Romney Does Double Back Flip on FEMAPosted: October 31, 2012
You had to know this was coming. Just yesterday, Mitt Romney repeatedly refused to answer reporters’ questions about his position on FEMA funding. During the Republican primaries, Romney argued that the Federal government should have no role in disaster response and that the functions of FEMA should be returned to individual states.
But today, Romney suddenly switched gears and became a fan of FEMA. The Boston Globe reports:
Mitt Romney on Wednesday stepped up his support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, further rebuffing accusations that he would end funding for disaster relief if elected president.
“I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” Romney said in a statement. “As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.”
Romney’s comments last year during a GOP debate in New Hampshire were interpreted by some as a call to eliminate FEMA altogether.
“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,” Romney said. “And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”
Politico has more reporting on the sudden switch, directly from the campaign trail:
Mitt Romney’s campaign tried Wednesday to reassure voters that the GOP nominee believes the Federal Emergency Management Agency plays a “really important role.”
“Gov. Romney believes in a very efficient and effective disaster relief response, and he believes one of the ways to do that is put a premium on states and their efforts to respond to these disasters,” senior adviser Kevin Madden told reporters on the flights from Tampa to Miami. “That’s why they call them first responders — they’re first to respond, the states. Traditionally, they’ve been best at responding to these disasters. But he does believe FEMA has a really important role there and that being a partner for these states is the best approach.”
So why couldn’t Romney just say this yesterday in response to the 14 separate questions he ignored in Kettering, Ohio? Did his campaign have to run a focus group overnight to determine his new policy?
Madden also dodged a question on whether Romney agrees with NJ Governor Chris Christie that President Obama has been doing an excellent job in responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:
Asked if Romney agrees with Christie’s comment that Obama’s response to the natural disaster has been fantastic so far, Madden said: “I refer to Gov. Christie’s remarks. I believe the response is still going on so I’m not in a position to qualify the response by the federal government. I believe it’s still ongoing.”
Frankly, I can’t imagine Romney is going get away with this one, but if in the next couple of days he starts claiming that he always supported FEMA and that he did a great job responding to disasters as Governor of Massachusetts, we’ll know the focus group liked his latest backflip.