THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
October 29, 2012
Guests: Christine Quinn, Bob McGee
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBER (I), NEW YORK: The surge is very high. We
expected it to be high. In fact, slightly higher than what was forecast by
those that talked about the highest estimate.
We have to get the emergency services to where they are needed. That
means we`ve got to know where the emergencies are. So, if you`re clogging
911, we can`t find that out and then we`ve got to get the personnel to
where people really need help. And if you`re car is blocking the roads we
can`t do that.
As to the current weather, the rain I`m happy to say has passed and
moved to our west so we don`t` anything more than a few showers from now
on. In terms of winds, they should go below gale force in a couple of
As for the storm surge, a very big part of it will be over in the
next couple of hours. The high tide was at roughly, 8:15. It is now
10:00. Next low tide is at 6:00 in the morning. So we`re heading down and
you`ll see a lot of the roads that have currently flooded, the water will
Most New Yorkers have followed our advice. The cooperation we
received really has been great. But not everybody has cooperated.
By midnight tonight, we expect the surge to recede and we`ll be able
to get to people who need the help. Things have gotten tough but we`re
going to get through this together, as the city always does.
Let me summarize for our Spanish speakers in our audience.
(SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
So the message is one more time, don`t call 911 unless it`s a real
life-threatening emergency. And number two, don`t go out and don`t drive.
You`re just blocking the emergency vehicles from getting where they want to
But for most of the people who stayed off the roads and particularly
all of those who got out of zone A when we ordered everybody to get out,
you made the right decision. And we`re grateful for the cooperation. And
we`ll do everything we can to get all the services we need to everybody and
to get this city back going. Most of it, I hope, will come back during the
day tomorrow. And we`re just going to get through this the way we always
Thank you very much.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: That was New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg with his update on the storms effects on New York City.
We continue MSNBC`s live coverage of Sandy, now classified as a post-
tropical cyclone by the National Hurricane Center. That doesn`t mean the
storm is any less dangerous. Officials are making that change only because
Sandy is now, quote, "devoid of thunderstorms near the center."
Just after 8:00 p.m., hurricane Sandy then, merging with what was
once, two cold-weather systems made landfall in southern New Jersey near
Atlantic city. Sandy is still packing maximum wind gusts around 80 miles
per hour and brought an historic storm surge with it. River flooding in
Lower Manhattan has reached more than 13 feet and officials have now cut
power to large parts of Lower Manhattan.
In the west village of Manhattan, a building partially collapsed amid
the high winds. The top two floors completely exposed to the elements. As
the storm approached, high winds caused a crane to collapse, 74 floors up a
top a high-rise in Midtown Manhattan. Forecasters say the gusty winds that
high at that time could have reached 95 miles an hour.
In New Jersey, much of Atlantic City is now underwater. Part of the
city`s historic boardwalk was washed away by the storm. The state`s
Governor Chris Christie saying any rescue operations will have to wait
People along Delaware`s coastline have filled emergency shelters
after the state`s governor, Jack Markell, ordered evacuations.
As the storm`s effects were felt in Baltimore, firefighters say four
unoccupied buildings have collapsed. No one was injured.
At least 2 million people have lost power. Five deaths have been
report in New York state with deaths reported in New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Connecticut, Maryland and West Virginia. Trains, subways and bridges shut
down. At least two major commuter tunnels and some subway tracks have been
flooded. Airlines have cancelled so far -- at least 12,000 flights because
This afternoon, President Obama said officials would be ready to help
after the storm passes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have prepositioned
assets so that FEMA personnel are working closely with state and local
governments. We`re making sure that food and water and emergency
generation is available for those communities that are going to be hardest
hit. Transportation is going to be tied up for a long time and probably
the most significant impact for a lot of people in addition to flooding, is
going to be getting power back on.
The fact is, a lot of these emergency crews are not going to be able
to get into position to start restoring power until some of the winds have
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me for the latest on the power and scope of Sandy
is NBC meteorologist Bill Karins.
Bill, the mayor of New York seemed to indicate the worst is over in
New York City. Where is the country now in this storm? Because it covers
a lot more than the state of New York?
