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. scott

    andrew posted at 1:20 pm today: "Just read Mitt scheduled "relief events' instead of campaign stops (like there is a difference)....... In OHIO AND WISCONSIN. If he was serious, he would go to the places where there was actual damage from the storm. PATHETIC!"

    well, is obama going to the places that actually had damage, or is he sitll in d.c.? will obama go after those areas are assessed? If so, that's ok? Maybe romney will go after those areas have been assessed. Who are you to say who or what is pathetic?

    October 30, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Mack

    Did he fire them?

    October 30, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. pastoragnostic

    LOL, look at me! I am gathering cans and blankies, I held meetings with the little FEMA persons (why were none of them Mormon? And can't we off shore them, at least, for a profit?) I am so impotent!
    The dude claims he is stopping campaigning, and the very next thing he does, he holds an event, campaigning on the deaths and losses of millions. That is soooooo Romney. I wonder if he will fire people for making too many unreasonable demands, like for potable water, a warm, dry place to sleep . . . . food.

    October 30, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  4. Tony

    Red states, when Romney says that he is against dependency, he means that he is cutting you off too in times like these, when disasters strike. You can have your freedom– freedom from federal government's help.

    October 30, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. altruistmanager

    anything to bash Washington with one hand, and ask for a hand out with the other! that is what the GOP is all about! Govt is bad when big city people get something but great when farmers and ranchers get their checks!

    October 30, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. BBear

    Romney wants to defund FEMA and thinks federal disaster aid is "immoral". At least, that's what he told CNN's John King on June 13, 2012, in a primary debate. So why is he talking to FEMA.? And, why isn't CNN and the rest of the MSM reporting Romney's position on FEMA and disaster aid.

    October 30, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. Bill Breeding

    Well I will give him credit, he sure knows how to use a crisis for his advantage. I think it is pretty obvious to most what is really going on here. Now he will try to take credit for anything positive that comes out of it. People need to remember that as Romney keeps flipping on what he stands for just to get votes nothing is stopping him from flipping back after he is elected.

    October 30, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. insight iowa

    Mitt doesnt need to be talking to FEMA- he is NOT the president, never WILL BE president, and looks like an idiot trying to act like his opinion matters in any of this! Hes so fake he makes me sick!

    I totally Agree!! Why is he wasting everyones time. He needs to go home and wait it out.

    October 30, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Jason


    Being brief on the situation and directly talking to FEMA is two different things. Romney is not the President and should not be in direct communcations with FEMA. That is the job of the President. You need to get your facts straight buddy..

    October 30, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. altruistmanager

    GOP is forever bashing federal government with one hand and taking a hand out with the other.
    Washington is bad when big city folk get something.
    But when farmers and ranchers get their checks, plus boondoggles like NASA and DoD, well that's entirely justified isn't it?
    Just wait until we get our hands on second generation biofuels and the friggin ethanol mandate. Solyndra will look like schoolkids dentention...

    October 30, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Not Romney's job nor his business. Who cares what he thinks. Horrible that CNN would even waste the page space to report on it, shame on CNN. He's not the president, nobody cares.

    October 30, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. sftommy

    Romney can't even understand the concept of regional damge and how states might have to work together to resume normalcy for people's lives.

    Romney is just afraid he might have to pay more tax to ease the suffering of others. That appears to cause him some paid and anguish..

    On the other hand it's a great opportunity for Mitt to send the FEMA jobs to China. Those Chinese workers expressed their thanks to him this week for all the jobs he sent them while at Bain Capitol

    October 30, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. They'reallthesame

    Are you freaking kidding me? Who the h-e-double hockey sticks is he? Couldn't stand that the president is doing his job, so Mitt had to get in on it. Didn't he just say FEMA should go away a couple of days ago? Is he saying that today?

    October 30, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Scotianova

    Mitt Romney's to do list:

    -Speak with FEMA to appear that you actually have power or influence.....check.

    -Speak at pro-life rally at abortion clinic...most likely in Ohio...

    -Speak at Sesame Street for immigration rally...

    -Have staff empty sand bags in Ohio and call press conference as I fill them....

    -Call press conference blaming Obama Administration for Global Warming....

    -Have Fox News air Inconvenient Truth after press conference.

    October 30, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. fayse

    unfortunately many people either don't pay attention or, they have short memories. You can't trust one word that comes out of Romney's mouth because he will say something entirely different the next day. This man is all about the power. Does anyone really think that the Nevada casion owner would spend 20 to 30 milliion dollars on his campaign and not expect something in return? Not only is Romney not concerned about the poor, he dosen't care about the middle class. Which part of the 47% are you, my fellow American voters? Why dosen't the Romney team spend that 50,000,000 that they are going to spend on ads this week, to help with the Sandy disastor?

