updated 10/31/2012 11:44:05 AM ET 2012-10-31T15:44:05

POLITICS NATION
October 29, 2012

Guests: Cynthia Tucker, Robin Andrews, Phillip Orton, Russel Honore,
Lorenzo Langford

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you for tuning in.

Hurricane Sandy is a powerful, historic storm, now barreling toward
landfall on the south Jersey coast. The storm now has top winds of 90 miles
per hour. Bringing dangerous rain and flooding along the east coast.
Right now, New York City, a construction crane has partially collapsed on
top of a high rise building. It is dangling 80 stories above the mid-town
streets. We will go live to the scene where the streets have been cleared
and nearby building have been evacuated.

At this hour, the storm is threatening 50 million people from Washington,
D.C., to Martha`s Vineyard up in Massachusetts. At least 15 states are
under on state of emergency. Subways, buses and trains are shut down in
many major cities, including New York and Boston. Airlines canceled more
than 7,000 domestic and international flights today and tomorrow, stranding
15 million people. Financial markets were closed today and tomorrow.

And both candidates suspended their campaign events. We`ve got it covered
from all angles with reporters in key locations and our meteorologist in
the studio.

But first, let`s go live to that dangerous, damaged crane in midtown
Manhattan. It`s dangling from a building, 80 stories over the streets of
midtown Manhattan.

NBC`s Rehema Ellis is on the scene.

Rehema, good evening and tell us what is the latest.

REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The latest is that authorities are
going to try and get some civil engineers and experts up in to this
construction site to see if there is anything that they can do to secure
this crane that is dangling in dimension precariously over one of the
busiest streets in Manhattan and that is 57th street.

Police at this time have blocked off the area in to what they have created
they call a collapse zone. No pedestrians, no cars. They evacuated the
apartment buildings, the commercial buildings, even the park meridian hotel
has been evacuated. And those hotel guests have been moved to other
hotels. Authorities are very concerned that if this partially collapsed
crane starts to swing because of these gusting winds, it could go flying
into another building and no one knows what that would create before it
comes crashing down to the ground.

Whether or not they can secure it under these conditions is absolutely
unclear. They may have to wait for the storm to pass before they can do
anything -- Reverend?

SHARPTON: Wouldn`t it seem with 80-mile-an-hour winds very, very
difficult, at best, to try to do anything when the inspectors go up?

ELLIS: It absolutely would because authorities say the call came in about
this collapse at about 2:30 in the afternoon Eastern Time. According to
the national weather service, the wind at that time was blowing at about 20
miles an hour with gusts up to 40 miles an hour. We are now talking about
authorities say winds gusting upwards of 80 miles an hour before this storm
is over.

SHARPTON: Wow.

ELLIS: Who would go up over 80 stories high with a crane in this position,
I`m not quite sure. And then what could they do? No one is clear about
it. But they are going to try and see if there`s anything they can do to
secure this crane that is dangerously perched so high up above a major
street in Manhattan.

SHARPTON: You know, I`m aware of the location as a New Yorker and I`m
looking at you and it appears that the winds are pushing you back so it
appears that the winds are strengthening as we speak.

ELLIS: I would say so. When we came out a couple of hours ago, the winds
were nowhere as intense as they are right now. They have been steadily
increasing in the intensity. So again, as I say, I think it would be very
dangerous those visiting here on their anniversary. They were on 57th
street when this portion of the crane came crumbling down. The man said it
sounded like a steel door, a giant steel door slamming shut. He and his
wife looked and only ten yards away there were huge pieces of steel.

SHARPTON: Wow.

ELLIS: At that point all they could think to do was to rush back to their
hotel. They didn`t know what had happened until they turned on their
television and they realized they had just narrowly missed being in the
middle of a very dangerous situation.

SHARPTON: Rehema, thank you so much. And I`m glad they are alright. And
please stay safe.

ELLIS: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Now let`s go to NBC`s Ann Thompson live at Battery Park in lower
Manhattan right on the water.

Ann, good evening and tell us what is the latest down there?

