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.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
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.
Dear Mr. Romney,
Please just stay out of the way of disaster relief efforts.
Did Romney tell FEMA he wants to dismantle the agency? His campaign reiterated that position yesterday morning.
One thing these huge storms and other large disasters teach us is that we need an effective government after all. Unclear that Romney can see that through the anti-government bubble that surrounds him, though.
Did he tell them about his plan to end FEMA if he becomes president?
Somebody tell this idiot, he's not the president
Yet another agency (FEMA) Romney wants to dismantle and privatize. What a tool...and so are you people voting for him!
He must be trying to find a buyer for FEMA so he can privatize it like he said he wanted to do in the CNN debate. Or was the Primary Mitt? Etch a sketch Mitt loves FEMA.
Hey Mittens! Those people don't need you prayers and thoughts. Insteadm why don't you pray in one hand while crapping in the other and see which hand gets full first! What the people need is a leader who can marshall the federal resources to aid them in this unprecedented and unfortunate natural disaster. Your idea of seeking shelter from the storm is probably to retreat to your second, or third home.
I hope he enjoyed his phone call with FEMA, because he's promised to disconnect them when he's elected. I wonder what he'll say now, but we can safely bet it will be another lie, or at least a direct contradiction from his earlier position. Maybe the folks in the Carolinas will finally wake up. Obviously the new North Carolina law that outlaws rises in sea level didn't work. Maybe discovering that Rmoney would refuse them any help by closing FEMA will hit home...just in time.
The Mittster would like to privatize disaster relief agencies so the profiteers could get their hands on all that money. Just wait till you call 911 and get someone in the Philippines. Get ready for Bush 3.0
Why is Romney speaking to FEMA, he hasn't been elected to anything. He also has stated many times that he wants to dismantle FEMA, I suppose today he will telll us he loves FEMA. He always says that when he's called on one of his outrageous comments. He loves women, he loves American cars, he loves teachers, now I would bet money he says he loves FEMA. The man has no shame, he certainly has no integrity.
I'm sure that last thing FEMA officials needed yesterday was a conference call with the guy promising to shut the agency down.
Why? No, really....Why? Why should he get a personalized update and take up valuable time from a FEMA official (s) who have certainly very critical issues to attend to? Why, because he is a candidate challenging our Commander in Chief, our President who is busy, focused on managing this crisis? Why? Did anyone at FEMA realize that this man has gone on record saying in a 2011 GOP debate that he thinks that the funding for what they do would be cut and is not moral? Seriously....look it up!!!! I am sorry, but I really can only ask
So Romney would privatize disaster relief. Companies could probably get victims to pay $25 just for a bottle of water. Just think of the profits to be had!
I'm sure his advice was "Privatize it", or "You're on your own".
The problem with states being in charge of it, is they will never be prepared. If they do have the money (the billions) set aside for it, that fund is going to be raided.
If you privatize it, which is also favored by Romney, then the poor are never going to be able to pay for the help. I'd rather it stay federal, where FEMA actually can utilize the same resources across the nation instead of making sure each state is prepared for itself.
You are not the president Romney, and never will be. Stop being a poser.
A concerned Canadian socialist north of the border in my beautiful clean country.
Romney: "Federal dollars on disaster relief, 'immoral'".
What was he doing, telling them they will all be fired so his corporate pals can make big $ off devastation and disaster.
And still amother flip from from the "Flipper for Change". Chris Christy reflected Willard's belief in state run relief yesterday. It's spelled, F-E-M-A. It's written on all his clothes this week. People are losing their homes and The Fat Man gets a new government supplied wardrobe from FEMA. Republicanitis!
sure kill fema and let the states handle disasters...and then state taxes go up....and the repub look like they are reducing fed taxes at the national level....
Why now? Why not speak to them when things were calm? This is obviously and political stunt. If he really cared he would have met with them to be proactive for future disaster events.
Mitt, kind of a waste of time for you. and for the FEMA officials...You are in no say in anything at this point. As if FEMA will listen to someone that has no power to do anything . They probably laughed after they hung up the phone.
They streamed the meeting online, so now I am as qualified as Romney to be President. Plus I also have no economic plan like him.
this is discusting. taking advantage of anything he can no matter what.
Why is he speaking to FEMA? Does he think he's the prez already? Get real.