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.
Why was he on the phone with FEMA? Is he a sitting govenor? Mayor? President? National guard officer?
Why would Romney be talking with FEMA today? How does that help FEMA or anyone? Romney has no role in what is happening,none. Isn't he just wasting FEMA's time when I'm pretty sure their plates are full?
Maybe Romney will gain a new appreciation for FEMA's role and change his mind about taking an axe to their budget? No, that wouldn't pass muster with Rush Limbaugh.
Seriously?! Like FEMA doesn't have anything better to do than interrupt their disaster planning to waste time on a 20 minute phone call with a self-serving candidate obsessed with sticking his nose where it doesn't belong just so he can generate some more fodder for the media? Gimme a break.
"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,"
Not much of a photo op with that quote still floating around, Mittens.
what a flip-flop! He has not backbone and says whatever to get folks to vote for him. To me, he is the epitome of Wall Street fat cats: a shallow and greedy person. I'm so surprised the tea party supports him.
Why is FEMA wasting time talking to a candidate who has no say in what is about to happen?
Romney is NOT the President, nor is he a Governor, Mayor or any elected official for the areas that could be affected by Sandy, so WHY is he speaking to FEMA? I am not taking up their time, nor I guess are you.
Romney would have been better off had the election been last month. People now recognize him as an incapable leader in the foreign policy arena, a slimy politician who refuses to give any details about his promises, and a pathological liar who gets busted by the fact checkers every time he speaks. Why would anybody trust a man who has changed his position on every issue voters care about. Dishonesty is the biggest dis-qualifier. He simply does not consider his lies to be a problem! He never stops telling lies and still expects people to trust him! Why?
Romney will eliminate FEMA... lie
Romney will eliminate Medicare... lie
Romney will eliminate Social Security... lie
Come on, lefties, what other lies do you have?
Looks like FEMA's back to normal....playing politics with someone who represents no one and apparently isn't even a taxpayer instead of providing emergency relief like they're paid to do. Hopefully, Obama's first action upon re-election is to sack those FEMA officials.
Romney on the phone from Iowa ?
The East coast should feel at ease knowing Mitt cares .
What a leader ?
Was he detailing all the cutbacks he wants to make to FEMA?
He probably wants to know if Brownie can get his job back.
Government is the problem. . . when the GOP run it. Remember W??
Romney wants to get rid of FEMA and today he's talking to them. Boy, you never know which Romney is going to show up.
Romney on FEMA
ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.
What an idiot... Mittens really is an oxygen thief.
Did Romney mention to the FEMA officials his intentions to gut the FEMA budget and privatize emergency management? I'm guessing not.
Somebody has to stop this jerk, he is a candidate not a president. we have one president at the time, and it is disrespectful to the president of United States.
Since when does the President speaking to FEMA (FIRST) come second to Romney speaking to FEMA (Second) Biased much? I expect this from the drudgereport but CNN... Or maybe I'm beligerent because I voted today. Speaking to FEMA about States responsiblities in a disaster of Federal proportions defeats the purpose of the organization. Shame on him.
Can someone explain how Mr. Romney is helping the situation as opposed to just being another "Lookie-Lou" getting in the way. At a time like this, even the President has to stand back and let the system work -only stepping in when problems with the system show up. The President can act to reassure people but an unelected candidate can't do much more than promise to maybe help in late January (after he has taken care of Obama-Care, immigration reform, and signed the Keystone pipeline deal).
He's not the President, he's not a Governor and he doesn't have a job so why is this guy talking to FEMA and why should they talk to him? Which "advisor" told him that doing this might get him a few votes? What a phony!
In June 2011 Romney said it was "immoral" for the goverment to assist with aid in the event of natural disasters such as flood and tornado. So now he's going to take political advantage of this disaster to wrap his arms around FEMA? Perfect example of the hypocrit he is.
what's next? romney swings by the CIA and Pentagon on thursday to start work drawing up plans to invade Iran? this joker still has a week to even see if we want him as president. I'm surprised he hasn't demanded to be allowed to move into the white house yet.
Why is Romney talking with FEMA? He may be running for President, but currently he doesn't hold ANY elected office. It's all a sham to look like he's capable of doing anything. Electing him to enact cuts for himself is about the only thing he'll do.