ANN THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Reverend Sharpton.
Well, let me tell you, we have got one of the bands of Sandy coming
through. The wind has picked up, the rain has picked up. And I can tell
you that New York harbor, which is behind me, it is beginning to lap the
promenade. We`re at a high point in the promenade here at Battery Park
city. Down where it is lower, the water is already coming up on to the
promenade. They are very concerned about storm surge. That is what
everybody is going to be watching for the next 4, 4 1/2 hours.

New York City officials think that the storm surge will hit here in New
York harbor sometime between 8:00 and 9:00. High tide is scheduled for
8:50. And so, when you combine that the fact that there is a full moon
tonight which means, astronomical, high tides anyway, plus this
outrageously huge hurricane that is coming our way, all of that spells
trouble.

And that is why there is a mandatory evacuation in this area here at
Battery Park and much of the financial district. People were told to leave
their homes by yesterday afternoon. There are a lot of people down here,
just the curious who thought, it`s not so bad. I will come out and take
some pictures.

The police have been using bull horns to remind people that this is a
mandatory evacuation area and it`s not safe to be here even to take
pictures either for your vacation or just for posterity. So. As far as the
city goes, city schools are closed tomorrow. Amtrak service is canceled
for tomorrow. The New York stock exchange will also be closed tomorrow and
that is all because of this storm.

City officials are urging people to stay indoors, don`t go out if you don`t
have to. Many bridges around the city are going to be closed. The Lincoln
tunnel will remain open. The tri-borough bridge will remain open. So, you
will be able to get in and out of Manhattan. But a lot of bridges are
closing because they are expecting very high wind gusts. I know that
earlier this afternoon at Kennedy airport, there were wind gusts up to 62
miles per hour - Reverend Sharpton?

SHARPTON: Now, is power outages is threat here? Are we seeing the
possibility of power outages?

THOMPSON: Well, that`s always, I think, every New Yorker`s worst fear, is
the fear that power will go out, especially for anybody who happens to live
in a high-rise because hiking those stairs isn`t a lot of fun in the dark.
It is a threat. Con-Ed is, you know, obviously aware of the situation.
They are repairing for power outages.

But Mayor Bloomberg has said all along that, you know, if power did go out,
that he thought we could get it back fairly quickly. And that`s why he
urged people who were in these low line areas that were evacuated to not to
go upstate or to go outside of the city, but try to find somewhere else in
the city to stay with it because the city was actually best equipped to
handle the situation.

SHARPTON: Ann, thank you very much and be careful out there.

THOMPSON: Will do.

SHARPTON: Atlantic City, New Jersey, is bracing for a direct hit from
hurricane Sandy. Let`s go live to Atlantic City`s mayor, Lorenzo Langford
live on the telephone.

Mayor, good evening.

MAYOR LORENZO LANGFORD, ATLANTIC CITY (via phone): Reverend Al, good
evening. How are you?

SHARPTON: I`m fine. How are you and how is your city?

LANGFORD: Well, I`m sure you`re probably doing a lot better than I am and
where you are you`re probably faring better than we are. Our city is
bracing for some devastation. It is low tide here as we speak. There`s
still above anywhere between a foot and a half to three feet of water which
has blanketed most of the city. We expect when the high rise levels again,
that the level of water in the streets will rise and we`re expecting
anywhere from three to five feet of water in the street. So, it`s pretty
precarious.

SHARPTON: Three to five feet of water you`re expecting in the streets?

LANGFORD: That`s correct.

SHARPTON: Now, what has been -- has there been evacuations? Have they
been -- things put in place in case of power outages? What is happening?

LANGFORD: Yes. Reverend. Starting Friday, on a number of occasions, we
sent out to various means of communications, the clarity in call to have
our residents evacuate the city. As you know, Atlantic City is a barrier
island. And the last time that the ocean met the bay was back in 1962.
And all of the experts expect that we will experienced that level of
catastrophic problem, again, this time.

And so, starting Friday, repeatedly we have said that the cities should
take this very seriously. They should heed the call and evacuate the city.
Unfortunately, we haven`t had as many do that as we would have liked. The
last time that we had an event, hurricane Irene, we did achieve a 98
percent evacuation rate. I think that we`re going to fall short of that
this time.

But, yes, to answer your question is, we keep and have been employing all
of the residents who were able to flee the city and seek higher ground in a
safe shelter somewhere else.

