updated 11/2/2012 2:34:58 PM ET 2012-11-02T18:34:58

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
November 1, 2012

Guests: Michael Cusick, E.J. Dionne, Krystal Ball, Ari Melber >


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, most of New York City is getting
back to normal, but we are also discovering the death and devastation is
much worse in one part of the city than we realized. And next week`s
election may be over before some people get their power back on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama will be back on the campaign trail
next hour

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first time since the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first time since Hurricane Sandy hit.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Their bet in on cynicism. My
bet it on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The start of the closing argument.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It is time for a big change.

OBAMA: What the governor is offering sure ain`t change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, Romney decided he was done playing "Mr. Nice
Guy."

ROMNEY: This election will have enormous consequence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney had nothing new to say.

ROMNEY: This is a very critical time. These are critical times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Much of the eastern seaboard remains a disaster area.

ROMNEY: A lot of families have been devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was having his say about it.

ROMNEY: It hit very hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not part of this conversation.

ROMNEY: We`re going to have to work together. These are critical times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The storm recovery is just beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flood waters in Hoboken, New Jersey finally starting
to recede.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: I cannot thank the president enough
for his personal concern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will this be the lasting image of this campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The very picture of bipartisanship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bipartisanship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bipartisanship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Republican and Democrat coming together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both of them praising each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely disgraceful.

OBAMA: Their bet is on cynicism. My bet is on you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Bloomberg, who is always interesting to watch, has
just endorsed the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s got to hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s happened to all these businessmen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They know how to do math.

ROMNEY: I was someone who ran businesses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney`s businesses don`t add up.

ROMNEY: Of course they add up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The start of the closing argument.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just five days before the election. The sprint to the
finish for the presidential campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don`t run, Chris Christie, Romney will be the
nominee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We begin tonight with the recovery from Hurricane Sandy. In some
places, there are some signs of normalcy. In others there is death,
devastation and ,speaking with reporters this afternoon, New Jersey`s
Republican governor Chris Christie continued to talk about the importance
of bipartisan cooperation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: In moments like this. There are not Democratic and Republican
neighborhoods who have been affected by this storm, they are New Jerseyans.
Our job has moved from saving lives now to rebuilding them. We must work
together to return New Jersey to normalcy as quickly as possible. That is
what people expect of us now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Back on the campaign trail the president echoed Governor
Christie in Wisconsin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm. We`re just
fellow Americans.

(CHEERING)

OBAMA: Leaders of different parties working to fix what is broken.
Neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy, communities rallies to
rebuild. A spirit that says, in the end we are all in this together that
we rise or fall as one nation, as one people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: As for where the recovery stands tonight around 4.6 million
homes and businesses are still without power. That is down from more than
8 million just after the storm. WNBC here in New York reports that around
50,000 utility workers are descending on the region from as far away as
California and Canada.

The death toll continues to rise. Authorities now say that the storm killed
94 people in the United States. Here in New York, the latest count by city
officials indicates now 37 deaths, 19 of those on Staten Island alone. The
Red Cross today sent response units to the hardest hit areas of Staten
Island to distribute food and clean water. As waters continued receding in
Hoboken, New Jersey, FEMA officials arrived there today with food and
supplies.

Governor Christie`s office announced today that New Jersey transit will
restart with limited service tomorrow morning. Officials in New York City
are still working to expand the limited service of the city`s subways.
Amtrak will also begin to partial service running south of New York City
tomorrow.

A growing problem remains gas shortages. Lines at some stations stretching
for more than a mile. In the city of Yonkers, New York officials are
limits customers to no more than ten gallons.

In southern Manhattan where the lights and water are still off, people went
through dumpsters today to find unspoiled food thrown out by a super
market. Forecasters are also warning that the East Coast could be hit by
another large storm about this time next week.

And one of the most underreported tragedies of the storm which is finally
coming into focus today is the devastation on Staten Island the New York
borough that was the hardest hit. We get the latest from NBC News
correspondent. Ann Curry. Anne?

ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, good evening. More than three
days after the hurricane, people in this close-knit, blue-collar, community
are accusing government agencies of responding much lower here than to the
wealthier parts of the city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every single person on this block lost everything.