    October 30, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Dave Harris

    Let's see . . . If the Federal government spends $50 million on disaster relief, but Romney wants the states to spend that amount instead, the savings overall is $0. Plus, where is the money going to come from for the states to pay this? And why is everything done by state governments good but the same thing by the Feds is evil? This makes no sense. If Romney gets elected, I suspect all this hate and fear the Feds nonsense will rapidly disappear.

    October 30, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Brandon Katrena

    Here is a logical and good solution for organizations to safeguard their important information from hackers: organizations should simply save their important information on disks and/or print this information out. Disks and papers are not connected to the Internet, and therefore hackers cannot get to the information safely stored on disks and on paper. If I was in charge of an organization, I would have my important information safely stored on disks and on paper. If you were in charge of an organization, would you also have your information safely stored on disks and paper? This is logical and good. - Brandon Katrena

    October 30, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Fox News - The More You Watch The Less You Know


    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.
    You're dead wrong Bob. The sequester is not "Obama's Program" – and you of course know that fact. It was only a face-saving gimmick put in place to allow the pledge-taking Tea Party Republicans to approve a budget we had to have to keep functioning. It is a ridiculous "doomsday" clause that nobody in the Congress or the President ever actually intends to implement – unless they want our country to fail. Some Tea Party radicals may have that desire.

    Using values from the sequestration fiscal cliff is just a cheap political trick by Mitt Romney. You'd be wise not to participate.

    If the Congress proves itself too ineffectual to do their job, if they completely fail as a governing body, the sequestration axe would fall and America would return to a crippling recession/depression. At that point we should demand recall elections for every member of Congress unable to compromise and product a product. For a start – every Congressman who insists of "personhood" riders for every bill should be the first to go.

    October 30, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. ohgran

    At his "not campaigning" event, Mitt requested relief items for the Red Cross. What he failed to do was to first check with the Red Cross to see just what they could use. Instead he collected items that will take time for them to sort–used clothing and various food items. What they have always asked for at times of disaster is for $. Nice try, Mitt. You failed this test as a leader.

    October 30, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. scott

    david said at 1:24 pm: "David

    I thought this guy wanted to do away with FEMA and "privatize" it...nothing like making money off someone else's loss. I guess when you are "running" for President, you have to behave "differently" than when you were running for the nomination. I wonder what his "view" of FEMA really is? Can't have it both ways."

    Well, David, since FEMA is THE organization as of 10/30/2012 Romney has to talk with them doesn't he? I don't see that as him talking out of both sides of his mouth at all. And I'm sure that even if he's not able to have FEMA dissolved and delegated to the states level if Romney wins the presidency next week, he'd still talk with FEMA during any time of crisis. There would be no reason for him not to! You're trying to create an issue when there clearly isn't one.

    October 30, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. ingrid

    Romney just wants the photo op. I get that. But it takes a lot of nerve to do so in front of the group you promised to stop funding. Liam–your absolutely wrong about Obama just not being "engaged." He has been working hard since day one!

    October 30, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Hey, Mitt, the President's got this. Don't interfere to try to look presidential. Also, some of the 47 percent were probably impacted by this disaster, so you wouldn't be interested anyway.

    October 30, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. EddyL

    And just who is unelected Romney to be typing up FEMA and other federal employees with phone calls and photo ops? And from Iowa yet. Far away from the action and nice and safe. Not quite like France during the Vietnam War, but see the pattern.

    October 30, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. GI Joe

    Are any of you are that the Red Cross when it was under the direction of Elizabeth Dole, charged people for relief items such as bottled water, sanitary napkins, extra blankets, washing powder?
    Didn't think you knew that. It's why I don't contribute to the Red Cross.
    It happened in Louisiana in cas you are wondering. Can't stand the idea of some corporation making money out of human misery.
    I knew that – when I lived in NC from 2007 – 2011 WE GOT HER OFF THE DOLE. I actively campaigned against her. Some folks there didn't know the truth until they were shown. Leave it to the red states to be un-informed, ignorant, stupid, whatever you want to call them.

    October 30, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. FLIndependent

    @Anne – "do you all realize that exactly now the country needs someone who understands how to build something. He could be the next President so he has the right to know. They wouldn't brief him if it was not appropriate."
    So now Romney is a construction expert too? supporters live in fantasyland just like your candidate.

    October 30, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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