Romney speaks with FEMA
October 29th, 2012
06:48 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney speaks with FEMA

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.

Filed under: 2012 • FEMA • Iowa • Mitt Romney
soundoff (985 Responses)
  1. Larry L


    Send it back to the states. Who pays for it then? The massive state budgets can handle it? This is a shell's not reducing expenditures, it's shifting the burden someplace that can't handle another budget item.
    FEMA as a federal asset eliminates a great deal of duplicity that would happen if states were given the responsibility. Now tax money is in effect pooled from all states (as a federal expense) and states with lower rates of disaster requirements pay a disproportionate amount. How would Florida or Louisiana, with a high rate of disaster relief scenarios, manage the cost of supplies, aircraft, trucks, generators, communication centers, emergency shelters, medical assets, and pool of trained personnel? Romney is proving yet again that his vision for America is deeply flawed. He would be a horrible Commander-In-Chief!

    October 30, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. HonestDave

    I give him a 6.5 on his double back with a twist flip on this one. We are in serious trouble if this jerk gets in. Wake up moderate repub;icans you need to take your party back from the wing nuts and neocons before we're a two class society.

    October 30, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. ncyankee

    FRANK.. SPOT ON!!! do wish this guy would go away, he will say anything to get elected, after all he has been trying for 6 years. Mitt, just go away please

    October 30, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Pam from Iowa

    Why would he call FEMA? He is not the President, he has no authority over is actually NONE of his business!!

    October 30, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Karen

    If Romney cares about this country so much, why was he out there rallying for himself, during this disaster, instead of asking Obama what he could do to help?

    October 30, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. bob

    They ignore the fact that President Barack Obama's proposal for the upcoming budget sequester would cut nearly $900 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including disaster relief, food and shelter, and flood management at both the federal and state levels.

    The cuts, detailed on pages 94 through 96 of the White House's sequestration proposal, released in mid-September, show how far the Obama administration has been willing to go in order to preserve the idea of tax hikes on "millionaires and billionaires" rather than reaching a comprehensive grand bargain on deficit reduction that does not place additional burdens on the economy or essential services.

    October 30, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. JohnRJohnson

    Excuse me while I vomit.

    October 30, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. 2012liberal

    @thomas u cant b real. Privatize is profit u r exactly right. And they will profit OFF YOU! U need yr yard cleaned up it will cost u. Yr elderly open yr wallet and sign yr property over! AT WHAT COST! Just like our private prisions. Every cost will double or triple bcuz they want profit! Govt not n business 4 profit! Govt for cost control. That's y obama trying 2 rid govt of contracts w private intaties. It cost 2 much 2 gv pritate companies taxpayer $ for shody work!

    October 30, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Name Mark Hudson

    Romney never stated he will cut FEMA. More distortions as the Dems get more desperate.

    October 30, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. MommaG

    FEMA, should not be turned over to the states to handle.

    If you think so you either 1.) don't live in an area that deals with this type of widespread risk 2.) or you lack the reading comprehension of most 4th graders would employ to grasp the concept.

    Following this type of wide spread disaster a states own emergency operations may not be in a position to actually respond at all. Yes, a tornado like that which hit Joplin MO, sure a state could step up and do a great deal. A storm like Sandy – not a chance that each state has the resources sitting at the ready to respond wide scale.

    As much as many in the GOP would like to think smaller government is ALWAYS better – it's not.

    October 30, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. yogi

    So Romney wants to shift the responsibilities of FEMA back to the states. He probably doesn't know that almost all states are strapped for cash, and where do they get the money to pay? New taxes? Privatizing FEMA? Good lord, this man is crazy, and what is most disturbing is that a large part of the population doesn't see this. What an absolute disaster this spineless man would be if elected. WAKE UP AMERICA!

    October 30, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Jon G.

    Perhaps Mitt was discussing with FEMA how they could make a profit on disaster recovery if he privatizes them.

