Election 2014  
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Mitt Blows it on Sandy: Did the Hurricane Just Cost Him the Election?

Romney likens hurricane relief to cleaning up "rubbish and paper products" from a football field. Is he joking?

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After Romney’s laughable relief event Tuesday, reporters swarmed him to ask if he still favors sending FEMA funding and responsibility back to the states.  From the Romney pool report:

“Gov are you going to eliminate FEMA?” a print pooler shouted, receiving no response.

Wires reporters asked more questions about FEMA that were ignored.

Romney kept coming over near pool to pick up more water. He ignored these questions:

“Gov are you going to see some storm damage?”

“Gov has [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie invited you to come survey storm damage?”

“Gov you’ve been asked 14 times, why are you refusing to answer the question?”

Romney won’t answer because he can’t. We saw him pivot to the center, to become the white Barack Obama, in the three debates, as he realized his unpopular policies and his contempt for 47 percent of the country was dooming his presidential bid. He’s got no standing now to talk about how he’d handle this disaster. The heroes of Sandy, so far, are the first responders, the cops and firefighters and emergency technicians, the folks evacuating patients from hospitals and trapped citizens from flooding. These are the people who’ve been demonized by Republicans for the last two years:  the public workers who have become the new “welfare queens.” When Obama pushed a jobs bill that would have helped states and cities avoid laying off such workers, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell derided it as a “bailout,” and Paul Ryan, of course, voted against it.

To top it all off, George W. Bush’s laughable FEMA director, “Heck of a job, Brownie” Michael Brown, is criticizing Obama for reacting too quickly to Sandy. Are Democrats paying Brown to remind voters of the contrast between Obama’s quiet competence and Bush’s disastrous handling of Katrina?

As I write, the president is arriving at a Red Cross site to ask Americans for donations. Chris Christie, meanwhile, has rebuffed Romney’s offer to visit New Jersey’s devastated shore. (Politics aside: Really, what could Romney offer?) I can’t be sure whether or how much disaster relief will matter to swing state voters outside of the hurricane zone, but I am stranded (on a blue island) in the swing state of Wisconsin, where people are tuned in to the storm and the government response. No one can be reassured by Romney’s empty posturing. Unless there is some government-abetted or neglected further disaster, I think Obama will be reelected next Tuesday. Hurricane Sandy has reminded us what’s at stake.

 

Joan Walsh is Salon's editor-at-large, and the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America." Read more of her work at Salon.

 
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