CURRY (voice over): Staten Island has had enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want everyone to know that we are hurting down here
and we need help immediately.

CURRY: Residents here are asking why hasn`t more help arrived?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we are not getting the attention because we
are a working class neighborhood and it is a fend for yourself kind of
thing.

CURRY: On the debris-strewn streets of this community where the death toll
has risen to at least 19, today fury and frustration played out on live
television.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to come here and help us. We need assistance.
Please.

CURRY: Staten Island`s borough president called it an absolute disgrace.

JAMES MOLINARO, STATEN ISLAND BOROUGH PRESIDENT: The American Red Cross is
nowhere to be found. All of the American Red Cross, all of these people
making these big salaries should be out there on the front lines and I am
disappointed.

CURRY: The Red Cross says it is sending ten vehicles with food and water.
Meantime, residents and officials are questioning the city`s priorities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city of New York right now is talking about getting
water out of the Battery Tunnel and preparing for a marathon. We are
pulling bodies out of the water. Do you see the disconnect here?

CURRY: Today, New York City police and fire departments were still going to
house to house to account for everyone who didn`t follow the mandatory
evacuation order.

Can you look me straight in the eye and say that the response was not
disproportionate for places that were more wealthy in New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Absolutely not. We brought everybody in.
There has been FEMA task forces that have been assigned here now and are
assisting us with the searches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are in the community talking with the residents
that have been affected and urging everyone to register with FEMA.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never planned to leave here. I thought I was going
to stay here for the rest of my life.

CURRY: Phyllis Toglia (ph) didn`t lose any members of her family, but she
did lose virtually everything else.

PHYLLIS TOGLIA, STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT: I want to go home but there is no
home. I can`t go home. That is killing me. It is breaking my heart. I
want to go home to my house.

CURRY: At 62, and a grandmother, she is trying to find traces of her life.

TOGLIA: This is the only wedding photograph of my mom.

CURRY: A moment of joy as the water on Staten Island recedes amid
widespread desperation and grief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURRY: Adding to the sadness here today bodies of two small children, ages
two and four, who were ripped from their mother`s arms during the hurricane
were found. By the way, Lawrence, we asked to the mayor to respond to the
outrage expressed here on Staten Island and we are waiting for his
response. Back to you.

O`DONNELL: NBC`s Anne Curry on Staten Island, thank you. We have just
learned tonight that the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano
will travel to Staten Island tomorrow.

Joining me now is New York Assemblyman Michael Cusick a Democrat who
represents Staten Island and was with Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator
Gillibrand today as they toured Staten Island. Michael Cusick, what do you
think the delay is attributable to in terms of the response to the problems
on Staten Island?

MICHAEL CISUCK, (D) NEW YORK ASSEMBLYMAN (via telephone): Hi Lawrence.
Well, today was a tough day here on Staten Island as were the last two
days. Staten Island has always been at a disadvantage being the borough
that is outside of New York City. But today we have gotten people`s
attention and that is what really important, at this point, is that we`ve
got people`s attention. And that people realize the devastation that has
occurred out here. It is something that people have never seen out here on
the Island. The devastation has been a loss of life and property that no
one has seen who have lived here all their lives, out here on the island.
It is important now that all of these agencies now realize that Staten
Island was hit the hardest of all the areas of New York City.

O`DONNELL: When you look at the geography of it, of course, it makes
perfect sense that it would be hit the hardest. It`s the most exposed and
most direct ocean and harbor exposure up there. Michael, what I have been
wondering about is, was it a matter of us getting the TV cameras down there
in order to get the attention that media resources were distributed in
lower Manhattan and elsewhere? It took a while to get media resources down
there, but it seems like the media got there before government help started
focusing on there.

CISUCK: Well, I think the media had a lot to do with it, Lawrence. Today,
having both Senators Schumer and Gillibrand coming in today and having a
press conference, and when you have two United States Senators come to any
area together, they bring along the media and many TV cameras. I think
having them come out here and pointing the spotlight on what we have been
seeing for the last few days first hand got people`s attention. And people
realized how really bad it is out here on Staten Island and I think it
does.

