While GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Monday campaigned in Avon Lake, Ohio, Romney campaign officials attempted for a second time over the past two days to clarify his position on maintaining the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) capacity to provide disaster assistance to states.
During a June 2011 GOP presidential primary debate, when asked by moderator John King of CNN whether FEMA operations should be cut so that states can individually take over responsibility for disaster response, Romney responded “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. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?” said Romney.
“Including disaster relief, though?” asked King.
“We cannot – we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids,” Romney replied. “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,” said Romney.
This past Sunday night, as Hurricane Sandy began to bear down on the US Mid Atlantic coastline, a Romney presidential campaign official reaffirmed the former Massachusetts governor’s position in an email: “Gov. Romney wants to ensure states, who are the first responders and are in the best position to aid impacted individuals and communities, have the resources and assistance they need to cope with natural disasters,” the Romney official said.
On Monday, as the US eastern seaboard braced for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, the official campaign position was: “Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesperson Ryan Williams said in a statement. “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. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA,” he added.
See the June 13, 2011 CNN/WMUR TV GOP Debate at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH on C-SPAN at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/300008-1
Advance video to 00:46:32 to see King/Romney exchange on FEMA.