SHARPTON: Well, Atlantic City mayor, Lorenzo Langford, thank you for your
time and please be careful and that -- for your citizens as well. They
should all heed your warnings and your advice. Thank you for coming on.

LANGFORD: You`re welcome, Reverend Al. Stay blessed.

SHARPTON: You as well.

Now let`s bring in NBC`s meteorologist Dylan Dreyer.

Dylan, where is the eye of the storm right now?

DYLAN DREYER, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Well, the eye of the storm is actually
moving on shore in the Atlantic City, northern Delaware coast line right
now. And we do still have this storm as a strong storm with a very low
central pressure. We have been talking about this storm as far as it being
historic event.

And with the millibar levels now at 940, that is the lowest central
pressure for a hurricane we have ever seen in this region especially. So
we are looking at a very intense storm. It means it is a very strong,
intense storm, and we`re obviously seeing the effects of that. The problem
is, in a normal situation you would track the eye of the storm, it would
make its way onshore and you would look right where the eye is because
that`s where you`re going to see the strongest winds.

We are in a different situation this time around because the hurricane
force winds extend 100 miles at least out from the center of this storm and
the tropical storm force winds extend hundreds of miles out from the center
of the storm. So, it`s turning into this hybrid now. Once a category one
hurricane, now sort of embedding itself within the north eastern type
situations. So, the wind extends so far out from the center of this storm.
And that is why we are going to see the chance of this effecting the mid-
Atlantic region for several days.

So, the storm now is about to move on shore. And as it does so,
ironically, now it`s going to slow down. It really picked up speed as it
moved on shore. Now as it sits over Pennsylvania and New York State. So,
the next several days, it`s going to slowly weaken and rain itself out but
it`s going to take days for the winds to ease.

Now, we do have the rain extending all the way into areas like western
Maryland and we`re even getting snowfall in areas through West Virginia and
we`ve already picked up more than ten inches of snow in some areas.

So, that`s why we`re talking about this hybrid kind of situation, between a
hurricanes developing into a nor`easter. Now, the heavy rain will continue
to move on shore. The rain is lightening up and intensity across New
Jersey right now. But, we are actually going to see that as acting like
the eye of the storm where the rain does let up a little bit and then on
the backside we`ll see more rain start to move in.

So, rainfall estimates will be anywhere from around six to eight inches
with some areas picking up 10 to 12 inches of rainfall. So, even though
this has been touted as a coastal situation right now, we are going to see
inland flooding become more and more of an issue as the rivers and the
streams start to overflow their banks.

So, taking a tour of winds right now, we have been dealing with extreme
wind gusts, not just in the region, where the storm is making its way on
shore near Atlantic City, all the way into southern New England where winds
have been gusting up around 60, nearly 70 miles per hour.

SHARPTON: What is the current wind now?

DREYER: The current wind right now in New York City is 67 miles per hour.
That`s the gusts we`re seeing right now.

SHARPTON: What are the dangers tonight? What are the things that we
should be most watchful for?

DREYER: The things that we have to worry about is the high tide that is
going to move on later on tonight. Even though the storm is making its way
on shore right now, we are actually looking for that high tide between
anywhere from 8:00 to 9:00 in the New York City area and then up closer to
midnight for northern portions of Long Island into southern Connecticut and
Massachusetts.

That`s where we`re actually going to see the surge start to be felt because
you have your normal high tide and then on top of that we`re looking at an
additional four to seven feet of water and it`s all getting pushed on shore
here and we`re at the peak of the storm. But, it`s not going to weaken all
that quickly. I mean, just look at the winds. The winds extend so far out
from the center of the storm and even as we go into Tuesday and Wednesday,
we`re still looking at winds perhaps gusting up near 40, 45 miles per hour.

SHARPTON: Dylan Dreyer. Thank you so much.

DREYER: Yes.

SHARPTON: Coming up, more on the dangerous situation in midtown Manhattan
with a crane 80 stories high partially collapsing.

And it`s an October surprise nobody was prepared for. Will hurricane Sandy
affect the presidential election with just one week to go?

