thing about this is people still want to vote for him, if he wins this election it was bought and fixed.
"states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions." followed by "This includes help from the federal government and FEMA." He just can't make up his mind. Vote Obama 2012!!!
This guy is a pathological liar! How on earth can anyone actually vote for him. What has happened to this country?
Romney needs to stay out of FEMA. He has no business as a Presidential Candidate to be speaking with them about their plans, etc. That is why the President handles those responsibilities. FEMA on the other hand shouldn't be talking to him either. He is not a Governor or a member of congress from any of the states. He is just out to take back on his comments (read flip-flop) about Federal Agencies involved in disasters to make himself look good and I am sure invent more lies about the progress too in order to make him look better.
Best thing Romney could do to help out would be to shut up.
Romney should donate his millions to those who are suffering now OR stop burning money on Ads, instead direct it where it is most needed now.
Good old two-faced Mitt – He was against FEMA before he was for FEMA (now that he thinks he can use the situation for his benefit).
"I have never seen a candidate pander and lie so much. Where is your moral compass, sir?"
Neither have I. Haven't seen a media outpost so eager to support the Romney PanderTrain such a CNN has done this past year either.
Doesn't bode well for the future of journalistic integrety in America.
At a Republican primary debate in June 2011 after a tornado devastated Joplin, Missouri and other communities, moderator John King of CNN asked Romney whether states should take on a greater role in disaster relief. Romney said: "Absolutely. 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. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better."
Romney continued, referring to the federal government: "We cannot - we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids."
Another pander. This guy is as genuine as a Rolex bought in time square
Stay tuned tomorrow when in a Iowa campaign stump speech Romney will declare that FEMA is useless and he would get rid of it.
God is trying to tell you something. Romney no good, he is not here to serve the people he is here to serve self. Wake Up
Everything Romney do and say is a story. So wake up God is trying to tell you something. Evil is right in front of your face The devil is a LIAR and Romney needs to look in the mirror.
Both Romney and Obama are vying for the job as president. Obama may be sitting president right now, but in the campaign, he is another contender. They both need to be up on issues and be ready with an answer to today's problems.
Romney is not directing, he is getting informed, which is his duty. Note the article says, "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." They have a duty to update him. When he takes office, he needs to be prepared.
This is the agency he said previously said he would get rid of.
Romney is just a candidate. Isn't it a little presumptive for him to be speaking with FEMA; especially after he recommended their demise? !!!
I agree with other posters. Firs thing that came to my mind. Why is someone who is NOT currently an elected official talking to FEMA personnel?
Romney makes me want to regurgitate. One day the 47% go can eat dirt, the next he says "how deeply he loves and cares for the American people, especially during these FEMA times. (He had just said he wants to do away with FEMA). He's an insult to anyone's intelligence. If you've never been the victim of a hurricane, there is no way to imagine how overwhelming the fallout is. I hope Romney (and GWBush) are carefully watching Obama show them how it's done. It was jaw-dropping to see Bush turn his back on the people of New Orleans and the other states as a result of Katrina.
So, the President is giving instruction to the nation, elected officials are also giving instructions to their states and then a presidential candidate also talking to government organizations and giving instructions. Can we have one President at a time?
Are you kidding me, what business does he have pandering with FEMA? He's not the President of United States, he's not a Governor, he's not a Congressman, he's not a Senator, hell he's not even a Mayor as a matter of fact he's minus zero public official, he's just a presidential candidate and that's it. Never mind the flip flopping label this guy is totally schizophrenic. He thinks he is the President of the United States and his followers are stupid enough to believe it. OMG
Romney: "I love FEMA!"
Half a billion, my bad, all the same too me, too many zeros in that guys bakn for me to trust him, dont agree with all oof obamas policies, but i do think that he has a better moral compass. mitt has simply Made too much money off of middle class workers, we cant take any more. he is one of those people who just cant help taking advantage of a situation for profit first. he has had plenty of chaces to help the middle class, but its easier to take advantage of them, more profitable too.
Didn't Romney say that he'd cut FEMA, give the funds to the bankrupt states and let them fend for themselves? Mr. Flip Flopper is at it again. Given the severity of this storm and the impact on people across the eastern seaboard, why doesn't Romney stay out of it, let the federal officials and FEMA do their jobs and get the hell out of the way?
Hey, FEMA & NWS–do your jobs, you should be talking to current governors or the current pres only. Doesn't matter if it's the receptionists or the heads of FEMA and NWS, you all have other work to do–you didn't have 20 minutes to give to this guy's campaign, and he shouldn't have been taking those minutes from you. You guys star-struck or something?