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 and Ryan are slashers,.. they will rip apart our safety nets, and get rid of government agencies that protect us.
Remind me: why is Romney getting briefings and getting involved with FEMA? He's not the president yet. Putting the cart before the horse a bit,, are we?
didn't he want to eliminate FEMA? isn't he the one that makes fun over global warming?
Why is Romney talking to FEMA? At present, he is a private citizen and has no role in the federal government.
I support Mitt Romney because everything Mitt Romney has been in charge of has flourished. He led Bain for several years and the firm prospered. In Bain, he funded, founded or acquired several businesses, all of which prospered during his time at Bain. He turned around the Olympics and has an amazing testimonial from the then Governor of Utah about that. He did a fantastic job for Massachusetts while Governor. Their schools improved dramatically, unemployment decreased, he tried to tackle healthcare and he balanced the budget, lowered taxes and left a rainy day fund. Our President needs to be a leader. I believe Mitt Romney will be able to stop the gridlock that is Washington D.C. and help bring our nation together, fix our economy, and get the U.S. back on the right track. He isn't the "evil" guy people try to say he is. He is humble, generous, and has great integrity. That is why I support Mitt Romney. :) You should too! Romney/Ryan 2012 is going to kick ass!
Of course Romney's not going to pass up a chance to look like he cares about the hurrican victims! Last year he wanted FEMA to be handled at the state level or get rid of it all together. Now he's running for President and need all of the votes he can get. So, time for him to do what he does best-flip flop flip flop flip flop...I get dizzy thinking about him changing his mind all of the time. When Republicans say they are voting for him because he has the best policies- I think to myself, which ones? Last week, yesterday or tomorrow?
Why oh why is Romney briefed. Who is he but a candidate running for a job. Whether or not he gets the job is up to us voters – but until he has it, he stays out of the Executive Room. I assume Mr. Romney himself would not ask a potential hire to sit in on the briefings of a company the job seeker is not yet hired with..... Romney is still far from hired, whether or not he believes that, it's fact.
Why is someone with no official capacity taking up time and energy from an agency that really shouldn't be wasting any time or energy on anything except Sandra. Unless I am unaware of the extent of authority given to presidential nominees, it would seem to me that it is a waste of tax payer money, and government agency time to brief an individual who has no authority or responsibility to manage the situation. This is not what I would expect from someone truly concerned about the efficiency of government.
Someone should tell Mr. Romney that regardless of how much it helps his campaign, or how good the publicity is, he should put the millions of people in harms way, including my family, above his political agenda.
Romney advocated, in a June 20111 debate, to abolish FEMA and giving states to handle the relief efforts after disaster. Ryan in his 2011 proposed 41% FE?MA budget cut. These two candidates are disaster for US and we are better off with who we have for President at this time
what a joke ... the agency needs to be directing all their time to dealing with this storm and they have to waste time briefing this joker!
Someone please tell Mit to have a seat the sitting President Barack Obama know his job!!
Political points should not be something you and your campaign should be thinking about at this time in Sandy's victims lives.
I certainly don't want to hear from you for the next few days.
Again, let the President and FEMA do their job!!
What right or power you had to speak with FEMA, you are only a candidate/want to be President.
Again, relax the President got this!!
Why on Earth would FEMA talk to this idiot ? This moron who wants to shut FEMA down ? This nobody who will lose his final elections on November 6 ?
What, did he use the opportunity to fire everyone at FEMA like he said he would during the primaries? Or has Hurricane Mitt spun itself around to claiming that he is FEMA's greatest champion?
Romney wants to cut FEMA funds and have each state manage its own disaster relief. What a disaster. Imagine a military in which each platoon marches into combat without coordination from command central. Romney's ideas are absurd enough to be laughable ... if they weren't so tragic and dangerous. Good thing he won't be president. (!)
Romney talked like he was involved but notice he took off to Iowa. People in key states, you had better get out and vote against this Mormon confidence man cause if its close they're likely to pull another Florida 2000 trick and fraudulently steal another election.
What can he do??
Why is CNN reporting this stuff as if it's headline news?!?
Romney is merely trying to look 'presidential' by taking up the time of disaster relief workers during this terrible storm. If anything, CNN and other media outlets should expose such blatant opportunism at the expense of others' hardships for what it is.
Not the best use of FEMA's time at the present moment.
Isn't this the candidate that stated "We can't afford Federal Disaster Relief"? What?
This is offensive. If I called FEMA do you think they would have a 20 min conference call with me? Why are they talking to Romney and giving him a briefing? This guy isn't the President! This is a candidate who's seriously overstepped his bounds and wasting FEMA's time when they have better things to do!
This isn't a photo-op Romney. The best thing you can do right now is shut-up and let the President do his job. Politics have no place in this emergency and you getting updates through FEMA is not a priority especially since you have no authority and are only looking for one liners and zingers against Obama on the campaign trail while millions are in harms way.
Mit should go in a corner and sit.
Why? He's not our president, he needs to just stay out of the way and let the adults handle this storm.
No donations.. We are going to let the States handle it like you say..You wishy washy looser! While you wish them well, Fema can already have things in motion. Romney is no leader, he is a speculator for Wealth, nothing else. He will abandon his mom for a buck.
Is there any emergency or disaster or tragedy that this creature will not try to insert himself?
I am sure that you feel FEMA has nothing more pressing to do right now than cater to the outsized ambitions of a failed Governor. Schedule your photo op with the agency you want to dismantle after they are done saving thousands of lives of those 47% of victims you so thoroughly despise, you pathetic political hack.