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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson October 30, 2012

The devastation of Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday prompted questions about Mitt Romney's approach to disaster relief. At campaign events, Romney would not answer questions about his plans for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but campaign spokesmen said he had no plans to eliminate the agency.

Here's a look at Romney's comments about the federal role after a disaster from a June, 2011, debate at at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., The moderator was CNN’s John King, who asked the Republican candidates about the role of the federal government in areas such as space exploration, housing, food safety and disaster relief.

King: What else, Gov. Romney? You've been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Mo. (where a massive tornado hit). I've been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it's the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

Romney: Absolutely. 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. Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut -- we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do? And those things we've got to stop doing, because we're borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we're taking in. We cannot...

King: Including disaster relief, though?

Romney: We cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. 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.

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In context: Romney's comments on FEMA