The media in the last couple of day days might have been focused on other
parts of the city, in other areas of the region, not realizing how bad it
is on Staten Island. But I think today we have seen the results of that
coverage just this morning. We now have Red Cross out here. The National
Guard has a presence out here as of tonight. FEMA is out here now. So, it
has had a positive impact shining that spotlight on Staten Island and what
we are going through here.

O`DONNELL: Michael, the island has been settled for over 400 years. It`s a
part of New York City. It is a very urban environment. It is not like some
of the areas of Long Island that have more recent developmental histories
with houses way out onto beach territory. Some of them precariously
situated. It is not the kind of island environment where you think of
yourselves as having ocean and threats around you in terms of rising tides.
There`s a very small tide variation there, there just isn`t a history of
this kind of vulnerability on this scale on Staten Island, is there?

CISUCK: No, you`re right, Lawrence. I was born and raised here on Staten
Island and so were my mom and dad. Staten Island has always had a feeling
of what you had said. The complete opposite. There was never a threat.
People never thought that something like this could happen or that there
would be problems with the tides, here on Staten Island. And I think
that`s what caught a lot of people off guard here on Staten Island was that
we never thought something like this could happen. We do have many
beautiful houses and many beautiful communities that are on the coast lines
of our island. And we never thought there would be a problem like this.
And I think that caught a lot of people off guard.

O`DONNELL: Michael Cusick, Assemblyman on Staten Island, thank you very
much for joining us tonight.

CUSICK: Thank you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Tomorrow night, MSNBC and the networks of NBC will host a
concert and telethon to raise money for the American Red Cross relief
efforts and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. You can see it right here on
MSNBC starting at 8:00PM, and I will be here tomorrow night at 10:00PM for
a special live edition Friday night edition of THE LAST WORD.

Coming up. President Obama is back on the campaign trail. Alex Wagner and
Chris Hayes will join me for that, and "The Rewrite" tonight we will
rewrite your understanding of New York City and the island that is the
biggest small town in America. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: President Obama picks up some big endorsements including one
from New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg. And the mayor says Hurricane
Sandy played a part. That`s next.

And the devastation in New York City is at its worst in the part of the
city you`ve probably never been and know nothing about. And that part of
the city is in tonight`s Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

OBAMA: Failure is not an American habit. And in the strength of great
hope, we must shoulder our common load. That`s the strength we need today.
That`s the hope I`m asking you to share. That`s the future in our sights.
That`s why I`m asking for your vote. That`s why I need you early voting
tomorrow. That`s why I need young people to go out.

(END LIVE FEED)

O`DONNELL: That`s the president speaking live in Boulder, Colorado. With
five days until the election, President Obama campaigned in Wisconsin,
Nevada, Colorado, where he delivered this message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The folks at the very top in this country, they don`t need a
champion in Washington. They`ll always have a seat at the table. They`ll
have access and influence. That`s OK. We understand that. But the people
who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night.
And all those young people in inner cities and small farm towns, in the
valleys of Ohio or rolling Virginia hills or right here in Vegas or way up
in Elko. Kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors, engineers, or
entrepreneurs, diplomats, maybe even a president. They need a champion in
Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president criticized Mitt Romney for saying he`s an agent
for change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Governor Romney`s been using all his talents as a salesman to dress
up the very same policies that failed our country so badly. The very same
policies we`ve been cleaning up after over these last four years. And with
a straight face, he`s offering them up as change.

My opponent can talk about change but I know what real change looks like
because I fought for it. I`ve got the scars to prove it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Independent New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, formally a
Republican, did not endorse a presidential candidate in 2008. Today, he
endorsed President Obama in a column entitled, "A Vote For President to
Lead on Climate Change."

He writes, "The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City
and much of the northeast. brought the stakes of Tuesday`s presidential
election into sharp relief... One sees climate change as an urgent problem
that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to play
scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics."

Mitt Romney will campaign in Pennsylvania on Sunday despite a recent poll
showing President Obama up 6 points in that state and despite Pennsylvania
voting Democratic in the last five presidential elections. During the 2008
campaign, Senator John McCain made a late play for Pennsylvania,
campaigning there Sunday before Election Day. He went onto lose the state
by over ten points.