    October 30, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. Deb in MT

    Romney is a private citizen still (thank Heavens!), so what business does he have bugging the extraordinarily busy FEMA mid crisis for a personal update? Should the rest of us call them, too? Sheesh.

    To make matters worse, the R/R budget plan cuts millions of $$ from NOAA and FEMA, 2 agencies that are proving essential when disasters like this are predicted & occur.

    As to Romney's' disaster 'relief' /campaign rallies: yesterday the Red Cross mentioned blood donations, but not food and supplies. It seems that donated food has to be carefully sorted (to make sure it is not perishable or expired), and the same is true of clothing, etc., diverting personnel from other essential jobs. Do give blood if you can. The donations of nonperishable food and of clothing and other supplies can follow a little later, after organizations have had a chance to see what is really needed. And, those supplies will go out to ALL the states affected, not just a few swing states.

    Meanwhile, our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones during this horrific disaster, and to those whose homes have been destroyed. This is such a wretched mess...

    October 30, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. Max

    CUT FEMA????

    Wasn't Romney the one who said he wanted to CUT & get rid of FEMA???? Don't we all remember that? What would we do now without FEMA?? Think about it! The agency that's now forefront in the disaster relief efforts in Virginia, New York, N. Carolina, and ther other affected states...would be dissolved by a man who wants to be the next President.

    Now, Romney's words and intention have come home to roost. They are back to haunt him! Now he is supprting FEMA after he was against it...another of his famous FLIPFLOPS!

    Why should American trust this inconsiderate man to be president??? Why? Just Why, Why??? We need to CUT Romney istead of him CUTTING FEMA.

    Romney MUST GO...FEMA is here to STAY!!!

    October 30, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. JGW

    Romney replied with regarsds to FEMA: “Absolutely. 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. And if you can go further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”
    Privatize disaster releif? "For a small fee we can get you off your roof and back on dry land" We also have bottled water for $20 a bottle"? Sometime private industry is not the solution

    October 30, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. Benjamin

    Prayers aren't going to help clear our roads and repair our infrastructure, Mr. Romney, but FEMA will.

    October 30, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. NotoRomney

    Romney should stop talking to them and not wate FEMA's time especially when FEMA is trying to help someone. Romney will be the best snake oil salesman this country will ever see.

    October 30, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. ASUS

    He is not holdiing any position in the Government. He should stop interfereing in how the government is taking care of relief effort. He is wasting the emergency responders time.

    October 30, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Shawn

    You know, usually emergency management briefings are internal to essential personnel only. Romney is not a representative of any relevant agency or emergency response operation. I question his appropriateness at the briefing at all.

    October 30, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. ivotedalready

    Thank You YOGI.......America is Comatose and the thought that the polls, albeit limited, and the press keep reporting, how close of an election this is totally an outrage

    October 30, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  21. FactCheck

    FEMA, should not be turned over to the states to handle.
    Romney wasn't even advocating that the states should handle it. He was advocating that it should be PRIVATIZED. Read the full quote.

    October 30, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. sara

    Romeny Spoke with FEMA???? OMG! Romney SAID he not only send FEMA to be State a State issue....but he would also think about "Privitizing" it.

    You can't LIE, Willard. We heard what you SAID!

    October 30, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. Yanni

    The idea of privatization of a relief agency is ridicules. I wonder how a private company decided to save a dying man or women for the sec of just giving them a another chance in life without considering profit and good business practice. If Romney has a heart would have know this is absurd idea but this guy is devoid of everything other than a desire to become the president.

    October 30, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. some chick

    Donald Trump , Mitt Romney and your other RICH friends should pony up and contribute to these
    poor people who have been affected by this storm. The 5 million Donald Trump had in his back pocket
    to give to " Charity" for Mr. Presidents records, could really do some good buying food , shelter
    for storm victims.

    October 30, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. bigfoot

    What won't he privatize? Elections? No problem. Pay here and make your vote.

    October 30, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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