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.
Mittens Flip Flop Romnuts is a lying POS.
Lots of idiots posting nonsense here. Gov. Romney never said he wanted to get rid of FEMA. He said the states are better equipped to handle emergencies and I agree! Local relief workers know the terrain better, neighborhoods, services and have contacts to work with. That doesn't mean that FEMA should not assist or that the Fed shouldn't help with the expenses involved. Please grow up. And BTW the Obama is not exactly out there filling sand bags although he has done a great job of sandbagging America.
I don't have a problem w/ Mitt being kept in the FEMA loop. However, I do have a problem w/ false advertising: If you're going to cancel a campaign event, then cancel it! If you want to still have it, then have it (call it what it is, though). Do not think we're so dumb that you could still have your campaign event and just call it a Storm Relief Rally.
This country needs FEMA, Mitt. I live in AZ and I shudder to think of Jan Brewer having any more power bestowed upon her.
THE LATEST FROM "CAMP ETCH-A-SKETCH"
(1.) – Mitt Romney was on the phone with FEMA trying to convince federal emergency officials that he was just kidding when he promised to eliminate FEMA and get the Federal Government out of Disaster Relief support.
(2.) – Mitt Romney was in Ohio where 1-in-8 jobs are directly connected to America's automotive industry; and he was telling Ohioans I'll he was just kidding about letting the U.S. auto industry fail.
I agree with Mitt Romney that states should take the lead in responding to natural disasters. He is speaking with some experience about how state government works. How many people commenting here have ever been the governor of a state?
Some of you should really try and educate yourself on what FEMA does. They run all over the country spewing money at non disaster, "disasters." It's a joke. School in Ottawa,Il gets a copule inches of water in the basement, FEMA to the rescue! $6 million for a new, unneeded school. This happens all the time. Schools, tennis courts, anything, and everything you can imagine, if it had anything to do with weather, FEMA comes a calling. Let's not forget La Salle County, Il million dollara "emergency command center" that was funded by FEMA, and was built to store a couple of trailers with FEMA supplied equipment, all waiting for the disaster that will never come. Do you really need the Feds to build you tennis courts? FEMA is a behemouth, that needs to concentrate on it's purpose, disasters! A few inches of rain, is not a "disaster."
Talking to FEMA? What a hipocrite. That's the agency he vowed to do away with. Everybody better wake up. Those of us in Florida will be in deep sxit if this guy gets elected. Hurricanes are a way of life here.
Oops, almost forgot! As there is a very good chance Mitt Romney will be the next President he already gets National security briefings and should be included in developments emerging from this disaster as well. The afteraffects of Sandy will be with us well into next year. Please grow up.
CNN MANAGEMENT: All NJ state govt office closed today - left message RE: 10/28 CNN DA words with state legislature office –requested message forwarded to gov. christie and contact with CNN.
When I need reminding how hypocritical Dems are, I read the comments on CNN or MSDNC. The same people criticizing Romney about be briefed by FEMA are the same people that would be up-in-arms if he did nothing. Get over yourselves...
John King (CNN): "FEMA's about to run out of money and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the state's should take on more of this role?"
Romney: "Absolutely. 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. If we can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better."
Willard is just a reicarnation of previous failed republican Presidents, remeber G Bsuh Sr. "read my lips no new taxes" we seen how that worked out and Willards numbers dont add up with out raising taxes. You can not believe a word he says. He says one thing but beware if he gets in the oval office anything goes.
Why?! Romney has actually stated (on CNN's own air) that he wants to cut funding for FEMA. Make no mistake, if he is elected, he won't only do that, he'll gut all social services. Yet we'll still be paying taxes as if there were a functional govt. You know who won't be worrying? Multi-millionaires like him who will just jet off to vacation time while his mansion is being rebuilt.
Romney you are shameless. Did you tell the FEMA heads that you intend to do away with the entire program!
Mitt Romney is the most horrific candidate to ever get this close to the white house. God help us if he's elected.
The states are ALREADY in charge of first responders as that is NOT FEMA's roll
Romney was giving the FEMA employees their termination notices if he gets elected. I would like to see NJ handle this with the 1/50th allotment of reduced funds from shutting FEMA down as Romney has stated before. Yea RIGHT!
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
Romney's efforts are of course just for show. Nothing worse in a disaster than somebody trying to get attention with photo ops. Romney's "supplies" are outside of the distribution system and will not be directed towards those who need them. Most will go to waste or be distributed inappropriately. Those decisions are coordinated by FEMA and the NGOs. You know FEMA... the agency Romney plans to scrap.
Romney should ignore the storm. This is after all an issue which has impacted the 47 % more than anyone else
To steve from Illinois who said "if it had anything to do with weather, FEMA comes a calling."
actually FEMA only responds to "national disasters" as declared by the President of the US
Why is Romney speaking to FEMA he has no official role? ...he is a private citizen.....he hasn't been elected to anything
Anonymous (Romney supporter) – Mitt took it upon himself to collect items before discussing it with the American Red Cross. Now they have to deal with items they didn't want to deal with. Most Americans know that, when there is a disaster, the American Red Cross needs $ so they can spend it where it is most needed on the most needed items. Now they have to store soup, used clothing, etc. until they can deal with them. It's all about leadership and making the right decisions at the time of a disaster.
What I am loving is suddenly Christie, Romney, et al are all "socialists of convenience". Yessireebob, today is a day to appreciate what the federal government can do.
It's a shame twits like Romney has a good chance of becoming President. He, and "thinkers" of his ilk, believe the government should have no role in private enterprise. They believe great capitilists such as Carnegie and Vanderbilt built there very large and successful (not to mention extremely lucrative) business empires on their own – totally ignoring the fact that railroads were built over land given them by the federal government. They also probably praise companies such as Alcoa whose aluminum production business probably saved us during world war II. Again they ignore the fact that Alcoa couldn't produce an ounce of aluminum without massive amounts of energy- energy produced by the TVA and not private enterprise. Even today industry is claiming there is not enough skilled labor to fill current demand, yet it refuses to educate or train the labor force. It wants the government to do it for them.
Why is this schmuck talking to FEMA? for a sound bite? Doesn't FEMA have more important matters to attend to?
Why should FEMA take time to talk to Mittens? He's not the president...