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.
One minute he's saying that he'll end FEMA and all Federal disaster response.
The next minute he's pretending like he's running the Federal disaster response.
Thank you President Obama for standing by the American people during this latest hurricane crisis in the U.S. east coast.
Your leadership is needed again for the next four years.
God Bless America.
what a joke... he is either looking for something to blme Obama for or he's trying to pony up some excuse to defund FEMA , as he has said he will do.
Funny how the guy who wants to cut back FEMA is now kissing up to them... way to try and garner votes...
Romney wants to end FEMA and privatize it. Don't vote for Romney He will kill America.
Did Romney tell FEMA that he was going to fire all of FEMA?
still campaigning mitt?
millions have been evacuated, relocated and your still trying to get votes?
Please Mr. Romney do not politicize, which your spokesperson already is. Stop it and grow up, please! This is no time for it!
This sounds like a commercial for the Romney campaign. Romney firstly said that it should be privatized, then if not, the states should have to pay for their stuff, it is not up to us as a people. His stance is atrocious and your absence of the facts of this matter are concerning.
Soooo...why does Romney need to talk to FEMA? To show that he can be the President?
So Romney speaks with FEMA? Great. The same agency he wanted to abolish during the Republican primaries. The reason we have a national govt protected disaster agency is because disasters don't care about geographical boundaries. Romney's "kick it to the sidelines" policy of moving problems from national to state level is a shill game.
Shameless. Disgusting person. Did Mitt remind them all that he was going to do away with FEMA?!
get out of the way Romney. Stop trying to cause trouble!!!
Look at this clown trying to act presidential this race is over pack it up and go back to your off shore winter retreat Rmoney. Cthulhu '12
Your welcome for some of my time off the campaign trail. Now while I'm sure you're doing a heck of a job, I'd just as soon shut this whole thing down. Or not. It depends on with whom I'm speaking at a given time or whether or not we're facing a big storm at the time the subject comes up. Now get out there and save people!
I'm sure FEMA was thrilled to talk to a guy who wants to eliminate them.
I wonder if he told them how he wants to push them down to the state level and privatize them, so that when people in America need disaster relief these businesses can bill the government, then bill private individuals. This is just another Republican con game where they get paid from both sides. This guy doesn't deserve to be anywhere near office.
Romney and his Republicans friends had best not turn this natural disaster into something political. That would be his elections death blow. Why FEMA talk to a CANDIDATE is beyond me. Hehas absolutely no authority.
Romney said even better than letting states handle disasters was to send it to the private sector.I guess the private sector was what he was hoping for while governor as he waited three days after flooding that caused 1 million dollars in damage and left people in a trailer park homeless in his state.It was only negative attention from the press that caused him to act.Gee he would be a great president....sort of like George.
He is not the President and he wanted to do away with Fema.
In what government capacity is Romney talking with FEMA? None. he is politicizing a disaster.
Romney is a liar.
I guess I missed the memo that a federal agencies have to report to a candidate.
What? Doesn't FEMA, Homeland Security, and everyone else busy dealing with this storm have more to do than spend 20 minutes briefing a presidential CANDIDATE? You might be elected president come November, Romney, but you wouldn't take office until January. Stay the heck out of this and let those who ahev the power and authority to deal with the storm do their jobs. The job is not yours yet...
Where is the comment by Romney to have FEMA privatzed. He said so during thr RNC Primaries in June or July last year. Guess he has changed his position on that due to Sandy
Why? Mitt isn't an elected official and has no power in emergency management nor any authority. Just grandstanding and trying to draw attention to himself. What a jerk!