BILL KARINS, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Well, if this was a sporting
event, we`re heading toward the end. We`ve already seen the worst of it.
We`ve already seen the most damage. We`ve already seen the most extreme
damage on the coast with the high tide cycle we just got done with, but all
the water has to rush out and we still have winds that are blowing onshore.
So, it`s going to take a while. The next high tide cycle will have
minor damage but it will be nothing compared to the damage that was just
As far as the winds go, we`re still probably, I`d say, roughly half a
million people sitting there with power on, crossing their fingers hoping
they don`t lose it and they probably will as we go throughout the night,
because these winds are so cranky and pretty good.
The storm is going to do a slow turn. It went really past today. It
went inland over Philadelphia and southern Jersey around 5:00 or 6:00 this
evening and then the storm is now going to slow down, slowly weaken and
head up to our northern New England over the next three to four days.
So, it`s going to linger. It`s not like we`re going to all of the
sudden have a clear day and be beautiful and sunny to clean up on Tuesday.
Tuesday is going to be rough with gusty winds and periods of rain. I don`t
think the power crew really be able to get out there until Halloween on
Wednesday and really start to get to work in earnest.
Now, as far as the winds go, high wind warnings continue all night
long tonight and that`s why everybody is being told to stay where they are
from northern Maine all the way to Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
And as far as the winds go, we still have peak winds up to 85 miles
an hour. I mean, impressive stuff. New York City is still gusting to 57,
Trenton at 60, Atlantic City, 62, Islip at 56. Once your winds are above
40, you have a chance of trees falling, and, of course, the grounds getting
wet. We`ve had a lot of rain with this, so that makes it even easier for
these trees to fall as the winds gusting.
What`s been interesting is that we`ve had some of the highest gusts
lately down around the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area too. You had
heavy rain earlier today. You had about five inches of rain in Baltimore
and we had a 55 mile per hour gust last hour.
Look at this, Washington, D.C., that`s one of the highest gust you
see now, 60 mile per hour gusts and we`ve got trees coming down in and
around the greater D.C. area.
So the bottom line Lawrence is that it`s still dangerous tonight. It
will weaken rapidly as we go throughout the night to early tomorrow
morning. It will be a little better but tomorrow, but I think we`re going
to want to tell people, wait until at least tomorrow afternoon to start
getting out there and looking around and start thinking about how we`re
going to clean up from this huge mess we`ve gotten ourselves into.
O`DONNELL: Bill, I`m struck by the geographic scope of the storm.
We`ve had a lot of concentration on its effect on the coast particularly
New York City and the New Jersey coast. But in of states that I just read
that have experienced deaths from this storm, and I believe other than New
York, it was one each. It included West Virginia.
What is a storm doing in West Virginia? How did a hurricane occur
that far inland?
KARINS: A snowacane they`re calling it in West Virginia. I mean,
it`s literally a blizzard with snow. Even in areas along the coast today,
it was 55 degrees and we had a storm surge coming from a hurricane. I
mean, that`s unheard of.
Meteorologist Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel, very famous
himself for all these big storms, said this was the coldest hurricane he`s
ever covered in his entire life. It doesn`t make sense. You kow, it`s
such a strange event.
The storm size-wise was like the second biggest storm we`ve ever kept
track of going up the coast including famous blizzards and hurricane. This
storm was immense, in size and the amount of wind. And, of course, the
stronger the winds, the larger the wind field, the more water that these
storms throw on shore and that`s why we have such problems.
Lawrence, we haven`t seen the worst of the pictures yet from the
Jersey Shore. I mean, as Chris Christie said, I think we`ll be shocked
when we see them at daybreak tomorrow. If we can get the helicopters up
there to check out the damage on the coast, there may be cases where the
ocean met the bay. In other words, it just eroded right through the
barrier islands and I think we`re going to see some of that tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: What`s going to happen to terms tomorrow, Bill, and this
those snow areas? What can they expect from temperature tools?
