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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes donations during a ‘storm-relief event’ in Kettering, Ohio. (STEPHEN CROWLEY/NYT)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes donations during a ‘storm-relief event’ in Kettering, Ohio. (STEPHEN CROWLEY/NYT)

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Gimme (political) shelter: the survival kit Add to ...

The arrival of Hurricane Sandy a week before the U.S. federal election could not have been more poorly timed for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Almost all of Mr. Romney’s campaign promises can be most charitably described as enigmatic, but he has emphatically, enthusiastically and almost as though campaigning were some kind of phone sex one engages in with the nation, explained that he would relish a chance to close the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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“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. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better,” he said when asked about disaster-relief spending during a 2011 Republican candidates’ debate.

When debate moderator John King offered Mr. Romney a chance to walk back from his position – on the off chance that, say, a massive hurricane were to devastate much of the East Coast the following year – the candidate instead added, “We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral.”

Naturally, potentially disastrously, for the Romney/Ryan ticket, questions were asked about this as FEMA responded quickly to Hurricane Sandy – making this week’s events an important reminder to anyone interested in preserving his public life that they should prepare a Political Emergency Survival Kit.

Properly organized, this kit, along with a few safety tips, will protect you and your loved one chance of becoming president of the United States, should you encounter sudden political hardship.

It should be kept in a dry, fact-checker-free location.

1. Stockpile 72 hours’ worth of high-energy, non-perishable statements of the non-committal variety to use if sudden interviews arise. These canned statements should require no additional preparation and should be rich in references to hearts, prayers and thoughts. Deployed properly, these statements can provide effective protection from questions such as those asked of Mr. Romney this week, questions such as, “Governor, are you going to eliminate FEMA?” and even, “Governor, you’ve been asked 14 times – why are you refusing to answer the question?” When you do eventually answer the question, reverse your previous position entirely. It’s best to try as much as possible to carry on as before.

2. In the event that a disaster-struck New Jersey Republican governor with bipartisan support and possible 2016 presidential ambitions starts loudly endorsing your opponent around Hurricane Sandy, with statements such as, “The President has been outstanding in this” – while saying that he is not “the least bit concerned or interested” in whether or not you visit – throw 12 of your 72 hours’ supply of bottled water at his picture while sitting alone in your hotel room. Look deep into your soul and ask yourself why he seemed so resistant to being your running mate.

3. Stockpile plenty of Kleenex.

4. Don’t be too proud to use a food bank, shamelessly. That’s what photographers are for.

5. In the event that a hitherto obscure Senate candidate for your party should suddenly catapult himself into the public eye by explaining that conception through rape is “something God intended to happen,” do not run. Talk in a calm voice and walk slowly backward, waving your arms to make yourself look bigger. Throw objects and blow a whistle or an air horn. If you are with others, stay together and act as a group ready to defund Planned Parenthood. Make sure the Senate candidate has a clear escape route, such as wanting to spend more time with his family. If the candidate keeps advancing, use your Senate-candidate pepper spray. Do not withdraw any endorsements or climb a tree.

6. Make sure you have an extra set of car keys, for your extra set of cars.

7. Resist the urge to campaign. Instead, rechristen an already-scheduled event a “food drive,” but play your campaign video anyway. Consider holding other non-political events, for causes such as Save the Children From Not Having Mitt Romney For President and Mothers Against Mitt Romney Not Being President Which Would Be Really Sad.

8. Check the expiry dates on your surrogates yearly, lest they lose all sense of irony. In extreme cases, a former head of FEMA who was in charge during Hurricane Katrina may say of the current President’s response to a national emergency, “Why was this so quick?”

9. Keep a list of 53 per cent of your contacts, whom you need to worry about, and keep a separate list of the other 47 per cent.

10. And, of course, matches.

Follow on Twitter: @TabathaSouthey

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