Mitt Romney's campaign moved to reassure voters Wednesday that his administration wouldn't leave disaster victims in the lurch, despite his previous lack of enthusiasm for a federal role in disaster relief.

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WASHINGTON — In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is far more supportive of the government agency in charge of coordinating disaster relief.

As he battled for the Republican nomination, he seemed to downplay the federal government’s role in disaster response. “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,” Romney said at a debate in June.

Asked by moderator John King of CNN whether that would include disaster relief, Romney said: “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.”

A week before Election Day, after a massive disaster, Romney’s campaign is reassuring voters his administration wouldn’t leave victims in the lurch. With President Obama involved in getting federal funds to those in trouble, the Romney campaign moved to reassure the public it supports a strong program of storm relief.

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“I believe that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters,” Romney said Wednesday. “As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission … .”

What the campaign wouldn’t do is say whether a President Romney would insist that help for disaster victims be funded by cutting other programs in the federal budget, as many conservative Republicans insist.

Running mate Paul Ryan endorses cutting other spending to pay for disasters.


Campaign spending: Spending by outside groups in the final weeks of the campaign will drive total spending on federal elections this cycle to a record $6 billion, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan research group Center for Responsive Politics. That tops the record set in 2008 by $700 million. Overall, spending on this year’s presidential campaign is expected to be $2.6 billion, down slightly from $2.8 billion in 2008, when both parties had contested primaries.

Sermon ordered: Peoria, Ill., Bishop Daniel Jenky ordered priests to read a letter to Roman Catholic parishioners at weekend Masses, explaining that politicians who support abortion rights also reject Jesus. In the letter, Jenky refers to the birth-control mandate in the health-care law and says politicians and supporters “who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb … (also) are objectively guilty of grave sin.”

Material from the Chicago Tribune is included in this report.

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