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.
He can't stand being powerless, well Mitt guess what you are powerless and thank God for that!
Ten years of campaigning is enough for one life time, particularly when you have to walk back this week with comments you made last week with the regularity of a bowel movement. It'll be nice when we get rid of this pandering fool once and for all.
He has no shame!!! I'm sitting here in NYC thinking that he and his handlers are the worst natural disaster that can happen to this country, worse than any hurricane or terrorist threat!
Mittens wanted to talk to FEMA before he either abolishes or "privatizes" it. Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie gave a press conference in which he gave such lavish praise for Obama's help and leadership that I wouildn't be surprised if the Obama team turns it virtually unchanged into a last minute campaign add.
Once again, Romney only thinking of Romney.
He had to insert himself in the story and so he wanted to look "presidential" (emphasis on LOOK) and asked FEMA to brief him. And then reported on the briefing AT A RALLY. In Iowa.
He is not the POTUS, he has to stick his dirty nose in everything, just to get more votes.
And FEMA responds by reminding Mitt that they are busy doing real work that can save lives so Mitt should just sit down and shut up!
When Romney wants to raise money for himself, he goes to Hollywood. When he wants to raise money for people who need it, he goes to small towns in Iowa and Ohio.
Mitt said in 2011 that he would gut FEMA and allow states handle catastrophic disasters. None of these states turning down federal funds.
Didn't he say he'd get rid of FEMA? Let's just get rid of him. What a worthless waste of the GOP's time when they could have run Insane Bachmann or Raving Cain or The Newt instead . . . oh yeah. Mitt was "the pick of the litter."
Mitt to FEMA..."yeah, I was just kidding about that whole pull your funding thing"
Romney was wasting FEMA's time. Surely, they had better things to do than help Romney overshadow his previous statements that government should not assist with disaster relief.
Romney should donate his remaining superPAC funds to emergency aid after Sandy. Now, his bus is providing aid only in swingstates. Thats private catastrophy relief for you...
Just because you are running for president means you have to get involved where you have no responsibility. It comes across as pure political as you currently have no authority.
Just because you are running for president does not mean you have to get involved where you have no responsibility.
It comes across as pure political as you currently have no authority and in this case you have said previously that FEMA should not exist at a national level but be delegated at the state level – i.e., each state should deal with their own problems.
This is exactly the type of behavior one might expect of a corporate raider. "Gee, there must be some way to capitalize on this!"
Romney- what is wrong with America today.
The lying fool just needs to keep his nose out of it and let the heroes of this country work to save lives.
So now Mitt Romney loves FEMA too? Can't say we didn't see that coming a mile away. Just this past summer Romney opined that FEMA funding was immoral.
Remind me again why Romney need to bother FEMA right now? He can't end them until he is President.
First this and now he and Ryan doing a political rally in WI and OH as a fund raiser for Sandy victims ...imagine if Obama and Biden did this? Enough said...what jerks!
Why would Romney be speaking with FEMA. He's not the President. He needs to go sit down somewhere and stop trying to usurp the REAL PRESIDENT!
Trying to stick his nose where it des NOT belong.
@FrankA – "Boy, the libs are angry today!"
I'm an independent and find this political posturing from Romney disgusting. The fact that people like you don't see what this man is and that he will be very bad for this country is the real problem!
He is so against the Federal Government but wants to be President, he's so against Government jobs whether it's city state or federal yet he wants to be President, it's all Government employment regardless of what he wants to call it. So this means the idiot doesn't realize being President is a Federal Government job, with Federal Government lifetime benefits for himself and that weird family of his? Mitt it's all Government Government Government inclucing FEM. lol
Has anyone told Romney that he isnt president?