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.
Romney another dictator in the making
"Mitt Romney is not the president and needs to stop acting like he has some kind of authority."
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."
Really? Your information is non-existant. How often is FEMA being used to rebuild schools in areas that are not disaster areas? Answer, never. FEMA is only brought in when an region has been declared a disaster area and the governor of that state has requested funding. To put it bluntly, you're lying.
My thoughts go out to all affected. I do not like to comment on anything political but this is ridiculous. The only business he has in this is to donate some of his money to the Red Cross.
There was a time I considered voting for him. After this week he lost it..
Obama gave me my free obamaphone and now I can call all my homies! I get all these gov't handouts and dont have to work at all! Obama is the shizzle! Romney will create jobs and make me have to work. I would vote for Obama but I'm a convicted felon so it's up to you America to keep all these tax payers $ rolling in! VOTE OBOZO! I mean Obama! Now I'm off to watch Judge Joe Brown on my big screen, HOLLA!
Mitt Romney is a lying creep. He knows that jeep commercial is a lie.
Obama is a muslim. He is not a true American. If so, he would prove it. Get this fool out of here! Romney is a REAL American will win and be our new President! ROMNEY 2012!!!
Why is Robmey speaking with FEMA for? He is just another citizen!
Romney spoke to FEMA and was updated. So what? It's a big disaster, he has to make people think he cares, so he makes the call. It's meaningless.
I believe Romney only cares about what will get him elected and that once elected he will only care about what will make $$ for himself and his economic class. Everything else is just bones under the table to the dogs so they stay quiet.
One thing's for sure, if he DOES take the election, he needn't think he has anything resembling a mandate and i sincerely hope he gets exactly the same degree of cooperation and respect that Obama has had.
IIt's yet another flip-flop really, this time something VERY dangerous to have been wrong about at any point in time: Mitt already said 'absolutely' to making FEMA's duties the states responsibility, but is now saying "Romney's emergency management response would include FEMA."
You can try take back the statement, but you couldn't take back the death of the people you allowed to die in such an error. It's only by good fortune that you WEREN'T in the whitehouse for you to learn firsthand how wrong you are about this and every other issue. I consider myself lucky you weren't there, I really do
Don't worry Mitt, the Caymans are fine!
Unbelievable! Newsflash, Mitts: YOU ARE NOT THE PRESIDENT.
What a total dill wad.
There goes Mitt blowing smoke again. Who does he think he is? Talking to FEMA as who? The same FEMA he has demonized in the past? Now he wants to get briefings? Mitt, running a government is not like Hopscotch...it will help if you didn't act like an insensitive spoiled brat sometimes..maybe people might like you..for now, please hold your horses....as a matter of fact, get off your high horse, President Obama got this under control.
This doesn't seem like something a candidate should be doing. If he really cares about having an effect on the recovery effort he should direct all of his campaign contributers to give money to the Red Cross instead of him for the rest of the week. Also, why are FEMA employees being pulled away from their jobs to listen to what a candidate has to say?
"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"
Shhhhhh, don't go breaking his little echo chamber fantasy lies with facts and reality.
Good. FEMA needed the opinion of a former CEO who hasn't had a job in over a decade with exactly 0 leadership skills.
FEMA and the Army Crps of Eng , with help of national guard do a great job when we get hit.
Privatizing emergency response?
What is next VA hospiitals?
Was this before or after his Victory Rally, I mean, "Disaster Relief Event", in which he didn't mention the word Hurricane or Sandy?
Speak what,about his romnesia
So, he goes from doing away with FEMA to speaking with them? About WHAT? What could Romney possibly have to say to them that they would want to hear? He's the biggest flippinest floppinest candidate I've ever seen!
Let Twitt play at president in this one case. It's as close as he's gonna get.
Romney is a fake
Oh so now this guy is all for FEMA??? What a complete joke!
Something else to think about: If Obama can't lead the congress to do something about the budget and cutting spending then the automatic cuts will go into effect. That will reduce spending for FEMA, our military, aid to poor and disabled, etc, etc. How is it that so many are howling about Romney's plan to reduce FEMA when Obama holds the key to preventing severe cuts?
The idea of Eliminating FEMA is to eliminate the massive amounts of government waste. Romney wants to let states determine how and where tax dollars are used when natural disasters occur. That sounds like common sense to me.