Michael Brown, ex-FEMA head, has advice, criticism for Obama about Hurricane Sandy
In general, Brown feels, it's a challenge for both campaigns to respond to an issue like Hurricane Sandy, when it's still unknown what kind of impact it will have once it really hits.
"The problem is -- everybody, both campaigns, the public, the media, even the first responders, are in this awkward time period," he says. "It's either gonna be the worst thing...or not be nearly as bad as expected or fizzle out.
"It's the most awkward time.... You don't want to send the wrong message politically...on how seriously you should take it.... The message should be, you need to take it seriously."
Courtesy of KHOW Michael Brown interviewing Governor John Hickenlooper
And as someone who has experience in natural disasters, does Brown have any general advice for the president?
"My advice to him is that he needs to call the cabinet and tell the cabinet members that if [current FEMA head] Craig Fugate calls and asks for something, the expectation is he is going to get whatever he needs," Brown replies. "The cabinet will fully cooperate and give him whatever he wants."
And when it is appropriate for either side to resume campaign activities and travels?
"It's really a tough question," he concedes. "It depends on if there's really minimal-to-no loss of life, if there's minimal property damage. If it just boils down to subways and airports being shut down, if it's a huge inconvenience, then I say go ahead.... But if it turns into a situation with a major blackout in the northeast...infrastructure problems, bridges and railroads out, then he needs to weigh that.... It might be 24 hours, 36 hours, might be three days."
The president was scheduled to have a rally in Colorado Springs tomorrow, but that has since been canceled. At this writing, however, he has a scheduled rally in Boulder on Thursday.
Paul Ryan was also supposed to attend rallies throughout Colorado tomorrow, but at this time, all those events have been canceled as well.
"Right now," Brown maintains, "both campaigns need to let the first responders and governors do what they need to do. Basically say, 'If we can help in any way, let us know.'"
Since Hurricane Sandy has dominated headlines in recent days, 2011 comments from Romney saying that FEMA should be shut down and power should be given to the states have resurfaced. His campaign has clarified that Romney believes states should have more authority, but he does not think FEMA should be abolished.
Brown agrees. "It's more of a statement of fact.... This has always been my theory. The stronger you make the federal government, the weaker you make local governments.... State and local responders need to be as robust as they possibly can.... What FEMA should be doing right now is coordinating, [telling governors and mayors], 'What do you need? How can we help?'"
He adds, "Everything that really needs to be done is a state and local issue.... The feds are more about helping financially."
"The rallies drive...media, and that helps keep enthusiasm up to the extent that rallies can," he says. "So if the enthusiasm is at a level five, a rally might take it up to a level six... They just need to make sure their ground games continue."
Offering his take on the state of the race in Colorado, he adds, "I think the enthusiasm level is great in Colorado for Romney, and at the end of the day, that'll carry Romney over the top."
More from our Politics archive: "Immigration advocate, legal citizen gets Scott Gessler's non-citizen letter"