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. MichaelSC

    wondering how much of his $250-500million Mr. Romney will donate.
    How about we close the Federal military and let the States defend themself as well?

    October 30, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Dave in Arizona

    Romney, go back to the campaign trail. Stop using this disaster for your own political gain. You have no reason to be wasting these peoples' time.

    The bulk of the recovery process will be complete before you'd even assume office IF you won the election.

    Let these people do their jobs. Stop meddling. You're not at Bain and the US is not a company you can boss around.

    October 30, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. Michael Compton

    This is ridiculous. For one thing, Mr. Romney is a presidential candidate – he's not in office, and has no authority or responsibility. This is partisan political theater that wastes the valuable time of everyone else involved.

    Strutting around like a puffed up little dandy accomplishes nothing.

    It's plainly silly, and yet another instance of Mr. Romney using other people's misery for his own personal advantage.

    October 30, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. MichaelSC

    Mitt, so if you live in a poor state, you are out of luck because they could not afford the help that you might need.
    Spoken like a true rich person.
    How about you send your sons to the war-zone to fight the wars that you want our children to fight?
    That would only be fair, now wouldn't it

    October 30, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. 703NOVA

    Romney said that he wanted to get rid of FEMA. Now he meets with FEMA officials to look like he cares about the little people. What a self serving hypocrite he is.

    October 30, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |

    OBAMA = A muslim and kenyan with NO birth certificate. Offered a HUGE $5 million check to a charity of his choice to show proof of papers, still nothing. He's suspect and a horrible president. Romney will create jobs, make those lazy Americans work and stop leaching off the tax payers, protect America and is a great guy. Romney has my vote 100000%!!

    October 30, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Let's put it another way:

    Obama cancels all campaign events in recognition that now's not the time and that he's got his work cut out for him in the storm's aftermath.

    Mittens pretends to cancel his campaign events by pretending his campaign events are now "helping" with the disaster...also inrecognition that now is not the time (but of course failing miserably to avoid appearing like he's taking advantage of a tragedy).

    CNN focuses all coverage on "oooooh, what's Mittens doing at his campaign....errrrrrr, I mean ""helping""

    Any questions?

    October 30, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. KELE

    It is completely inappropriate for FEMA to hold talks with Mitt Romney. I wouldn't rush Mr Romney – if I were running for president, I would capitalize on every opportunity to look presidential.
    However for FEMA to hold talks with him, means they have resources or at least time to spare. They should be concentrating all their efforts on saving lives and property. The only people they should be talking to are elected officials and the public, in open announcements.
    Mitt Romney not currently an elected, appointed or even religious figure. He is essentially umemployed, as he enjoyed pointing out earlier in the campaign. I find it so ironic that they agency would hold high level meetings with the man who has gone around vowing to get rid of them once in office.

    October 30, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Susan

    In what capacity does he speak with FEMA that is in the process of trying to respond to the emergency? They've got a job to do and feeding your political aspirations is not one of them.

    October 30, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. KELE

    Shouldn't Mitt be holding talks with a private sector, for profit disaster response team, instead of FEMA?

    October 30, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. Dude in Colorado

    In what universe is the privatization of a Federal Agency like FEMA a good idea?

    The point of private enterprise is to run at a profit, i.e. make money. So how would a disaster relief business make money off of disasters, particularly when disasters of this scope only occur every 10 years or more? The only way I see it working is if this rhetorical company/agency either 1) worked under a general contract w/the Federal Government which would probably create higher taxes to pay for the CEO's salary (unchecked by the Federal pay scale as under FEMA), or 2) Charge those they rendered aid and support to in the face of disaster which of course could lead to an outcome of "those who can pay more, get the best emergency assistance"... Neither sounds like a good idea to me.

    Just saying.

    October 30, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. labman57

    One of the character traits of a respected POTUS is the capacity to be empathetic and responsive toward Americans in their time of need.

    Obama feels compassion, Romney feigns compassion.
    Obama believes that the government has a central role to play in helping families and communities recover from a natural disaster, whereas Mitt feels that families should fend for themselves or primarily rely upon local resources to meet their immediate needs of food, water, and shelter.

