With Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast Monday, former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and Gov. Scott Walker momentarily cast aside politics to share their concerns about those in the path of the storm.
The two appeared at the Republican Party of Waukesha County’s headquarters the same day that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney canceled an evening campaign rally in West Allis because of the hurricane.
“Both of us are sad tonight that Gov. Romney could not make it," Thompson said. "He made it his mission that because of the storm, that it would not be right for government to be involved in a rally, but we thought that it would be good just to come together as individuals here.”
President Barack Obama also canceled his Wisconsin visit Tuesday week because of the storm.
The Midwest isn’t immune to the effects of Sandy, either. Lake Michigan could have waves reaching 16 feet Tuesday as the winds from the hurricane churn up the Great Lakes.
Thompson said he was involved in natural disasters as governor and during his time as a Health and Human Services secretary in Washington, D.C. The response is a group effort as organizations and government agencies prepare to be dispatched to storm areas, he said.
“FEMA has got to be ready to go,” said Thompson, who faces Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the Nov. 6 election for U.S. Senate. “We have got to be able to set up command posts, and we have got to be able to get into those communities as soon as possible.”
Walker, who announced earlier Monday that the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to assist with hurricane relief efforts, said Romney did the right thing by canceling his appearance in West Allis.
“All of us in America want to be focused on it,” Walker said. “That’s what we did this afternoon, checked in with the National Guard, checked in with the governors out there.
"I appreciate his leadership and putting a focus on it. He didn’t have to. He is no longer the governor of Massachusetts, he is not in office, he is not the incumbent. He could have easily come here.
"He set the right tone," the governor said. "When it is a response to a national disaster, we are no longer Republicans or Democrats. We are just Americans.
The state has not yet been asked by any of the East Coast governors to deploy its National Guard.
“We know that the force is dramatic and we just pray in particular that there is not any loss of life,” Walker said.