Our continuing coverage of hurricane Sandy is coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Sandy hits the shore. The latest, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are back on "Politics Nation" with hurricane Sandy, set to
make landfall somewhere near Atlantic City, New Jersey, within the hour.
People up and down the east coast are feeling the effects of Sandy`s
powerful gusts and rain with the harshest impact hitting the shores of New
Jersey and Connecticut.

Joining me now here in Atlanta is retired lieutenant general Russel Honore.
He coordinated military relief efforts for hurricane Katrina.

General, thanks for being here.

RUSSEL HONORE, LIEUTENANT GENERAL, COORDINATED KATRINA RELIEF: Good to be
with you, Al.

SHARPTON: Tell me, what are you seeing as this storm slams into the New
Jersey coast?

HONORE: Reverend Al, I think this is another history making moment. We`re
watching history be made and recording it. Because of the size of the
storm and the enormous amount of population underneath that storm as it
come ashore, we are riding the bar for how we will respond and how we will
prepare for storms like this in the future.

We have seen it unfold as we are watching this. Again, my biggest concern
is the elderly, disabled, and poor people who did not evacuate, who at this
time their lights are going out, their homes are not well-attended and they
may not be prepared as they should be.

It`s the 29th of the month. Their food is already running low and didn`t
have the money to restock. They will need help in the coming hours once
this storm passes and the challenge will be how do we get food and
evacuation to that needed population?

SHARPTON: So the challenge for those cities, states, and FEMA is how to
deal with getting whatever necessary help is need for the elderly and the
poor who are not as situated for such a crisis as unusual as this storm is
turning out to be?

HONORE: Right. All these disasters we`ve watched over the years from
Katrina, the majority of the people we picked up after Katrina were
elderly, disabled, and poor people by themselves. So, that`s the
population. Much of the talk that has happened so far has dealt with
strategy and tactics and risk communications.

In the coming hours and days it`s going to be about logistics, Reverend,
Al. It`s going to be about real people, real (INAUDIBLE), real people.
Thereby, the mayors need to encourage their people as soon as the storm
passes through is for neighbors to check on neighbors because neighbors
will keep more people alive than first responders.

With all due respect to the first responders, the mayors are going to have
to keep the streets open so people can check on one another and take care
of one another because there are not enough first responders.

The next thing is, get businesses open that have food and water and that
can feed people. Get restaurants opened. Because people will need that
because on the backside of this storm is cold air, cold temperature,
hypothermia setting in because there`s no heat and people are warm and
people are damp. Hypothermia will set in and people with any type of
medical condition are going to go down quick.

So, everybody is going to have to be involved with the community to try to
keep their neighbors alive because there are not enough first responders,
let`s face it.

SHARPTON: Now, part of the danger of this is that people always say it`s
not going to be as bad as projected and underestimate and, therefore, ill
prepare or it may be situated economically where they cannot get as
prepared as others.

HONORE: Right. And about 30 percent of our population, this is about the
time that the fixed income has run out.

SHARPTON: Right.

HONORE: So, we have large part of the population that will need help
quickly and the quickest way to do that is to get the streets opened and
get stores opened and neighbors helping neighbors.

SHARPTON: General Russel Honore, thank you very much for your time
tonight.

Joining me now is Dr. Phillip Orton, a maritime research analyst at the
Stevens institute of technology.

Dr. Orton, how big of an impact is this storm going to have over the next
few hours as it makes landfall?

DOCTOR PHILLIP ORTON, MARITIME RESEARCH, STEVENS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY:
Well, the big concern is right now, is looking to be New Jersey, the
central part of New Jersey and southern part of New Jersey in particular.
There is flooding all over the place. New York City is going to have
pretty bad flooding. Long Island but, really now since it took more of a
turn duet, you know, what more to the west sitting further to the south of
New Jersey, and they are getting hammered there.

SHARPTON: We are hearing a lot about nine to 11 foot storm surges is from
hurricane Sandy. What exactly does that mean?

ORTON: Well basically, the storm surge is a slow sea level rise over the
past 24 hours. It`s been coming in. And the tide is kind of ungulate on
top of it and come in every 12 hours with the high tide every 12 hours.