KARINS: Excellent point. Usually you lose power and it`s usually
summertime and you don`t worry. We`re going to have temperatures in the
50s and 60s during the day and at night, 40s and 50s. So, if you`re in
your house, you`re trying to keep your family warm and you have no power.
That`s a whole other issue we`ll have to deal with.
There`s going to be a lot of families looking for places stay. Once
you get through one night and you think you`re OK, but two or three nights
with your kids, it can be rough.
If you have power, open your doors and welcome in your friends and
family. You`re going to have to.
O`DONNELL: Bill, you put in an extraordinary day for MSNBC and NBC.
Thank you very much for joining me tonight.
KARINS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Authorities in New York City are carefully watching a
crane that is dangling from a high-rise in the around 56th street in
Manhattan. That`s where NBC Rehema Ellis joins us with the latest.
REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, New York City Mayor
Mike Bloomberg said moments ago the rain has stopped but the emergency
situation in this area has not passed. That`s certainly true here down on
57th Street and behind me.
I`m going to have my cameraman pan up while it is dark you can still
see the image of this crane dangling and I want to point out to you that
this platform of the crane when it first collapsed, was pointed south. Due
to the heavy, strong winds that platform is now pointed southwest. This is
very much an emergency situation down here.
We`ve even see National Guard members patrolling the areas and
helping out local authorities. They have blocked off the street and
evacuated the apartment building, the commercial building and even the
hotel on 57th Street in front near this luxury high-rise apartment building
that`s under construction. The guests were evacuated from there and sent
to other hotels as well.
They sent some experts up into the building to try to figure out if
there was some way they could harness this crane and subdue this danger.
It doesn`t seem like they were able to do anything. These windless are
pretty high and they may just have to wait for this storm to completely
pass before they can eliminate this danger of this dangling crane --
O`DONNELL: Rehema, I was in that area around the corner around the
time this happened this afternoon, and there were hundreds of people --
streams of hundreds of people rushing away, from that zone. I didn`t know
what they were rushing from until a few minutes later and I saw that news
ELLIS: You are like someone we spoke with. He was up here with his
wife from North Carolina for their 25th wedding anniversary. They were on
57th Street, just shy of the construction area. And he said he heard a
sound and it was like the sound of a large steel door slamming shut and
that was the steel that landed 10 yards away from him and his wife.
They didn`t know where it came from until they got back to their
hotel and saw the news reports and realized that they had gotten away and
escaped a near disaster.
O`DONNELL: Rehema Ellis live in Midtown Manhattan, thanks for join
We go now to NBC`s Michelle Franzen on the phone in Battery Park City
in Lower Manhattan where there are record levels of water.
What`s the latest situation down in the southern end of Manhattan?
MICHELLE FRANZEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, just now
starting to see the water retreat from the streets here. But it`s slowly
retreating, and it`s certainly not soon enough. As you mentioned there
were records in this area. The battery, more than 13 feet and it surpassed
the record at high tide at about 11.87. That record had been last broken
in 1821. That gives you the idea of the historic storm we`re dealing with.
Of course, Sandy`s bands where still whipping up. We`ve had very
strong gusts anywhere between 60 and 70 miles an hour. At Newark, it was
clocked at about 70 miles an hour. So I would certainly say in this area,
we`re seeing that.
We`re also seeing just the sky light up across the way over to Jersey
City. You know, their power and transformers are stationed are impacted by
the storm and we`ve seen that time and time again and we`re feeling one of
these gusts right now. Pretty powerful yet.
Lower Manhattan flooding in some areas and we`ve had reports of
flooding and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel that some water has gushed into
that area as well. So, it is a certainly, not over yet. Tonight, we`re
hoping that the mayor is correct and that the worst is behind us.
But also, Lawrence, some of the damage that`s already been done and
it could take some time to get Lower Manhattan, as well as the transit
system and all that back up and running.
O`DONNELL: Michelle, we were showing a picture of flooding at the
construction site at Ground Zero down there in Lower Manhattan. There`s a
lot of new residential development down there and I`m wondering, there are
a lot of people who were told they should be evacuating and I`m wondering
what your sense is of how those new residents of that neighborhood reacted
to the evacuation order?
