During a 2011 Republican primary debate, Mitt Romney said he supported cuts to federal disaster response, preferring to leave it to the states and the private sector to assist residents in an emergency.

"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," he said at the time. "And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better."

Campaign aides insist that Romney would not abolish FEMA if he became president, however the candidate refused to answer questions from reporters Tuesday about his position on federal funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).