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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Romney Criticized for \'Dry Land\' Remark at Campaign Event


TAMPA, Fla. - Mitt Romney made a comment about being on “dry land” Wednesday, prompting criticism that he was making light of Hurricane Isaac, which was continuing to lash the Gulf Coast.

“I appreciate this invitation to join you on dry land this afternoon,” Mr. Romney told members of the American Legion in Indianapolis, where he delivered a speech on foreign policy.

Members of the audience laughed at the comment - which was in his prepared remarks - before Mr. Romney moved on to talk about the seriousness and the dangers of the hurricane.

“Our thoughts are of course with the people of the Gulf Coast states,” Mr. Romney said. “Seven years ago today, they were bracing for Hurricane Katrina. This afternoon they are enduring Isaac.”

He added: “We're grateful that it appears Isaac will spare them from the kind of damage we saw during Katrina, but for many in t he Gulf Coast who just finished repairing their homes and are getting a life back to normal, this must be a heavy burden. So today our thoughts are with them, our prayers go out to them, and our country must do all we can to help them recover.”

Mr. Romney then proceeded to promise that he would stop “reckless defense cuts” that he blamed on President Obama. He said Mr. Obama had failed to lead and had dodged tough choices as president.

But the comment at the beginning of his remarks was immediately condemned on Twitter.

“Did #MittLiar make a joke about being on dry land while ppl are in the midst of knowing they've lost their homes due to #Issac?” one person tweeted. “OK. #Vote.”

Another said: “MittRomney NOT FUNNY making a joke about #Issac today “happy to be on dry land” on the 7th anniversary of #Katrina â€" where is his character?”

Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney, dismissed the criticism as silly.

“Gov ernor Romney clearly showed concern for those affected by the storm,” Ms. Saul said. “He was addressing the fact there has been rainfall in Tampa over the course of the last few days.”

Follow Michael D. Shear on Twitter at @shearm.