FRANZEN: You know, we were here yesterday and I actually live in
downtown also, part of that zone A, and a lot of people were taking those
warnings seriously, the people that we talked to. We only met maybe one or
two who said, I was here last year and I`m going to the store and I`m going
to hunker down.
You can also tell by the power left on in the building, some of the
power that was on, whether it`s generator power or what-have-you, and
there`s not a whole lot of lights on in some of these buildings where they
might have generators. You can see a few dots of light in the windows,
people that are hunkering down.
But at the same time, the shelters, about 76 of them, the numbers
didn`t reflect the number of people ordered to evacuate here in Manhattan
as well as other low-lying areas in New York City, very low. I haven`t
seen the latest numbers and I would imagine at the height of the storm,
it`s difficult to get those numbers.
And as we heard Mayor Michael Bloomberg say, it is time now not to
move. Stay put wherever you are. Take shelter because this is pretty
dangerous time of the storm and these winds are whipping up when you don`t
know what streets are going to flood and what access points have already
been sort of blocked off.
O`DONNELL: NBC`s Michelle Franzen, thank you very much for joining
Coming up, the storm came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey.
We`ll go live to Atlantic City for the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: At the moment now, where
evacuation is no longer possible and we`ll no longer be able to rescue
people. This has become particularly problematic in Atlantic City where
for whatever reason, Mayor Langford urged people to stay in the shelters,
despite my admonition to evacuate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Governor Chris Christie just hours before Sandy
made landfall near Atlantic City.
Throughout the Northeast, there are now more than 3.5 million people
We want to go right now to Christine Quinn by phone. She`s the head
of the New York City Council.
What is the situation in New York City at this point? And the big
question seems to be, when is power going to be returned, electrical power?
CHRISTINE QUINN, NYC COUNCIL SPEAKER (via telephone): Basically,
almost everyone south of 34th Street, myself included, is without power.
We probably have another close to 50,000 people in the other boroughs
probably more than that without power as well.
When power is going to come back on is a question, depending -- a
different question if you`re someone like me who will return -- Con Ed
actually turned our power off proactively to protect the system. That will
be take into tomorrow, maybe the day after, because they turned our
(INAUDIBLE) down so it wouldn`t get flooded.
In other places, where it`s over head wires that may have been taken
down by trees, that could, obviously, take longer.
O`DONNELL: We`ve been some showing video of what is apparently an
explosion at the power plant at 14th Street and FDR Drive. What do we know
about that and what impact does that have on the situation?
QUINN: We`re trying to learn more about that. I don`t believe that
had a significant impact on the power outage. They began powering down
various parts of Manhattan and expanded it as they realized the surge was
going to be bigger. For example, the Hudson River has come over 23rd
Street and it has made its way to 10th Avenue. I don`t think any of us
have ever seen that before.
That gave Con Ed concern that the system in the Chelsea area could
get flooded and once the cold water hits the hot steam, you have to start
all over, basically.
O`DONNELL: There`s something very reminiscent about the New Orleans
experience where there were certain people in some parts of New Orleans
during Katrina who really were never in danger and there was no problem. I
can tell you I was walking around Times Square tonight where there was
virtually no wind. Very little rain. And it was very hard, in Times
Square and in Midtown Manhattan, to feel a connection to all of these
flooding problems that were happening in Lower Manhattan.
And also, in Times Square, obviously, as you know, the power was full
on. And didn`t look like there was any electrical problem whatsoever in
that part of town.
So this is really -- it seems, problems are almost all isolated in
terms of Manhattan, anyway, below 34th street?
QUINN: Most of the problems at the moment in Manhattan seem to be
South of 34th Street. We`re obviously having significant problems in the
other boroughs as well. But, you know, that said, New Yorkers are a big,
united family and tomorrow, when the sun comes up, you`re going to see
people from all over the city pitching in to help each other, particularly
those who are lucky notify to have gone unscathed. They`re going to have
the time and resources and the ability to pitch in and help others.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining us, City Council Speaker
Christine Quinn. Thank you.
