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.
At the meeting, Gov. Romney was overheard asking the relief workers "Hey, do any of you folks know how to say FEMA in Chinese?"
You can almost see the panic in these comments. Dems are beginning to realize that President Obama will be a one term president, just as he predicted. You all really need to begin and get a grip on this new reality. The on the job training program for this president is now over, time for the adults to take over. Now be good little liberal children and go quietly into your rooms with your obama posters.
It's time : BO MUST GO !
This would not be a good time for me to restate that I want to get rid of FEMA and that disaster recovery should all be handed over to the private sector. If you can't pay, you don't deserve any assistance. Oh wait, that was before I shook my Etch-A-Sketch and a storm hit New York. Now I think FEMA is great and all those voters, uh, I mean people, need to be helped. Vote for me – you'll have no idea what position I will take next!
Romney spoke to FEMA to tell them they are fired.
Romney wants you to donate to the Red Cross because it's his intention to dissolve FEMA. His reasoning is, why support FEMA when the Red Cross can coordinate needed services. It goes back to letting the taxpayer pay out of pocket through donations while Washington keeps monies we paid for these services.
I wonder what they talked about. Did the head of FEMA tell him this is why you shouldn't be President, because you want to end FEMA. Because you don't care about anyone below your own tax bracket. This guys an idiot and will do and say anything to become King Romney. I can't understand how anyone is fooled by this guy.
Why is he even allowed to talk with FEMA.. Completely inappropriate..
Throw it all on the states, and have them need to pay for redundant resources that may or not be needed locally. What the taxpayers save at the federal level, will be more than made up for in state taxes and fees to cover disaster preparedness. Hurricanes, forest fires, tornadoes...push it back on the states. Florida, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, California...can you handle the huge burden of preparedness locally????
We love and thank our great president for been responsible during this horrible time of the hurricane. All the governors have thanked greatly.
Romney is right – I went through a disaster that required FEMA to come here. Lots of waste; lots of redundancy. First of all, they are NOT the first responders, FEMA is more of a process. They come in after everything is settled down. There are lots of educational materials handed out – how to build a storm shelter and stock it to withstand a tornado, how to build a structure to withstand an earthquake, provide the applications to apply for an SBA loan, or goverment assistance, etc. They cannot replace your state drivers license or give you immediate help, they make referrals. When I went through my disaster, I found the volunteer agencies and state run initiatives to be more helpful – and this was last year – well after the fumblings of Katrina.
Romney = Poser. This bag of hot air is always pretending to be something he is not. The USA will not be hoodwinked by Romney come 11/06. Good riddens Mittens!!!!!!!!!
Why is CNN just posting about Romney...I an starting. think CNN wants Romney as president!
Romney, running his mouth while Obama runs the country.
Still dodging the press I see.
Has he decided yet whether he still wants to get rid of FEMA and explained why he supports a candidate who thinks rape victims getting pregnant is God's will and they should be forced to complete the pregnancy?
Yet CNN is still carrying water for him.
This network has become a joke.
Mitt Romney don't care about American people he want to get in the white house then everybody going to see his true colors people don't be fool about this man another Bush
One thing you can say about Willard Romney - he sure is trying hard to capitalize off this national tragedy.
Mitt Flopney, interested in privatizing FEMA. He expects companies to now go down to NJ and pay to help people? And what is their motivation? How would a private company make money? Or, is a FEMA organization run by someone other than Bush's "great-job, Brownie" a good thing for the people of our country affected by natural disasters?
CNN finds FEMA gave most Katrina aid to other states
http://articles.cnn . com/2008-06-11/us/fema.giveaway_1_fema-federal-emergency-management-agency-storm-victims?_s=PM:US
take out the spaces on the dot to use the link or just search for cnn 2008 fema
I don't quite get the statement from his spokesperson....can't anybody answer a question directly? Does the Greedy Old Party not understand that if I ask the time I DON'T WANT TO KNOW HOW TO MAKE A WATCH!!! I am not at all surprised that Mittens is politicizing the storm, he's done it too many times before to surprise me....you're right about FEMA telling him to go suck eggs....can't wait 'til Mr. Obama wins so I DON'T HAVE TO HEAR FROM MITTENS again...Obama/Biden 2012.....
I'm annoyed that he would waste the time of officials who have actual work to do. He's so opportunistic.
search for June 2008 CNN fema
I am surprised that Mitt and Anne haven't had the Obamas move out already. They have gone on "presidential tours", pushed themselves into whatever Obama is doing, and now speaking to federal agencies. I guess someone told Mitt he has the job already. Creepy people that can't wait.
Typical Dem comments... You would complain just as much if he did nothing. Hypocrites
It is nice to see the next president being kept up to speed on this. It will help make the transition to a Romney/Ryan whitehouse smoother. Hopefully Obama and his lackeys are being more truthful than they were with Benghazi.
Yo Romney what happened with "End FEMA" fiasco...no refusing to answer questions about it...still think he is better for this country.
You obozo lovers need to get your facts straight! Romney wants to have each state have it's own funding because we are wasting billions over the last couple years. This is the facts!