New NBC News polls shows President Obama polling ahead of Mitt Romney among
likely voters in three battleground states. In Iowa, President Obama polls
at 50 percent, Mitt Romney at 44 percent. In Wisconsin, President Obama
polls at 49 percent with Mitt Romney at 46 percent. In New Hampshire,
President Obama polls at 49 percent, Mitt Romney at 47 percent.

And the new "Detroit Free Press" poll shows that among likely voters in
Michigan, President Obama polls at 48 percent, Mitt Romney at 42 percent.
And a new CNN poll shows that among likely voters in Colorado, President
Obama polls at 50 percent, Mitt Romney at 48 percent.

Tonight, Nate Silver of "The New York Times: Five Thirty Eight" blog
forecasts that on November 6, President Obama has an 81 percent chance of
winning reelection. And President Obama will win 303 Electoral College
votes, and Mitt Romney will win 235.

Alex Wagner, so Mike Bloomberg finally somehow made up his mind.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST, "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER": I guess he did. And you
know what`s interesting, Lawrence? Everybody`s focused on the climate
change piece, which I think is the thing that secured the Bloomberg
endorsement, but in that op-ed he wrote for "Bloomberg View", or "Bloomberg
News", he also mentions the president`s position on abortion and women`s
reproductive rights, Supreme Court appointments, and the health care law.

So this isn`t just this week. This is something that Mayor Bloomberg has
been thinking about for some time, apparently. And the fact that it is
coming as the president finished the Bromance Tour 2012 with Governor Chris
Christie, showing that bipartisanship is possible, that there is a role for
government to play, and also furthering essential`s message that it`s about
cutting red tape in bureaucracy and getting help to those in the - those
who need it. It`s a really good week for the president.

O`DONNELL: But Chris, when you read the mayor`s reasons, what was he
waiting for? There wasn`t a single thing on his list that Mitt Romney was
in line with him on.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES": One hates to psychoanalyze
the mayor, but it seems to me that he is someone who has a large conception
on his role in American national affairs and would like to preserve that
large role in American national affairs. And an early endorsement of
Barack Obama would not necessarily preserve that role.

So I think there`s a certain degree to which he had this frustration with
both people, and the mayor`s people say this off the record to reporters
all the time about how they`re not leaders the way that Mayor Mike is a
leader, et cetera.

I mean, the funny thing here is if you look at "The Economist" - the, you
know, the center-right conservative British publication - endorsing Barack
Obama, Mike Bloomberg and the president himself, what you see is that the
president`s record is this kind of centrist technocratic record. That`s
basically who he is. That`s how he has governed. And it meets with the
approval of "The Economist" editorial board, of people like Mike Bloomberg.
It is the polar opposite of this hard-edged socialist tyranny that he`s
been painted by on the right for so long.

WAGNER: Can I just say one thing, Lawrence? In that op-ed, Bloomberg also
calls out Romney for flip-flopping and saying if he was the Mitt Romney of
1994 or 2002, 2003, I very well might have voted for him -- which is almost
as damming as the endorsement itself. It is furthering and cementing the
narrative that Obama`s been trying to establish for the last six to nine
months.

O`DONNELL: A lot of great reaction in the local media here to what`s
happened in the last few days. Mike Lupica, today`s "New York Daily News",
wrote this about what we saw yesterday in New Jersey: "What President
Barack Obama, and Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, brought with them to the state of new Jersey on
Wednesday was the government. You better believe that means the kind of
big government that everybody has talked about in this election cycle like
it was some form of assault on our country, its freedoms, its future. This
was the government, the one everybody talks so tough about until they need
it."

HAYES: That`s exactly right. And I think it underlines something that
we`ve been saying all through the campaign. And Matt Taibbi wrote a piece
about this. There`s a fake debate about the size and role of government
between these two candidates, but the Republican Party, it`s not really
about if government`s going to get bigger or smaller. It`s who is it going
to help? Who is it going to look out for? Who is going to have a say in
that government? How will the things it does be distributed between the
different parts of the population?