QUINN: Take care and be safe. Bye-bye.
O`DONNELL: Let`s go right to WCAU reporter Sidney Long (ph) who is
in Atlantic City with the latest.
Sydney, what`s the situation there?
SIDNEY LONG, WCAU: Lawrence, hi there.
The weather has really turned wicked on the back edge of Sandy,
especially in the last hour or so. We`re at Atlantic City High School
which is one of the poor locations set up as shelter by the mayor of
Atlantic and other emergency personnel, despite Governor Chris Christie`s
orders for a mandatory evacuation that was supposed to happen by 4:00 on
In and around Atlantic City, late afternoon and early evening tonight
I can tell you a number of the streets around those particular schools,
those shelters, those locations, were completely impassable, so those
shelters were basically on an island in and of themselves. We saw traffic
signals, the big yellow traffic signals down in the street, you know, just
We`ve been in Atlantic City High School since about 7:30 tonight.
When we arrived we were told by the personnel here that the National Guard
troops and that`s because, you know, police, fire, EMS have been ordered to
stand down through the night until about 7:00 tomorrow morning until this
stormy passes, that they would not be able to respond to those emergency
But National Guard troops, we can tell you, just within the last hour
or so brought about two dozen evacuees from two different schools. New
York Avenue School, Southern Avenue School, in Atlantic City, those schools
are underwater. They are in the dark. They lost electricity. They lost
their generator power. About two dozen or so of those folks arrived here
just within the last hour or so.
So, we understand there`s probably about 50 or 7 5 evacuees here.
We`ve been trying through the evening to get in touch with the mayor of
Atlantic City and other emergency management folks. We`ve been unable to
get comment from the mayor since Governor Christie`s remarks a little bit
early in the day -- Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: So, Sidney, at this point, it seems that Governor Christy
had the right advice and the mayor simply did not anticipate what was
LONG: You know, it does seem that way and I know they`re in the
thick of it and we`ve not been able to touch base with Mayor Lorenzo
Langford, the director of public safety, those folks who are right now
focused on the people stuck at the those locations.
So clearly, they are in the thick of this and trying to get those
people, you know, to safer ground but they`re doing it in the dark and on
these flooded, impassable roadways.
So, you know, who knows what went into that decision making, wanting
the people to stay on the barrier island, despite Governor Christie`s
mandatory evacuation that was to take place clearly yesterday afternoon at
O`DONNELL: Sidney Long of WCAU, thank you very much for joining us
from Atlantic City.
I want to go quickly to Steve Kornacki who is THE LAST WORD`s New
Jersey political expert. This mayor of Atlantic City versus Chris
Christie. What happened here?
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Yes. I mean, this is like chapter 26 in
the saga that`s been playing out for two years. I mean, this is
territorial and it`s personal between them.
I think what started -- it started when Christie basically led an
initiative and got this through the legislature almost two years ago now to
create a tourism district in Atlantic City. The idea was that the Atlantic
City was kind of failing as a gambling destination. They thought it was
mismanaged locally. So, the state decided, at Christie`s behest, the state
decided they were going to create a tourism district where the casinos are,
the boardwalk and they would take the power away from the city. Langford,
the mayor --
O`DONNELL: Take the power away from the mayor. I get it.
KORNACKI: And since then, you know, back and forth.
O`DONNELL: All right. Thanks, Steve.
Coming up, we`ll talk with someone from Con Edison on New York City`s
You`re watching continuing live coverage of Sandy on MSNBC.
O`DONNELL: You`re looking at video there of an explosion at a
Consolidated Edison power plant in Lower Manhattan earlier tonight. We go
to Bob McGee from Con Edison, joining me by phone now.
Mr. McGee, what is the state of the power supply in New York City now?
BOB MCGEE, CON EDISON SPOKESPERSON: Well, the explosion that your
viewers are probably looking at -- I can`t see it, but I imagine it`s one
that I`ve seen -- essentially wound up taking out power south of 39th
Street in New York City.
There had been a couple of networks that had been taken out before
that in Lower Manhattan, the Battery Park network and the Fullton Network.