So, we had one of those on top of a little bit of storm surge this morning
and now we`ve got about 6 1/2 feet of storm surge in New York harbor, even
more along the jersey coast and we`re getting another one of those high
tides. So that`s - you know, the two together are what determines the
total water level that people have at their feet.

SHARPTON: Where are we going to see the biggest impact of this storm and
what will happen in those areas?

ORTON: It looks now, I mean, this is just coming in right now, the storm
surge for the New York City area is leveling off. So, the tides will come
up a couple more feet but that`s about it. So, it will be about New York
City may be two feet over the sea walls, two or three feet at most over the
highest sea walls and looks like, unless something changes. And along the
"jersey shore" they really getting a worse problem because they got really
hard earlier in the day, the high tide. There is already bad waves
destroying dunes and now, during this high tide, the closer that stronger
winds closer to the eye of the storm, they are getting water up into their
neighborhoods. Pretty deep water in some of the neighborhood.

SHARPTON: From which you can project now, will this hurricane break
records?

ORTON: The flooding records, flood elevation records are breaking levels
all over the place. Certainly at the jersey shore it`s unprecedented for
the jersey shore. New York City, they have tied gauges, measuring the
water level in New York harbor 80 years. And it is going to break - it
should break that record. There is also a hurricane in 1821 where they
didn`t have measurements, you know, and they have estimates and that was a
higher flood level during that hurricane.

SHARPTON: Dr. Philip Orton, thanks for your time tonight.

ORTON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: This is Sandy, historic storm. We`re watching hurricane Sandy
as it turns its way towards the south jersey coast. Already hundreds of
thousands of people are without power. It`s a time when we remember what
government is for and we also remember what Mitt Romney said FEMA should be
and that is privatize.

You`re watching our special coverage of hurricane Sandy here on "Politics
Nation" on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Right now the wind is really, really ripping.
It`s been getting stronger and stronger. The rain is going sideways and I
can feel the sand hitting my back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back on "Politics Nation" with our continuing coverage of
hurricane Sandy. Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost power.
Many in New York and New Jersey.

And joining me now by phone is New Jersey Congressman Robin Andrews who is
near the impact point in new injuries see.

Congressman, thanks for speaking with us.

REP. ROBIN ANDREWS, NEW JERSEY (via phone): Thank you, Reverend, for your
concern about our people here.

SHARPTON: What`s the latest that you can tell us?

ANDREWS: Well, the latest is that Sandy is right at us. It`s hitting
Atlantic City soon. My district is about 30 miles of west of Atlantic
City. So, we are on the sight of it. But, I can tell you, we got fire
fighters police officers, nurses, social workers been out for the last 48
hours. They are doing a fabulous job. We have shelters set up. We have
people who have been evacuated and I think we`re going to be OK because of
those hardworking public employees.

SHARPTON: Now your particular constituents are going to take a direct heat
and you said that there`s already been evacuations and preparations about
how many people could say have been evacuated? Or do you know?

ANDREWS: Well, we`re further in land, Reverend. So we`re probably in the
hundreds, maybe low thousands on the evacuation. We are not right on the
coast. We have a lot of flooded areas and there`s been an effort to get
people out of there. There is trailer parks near creeks and rivers we have
people in shelters now. And I will tell you something, all of these people
who criticize public employees ought to walk in their shoes today because
they are doing a great job.

SHARPTON: Now, as we are seeing the response of public employees, as you
state, and government officials on something that we`ve not had to deal
with this before, are you confident that the response has been adequate to
what is an unusual threat to your constituents?

ANDREWS: Yes, I am. Now, of course, this is a huge storm. We will not
know its full impact until several days after it is over. But, I know,
that every effort being made by the social services, by law enforcement, by
public safety, by education, by health care. This is what it looks like
when people come together and do the right thing.

SHARPTON: Then, it seems in what you are saying a real cooperation. Also,
among your constituents, and among your citizens, what do you say to people
who are listening to you in other areas that are going to be impacted by
this storm that you would urge them to do that you see your own
constituents doing at your own urging?

ANDREWS: Yes, the first is act early. Don`t wait for the storm to land on
you. Act soon. And after all, we are people to this weekend. And the
second is, help your neighbors. As one of your guest, the general just
said, that first responders can only do so much. Neighbors have to help
neighbors and that`s the effort we`re engaged in. We are very proud of our
public citizens who work so hard here.

