Politico By ANDREW RESTUCCIA | 10/29/12 10:52 AM EDT
The Romney campaign stressed Monday that states should take the lead in responding to emergencies like hurricanes. But the campaign said Romney would not abolish the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesman 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.”
A campaign official added that Romney would not abolish FEMA.
The statement came after The Huffington Post highlighted Romney’s comments from a June 2011 CNN primary debate in which Romney said states should take on a bigger role in responding to disasters. “Mitt Romney In GOP Debate: Shut Down Federal Disaster Agency, Send Responsibility To The States,” read the Huffington Post’s headline.
“FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say, ‘Do it on a case-by-case basis.’ And there are some people who say, ‘You know what, 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?” debate moderator John King asked Romney during the debate, pointing to the May 2011 tornado that killed more than 150 people in Joplin, Mo.
“Absolutely. And 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,” Romney responded.
“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?’ And those things we’ve got to stop doing,” Romney continued.