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. Namefoo

    storms cant see state boundry lines.

    October 29, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. carrotroot

    States are not individual countries, they do not have resources or the funds to "go it alone" during a disaster. Romney's suggestion that paying down the debt is somehow more important than disaster funding is simply wrong headed.

    October 29, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. WilSmith24

    Romney you are just a regular JOE like all of us, so shut up and Let the president do his job. Its amazing Romney want to gain point on people suffering.....well what else new. So do Romeny think he can order FEMA or the Fed. Govt. to do his bidding? Go back to being that rich guy and let the Govt. and the president do their job before you really start looking stupid again.

    October 29, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |

    ROMNEY SAYS, "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."

    I SAY HE IS WRONG! That line of thinking leads to privatized prisons and subsequent prison states and ultimately a Plutocrac.
    I say there are certain responsibilities WE as a society, as a nation MUST accept
    FEMA is national because each state cares for the other

    October 29, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. Anthony

    This is classic Romney. He says that he cares about you, then he pulls the rug out from under you. Romney is saying that states, you are on your own when disasters strike. Romney says that he will save Medicare too. Well, Romney is saving Medicare by changing it to Vouchercare.

    October 29, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. Jm

    Mitt believes that corporate american will step in and provide support to those who need during these major weather events! Is he stupid, when the federal government steps in, I don't see the Republicans turning away the funding and support . They take it hand over fist like everyone else. Hippocraciy at its best. Corporate america, private charities and donations are going to help an entirely devastated neighborhood or county or state, they have another thing coming!! The federal government needs to be at the center of these coordination events. Vote the republicans out of office!!

    October 29, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. Bob

    Always with the "send it back to the states" nonsense.

    It's an Ayn Rand world to them, every man for himself.

    October 29, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. TomInRochNY

    Hey, Mitt, is that what Lousiana and NO should have done after Katrina? You will never be POTUS.

    October 29, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. WilSmith24

    Is Romney just dumb or what. He has not idea of many state budgets and things like Sandy is a national think not a state and the Fed. and State govt works together on these matter. Romney is about to put his foot in his mouth again. He's like the littlle dumb kids in the back of the class room thats clueless of the answer to anything.

    October 29, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. dude

    the private sector ought to deal with disaster...Romney is joke

    October 29, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. plain&simple

    Everyone move to a state where there are no natural disasters.....that's what Romney is saying. Then you won't need help from the federal government!!! Until that day we SHOULD stay the UNITED STATES!!!!

    October 29, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. Thomas

    Your doin one heck of a Job Mitt's !

    Romney and GW Bush .
    President Bush, Romney said was a different man with a differnt path for a different time.

    Same message , different face !

    October 29, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. MNAnonymous!

    Well, this is how he would do it:" good job, Brownie!"
    The response to a multistate catastrophe cannot be coordinated by the single states. Even in Europe, where there are different countries, they need to coordinate responses to natural disasters!
    We need the Federal Government!

    October 29, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. michelsranch

    Obama watched the live drone feeds of 2 navy seals as they fought and died to protect Ambassador Stevens & CIA site in Benghazi for hours. He repeatedly denied approval to take action against Muslim terrorists. Then he continued to blame a ridiculous video for over a week.

    So I'm sure this press conference will be the speech of his life, full of promises he has no intention of fullfilling and praise for the American people he represents but does not respect.

    unless the power goes out and there's no teleprompter....

    then we'll get to hear the real Obama again

    October 29, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  15. Dan5404

    When the Democrats wanted to fund FEMA better after several major natural disasters, the Republicans, as usual, demanded that the Democrats agree to cutting funding for other vital programs. In other words, they vote not for the victims of these disasters, but for their own partisan politics they can't ram down people's throats otherwise.

    October 29, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Pam from Iowa

    is that Mitt's way of saying he is no different than GW Bush and his famous comment during Katrina, and I quote "Hurricane? What hurricane??"

    October 29, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. AntiNeoconservative

    Romney: I thought global warming doesn't exist?
    Or, are you going to flip-flop on that issue too?
    It is a shame that a corporate style marketing campaign can take advantage of people's fears and come so close to the White House.
    Colin Powell for president!

    October 29, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Dave Jaipersaud

    Romney and the Republican idea of not jeopardizing the future for our kids, is to defund the things that will make the future of our kids more stable and sustainable. They want to gut education assistance, they want to gut research and development, they want to borrow money from China to give tax cut to the rich now and saddling our kids with paying that money back to China. So if Romney and the Republicans are so concerned about the future of our kids, why are they proposing a plan that will decimate the ability of our kids to succeed in the future. In my view this is simply immoral, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts (borrowing from China to give tax breaks to folks like Romney) 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. So Romney, spare me the hypocritical stupidity.

    October 29, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. 22

    This is the" United States" of America.Why does Romney want to be president if he wants to shift ALL responsibilities to the states.What's left for him to do? oh,meet behind closed doors with the 1% about what to do with all the loot coming their way when social security ,education,diaster relief ,defence,etc is privatized.Wake up people fight for your children's future,fight for the middle class!

    October 29, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. RF

    Yes send everything back to the States! Except for the funding to get the job done!

    October 29, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. WilSmith24

    LOL WELL HERE IS OUR OCTOBER SURPRISE. Romney now proving to all of amercia that is not for the regular people again. America let this be the warning for you and what this man stands for.

    October 29, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Expat American

    As per the Republican Party line; Romney is only concerned about the rich white people caught in the storms...and their horses.

    October 29, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. 2012liberal

    Will the real willard mitt romney please step forward! And the winner is?!

    October 29, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. HoustonOilMan

    @ truth hurts
    "Conveniently left off the BP oil spill in which they did NOT act promptly, swiftly OR EFFECTIVELY."
    The US government is not equipt for a oil spill like that, in fact no one was including the oil companies. In addition a failure of an underwater rig at these deeps had never occured before. The government was depending an the private sector, as Romney endorses, to take care of it as they are the experts. Only after it was clear that BP was lying about how bad the situation was it deamed necessary for the government to take the situation over. If you haven't guess by my tag, I'm in the buisness.

    October 29, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. Publius Novus

    Mr. Romney's governing philosophy is simple. Every man, woman, and child for him or herself, and the Devil take the hindmost. And if some vulture can make a profit on it, so much the better.

    October 29, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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