Sandy Proves Romney Was Wrong to Diss FEMA Eugene Robinson recalls small-government point during debate By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Oct 30, 2012 12:20 PM CDT 178 comments Comments Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at Seven Cities Sod, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (Newser) – There's something of a Sandy-related brouhaha swirling around comments Mitt Romney made in the ancient days of 2011: Seems that when asked during a Republican debate about disaster relief, Romney sounded like he wanted to gut FEMA, saying he'd shift responsibility for disaster management to the states—or even private firms. Said Romney: "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 further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better." Asks Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post: "Hurricane Sandy would like to know if he’d care to reconsider." "Even if Romney was just pandering to the right-wing base at that June debate, one consequence of his policies would be to squeeze funding for federal emergency relief." The New York Times editorial board echoes Robinson, asking, "Does Mr. Romney really believe that financially strapped states would do a better job than a properly functioning federal agency?" The Romney campaign took the opportunity to clarify its position, Politico reports: "States should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions." But he wouldn't abolish FEMA: The states would act "with help from the federal government and FEMA."