October 29th, 2012
11:12 AM ET
10 years ago

Romney wants more responsibility for emergency management in states

(CNN) – Mitt Romney's comments about the Federal Emergency Management Agency, made at a CNN Republican primary debate in June 2011, are receiving renewed attention Monday as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast.

At the debate, held in Manchester, New Hampshire, Romney answered a question from CNN chief national correspondent John King on whether or not he'd give states a larger role in dealing with emergencies, and by extension reduce funding to FEMA.

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King asked, "FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?"

In response to King's question, Romney said, "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 even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better."

The now-GOP nominee continued, "Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut - we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do?"

King interjected, asking "Including disaster relief?"

"We cannot - we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids," Romney said. "It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all."

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."

On Sunday, President Barack Obama visited the headquarters of FEMA in Washington, and said the federal government has resources ready to deal with the storm.

"You need to take this seriously and take guidance from state and local officials," Obama said, adding he was "confident that the resources are in place."

"My main message is we have to take this seriously," he said. "The federal government is working effectively with the state and local governments."

Before speaking to reporters, Obama said he met with officials from FEMA and other agencies, as well as spoke by phone with governors and mayors whose states and cities may be impacted by the storm.

In September 2011, funding for FEMA became a sticking point in Congressional negotiations to avoid a government shutdown. Democrats and Republicans had been at odds over a GOP demand to cut spending elsewhere to offset increased disaster relief funding, which was required for the aftermath of deadly tornadoes in the Midwest and Hurricane Irene in August 2011.

FEMA eventually ended that standoff when it indicated that it had enough money to get through the final few days of the fiscal year.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. California Gary

    I can't believe you brought up the BP oil spill to try and slam Obama truth hurts.........the GOP was running around with their "drill baby drill" campaign claiming all those wells were perfectly safe.........and that if there was an accident, the companies had all the technology to clean them up without harming the environment. How quickly some people forget.....

    October 29, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Name OSC

    It seems like Mr. Romney doesn't want to have ANY responsibilities if he were to become President.

    October 29, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Bob

    CNN - such a joke. The headline here is that Romney wants to privatize disaster response.

    Whatever makes the election closest, I guess.

    October 29, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |

    Conveniently left off the BP oil spill in which they did NOT act promptly, swiftly OR EFFECTIVELY
    That was not WEATHER related, but since you want to go there, fine. In the face of the biggest oil spill in this nation's history, the republican platform was still, drill baby drill. You still want to proceed with the Keystone Pipeline with wreckless disregard for the environmental concerns of peoples drinking water.

    October 29, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Sniffit

    Watch how fast red and blue states are looking for federal money after this and, whle yuo're paying attention to that portion of reality, try to pay some attention to the FACT of what it is telling you: the states, for all practical purposes, and particularly those southern red states that most support Mittens but also are most dependent upon federal funding assistance, CANNOT handle these emergencies the way a centralized federal government program can. THEY CAN'T. Recognize and accept it, because that's a FACT. All this 10th amendment pandering nonsense is nothing more than dangerous, economically unsound, ideological glad-handing. Mittens is giving a reach around to the BIrchers and their ilk when he should be showing a mastery of the realities at play. Instead, he's just adding his own shouts to the GOP/Teatroll echo chamber. Platitudes don't provide food and shelter to those without a home or who lost loved ones or life savings. And platitudes won't fix the aftershocks that would reverberate through the insurance industry if we were to adopt this nonsense.

    October 29, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. Anonymous

    The main question is who gave the order to let our people die in Libya? It looks to me and most people who can think on their own that it was our spineless commander in chief, Barrack Hussein Obama, who is not worthy of being referred to as the President of the United States.

    October 29, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. roberto

    A Romney presidency will bring a end to this world.... Cause he belive he more than man, and we as a Christian nation wanna sit there in let that happen. I not gonna be a part of it. Obama2012

    October 29, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. sahara

    What is wrong with America? why cant someone hold Mitt Romney responsible for all his lies, this guy is a serial liar and he has gotten use to lying that it means nothing to him again.