And that affected, to that point, about 6,500 customers in Lower Manhattan.
At the time that this incident occurred, we had about 225,000 people out
This event took out a number of additional networks, which resulted in
power outages in Lower Manhattan, at least, to 250,000 people. We`ve
gotten some of those folks back. They`re at about 225,000 out right now in
Manhattan. But elsewhere around the system, there`s substantial outages.
In Westchester, we`ve got almost 150,000 people out in Westchester. And a
total of 605,000 people out in the five Burroughs of New York City and
O`DONNELL: To go back to the Lower Manhattan situation, is there a
predicted way this power will return? Will it start to return north to
south? From 39th Street down or -- because you have what now looks like a
very substantial chunk of the island, basically, black, below 39th Street.
MCGEE: Well, with the exception of the tip of the southwest part of
Manhattan at the Battery, that`s correct. But by and large, we`ll probably
see that power return more quickly than we`ll see power return in other
areas where there`s significant tree damage and wires down, because there
can be network engineers that can reconfigure our system to address some of
Obviously, there will be longer time restorations for any networks
where we have equipment that`s under water. But in the outlying areas
where we have wires down and trees down and streets will have to be cleared
to essentially get to those wires and address those situations, it will
probably be substantially longer.
O`DONNELL: So it`s fair to say that Manhattan is likely to get power
back more quickly than out in Queens and other areas where it`s because of
downed power lines because of trees.
MCGEE: I would say parts of Manhattan, not necessarily all of
Manhattan. Those areas where substations are -- and facilities are under
water cannot be re-energized until such time as those waters recede and the
equipment is dried out. So that`s liable to take a long time, in some
instances, to get some of those folks back.
But there is great redundancy in the Manhattan network, obviously
because of the heavy concentration of businesses. And so there are some
additional things that our network engineers are able to do, as opposed to
some other areas, where there`s single overhead networks out in outlying
O`DONNELL: Mr. McGee, what about injuries in that explosion? Or what
was the effect on workers in that plan where we saw that explosion?
MCGEE: We don`t have any reports of injuries at that location. We
had just received word in the last 15 or 20 minutes or so that there has
been one fatality in the Brooklyn/Queens network due to a downed wire. We
don`t know exactly where that is just yet. We don`t have all the details
But obviously, that`s the matter that`s of greatest concern to us, is
the safety of the public and, also, of course, of our own workers and the
contractors and others who are coming in from other companies to assist us
in the restoration. So moving ahead safely is of utmost importance.
We`re urging people, of course, under these circumstances, to stay
inside and remember, when you do go outside, to always beware that there
may be downed wires amid debris and leaves that you don`t see, or in waters
that you don`t see. And obviously, the consequences of that can be deadly.
So proceeding with caution at this point until the storm passes is
what`s of utmost importance here.
O`DONNELL: Con Edison spokesman Bob McGee, thank you very much for
joining me tonight.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the latest on the storm as it crosses New
Jersey and continues to batter the east coast.
O`DONNELL: Sandy made landfall on the New Jersey coastline. NBC`s
Jay Gray on the phone now, joins me from Cape May, New Jersey. Jay, what`s
the latest situation there?
JAY GRAY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The wind has picked up dramatically
here in the last 15 to 20 minutes, really gusting well above 50 miles an
hour right now. The rain has stopped, thankfully, but only for a short
while. Looking at the radar, it looks like another strong band will be
The wind has changed directions, which ultimately makes it appear that
maybe we`re getting the backside of the storm now, or at least the
beginnings of the backside of the storm. It`s come ashore here, and
beginning to move inland. And really intense as far as the wind is
concerned right now.
We know that there is significant flooding in the area and really up
and down the coast. And unfortunately, at least for this area, I`m afraid
that maybe we`re beginning to see what may be the roughest blow from the
O`DONNELL: And will the next high tide be a real point at which you
know how much damage will be done?
GRAY: I think that we`re going to see more significant damage as a
result of the next high tide. Here in Cape May, we`re in a unique
position. The city is out on a little finger here, if you will. And it
points to the south. And the way the winds were earlier, the storm was
actually pushing that tide out to sea.