SHARPTON: All right. Thank you so much, Congressman Andrews. Thank you
for your time and be safe.

ANDREWS: Thank you, Reverend. You as well.

SHARPTON: Coming up, we`ll go live to the Jersey Shore where they bracing
for Sandy to make landfall.

And why events like this remind us how important the federal government is.

Our continuing coverage of the hurricane Sandy is coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation."

As we speak, hurricane Sandy is bearing down on more than 50 million
Americans along the east coast. It`s events like this that reminds us how
important the federal government is, how vital our nation`s first
responders are. This storm is highlighting a fundamental difference in our
role of government. On the one side is President Obama and Governor
Romney. Someone who actually made the case for shutting down FEMA in
passing the responsibility on to the states

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: FEMA is about to run out of
money and there are some people, do you have a case by case basis. And
some people who say, you know, maybe we`re learning a lesson here. The
state should take them more on this. How do you deal with something like
that?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. Every time you have
an occasion that takes something from the federal government and sends 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Governor Romney says it would be better to privatize FEMA.
That`s jarring, but so as his reasoning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We`re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we`re taking in.
We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our
kids. It is simply immoral in my view. For us to rack up larger and
larger debts and pass them on to our kids knowing full well that we`ll be
dead and gone before it occurs makes no sense at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It makes no sense at all to pay disaster funding. With just
eight days to go in this election, that is the choice in this election. Do
we want a president that believes government can be there when we need it
most or someone who thinks it`s immoral to spend the money in helping our
fellow Americans?

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, vice president and executive editor of
MSNBC.com and an MSNBC political analyst and Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer
Prize-winning columnist and visiting professor of journalism at the
University of Georgia.

Thank you both for being here.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks, Reverend.

CYNTHIA TUCKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Richard, let me start with you. How important are Romney`s FEMA
comments in light of the hurricane?

WOLFFE: Well, timing is everything in an election, Reverend. And when you
come to this kind of major natural disaster where the president is taking
real life action dealing with an ongoing situation on the ground, looking
and sounding presidential and then you have his opponent who has the tapes
still out there, which isn`t that old, where he appears to be saying, not
just that states should take a lead. Remember, states do take the lead in
these situations and local responders. But he`s saying even beyond that
that the private sector should be one that there`s a morality question
here. It`s about debt. It`s not about first response.

You know, that kind of ideological pandering will come back to haunt him
won we get through the initial stages of this disaster. There are real
policy questions that he broached in that Republican primary trying to
pander conservative voters that doesn`t sit well in the election.

SHARPTON: Now Cynthia, today, Governor Romney`s campaign issued a
statement walking back those FEMA comment. His spokesperson said and I`m
quoting, "Governor Romney believes that the states should be in charge of
emergency management of responding the storm of other natural disasters in
their jurisdiction. As the first responders, states are in the best
position to aid affected individuals and communities and direct resources
and assistance to where they are need. This includes help from the federal
government and FEMA."

Suddenly Mr. Romney loves FEMA. Doesn`t sound like he wants to privatize
it today.

TUCKER: Well, of course he`s trying to walk that back because this is not
the kind of remark that goes over well with voters in the middle that he`s
trying to lure now. This sounded good for the severely conservative Mitt
Romney to say. But the new moderate Mitt doesn`t want to be caught -- we
have perhaps an unprecedented natural disaster hitting the east coast of
the United States.

SHARPTON: Right.

TUCKER: The new moderate Mitt doesn`t want to be seen saying, oh, the
federal government -- why not privatize it? Let people pay to be rescued.
You know, what is the immoral here, Reverend Al? The United States is the
richest country in the history of the world. Bar none. What would be
immoral would be for the federal government not to do whatever was
necessary, you know, move the 82nd airborne if you have to, to rescue
people. Make sure they have food and water and make sure as many people as
need to be moved to safety are moved to safety.

SHARPTON: Richard, Romney`s running mate, Paul Ryan, tried to scrapped
disaster relief in his budget.

WOLFFE: Right.

SHARPTON: He tried to eliminate $10 million in funding. In addition, he
has said he wants disaster aid offset by other cuts. How relevant is that
now given the storm?

