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.
Why the heck is Romney getting briefed on anything – I've never seen a candidate "act" like he's already in charge, send him back to where he came from – how annoying!
What political office does Romney hold?
As a private citizen, how does Romney rate significant time with FIMA, while a natural disaster is in progress?
It surprises me that anyone would be surprised that a candidate for POTUS wouldn't receive updates about an event like this. Regardless of party it is customary that candidates are briefed on many executive level items on a daily basis, ramping up to be a President doesn't happen in a day.
So Romney has no business being involved, can't help FEMA at all, doesn't believe in the organization, but still wants to get in on the whole thing to look presidential and just add an unnecessary cog into the machine?
And I thought Romeny had suspended his campaign in light of the storm.
This guy is a phony. He is doing food drives that happen to be in a battleground state.
And Willard is a lying, flip flopping, magic drawers wearing mormon cult leader who refuses to do the one thing every other candidate since his father has done, which is show his taxes.
Btw, PRESIDENT OBAMA has shown (2) birth certificates. How many has any other candidate shown?
'hey, i know this seems a little awkward since i said i wanted your jobs eliminated during the primaries, but that was then and this is now and you know i like to flip flop...so can we just be friends?'
Its what weasels do. try to find some way to score political points when there is none to score.
How anyone (let alone half the country!) can see this shapeshifter as a worthy POTUS is beyond my comprehension. They sell the country short by thinking a shameless, posturing opportunist like Romney has the character and chops to lead such a great country. Whether or not you agree with Bush's politics at least he had the courage of his convictions. Romney's just a flake but a potentially dangerous one if put in such a powerful position.
Paul Ryan wants to do away with FEMA. Thank God Romney is not president during a disaster like this!
He can't wait to take over and be our little dictator
Paul Ryan wants to do away with FEMA. Thank God Romney is not president!
Of course a "man" who made a fortune destroying America is very concerned about safety. POSER!
Natural disaster? Here's a can of soup.
All other times? Here's a can of catfood.
So wwhat if Mitt spoke with them, really. That would be like any ne of us as a private citizen, speaking with them. Mitt is a private citizen at the moment.
OBAMA = A muslim and kenyan with NO birth certificate.
How sad.......but how laughable at the same time.
OBAMAPHONE said: "A muslim and kenyan with NO birth certificate", Wrong his mother was white and Jewish Manhattan Kansas, his father was from Kenya, which he never knew, sadly his white Jewish mother died from breast cancer, his white grandparents raised him, he grew up in Hawaii, well educated, Harvard Law Professor, U.S. Senator now President of the United States and re-elected November 6, 2012. Enough Said!
He's trying to get his kicks off now acting as POTUS, b/c it's not going to happen in real life. Just ask Hannity.
Romney: I love FEMA, in fact I plan on expanding FEMA and doubling there budget.
And Romney is the candidate who wants the states and private business to take over the work of FEMA. Wonder why he isn't spouting that right-wing crap now that the hurricane has blown into the East Coast.
Think CNN is highly partisan and favors Romney. How is it that in their Political section that the main page showcases so many articles and pics in favor of Romney without providing a single article or pic on President Obama? Suspect Romney campaign of paying off CNN from all of the millions coming in from their billionaire right leaning donors and supporters. Same thing was evident when Kerry faced Bush. It stinks of Karl Rove. CNN should be ashamed of itself for being so blatantly partisan and bias. Don’t let them fool you. They are just another 'FOX' in the hen house of so-called news media.
Keep in mind that the wealthy have multiple homes When there is a potential problem such as a hurricane, they move to a different home for a while. So the wealthy are not as dependent on FEAMA.
It is interesting to look at Romneys proposals from the standpoint of the wealthy. The wealthy don't need Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare. They benefit from lower tax rates and the elimination of inheritance taxes.
Mitt has already donated his campaign bus to be filled up with supplies and food and they are on the way. Way to go Romney!!!! FEMA is alway's the last to show up
Why are they speaking with Romney? He's not the president, though he is trying to "play president," as Brownie would put it.
The height of hypocracy. Stand by your convictioons. Come out now and say you will do a away with FEMA. No values Mr Romney just a desire to be in the history books. Shameful. I guess a state can take care of itself unless it is hit hard enough to not be able to. I'll Cristie in the mix also. All of a sudden FEMA is your best buddy. More then sahmeful – pitiful. Not related to the election or President Obama. It's about who your are and what you stand for, which isn't much.