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.
Ah yes. Its make believe time for Mitt. How special. I could just pinch his cheek.
What did Romney tell FEMA? Oh I know, he probably said your all fired in a few weeks if I get elected.
i have no idea why homeland security and fema gave him the time of day. he has zero authority and is wasting their time. i know this is election bs, but it goes to far. i wonder what anne really thinks of him?
This guy is fake fake fake all the way. What is he doing with FEMA? Scoring Political points eh!
Wow, so classy to use and agency you've vowed to eliminate for political opportunism on the backs of those affected by the storm. Way to go Mitt!
Romney is SOOOO clueless. He converted one of his campaign events into a food and clothing drive, only LATER to find out that the Red Cross doesn't accept donated food and clothing because its unknown origins means it all has to be processed for safety. That processing ties up resources unnecessarily. It is far more efficient for people to donate money so the Red Cross can buy efficient emergency supplies that come from known safe sources. It is far more efficient for the Red Cross to use their contracts to buy efficient things like emergency ration packs and heat reflective blankets. If Romney had any clue about the real world, he would at least have asked what to do rather than creating some lame campaign stunt.
Is this what we could expect from a Pres. Romney handling a disaster? Him opening up a food and clothing drive on the front lawn of the White House while destroying FEMA funding in order to redistribute the wealth as more tax breaks for the wealthy?
All this jerk is doing is using this disaster as a political ploy for votes. Actually makes me sick to my stomach, but not surprised at all. I hope this country wakes up and re-elects President Obama next week or we are in a heap of trouble for the next four years.
"We love our fellow Americans,and wish them well." Then Romney said "get your federal handout while you can because MY administration won't bail you out in the future...your on your own...tough luck".
If you think that red states that are already mismanaged so badly that they need more federal aid than their citizens pay in taxes can somehow magically get it together enough to manage their own disaster relief programs....#Romnesia.
Mitt Phony has flipped flopped on so many issues: abortion, rape, health care, 47%, Iraq, Afganistan, Iran, imigration,
You start wondering who is really going to run this country if he is elected. It is scary. This man will say anything to be POTUS.
At least Romney won't leave Americans in need calling for help like Obama did, then lie about it to the American people even after it has been proven that he lied. Obama is disqualified by his lies and his inactions on the Libyan attack. By his administration's total corruption as evidenced by his big campaigh donors getting billions in green energy loans then defaulting like Solyndra did. At least Romney wont have corrupt officials like Holder selling 2500 assault rifles to the Mexican Drug Cartels. It will be a landslide Romney; each day that gets more evident. Good Riddance to Obama
Is this what we could expect from a Pres. Romney handling a disaster?
Nah, he'd be in France getting a deferment.
Mitt has been asked 14 times what he'd do with FEMA as President. He hasn't triangulated an opinion yet.
If you say you're going to stop campaigning for a few days out of consideration of a national disaster but hold events called victory rallies the next day, you might have Romnesia. A big whopping case of Romnesia.
I'll be glad when the election is be over so when Mitt loses he will stop running for office and fade away into obscurity.
if Romney wins next week (and I pray he won't) then the employees of FEMA should recall one of his most famous statements "I like firing people"
OK!..... Obama needs to fire his makeup artist and hire Romney's!!! Seriously..
I've seen pictures of Obama, Romney and Chris Chrtie all over the news and you know what I noticed? The pres and Christie looks like cr@p like they haven;t slept in days and Romney looked so refresh and clean even after I presume staying up all night talking to FEMA and boxing canned goods etc....
what do you guys think?
Romney never said he would eleminate FEMA, just that states could handle most of the disaster work better. Just more NYT and CNN lying.
Mitt is not a governor or in Congress or President. What right does he have to talk to Fema?
Your President's only emergency info was to direct everyone to the social media and the internet! good luck with that when your phone batt dies... seriously. Romney is the only logical choice for anyone with an iq above room temperature.
"Romney looked so refresh and clean even after I presume staying up all night talking to FEMA and boxing canned goods etc....
what do you guys think?"
I think your assumption shows that you're the dimmest bulb on the tree. Sorry, but you asked.
The blatant hypocrisy and opportunism of this man is astounding. This is just another Big Bird moment in which Romney is showing his love for FEMA all the while planning its demise.
The liberal school children that have no clue how the government or elections operate are really out in force today.....Oh well, Nov 6 is close.
Romney pocketed people's pensions! Caring for others...not him!! He is a fraud!!
Romney is the ultimate snake oil salesman. How can he look FEMA workers in the eyes knowing he will fire every single one of them if elected president?