WOLFFE: Well, that was the context for the Republican primary debate
response that Romney gave himself where congressional Republicans were
saying no, we are just going to add extra funding to FEMA, no matter what
the emergency, no matter what historical precedent was for both parties in
terms of dealing with funding issues around FEMA.

You know, it wasn`t that long ago if anyone needs reminding that there was
this thing called hurricane Katrina. And yes, FEMA`s response to that time
was bad, but it took a federal response because the states couldn`t handle
things. That`s not an outrageous principle.

And by the way, the Romney campaign statement today, you could read either
way is not actually tacking back to the center. It`s one of those non-
affirmative affirmations of who knows what position. It could be that the
federal government backs away entirely or that same and could actually just
be describing exactly what is going to go on today with the Obama
administration. You would have to be a mind reader to figure out what that
statement means.

SHARPTON: Now Cynthia, we are dealing with some of the politics over the
course most of the program dealing with the storm obviously our concern.
But President Obama was asked about the storm`s impact on the presidential
election today. Listen to what his response was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The impact of the election, sir?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am not worried at this
point about the impact on the election. I am worried about the impact on
families and I`m worried about the impact on our first responders. I`m
worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation. You know,
the election will take care itself next week. Right now, our number
priority is to make sure that we are saving lives -.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How big of an impact is the hurricane to have in voters` minds,
Cynthia?

TUCKER: Well, I think, first of all, the president`s response was pitch
perfect. That is exactly what he should have said. I am here in my
capacity as president of the United States to support everyone. Those who
will vote for me and those who will not.

But I think it`s also true that Mitt Romney must be feeling a little bit
frustrated by the fact that viewers are, first of all, going to see reports
mostly about the hurricane and its development. When they hear from
officials, it will be governors and mayors and the president of the United
States in his capacity as the commander in chief.

And so it throws both campaigns off a bit but it throws Mitt Romney off
more because he has less opportunity now to get his message out because
people are preoccupied with this huge weather event.

SHARPTON: Richard, the most campaigns are frozen.

WOLFFE: Yes.

SHARPTON: Who loses the most? Cynthia says it`s Romney. What do you say?

WOLFFE: Well look, I don`t think either of them planned for this. And you
know, certainly, in terms of the Romney campaign, early voting in North
Carolina takes some impact but Virginia it`s not the same rules. In
Florida there`s not that much impact at all.

So, I don`t know that it`s that much of an interruption. But, in terms of
the optics of it, you know, when you`re a challenger, you don`t have
anything to do except campaign. You are flying around, you are giving
speeches, you may be raising money. But presidents can do things. And
when you do things, you look more active, you look more commanding and you
look more presidential. So, on bounce, I think, there is benefit for a
president as long as the response actually works. If it doesn`t work,
you`ve got a whole other situation going on in your hands. So, if we carry
on this track, the president is in a slightly better position but we`ll be
back to this for the rest of the country and for even the eastern seaboard
within a very short space of time, back to the election.

SHARPTON: Yes, you are right. And as one who lives in New York and on the
eastern seaboard, I`m very concerned. But, again, people will say, well,
don`t deal with the politics. The politics is going to determine how we
respond to this disaster and disasters in the future. We cannot separate
the two.

Richard Wolffe and Cynthia Tucker, thank you for coming on the show
tonight.

We have new video from that danger situation in midtown Manhattan. The
video shows a crane as it partially collapses, dangling 80 stories above
the city`s streets. More on that ahead.

We are also tracking the path of hurricane Sandy as it heads towards the
south jersey coast. It`s expected make landfall any minute now.

You`re watching our special storm coverage here on "Politics Nation" on
MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`ve been asking you to share your photos of early voting with
us on our facebook page.

Diane sends us this photo of her whole family turning in their ballots
together outside of city hall in Flint, Michigan.

Tunisia and her husband, run into big bird when they voted in North
Carolina this weekend.

But, it looks like the longest lines were in Georgia.

Karen sent us this picture of the six-hour long line she waited in to vote
in (INAUDIBLE).

And Georgia, Jason, sent us this picture of his family who also waited in a
six-hour long line to vote.

