Mitt Romney refused to answer reporters' questions about how he would handle the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), after a Tuesday "storm relief" event in Ohio for Hurricane Sandy.
From the Romney pool report:
TV pool asked Romney at least five times whether he would eliminate FEMA as president/what he would do with FEMA. He ignored the qs but they are audible on cam. The music stopped at points and the qs would have been audible to him.
A follow-up report noted the specific questions Romney ignored, as he was collecting hurricane supplies following his event:
"Gov are you going to eliminate FEMA?" a print pooler shouted, receiving no response.
Wires reporters asked more questions about FEMA that were ignored.
Romney kept coming over near pool to pick up more water. He ignored these questions:
"Gov are you going to see some storm damage?"
"Gov has [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie invited you to come survey storm damage?"
"Gov you've been asked 14 times, why are you refusing to answer the question?"
During a GOP primary debate last year, Romney had said he supported the idea of states and private sector groups taking over responsibility for disaster relief.
"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. "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?'"
"We cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids," Romney continued, when asked specifically about disaster relief. "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 highlighted in the wake of Hurricane Sandy as a sign of how Romney might respond to natural 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.”
The Republican presidential nominee and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, suspended all campaign events on Monday evening and Tuesday "out of sensitivity" to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misquoted Mitt Romney to say he would "absolutely" shutter FEMA. He did not use the word "absolutely" in that context.