What do you say if you’re Mitt Romney? What do you say today, one week until the most important Election Day of your life, with the East Coast — including swing states — still trying to figure out what the hell hit it last night?

Mitt Romney is on record mocking rising ocean levels.

Mitt Romney is on record suggesting that emergency management services shouldn’t be the province of the president. In fact, he thinks they should fall to private companies, which can then make a little money off the deal.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Asked about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) this morning, Romney didn’t want to answer the question. Five times, he didn’t.

Because what’s he going to say? His campaign hedges on the issue, but he doesn’t want to deal with this, not now. He doesn’t want to have to explain his complicated feelings on government and climate change. His base wants him to destroy the former and deny the latter. So, what? Now, after 23 months of campaigning, he’s going to say: Yes, the government has a role here?

What Romney is doing is campaigning. No, wait, sorry. He’s holding “relief events,” events in Ohio gathering canned goods to send to the East Coast. Here’s one scene from this apolitical act of magnanimity:

Somehow, I suspect that those cans aren’t going to make their way to any blue states.

Hurricane Sandy exposes the flaw in campaigning for president as an anti-government activist. Romney insists that government can’t create jobs, but that he should be elected to create jobs. He argues that FEMA should be slashed, but has no solution to draining flooded East River tunnels besides collecting dusty boxes of pasta.

A president should be able to answer these two questions: How do we both prevent and prepare for future megastorms, and how do we respond to the disastrous aftermath? For me, the answers come easily. Romney’s answers don’t come at all.

Update: The Washington Post has a longer description of Romney ducking the FEMA question.

“Governor, you’ve been asked 14 times. Why are you refusing to answer the question?” one [reporter] asked.

Romney ignored the reporters’ queries and continued loading up the truck. Earlier, during the event, he ignored similar queries.