That`s dedication. I have more on the fight for voting rights and I`ll be
voting event this weekend. But we want to see you cast your ballot, too.

Go to facebook page, that is facebook.com/"Politics Nation" and share your
early voting photos with us. They might end up on the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with our continuing coverage of hurricane Sandy and
its possible effects on the presidential election. Specifically,
impact/voting turnout.

Today, North Carolina, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., canceled early
voting for today. Also today, the Supreme Court took no action on cases
asking it to end the voting rights act. Another big defeat for right
wingers trying to suppress the vote.

There`s more news on early voting. I was in Florida over the weekend where
early voting opened Saturday. I can report that the right wing woke up a
sleeping giant with their attempts to suppress voting. I was there with
the bishop Victor T. Curry. We were there for operation lemonade where we
converter those voting suppression lemons into lemonades.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This is not just about one person or one candidate. This is
about the rights of people. We must protect everybody or we can`t protect
anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s about the rights of all people and the people of Florida
were ready to go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m here and I`m a strong believe in voting. And
that`s why I`m on the line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want my vote to count so early, early, early it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So far, 105,000 people have voted early in Miami-Dade and
Broward counties. Friday, Republicans led Democrats in Florida with
absentee ballots by 63,000 votes. Now, Democrats lead by 10,000 votes.
Early voting lines stretched around the block. Wait times were up as much
as five hours in some polling and that could be a concern. No one could
have predicted this October surprise as bearing down on the east coast
right now. It`s a time for everyone to work together and we don`t know how
it could impact voter turnout, but we must keep an eye on the polls. This
election is too important as Bishop Curry says, turn them lemons into
lemonade.

Coming up, we go live to Atlantic City where they are bracing for a
different hit and a direct hit from Sandy.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with breaking news on that partial crane collapse in
New York City. New video shows the crane as it collapses dangling 80
stories above the city streets. Those streets have been cleared and nearby
buildings have been evacuated.

Forecasters say winds may be hitting 95 miles per hour on top of that high
rise when the crane collapsed. City officials are now trying to figure out
what, if anything, they can do with the crane as the storm intensifies.

Meantime, hurricane Sandy`s expected to make landfall any moment on the
southern coast of New Jersey.

Let`s go back to NBC`s meteorologist Dylan Dreyer.

Dylan, what can we expect in the next few hours?

DREYER: Reverend, things are going to go downhill. The storm has
officially made landfall in the south coast of New Jersey. And it just
barreled in and took a west turn and just headed right towards the southern
New Jersey coastline. We have winds gusting up to 48 miles per hour in
Atlantic City, but go just north of that, in New York City itself, 71 mile-
per-hour wind gusts, Islip 82 mile-per-hour wind gusts out this storm right
now. It is at northern side of the storm that gives us those strongest
winds.

And we still have a high tide to go through. It arrives in New Jersey, New
York, Rhode Island around 8:00, 8:30. And we are going to see a storm
surge in some areas across northern Long Island up to six to 11 feet.
That`s on top of the normal high tide. And this storm system now that it`s
made landfall will gradually weaken, but the winds are not going to ease
and the rain is still going to come down.

We`re going to see several inches of rainfall. Eight, nine, ten inches of
rain likely. We`re also getting snow out of this storm system. It`s hard
to believe that we`re talking about snow, too. We will see more than a
foot of snow in the mountains of West Virginia. But in the next couple of
hours we are only going to see things get worse and there is that snow
coming down. It`s that hybrid storm, that cold front that merged with the
hurricane. It is now a strange type of system that is almost a nor`easter
and a hurricane at the same time.

So, we have snow in the mountain regions and we have torrential rain that`s
going to come down in areas across Pennsylvania up into New York State.
And do still have that high tide around 8:00 tonight. So that flooding
concern right along the coast is going to be a huge issue within another
hour or so.

SHARPTON: Dylan, thank you. We know you will keep an eye on this storm
for the rest of the evening.

DREYER: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: No doubt about it, this is a dangerous storm. People that are
in or around this storm area must be cautious. This is a time to look out
for neighbors and family. This is a time to pray for our first responders.
Let`s come together and get through this together.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Stay safe.

"Hardball" starts right now.

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