ABC Puffs: Storm Allowed Obama to Show 'Presidential Leadership'; Hits Romney on FEMA

Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Wednesday touted Hurricane Sandy as an opportunity for Barack Obama to show "presidential leadership." During the same segment, Karl repeated liberal talking points, using the storm against Mitt Romney. He pointed out that, at an event, Tuesday, the Republican "ignored questions about his views on FEMA funding." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Karl needled, "But during a debate last year, [Romney] suggested he would favor turning over some of FEMA's responsibilities to the states." The journalist then played a primary debate clip of Romney asserting, "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."

CBS This Morning and NBC's Today both declined to push this anti-Romney angle with regard to FEMA.

Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, Karl enthused, "The storm has forced the President to cancel several campaign events, but it has also given him a chance to show some presidential leadership."

The ABC reporter quickly noted that the Republican "believes FEMA has a major role to play in hurricane relief."

The online version of the story had a more detailed explanation. Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg noted:

Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions...As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.

Karl made sure to point out that "die-hard Romney supporter" Chris Christie "had nothing but praise for the President's handling of the storm, which he says is all that really counts right now."

A transcript of the October 31 segment is below:


7:13

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Also getting back to normal, the race for the White House. Hard to believe it's just six days to go. It was suspended by super storm Sandy. But it's starting up again with the Romney campaign heading to new states and new polls showing President Obama holding slim leads in the key battlegrounds. It's your voice, your vote and ABC's Jonathan Karl is in Tampa, Florida. Good morning, Jon.

JON KARL: Good morning, George. Well, that storm did not delay this campaign for long. Both Joe Biden and Mitt Romney will be campaigning hard down here in Florida today. The storm has forced the President to cancel several campaign events, but it has also given him a chance to show some presidential leadership.

BARACK OBAMA: My message to the federal government, no bureaucracy, no red tape. Get resources where they're needed.

KARL: And later today, he'll get a firsthand look at the damage on the New Jersey shore, with none other than the state's Republican governor, Chris Christie. Christie is a die-hard Romney supporter. But he's had nothing but praise for the President's handling of the storm, which he says is all that really counts right now.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I don't give a damn about election day. It doesn't matter a lick to me at the moment. At the moment, I've got much bigger fish to fry than that. So do the people of the state of New Jersey.

KARL: Romney, after cancelling eight events in five states, turned a planned rally in Ohio into a makeshift bid to aid relief effort.

MITT ROMNEY:  A lot of people will be looking for goods, even though we've gathered these things, as you know. I know that one of the things I've learned in life is, you make the difference you can.

KARL: It has all of the trappings of a traditional campaign event. You have got the stage, the big American flag, the campaign music. Lots of Romney supporters. But you also have over here canned goods and other supplies that people have brought for victims of the storm. Romney ignored questions about his views on FEMA funding yesterday. But during a debate last year, he suggested he would favor turning over some of FEMA's responsibilities to the states.

MITT 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.

KARL: Romney campaign says he believes FEMA has a major role to play in hurricane relief. The race looks as tight as ever, George. But new polls out this morning from the New York Times and CBS, show that the President has an ever so slight lead in the three biggest battleground states of Florida, Virginia and Ohio.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org