At a so-called “storm relief event” on Tuesday, GOP hopeful Mitt Romney repeatedly refused to answer questions about his promise to eliminate the federal agency responsible for responding to disasters like Hurricane Sandy, which devastated much of the east coast this week.
“TV pool asked Romney at least five times whether he would eliminate FEMA as president/what he would do with FEMA,” according to a pool report. “He ignored the [questions] but they are audible on cam. The music stopped at points and the [questions] would have been audible to him.”
A subsequent pool report elaborated on some of the specific questions the Republican presidential nominee refused to answer:
“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?”
As The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grimm noted on Sunday, Romney had pledged to “absolutely” abolish the Federal Emergency Management Agency when asked about it by CNN’s John King during a Republican primary debate earlier this year.
“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,” the former Massachusetts governor said, adding that it would be “even better” to “send it back to the private sector.”
At the time, King even pressed Romney on whether he would completely eliminate federal disaster relief.
“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids,” the candidate insisted.”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.”
Campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg on Monday reiterated that Romney still believed that disaster relief should be left up to the states.
“Governor Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Henneberg said. “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 Grio managing editor Joy-Ann Reid told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner on Tuesday that Romney might have a good reason for wanting to avoid questions about FEMA less than a week before the election.
“Do you know who likes FEMA? Florida,” Reid explained. “Florida loves FEMA and Florida is a very close state and Florida has had to rely on FEMA a lot because a lot of hurricanes have hit there. And you know who else is about to like FEMA? West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. I mean, there are a lot of states where people say, ‘I don’t like the government, I don’t want the government in my life.’ But when something like this happens, you know who you want in your life? The government.”
Watch this video from MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner, broadcast Oct. 30, 2012.