Hurricane Sandy has prompted new discussion of comments presidential candidate Mitt Romney made during a GOP debate last year, in which he “seemed to indicate that he wanted to cut or even privatize the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” reports Businessweek.
His campaign has said that Romney would not abolish FEMA but thinks “that states should take the lead in responding to emergencies like hurricanes,” reports Politico.
FEMA, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has been tasked with the responsibility of coordinating first responders to deal with terrorist attacks in addition to responding to major natural disasters, prompting the agency’s an “all hazards approach” to emergency response.
CFR’s Edward Alden says Hurricane Sandy highlights the value in supporting government services for natural disasters and other unexpected emergencies, discussing six actions governments took ahead of the storm to mitigate problems.
President Barack Obama and Romney have scaled back their campaigns and canceled some planned events (CBS) since the storm hit the east coast on Monday. Romney held a storm relief rally in Ohio yesterday (NYT) and Obama will tour hard-hit areas in New Jersey (TheHill) with Governor Chris Christie today.
Although they’ve taken a break from the campaign trail, the candidates continued to compete in Ohio through ads (BostonGlobe) focusing on the auto industry and bailout.
“With the race under most expected circumstances coming down to Ohio, and Ohio potentially coming down to perceptions of how the candidates view the auto industry, Mr. Romney has spent the last few days aggressively trying to undercut Mr. Obama’s auto bailout narrative,” reports the New York Times.
Both candidates consider swing state Ohio critical to their overall victory (NYT).
Romney is scheduled to return to Ohio for a rally on Friday while former President Bill Clinton will campaign for Obama in Ohio today (Yahoo).
A New York Times/CBS News poll released yesterday shows that an increasing number of voters consider Mitt Romney to be a stronger leader on the economy and President Obama to be a better guardian of the middle class (NYT).
Read more about the candidates’ positions on the economy in this CFR Issue Tracker.
–Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri