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.
He was giving FEMA officials a heads-up on his plans to privatize the agency and send it to China.
WHY ON EARTH is Romney briefing with FEMA? He has no authority to do so. He is a complete idiot who changes his tune to meet whatever the need is. He has CONTINUALLY held the belief that FEMA should be privatized. Now he's "meeting" with them? I literally don't have the words. I live in New York City and this is NOT a political thing. Even Chris Christie who I adamently disagree with policy on, did NOT politiciz this event and gave the President much kudos for helping his state. Romney, in about one week, you can feel free to move to one of hte countries where you have your money hidden at because there will certainly be no meetings with FEMA or any other government agencies in your future.
Maybe he'll outsource FEMA to China.
The idea of getting rid of FEMA is not to eliminate government assistance when natural disasters occur. It's to eliminate the massive waste.
R /R 2012.
I would rather trust someone who has the ability to lead and turned things around, to fight fot corruption,to turned negative earnings into a profitable one!
The man is Mitt R.
What did Obama do after 4 AM..cans got K..lled in B..g..zi? He campaigned in Lad Vegas, worrying about his presidency,not the d..th of the Am..cans, the cov..up, the truth ..
I voted Dems all my life yet I can't trust Obama, sorry Dem.
He was giving FEMA officials a heads-up on his plan to privatize FEMA and send it to China.
I read a post here saying that President Obama followed MittWitt's lead in postponing his campaign. Why is it that this guy's supporters are always trying to give him credit for things the president has done or taken the lead on? Why is he talking to FEMA anyway? Isn't that just hampering efforts and taking up emergency response time by catering to a rich "civilian"? He's not Commander in Chief of anything.
Mitt Romney is not the president and needs to stop acting like he has some kind of authority. He does not. Obama stopped campaigning and left it in the hands of Biden and Clinton and etc. Because it is his responsibility to address this national disaster and see to his people. Romney follows suit, playing pretend president and uses the situation as a political device. He doesn't even plan on keeping FEMA! What is this? It'd be like visiting a family at the house you threatened and plan to demolish. What a sick-o.
Romney is not the president. Get out of the way Romney. This is not the time to score political point.
@ann, if I was you I would be ashamed to pretend to have a brain!
Your twit is a disgrace to the human race. Psychopathic lying mutants are not nice people.
Planet Kolob doesn't even want him back!
mitt wanted to get rid of fema and now he is talking to them??????????? must be for votes but he has no business acting presidential YET!
Romney is a fake wonna be he can,t even keep his lies together from week to week so how in the hell you think he can manage anything year after year.
Get off the stage Romney and back into your clown car.
is there a storm in Iowa??? and how's Brownie doing...
Willard is being briefed by FEMA? This is a agency he wants to get rid of. He wants to put the job that they do into the hands of the states. That way your state taxes will go up. But that's republicans for you. Wonderful people like Mike Brown who thinks the president responded too early. Hey Mr Brown when would you have responded? When the people are suffering and dying? Why don't you just fly over and say "Darn what a shame" and leave like that. Trying to gain some kind of publicity out of a tragedy makes you look like the worst kind of politician. A republican.
Whoa now Mr Romney! People affected by this storm are technically "victims". We don't want that government money doled out to these lazy storm victims do we?
@ind72, FEMA is not wasteful. I have through my job helped them after Katrina and I know a few folks who work with FEMA.
Go back and try again.
@pokerpoker, we don't want the likes of you as Dems. It's okay. Go with the rethugs. They are kind of your people anyway.
I is Mitt Romney, I cut budget for FEMA. Today, because I have no authority I call FEMA and waste 20 of their time accusing them of cost me the presidency. Mitt, You are a sorry ass joke. Go away.
Please tell me he won't be like Palin when he loses and sadly try to keep himself relevant.
Don't you republicans remember Eric Cantor refusing federal aid to his state of Virginia saying he wanted federal spending cuts to match the federal aid and Pres.Obama balked saying quit using the states people as your pawns,don't remember,in denile.Romney giving emergency response to states is rediculous and irresponsible being there's not enough money ever in the states coffers for untimely seasonal catastrophes like blizzards,floods,droughts ,tornadoes,fires and hurricanes ,its never scheduled,never expected and always costly in monetary and personal costs.These costs can't be covered by states unless taxes and revenues are raised in all states that have some type of weather calamity and that means you as a tax payer will eventually be paying more in insurance or state fees,taxes ..If you want that let Romney in as in some counties in Tennessee where if you don't pay for your private fire insurance and your house catches fire all they'll do is watch,do you want that ,I certainly don't and if it means donating money to keep FEMA alive then I'll donate because like the RED CROSS it cares and that's more than your Mormon moron does in pandering today in only republican led swing states,like that you hypocrite republicans,you wanted him and you're stuck with him,losers voting for losers,really pathedic!!
He is probably reassuring them that they will have real leadership soon, instead of a talking head clown.
Keep drinking the kool-aide
You people just make up your own facts and can't stop the partisanship for one day and think about the bigger picture. The media and the guys running for office into something disgusting.
Stop being lemmings and think for yourself.
Pompous a s s .
White man asp
Pompous presumptive ashole
What an arrogant ass especially considering his plans for FEMA. This is so typical of him.
Romney said in the debate he wanted to eliminate FEMA and gut the funding for federal disaster relief. Once again, Romney has egg on his face big time in the light of the hurricane that just hit. Romney is refusing to answer any questions about his position on FEMA. Looks like Mittens needs time to formulate his FEMA flip flop which you know is coming. I wouldn't be surprised if Romney tried to claim FEMA was all his idea, like the auto bail out. LMFAO!
"Gov are you going to eliminate FEMA?" a print pooler shouted, receiving no response.
Wires reporters asked more questions about FEMA that were ignored.
Romney kept coming over near pool to pick up more water. He ignored these questions:
"Gov are you going to see some storm damage?"
"Gov has [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie invited you to come survey storm damage?"
"Gov you've been asked 14 times, why are you refusing to answer the question?"