Elections 2012: Romney Refuses to Talk About FEMA after Hurricane Sandy Event

The Republican nominee refused to explain how he would handle the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), after a “storm relief” event in Ohio for Hurricane Sandy.

While President Obama was coordinating hurricane Sandy response from the White House, Mitt Romney was dodging questions about what was a primary campaign call to cut funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Photo: Mitt Romney/Flickr

When campaigning in Ohio state which was rechristened a Hurricane relief event but nonetheless began with a Romney bio video, the former Massachusetts governor escaped aswering 14 questions about FEMA funding.

During last year’s GOP primary debate, the Republican had said he supported the idea of states and private sector groups taking over responsibility for disaster relief, The Huffington Post reports.

“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 at the time.

“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?'”

He went on, when asked about disaster relief: “We cannot – we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.”

“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.”

Those comments were highly discussed in the wake of superstorm Sandy as a sign of how Romney would respond to such disasters. His campaign quickly clarified that Romney’s emergency management response would include FEMA.

“Governor Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” said campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.

“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.”

Speaking to Republican voters, the candidate’s suggestion that disaster relief funding was part of the “immoral” growth of the deficit and debt unveils a larger problem.

According to The Daily Beast, the point is that the disproportionate influence that ideological activists have on our primaries at a time when the parties are so polarized. Practical considerations and common sense take a back seat to pandering to the cheap seats.

The response to the superpower hurricane demonstrates why a federal government is considered to be a backstop, especially when America is facing a massive natural disaster that does not neatly correspond to state lines.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican and Romney surrogate, was off-script but on-topic Tuesday morning when he told reporters:

“The federal government’s response has been great. I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president, personally; he has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area … the president has been outstanding in this. The folks at FEMA, Craig Fugate, and his folks have been excellent.”

That’s the point of national and federal emergency government considering this matter: to help states and residents recover from such destructive disasters that they could not afford to rebuild for themselves. That’s why putting ideology first is impractical and to a certain extent even idiotic.

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