That`s the debate we`re having. The government`s going to come and rescue
you, hopefully, god willing, when there`s flood. The government is going
to take care of you in your old age, hopefully, god willing. The question
is: is it going to be there for folks that are poor and on Medicaid? Is it
going to be there for folks on food stamps? That`s the question. It`s not
about the size. It`s about who it benefits.

WAGNER: It`s also about efficiency, though. The thing that has happened
this week that has been painful for the Republicans to acknowledge is that
FEMA seems to be working a lot better than it did under George W. Bush.
The aid is getting there, people are seeing a difference that government is
making in their lives, and Obama has cut the red tape. I mean, that is not
something that Republicans thought was possible at the federal level.

O`DONNELL: And how big a government does a big country need? How big a
government does a big island like Staten Island need when it`s underwater
tonight? It needs a bigger government than New York City and New York
state; it needs the American government in there.

HAYES: And one of the amazing things when you`re talking about this battle
over the size of government is that New York City has a lot of government.
It`s got several layers of government. You get taxed at every layer.
There`s a huge bureaucracy, something like 60 departments in this city? I
saw the mayor speak the other day, he was talking about the different
department heads. And the fact of the matter is the irony, the great irony
of New York City, is that all this government also produces a place with a
lot of freedom. I mean, when you talk to people who live in New York,
they`re not, you know, mired in some dreary gray-tone socialist landscape.
New York is an incredibly free place in many ways and it just shows that
those two visions are not incompatible.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

Coming up. Bi-partisnship is back and Mitt Romney`s left out. Krystal
Ball and E.J. Dionne will join me.

And Mitt Romney has avoided answering any questions from reporters for 22
days, but he is considering doing an interview next week. Guess where?
That is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Chris Christie is the only Republican
-- I mean, not just praising Obama. I mean, it`s -- it`s -- let`s just put
it this way; is it wrong for one man to love another man? But that man
love out there is isolated in the state of New Jersey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh might not like it, but it was bipartisanship that
received the most applause on the campaign trail today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: For me to get the things done that I`ve just described, I`m going
to need to reach across the aisle and meet with good Democrats who love
America just like you love America. And there are good Democrats like
that. I`m going to meet regularly with Democrat leaders and Republican
leaders.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Mayor Bloomberg did
his announcement today in support our ticket, the essence of what he said -
- the essence of what he said is we have to work together. We have all got
to be in this together. We have to stop this blue and red. We are a
purple nation, man. We are made up of Democrats. We really are. We
really are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A full 80 percent of Americans polled this summer said they
like political leaders who are willing to make compromises in order to get
the job done, a factor that could be a factor in the election.

A new column today in "Time" magazine, E.J. Dionne writes about President
Obama, "the best reason for his reelection goes back to what motivated so
many middle of the road voters four years ago. Americans who want to
replace polarization with balance, extremism with moderation, obstruction
with problem solving and blind partisanship wit compromise need Obama to
win again. An Obama defeat would empower those whose go for broke approach
to politics is largely responsible for the distemper of our public life and
the dysfunction in Washington."

Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst E.J. Dionne, a "Washington Post"
columnist, and MSNBC`s Krystal Ball. E.J., expand on your point in the
column. Let me just add to it. Do you think Americans, looking at these
two candidates, will see President Obama as more of a possible man of
compromise than Mitt Romney?

E.J. DIONNE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, they should on the basis of the
record. I mean, he went very, very far, right through the debt ceiling
fight, to try to reach a deal with Republicans. The deal he was willing to
agree to with John Boehner gave away a lot of stuff that made progressives
like me pretty unhappy.

But what the real cause of this dysfunction, I believe -- and I think the
country is going to decide next week -- is that you have a much more
radical Republican party than you used to have. It`s -- believe in kind of
radical individualism and at least rhetorically, no government outside the
Pentagon.

I exaggerate a bit. And I think the country sort of sensed that when the
Republicans were willing to push the country to the limit in the debt
ceiling fight. Mitt Romney knows that that kind of Republicanism won`t
really sell, especially to swing voters. That is why he remade himself in
the debates. And that`s why he is doing this bipartisan push now.

