Mitt Romney Had Called For End Of FEMA At Republican Debate

Mitt Romney’s statement that as president he would dismantle FEMA and give emergency management services instead to the states is coming back to bite him as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast.

The statement came during a CNN debate during the GOP primary, with Mitt Romney answering a question about the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Romney said he would shutter the agency so states can individually take responsibility for disaster response, The Huffington Post noted.

Mitt Romney said:

“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?”

When asked if that also meant disaster relief, Romney replied:

“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.”

Though the Mitt Romney FEMA statement made few waves at the time, they have been picked up by many media outlets and left-leaning bloggers, who point out that Romney’s system would be inadequate in the wake of an event like Hurricane Sandy.

Prompted by the increase in coverage, a Romney official spoke out to clarify his position on FEMA.

“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.

Romney took it a step further, the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent points out. In the debate, Mitt Romney not only called for the end of FEMA but added that he would ultimately like to see emergency services run by the private sector.