So now we`re going to get the turn around and we`re going to see
exactly what happens as far as the tide is concerned. And the tidal surge
is a very real concern for many people in this community.
O`DONNELL: NBC`s Jay Gray in Cape May, New Jersey, thanks for joining
me tonight, Jay.
GRAY: Always good. Thanks.
O`DONNELL: Our coverage will continue after a break. We`ll be right
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The good news is we
will clean up and we will get through this. All right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about the impact on the election, sir?
OBAMA: I am not worried at this point about the impact on the
election. I`m 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.
The election will take care of itself next week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And with only eight days to go, the election just might
have to take care of itself. President Obama shut down his campaign
activities today. There are no public campaign events scheduled tomorrow
for President Obama or Vice President Joe Biden. The Romney campaign just
announced Mitt Romney will host a so-called "storm relief event" in Ohio
tomorrow with Nascar`s Richard Petty and country music`s Randy Owen.
If the serious aftermath of this hurricane runs into this weekend,
then for all practical purposes, the candidates may have already made their
closing arguments to the voters. What they have to say now may not be
heard over the storm coverage.
Team Obama`s last public act took place in Ohio while the president
was in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We went to
Florida last night. And he got up this morning and called me and said,
I`ve got to go back right now. The storm is getting out of hand. I have
to handle it. I said, Mr. President, that`s the right call.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want you to
know, he asked me to express his regrets for not being able to be here.
But, you know, he`s doing the job a president should be doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney`s last campaign event was today in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to take a moment
before we begin and just about what`s happening on the coast -- the east
coast of our country right now. I was speaking today with the National
Weather Service and with folks at FEMA, as they are preparing for the
landfall of a very dangerous hurricane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK, group, so how did I do on keeping a straight face on
Mitt Romney will host a so-called "storm relief event" in Ohio tomorrow?
Like the epicenter of the storm? Ohio? With Richard Petty and the country
music -- this -- how does that work exactly?
BALL: Well, you did an excellent job with your straight face, I would
say. So there`s that.
O`DONNELL: That`s over now.
BALL: Let me just say -- let me give a little hat tip to our friend
Steve Kornacki here, who said earlier today, the Romney campaign cannot
afford to not be campaigning right now, because if the election ends now --
O`DONNELL: I heard him say that.
BALL: They lose. You were right there. I think that`s exactly the
case. They`re looking at the numbers in Ohio. They`re looking at the
numbers in Virginia and Iowa and Wisconsin. And they still have to move
the needle. They have to do something. They can`t just go totally dark.
O`DONNELL: And Joy, he has a sudden affection for FEMA? You will
recall during the Republican presidential8 campaign, which is an entirely
different campaign from the one we`re in now, he had a different view of
FEMA. And we have the video and we`re going to show you that right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: FEMA is about to run out of money. And there
are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who
say, you know, maybe we`re learning a lesson here that the states should
take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take
something back from the federal government and send it back to the states,
that`s the right direction. And if you go even further and send it back to
the private sector, that`s even better.
We cannot -- we cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without
jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view,
for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts, and pass them on to
our kids, knowing full well that we`ll be all be dead and gone before it`s
paid off. Makes no sense at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So Joy, there`s John King saying, including disaster
relief. And that`s when Mitt Romney gets really animated and says, it is
simply immoral. Disaster relief is immoral.
REID: The old moral hazard, spending our grandchildren`s money on
disaster relief. It`s doubly ironic. They did try to sort of walk that
back and say, oh, no, he doesn`t warrant to get rid of FEMA. But we`ve
actually seen what Mitt Romney believes when it comes to disaster relief.
When he was the governor of Massachusetts back in 2006, when he was the
lame duck governor, because he wasn`t running for reelection, there were
two major disasters that year.