But I think you cannot reward the behavior of the last couple of years and
expect the dysfunction to go away.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, what I wonder about when the public is polled on
bipartisanship is I wonder what they think it is. Is it some Democrats
answering the poll thinking, yes, I want bipartisanship, by which they mean
I want Republicans to agree with the president`s idea, or the other way
aren`t?

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, it is an attractive
word and everybody has a bit of a different sense of exactly what that mean
and where the middle actually would be. Another poll that I found
interesting from a while back asked people, do you prefer compromise or do
you prefer -- your politicians to stick to their principles.

Democrats, two thirds said they wanted compromise; two thirds of
Republicans said stick to your compromise. And I think that best
encapsulates sort of where we are with the American political system, and
why Republicans feel like not only is it the right strategy for them in
terms of pushing their anti-government, government can`t work thesis, to go
forward with obstructionism, but it also is actually what their base wants.
And they become so afraid of Tea Party challenges, Club for Growth
challenges that they move ever further to the right, and are totally
unwilling to work with Democrats on absolutely anything.

It`s stunning -- stunning how shocked they are that Governor Christie would
have nice things to say about the president when he is helping their state
in a time of crisis.

O`DONNELL: Well, Rush Limbaugh has a theory about Governor Christie. He
has more theories than what you`ve heard already. Let`s listen to Rush`s
other explanation for this Christie bipartisanship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: I`m hearing all kinds of people say that the reason Christie did
this is that he really wants to run for president in 2016, and he can`t do
that if Romney gets elected. People on the Republican side who actually
think that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: E.J., if you`re looking for a political reason for Chris
Christie to be doing this, he has to run for reelection as governor first.
And he really has to get New Jersey fixed. And he knows absolutely who is
going to be the President of the United States a week from now. And that
is Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney, it`s possible, may become president in February. But the
president who is going help out New Jersey is the one who is president in
October, November, December and January. And Chris Christie needs him.

DIONNE: Right. And I think that is the thing that people overlook when
they talk about politics. They assume either you work together or you play
politics. Actually, in this case the politics is working in favor of
cooperation. Because as you say, Obama is going to be president for at
least three months, maybe for a lot longer. And Christie, in a year, is
going to be judged primarily, I think, by how he responds to this crisis.

I also think we forget that people are actually affected when they look at
stuff like this. I`ve got -- I was glad you did the Staten Island story.
I`ve got family in Rockaway, two brothers in law out of their houses. You
can`t see this level of suffering and not say, well, I`m a political leader
and I have to solve this problem.

You had that great discussion earlier on government. My favorite line on
government comes from former Senator Bill Cohen, who said government is the
enemy until you need a friend. And a storm really reminds you of that.

O`DONNELL: That is a great line. There was an outbreak of bipartisanship
in Nebraska in the Senate race. Let`s take a look at this endorsement of
Bob Kerrey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (R) NEBRASKA: Bob Kerrey knows that you get things
done in the Senate based on your word and your work, not partisan ideology,
not playing to the lowest basic common denominator of your political party.
That partisan ideology, unfortunately, has now commandeered our government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Former Republican Senator of Nebraska saying, "Elect this
Democrat."

BALL: Quite remarkable. And he understands too that in the Senate, just
one person like Richard Mourdock can gum up the whole works. I mean, you
have so much power as an individual senator, more so than you did you`re a
member of Congress in the House, that if you want to block things, you can
do it on your own.

So it really is a place that has been totally broken by the Republican
decision to obstruct everything and has made the Senate absolutely
unworkable.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball and E.J. Dionne, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up. New York City`s other island is in the Rewrite
tonight. And it will Rewrite your understanding of the big city.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In order to form a more perfect union, Congress had to decide
the fate of an island. Two states wanted it and it was a prize worth
fighting for. The island is bigger than some of our biggest cities, like
Boston, Pittsburgh, Miami, San Francisco. And it is bigger than
Washington, D.C., where its fate was decided.