    October 29, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Phil

    Love the blind reading on this article from Obama groupies. Obama has the same support for State management when dealing w/ natural disasters and then aid with any support first response needs. Yet when Romney was quoted for the same thing in 2011 Obama sheep rush to the attack. I guess they didn't read the part where Obama encourages the same thing. Seriously wondering what the hell is wrong with Obama supporters. Fricking Morons

    October 29, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. RR

    All he does is talk about what's wrong with the Federal Government. Why does Romney want to be President anyway? Sounds to me like Romney hates government. Romney, go home to Massachusetts, please.

    October 29, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. Sniffit

    More shouting into the right wing extremist echo chamber from Deputy Doublethink. Suprise suprise. Yammer yammer john birch, state's rights, 10th amendment, small government, what better way to further destroy the middle-class than to let states that can't even afford to run themselves without federal money in the first place (here's looking at you SC and other red states) mess up emergency response actions for natural disasters? Shorter Mittens; "It's bad enough all these middle-class people own their homes. We need to further consolidate the property ownership in this country into the hands of the ultra-wealthy, banks and large development corporations...and one great way to do that is to take advantage of natural disasters such that when and where they occur, the middle-class ends up losing their homes and finds themselves back to renting at outrageous rental rates paid to the people that "should" be owning property."

    October 29, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. wwf

    Hope that truth hurts does not live on the east coast.

    October 29, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. ERICA

    Republicans...wont you be surprised when the real Mitt Romney stands up. Romney's policies that you all support are so reversed from his past that you all should be ashamed. You should all be tired and make him stop lying so much.

    October 29, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. michd

    The only thing Romney wants to do is keep big tax breaks for the wealthy and get rid of all the things in this country that will help the most vulnerable.

    October 29, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. Facts don't Lie

    Republicans want smaller government UNTIL............you can fill in the blanks.

    October 29, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Drew

    Great series non-answer boilerplate from a non-leader, Mitt.

    October 29, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. robert jay

    Are we the UNITED STATES or are we 50 countries operating separetely? Is this teh republican dream? if so we don't need Romney or any president! Especially a Republican one!

    October 29, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. Laverne

    Romney will not answer that question directly this close to the election. He will no doubt leave it to others or change his position as it suits him whatever the outcome may be. Knowing Romney he does not remember saying it, oh yeah ROMNESIA!

    October 29, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. Bill from GA

    Mitts changes his platform 180 degrees in a week or less. So CNN is reporting on comments from over a year ago.

    NOW, mitts will give the states all they can ask for, without adding one cent to the deficit. It's mittsie magic economics.

    October 29, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. CN

    his answer to everything is it is better left to the states , after while every state is going to think they are there own country

    October 29, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  21. nina

    yes, now pple may pay attention to what mitt said before, cutting funds for emergency disasters for states that are already overburden....let me guess, mitt the flip flopper is going to change his position again to aline himself with the current circumstances and sound off like he knows what to do.....'forget what i said a few months ago, this is what i meant' or 'look obama is doing what i kinda meant/said' or better yet, he'll wait to see what obama does and then somehow reintepret what he actually said to fit what the american pple consider the right thing to do.

    oh pple....those who are voting for mitt are not standing with him, you are standing below him, and what he stands for remains indiscernible to those who actually listen to what comes out of his mouth because he is not consistent on what he says or does.

    lets pray to god that all the pple in the line of this storm are safe! that is where my thoughts are right now!

    October 29, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. WilSmith24

    Tell Romney to shut up and take a back seat, He's not the president and want to gain political point on people. Obama got this.

    October 29, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. David Dunn

    Romney says helping those in dire straits is immoral. Does Romney want to go back to a Bush-style FEMA Katrina-response where people are largely ignored because of their skin color?

    Is that a religious view of Romney's Mormonism?

    Romney's philosophy seems to be let those in extreme danger suffer so we can give more tax cuts to the rich.

    According to Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, is government has exhausted current resources, then it should look for other sources. What about the OTC and foreign exchange derivatives market? Why do they get off scott free?

    Every member of society may be made to help defray the expenses of the whole society advised Adam Smith. That's another capitalistic solution that Romney doesn't like.

    October 29, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Bill from GA

    Ask those people in the path of this storm how they would like a SMALLER Federal Government.

    Mitts said last Monday (that's like 7 years in mitts' promises) that this election was about a choice about which direction the Federal Government is going: more of the same, or LESS.

    October 29, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. Pander Bear

    Romney is apparently running for President of the Confederate States of America. We simply can't afford disaster relief for every state because the Koch brothers require a tax break.

    October 29, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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