Rob Portman: Hurricane Sandy Could Turn Voters Away From Obama

While multiple Republican governors and Mitt Romney surrogates have praised the administration’s response in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told CNN on Saturday that some voters might blame President Obama for the government’s relief efforts.

Romney’s point-persion in Ohio emphasized the importance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in helping storm victims recover and argued that voters could turn against the president if victims don’t receive the federal aid they were “promised”:

Portman admitted that Hurricane Sandy “wasn’t helpful” to the Romney campaign at a time when it had some momentum, but suggested televised images of frustrated storm victims in New York and New Jersey might have an impact on a small number of undecided voters this weekend.

“As usual in a major disaster like this, there are a lot of people who are concerned about the government not providing the assistance they deserve and need,” Portman told CNN. “People are feeling like, ‘Hey, where’s FEMA? Where’s the help that I was promised?‘”

Ironically, in 2011, Romney suggested closing FEMA, the emergency response agency, so that states could have greater control over disaster relief, adding if “you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”

In the aftermath of the storm, Romney’s spokespeople promised that as president, he would retain the agency, though they did not say if he supports the efforts of Republicans — including those of running mate Paul Ryan — to slash funds for disaster preparedness and response.