In 1834, Congress settled the dispute by breaking New Jersey`s heart and
declaring that Staten Island belongs to New York. Staten Island has the
smallest population of New York City`s five boroughs. But that still means
it has more people than Miami or Atlanta or New Orleans. It is a big piece
of America, permanently overshadowed by bigger pieces called Brooklyn,
Queens and the Bronx and Manhattan.

You`ve seen see those places in movies and in TV shows. But you`ve almost
never seen Staten Island. To see Staten Island, all of it, would be to
Rewrite your understanding of New York City. It is the place in New York
City where wild deer run across roadways.

It is not the New York City you know. It is a place apart from New York
City, five miles from the water -- over water on the ferry from Manhattan.
And in many ways, it might as well be a world away. Staten Island has
almost everything that the rest of New York City has, except skyscrapers.
But it has much more.

Wherever you live in America, Staten Island has a street that looks like a
street in your town. Rich looking suburban streets with mansions, small
town streets with handsome, humble homes that families hold onto for
generations. If you got lost in the middle of Staten Island, you could be
in a spot that you might mistake for Vermont or West Virginia. It is
America`s biggest small town.

It is easy to forget about Staten Island. . And it is very easy for New
Yorkers in the other boroughs to forget about Staten Island. I know
countless life long New Yorkers who have never been to Staten Island.
Never seen it.

And that is fine with Staten Island most of the type. Staten Island
doesn`t rely on tourism or visitors for any of its vitality. It welcomes
tourists off the ferry and rewards them if they`re able to make their own
way to find the great pizza and see the sights like the oldest house on the
island, built in 1662.

But if the rest of New York wants to ignore Staten Island, that`s OK with
Staten Island, because most of the people on the island and most of the
people they love and care about live on Staten Island. New York`s mayors
and police commissioners never have to worry about State Island. It always
has the lowest crime rate.

Calling City Hall for help is not a call Staten Island makes very often.
But tonight while life in most of the rest of the boroughs in New York City
is getting back to normal, Staten Island is suffering the most. Most
people on the island do not have electricity. More than half of the now 37
storm related deaths in New York City have occurred on Staten Island, 19
dead on Staten Island alone.

Tonight, Staten Island doesn`t want to be ignored. Tonight, for once,
Staten Island needs help from City Hall. But Staten Island needs more than
New York`s help. Staten Island now needs America`s help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: If you had a do over, governor -- and you
mentioned 47 percent -- what would you -- what should you have said about
that 47 percent?

ROMNEY: Well, Wolf, as you know, I was talking about how do you get to
50.1 percent of the vote. I would like to get 100 percent of the vote.
But I figure that`s not going to happen. so I was trying to tell
contributors how I get to 50.1 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Mitt Romney in his last national television interview,
23 long days ago. And it has been 22 days since Romney has answered a
question from reporters following him on the campaign trail. Since then,
this has been his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Which way are we going?

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, you`ve been asked 14 times today what you`d
do with FEMA. What`s your response? Why won`t you answer any questions?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The only other national interview Mitt Romney may do before
Tuesday`s election is a half time interview with sportscaster Chris Berman
during Monday Night Football. Here is a couple of examples of why he may
be media shy even with Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, you did say on camera in other places that at
times you thought it would be a model for the nation.

ROMNEY: You are wrong, Bret. No, Bret, the tape out there -- continue to
read the tape. And the tape goes on to say, for each state to be able to
look at it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: AP headline this morning was the Romney`s losses in
Alabama and Mississippi underscore a stark reality: the core of his party
does not want him.

ROMNEY: Well, I`m sorry. They have to go back and look at some other
states that are actually kind of important. Let`s say Florida, for
instance, where I won, and Michigan and Ohio and Nevada and New Hampshire.
The list goes on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ari, what are the chances of the sportscaster guy asking him a
tough FEMA question on Monday if he does it?

ARI MELBER, CORRESPONDENT, "The NATION": I haven`t seen Nate Silver`s
model on that, but I would say near zero.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And the tax return questions, I guess, he is probably not
going to get from the sportscaster. If you`re going to do an interview and
you`re as reluctant as Mitt Romney, I guess a sportscaster is the place to
go.

