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.
Romney is NOT the POTUS! He should just back off! No one cares what briefings he is getting or what he thinks. He is against FEMA and wants to shut them down, but there he is, getting a briefing from FEMA and looking like he is so important.
I'm sorry why is he calling FEMA? He's not President. Just let the pros handle this.
Please stop spending money on campaigns and focus on New Jersey. They need help.
Who cares if Romney talked to FEMA? He is not the presindent.
Why exactly is FEMA wasting their time talking with Mitt Romney anyway? He's not the President, he has no power, he has no authority, in fact, if he was President, he'd be cutting funding for FEMA.
In the primary, Romney was going to do away with FEMA, now he calling them.
If a person don't stand for something he will fall for anything, in his case any thing said or done for a vote, and the power of the Presidency.
"Seriously, does this man have no shame?"
I was going to give Romney the benefit of the doubt on this and just contine to quote his prior anti-FEMA statements. I really was. But - as it turns out - he's just using this "relief" meme of his as a means to continue his election campaigning during a national disaster. It's quite disgusting of him, actually.
@jeetu – brillaint idea – you would love that wouldn't you – taxation without representation. Sounds familiar for some reason. Your plan would be Ok if we didn't have to pay taxes. Oh, but then you freeloaders wouldn't have anything to live off of.
The past few days have made it perfectly clear what a President looks and acts like. Romney using a supposed "relief supply" effort as a campaign stop....shame on you and your disrespectful campaign. While candidate Romney only checks on his Republican allies, the President is in touch with all the governors and major city mayors effected by this storm. Making sure they have the tools they need to help their people. I'm sure Gov. Christie was well chastised for his glowing remarks about Pres. Obama's actions. In one week you get to decide which kind of "Leader" you want...one that panders to whomever he is talking to at the moment or a man of integrity and decency who tells it like it really is and what he really means.
FEMA is another one of those agencies Romney would like to see go away.......passing on the responsibility for disasters to the states (he calls this "freedom" from the evil federal government). Under a President Romney, New Jersey would be on it's own right now instead of having the backing an cooperation from FEMA that Governor Christie is currently enjoying and thankful for. Sandy brought us a little reminder of how important and varied the role of government is.....even the federal government. I hope people are paying attention to the message that was just delivered to us.
Why are FEMA officials wasting time talking to a candidate for? They are getting paid to listen to him? Since when does a candidate have to power to do this?
Why is he wasting their valuable time with a useless phone call at a time when they couldn't be any busier? Is he too important to get his weather updates from the national weather service? Just like the majority of these GOP "smaller government" preachers, he runs to them when it is convenient to do so. Maybe he told them that they don't have to worry about their budget on this one because if he is elected they will never get another one.
How nice of Romney to talk to FEMA from Iowa. The very agency he wants to cut. How nice of Ryan to tell supporters to help others. Maybe they can go find some clean pans to wash. Mitt has the means to go help but instead he lets others do it for him. That's the entitlement problem Mitt has. It's not that he's wealthy its that he does not use his wealth for good purposes. How's Iowa gonna feel about him when Iowa has to pay for their own emergency relief? How's Florida/Carolinas gonna feel when they are hit with another hurricane and their state economies tank due to the cost. That's the difference between Romney and Obama. One sees the need for government and one thinks government is a business. One thinks corporations are people and the other thinks corporations are business and people have beating hearts. One thinks you go it alone, its all about individualism and one thinks we are all in this together. Nice of Romney to speak with FEMA...and where was Romney during the storm? Not in his home state, not on the East Coast, nope the guy was in IOWA. Nice and Dry.
Governor Chris Christie was asked about the President and he had nothing but high praise for Obama.
Why is CNN even posting this story? Why is Romney pretending to be the President? Why is he trying to act like he has anything to do with what FEMA does? No amount of grandstanding on his part will ever convince us that he cares about all Americans, especially those in any kind of dire situation, and nothing can erase his stated position about getting rid of FEMA. The sooner he goes away the better for this country.
Romney just wants to make FEMA better . By privatizing FEMA and letting his son Tagg run it like a real profit making institution . Governments don't create jobs and FEMA is not a Job creator !
Let the Job creator's handle this , there is a lot of profit in disasters !
Romney / Ryan 2012
When he was running for the nomination he wanted not just to have the states take over FEMA, but to privatize it. Now he's hoping to get in on the conference call.
Too bad Governor Christie wasn't the Republican candidate for President. I probably would still be voting for Obama. But I wouldn't be breaking out in a cold sweating even thinking of the possibility that there could be a President Romney who no one, not the American people, not foreign leaders, no one would know whether or not to believe what a President Romney says.
I dont understand the point of talking to Fema, in cases of desasters like this fema needs money and volunteers which he neither Romney was willing to offer. There is always one president, and he is absolutely is responsible for everything no matter you aree with him or not. Its always politics and photo show up. masachussets and newhampshire , his states were being hammered and he was no where. I wish he was in one of those two states , then i would probably listen to him.
Is this a joke?
"Hey FEMA, it's Mitt Romney. Know you, the guy who wants to defund you. I just wanted to call you to score some political points, though come come November 6th if I win, you can consider the phone I called you to be part of your budget that I'm cutting. Peace out"
When things are calmer, let's look into why a mere candidate was invited into our government agency to help planning. At a time when lives are being lost, his grandstanding is inexcusable. Sounds like there are still some Republican "Good Job Brownies" working for FEMA.
If this man gets elected, I will have lost all faith in the American people and be moving to Canada
Actually, I have an adtion item to vote....sorry to discourage you... :)
Romney really feels that wasting FEMA's time by insisting on a photo op is a good use of precious disaster relief resources? This preppy pretender has no standing, no authority and needs to butt out and let the adults manage this storm. Good grief, man, grow some judgement.
Really not appropriate for him to be getting updates–who is providing them? Do they think he is the President already?
He has no respect for his position–he is CANDIDATE.