Romney Campaign: Candidate Sees 'Important' FEMA Role, But States Take Lead

The GOP campaign sought to quell controversy over disaster relief stance.

ByABC News
October 31, 2012, 3:12 PM

Oct. 31, 2012— -- On Wednesday, the Romney campaign sought to quell concerns about their candidate's apparent desire to make deep cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Senior adviser Kevin Madden told reporters that Romney sees a "really important role" for FEMA, and "that being a partner for these states is the best approach."

Romney has faced questions about how he would handle FEMA as president since Hurricane Sandy walloped the East Coast, causing millions of power outages, flooding, and killing at least 50 people, according to the Associated Press.

In a July 2011 GOP primary debate, Romney said that he would largely delegate responsibility for disaster relief away from the federal government to the states, a statement that suggested large cutbacks to the agency that is playing a major role in helping pay for the response to Sandy.

"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," Romney said.

After a "storm relief" event his campaign held in Ohio on Tuesday, Romney refused to answer questions about whether he would outright eliminate FEMA.

Updated, 11/1/2012 10:31 AM

The Romney campaign now says it would ensure FEMA has the funding it needs.

"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," the candidate said in a statement.

ABC's Emily Friedman contributed reporting.