MELBER: It is the place to go. It is the place where you can have a
simulation of an interview without getting any of the questions that, as
you just pointed out, even Fox News has asked. When you build a campaign
on distraction and obfuscation, it becomes much more difficult.

Look, it is not new that politicians try to control and minimize the
spontaneity that exists in journalistic encounters. A lot of them do that.
What we have learned, though, about Mitt Romney is he does it more often,
with more severity than any one else.

One other example is, you know, last cycle I was on the plane traveling
with then Senator Obama. And there is a pool. And that is a group of
reporters that go to everything, not some things. They go to everything.
And they issue pool reports, as you well know from your time in politics.

Mitt Romney tried to cut reporters in the pool out of covering his
fundraisers. This was several months ago. It didn`t get a lot of
attention. There was such disastrous push back from the press that they
had to walk that back. And everyone was wondering, what was that about?
That was weird. It was unusual. No Republican had ever tried to do that.

Now, when we see the type of things he says when he thinks no one is
watching in his fundraisers, it makes a little more sense, but it is wrong.

O`DONNELL: It makes perfect sense. The big dog at Fox News, Bill
O`Reilly, is very upset that Mitt has not agreed to interview with him.
And the funny thing is O`Reilly agrees with Romney on virtually every
issue. Let`s listen to O`Reilly complaining about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: But I cannot understand why Mitt Romney is
not doing it, because Mitt Romney has a story to tell. In my opinion, he
has a story to tell. But I think what the strategy is on the Romney
campaign is to retail it in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado and Nevada,
real strong, and then we have the electoral college. If we can take all of
those states, we win.

We are not going to do this O`Reilly punk. We are not going to bother with
him.

BERNIE GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I don`t think they see you in a
negative light. I think they made a calculation. And the calculation is
that there is not enough upside to take a chance doing an interview with
you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: What are they afraid of in the O`Reilly punk? The O`Reilly
punk agrees with Romney on everything?

MELBER: Yes, if that is a chance, I`m worried about what the big risks
are. Look, let`s take a step back here. We are not talking about major
courage here. We`re not talking about being grilled. Mitt Romney and Bill
O`Reilly are on the same team, going in the same direction. And Mitt
Romney doesn`t have the guts or the strength of mind or the confidence in
his performance, his ability to make his case, to do it to a friendly
interviewer like Bill O`Reilly.

Do we have a contrast for this? Yes, we do. Because Barack Obama, who is
as far away from Bill O`Reilly as I think you can get -- and they would
both agree on that -- went into the lion`s den and did that interview when
he was a first time candidate, which is comparable to what Mitt Romney is
now. So I do think it is striking.

I`m not saying that Mitt Romney is the first politician to play around with
this. I`m just saying he is probably the most shameless about it.

O`DONNELL: The president also did an O`Reilly interview while president.
You know, one thing that Romney was willing to do was Letterman`s top ten
list, which I think has provoked Joe Biden to do the same thing. Biden
actually did the top ten list. Let`s take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Hey, Dave. Thanks for having me. Before we begin, I just hope
everything has come along all right in New York. You have been devastated
in New York and New Jersey. And every one is thinking of you. And we are
doing everything we can to help.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAIVD LETTERMAN": Thank you.
Appreciate the kind words, as does -- do everybody here in the tri-state
area.

Top ten good things about voting early. Vice President Biden, take it
away.

Number seven.

BIDEN: In a less crowded polling center, there`s plenty of room to
stretch, linger and relax.

LETTERMAN: Number six.

BIDEN: If you vote early, you don`t have to pay taxes.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: I`m sorry. I`m being told that is not accurate.

LETTERMAN: That`s not accurate. Number five.

BIDEN: Single and looking to mingle, find that special someone in the
early voting line.

LETTERMAN: Yes, that`s right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s our Joe Biden.

MELBER: Look, any time you can get Joe Biden talking about dating or his
outreach to the women`s vote in that way is a good day for Joe.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber gets tonight`s LAST WORD. And don`t forget,
tomorrow night, starting at 8:00 on MSNBC, a special concert and telethon
to raise money for the survivors of Hurricane Sandy.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.

END

Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET