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.
There is one president at a time. The one that will remain president for four more years. Someone needs to give the memo to that billionaire CEO beause that is all he is. No-one elected him for anything and come Nove 6 it will remian so, Can you say political posturing!. CNN CAN YOU BE MORE PRO ROMNEY..
Part of me wants to say "He needs to shut the heck up; this is the agency he wants to dismantle –or at least SAID he wanted until it was a news item then SAID he did not".
But...realistically, the man might become the next President. As such he does need to keep up to date and informed and in the loop.
romney wants to do away with FEMA. This jerk just wants to be in the spotlite. He is so busy lying by the time this is all done he will hAVE saved the country from sandy single handed. He lies about jeep and no one is calling him on it. Vote the repo clowns out Forward. Even govoner christy had to praise the president for his quick respons to New Jersey. Mitt is collecting relief stuff in Ohio. How conveniant. Give us a break this opportunist will do anything to get in front of a camra.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, Al Gore chartered a plan full of supplies, all with his own money, and flew it down to NOLA. Contrast this with Mitt Romney who uses campaign funds and donors to create the illusion that he is charitable.
WHY is Romney speaking with FEMA? He is a civilian. He needs to stay the H out of the way and let Obama and these Governors do their jobs. I guess he thinks canned goods is helpful but many people don't even have homes so carrying around a box of canned goods is hardly helpful. Collect MONEY Romney.......not CANNED GOODS.
Thank you Mr President for saving,not only GM but also Michigan and Ohio Jobs too!
Romney did say that federal disaster relief is immoral. Remember that voters.
How much of Romney's planned $50 million campaign blitz is being donated to Red Cross & other relief efforts in face of Sandy's devastation?
Why is this joker getting briefed by FEMA ? He is so in need of being wanted – NEWS Flash – we don't want nor need you – been there and done that routine – the old trickle down economics.. He probably just talked to Fema – did not listen to them – arrogant a**..
Wow! Old Mittens doesn't miss a trick, does he? Afraid that people will see President Obama looking strong and presidential, he acted like a little kid who wasn't invited to a party. He showed up anyway and made a pest of himself. You are disgusting. FEMA, NWS and the President are all busy. Leave them the heck alone.
What the hell for? He's a powerless nobody, shame on FEMA for giving this wanna be the time of day and wasting tax payer dollars talking to this looney.
"Liberals, settle down. Romney gets all sorts of updates. Just in case he wins, he should be updated with some stuff so he won't be a total failure on his 1st day. Keep in mind, he already has about 10 things to "attempt" to do on day 1. He doesn't need the added issues of trying to figure out things like what FEMA does."
so he won't be a total failure on his 1st day TOO LATE!!!!
Let's be honest, libs. It doesn't matter what Romney does, it'll get you all ruffled up. I don't hate Obama – I just think he's no longer the man for the job. But if these message boards are your way to release your anger, better here than somewhere else I suppose.
Folks, Romney gets updates. It's OK. Really not the issue here.
The issue is that republicans always want to cut this stuff until they need it. Then they are all for it. Rick Perry in TX cut funding for the state. Then when wildfires broke out, he was complaining that the president wasn't doing enough.
Giving this to states would be horrible. Not every state would need an entire division dedicated to it and probably opt not to do much and need help if something did happen.. Others would have to dump massive amounts in it and still might need additional help if something happens. With FEMA, you can set up multi-state departments in areas least likely to be hit and have resources ready in place more likely to be hit.
"LOL, did he discuss how his running mate worked tirelessly to NOT GRANT FEMA additioanl fudning after Irene last year?"
Not all Americans have yet understood that when Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan state "we want you to be self sufficient" they really do mean what they say - i.e. "you're own your own". Hopefully this is a big wake up call to those states which depend upon federal funding to keep their states afloat. I suspect gutting federal programs will actually raise state taxes a great deal from what they are now. All that Romney/Ryan privatization will cost millions ... state by state by state.
I say we let the red states opt out of federal disaster relief if they don't want it. We can easily segregate an account for the blue states to fund a centralized disaster relief program that only they can have access to. Have fun red states!
Only one week until the election, and Romney is giving all the signs of getting very very desperate.
I'm sure Romney will flip flop on that too.
October SURPRISE! Mittens inserted himself into this situation because he doesn't want us to forget about him. President Obama will take care of it Mittens. Don't worry your greasy little head about it.
Did he tell FEMA he wants to do away with their jobs?
Maybe he wanted to see how many workers in FEMA made over a million/year so that he could pitch his tax cuts to them.
Just remember, this is the guy that wanted to privatize federal disaster relief. And thought helping people in a disaster was not government's job...
I'm sure they could have spent that 20 minutes doing something more productive than talking with a vulture capitalist.
FEMA MUST GO! Oh wait! (Flip Flop). That isn't what I meant....... Er.... Uh... Uh... Uh....