    October 30, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. usualone

    FEMA employees have their hands very full at this time. Why is Romney butting in when he isn't even President yet? If he wins the election then he will have plenty of time to deal with them. Now he can flip flop on what his position was last year. He butts into the Libya killings for political gain, nothing more.

    October 30, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. FedUpWithRomnesia1%

    "Rob-mey" looking presidential while practicing political opportunism in swing states and back-pedaling on his pledge to cut federal funding to FEMA?!?! Not a chance!!
    The 1% candidate asking the 47% to donate to relief efforts while pumping $50 million into campaign attack ads looks presidential?!?! Not a chance!!
    He wants to send FEMA "back to the private sector"!?!? How much of his personal $$ millions, his Super PAC $$$ funds or Bain's $$$ billions in profiteering from outsourcing US jobs to China are being donated to Red Cross??? Pure hypocrisy!!
    Put your money where your mouth is, "Rob-mey"!!!

    October 30, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Mack

    He asked to speak to "Brownie"

    October 30, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  16. A Southern Lady - North Carolina

    This is the same Mitt Romney who wanted to do away with FEMA and have each state handle things on their own. Big mistake! The same Mitt Romney who wanted to do away with the EPA. The same Mitt Romney who wants to cut Medicare, Medicade and other much-needed programs that help middle class Americans but wants to greatly increase the military budget that is not needed. This is the same Mitt Romney who would not indicate if he supported the Lilly Leddbetter act that requires equal work for equal pay. The same Mitt Romney who wants the Republican Legislators to control if a women can have birth control or an abortion. What a sorry excuse for a man!! This is one former Republican who did not vote for this Mitt Romeny but proudly voted early for the best man for the presidency, Barack Obama.

    October 30, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    How to turn red states blue:

    1. Allow red states to opt out of FEMA protection and having to pay a fair share of the money that funds it in a fit of 10th Amendment pique.

    2. Wait for natural disaster.

    3. Watch and laugh at the GOP/Teatrolls, then pick up the mess the GOP/Teatrolls made...because the rest of us are not about to let the people who didn't ask for that kind of BS policy suffer as a result of the idiots who fell for it.

    October 30, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. Dilip Samuels


    Let all AMERICANS KNOW IN THEIR TIME OF NEED.........that ROMNEY THOUGHT FEMA was a bad idea


    October 30, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. Vote 2012

    wesmorgan1 said – I'm sure that the invitation to participate in the FEMA discussion was extended as a courtesy, along the same lines as the national security briefings Presidential candidates receive during the general election campaign. There's no story to be had in that regard. Really wesmorgan1, well guess what you're assuming wrong, he deserves no courtesy call or conversation with FEMA therefore he was uninvited guest, he's not an elected official just a has been governor, your already boy thinks he's POTUS and has no respect whatsoever for President Obama, his staff and the 47%.

    October 30, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Vote 2012

    wesmorgan1, nor does he have any respect or empathy for the victims

    October 30, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  21. Don

    Give me a break. A bigger self-serving politician, I've not seen...

    October 30, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  22. Planet Kolob

    Romney is not good for our country.

    October 30, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. You got to be kidding me

    You have got to be kidding me. You are over stepping your boundaries. You are NOT the commander and chief. You are really joke. You are being very disrepectful , it is NOT your place to speak with FEMA,plus we all know you do not care, so way are you pretending?

    October 30, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. strangerq

    Mr. Romney is a presidential candidate – he's not in office, and has no authority or responsibility.

    ^ And he never will.

    Romney wants to cut FEMA so now he has to flip flop.

    He is such a phony. GOP is pathetic to have to vote for him as the sole way of expressing their hatred of the President, who saved this country from a Depression, saved the auto industry and killed Bin Laden.

    I will be so happy in a llittle more than 1 week – when I never have to see or listen to Mitt the Twit again.

    October 30, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. awaysaway

    Why would critical personnel need to waste time with a political candidate? To make him feel good? So he can pretend to be useful? For his political image? Get out of the way MItt... this is foolishness.

    October 30, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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