There`s was an Amesbury (ph) major storm that hit the town of
Amesbury, Massachusetts, in May, on Mother`s Day. And then there was a
second, a chemical plant meltdown that happened in November. In both of
those cases, Mitt Romney asked for federal assistance. He asked for
And by the way, when the second disaster happened, Romney and the
state of Massachusetts already had money sitting in the tiller that they
got from Hurricane Katrina because people were evacuated there. He refused
to spend the state`s money, even though they had a surplus, because he was
like, I want to know what the federal government is going to give him
He didn`t think it was a moral hazard then to wait for the federal
government to write a check before he would spend Massachusetts` own money.
And he wound up refusing to help families in Lowell, Massachusetts, who
were really hurting, really hurting. And he refused to spend the state`s
money to help them.
So what is the actual moral hazard here?
O`DONNELL: Steve, if it was at least a month left in the campaign, I
have no doubt that Team Obama would have an ad out, not right away, at
least a week or more from now, maybe two weeks from now, with this FEMA
response, including disaster relief, John King`s line. Everything would be
in that ad. And -- but now with the election coming on Tuesday, it`s
difficult to see how Team Obama cuts that ad and gets it out there in a way
that people would consider not to be overly exploiting the situation.
KORNACKI: Yes, my guess is that they wouldn`t touch that from here to
the election, because they`ve -- if you look at the politics of this then -
O`DONNELL: We will have to touch it for them. We`ll have to play
this tape every night.
BALL: It`s up to the media and I would say it`s up to super PACs,
because it`s a different thing if it`s coming directly from the campaign.
If I were running a pro Obama super PAC, I would strongly consider putting
an ad like this out, say Friday timeframe.
KORNACKI: Here`s the problem with that. The line -- there`s the
legal distinction between super PACS and the campaigns. But if a pro Obama
super PAC does this, it will give Republican and it will give Romney`s
campaign an opportunity to get back in the news in a way they want be. How
dare they, just two days after this disaster, make this a political issue?
And the distinction between super PAC and Obama campaign would be lost on
So I think just the politics of this, for whatever it`s worth, my
sense is there`s nothing proactively right now that Romney can do to make
up the points that he trails in Ohio and Wisconsin and those states. But
if for some reason Obama`s response to this is seen as bungled or botched,
or if he`s seen as politicizing it for some reason, then I think there`s an
opportunity there for Romney to score, simply because people turn against
REID: And you know what? One of the tremendous ironies I think about
this political season is that because the Republican party acted in a way
that really caused, particularly African-American voters, to feel that
there was a lot of racial and a lot of really nasty, ugly hostility not
just toward Barack Obama, but toward minority voters, the Obama campaign
wound up front-loading so much of their early vote. And people were
When I was in Ohio, people were amped up to get out and vote earlier
than they normally would have. In states like Florida, Souls to the Polls,
which was cut off, which would have been next -- this coming Sunday, has
already happened. So the Obama campaign, in large part because of the
Republicans, has actually banked more early votes this time than they had
at this point in `08.
So they, in a way, have built up something like a fire wall, while
Republicans are now left with this to hamper their own early vote.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, Crystal Ball and Steve Kornacki, thanks for
joining me tonight.
BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back with more coverage.
O`DONNELL: MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins is back with the latest on
the storm. And Bill, I guess my one question at this point is where has
the worst already happened? And where is the worst yet to happen?
KARINS: Yeah. It can`t get any worse than the Jersey Shore or the
Delaware area, Maryland, coastal areas there. You hit your high tide cycle
earlier today. The water is receding rather quickly now, including the New
York City area. And that`s good. You`re not going to get anymore
destruction. Really it`s already been done.
As far as areas that still have to go through their high tide, some
portions of outer Long Island, coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island. I
know your high tide is between 11:00 and midnight here on the east coast.
That`s when your damage will be done. It won`t be as bad as your friends
to the south, but that`s where we still have destruction.
Now where it could potentially be bad for everyone else is if you`re
one of those lucky people i this region that still has your power and a
tree hasn`t fallen on your house or car, you`re still in a bit of danger.
We still have winds that are gusting to 60 miles an hour. Even in New York
City, still at 58.
We had a wind gust to 81 miles per hour in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
That`s not even close to the ocean. Just shows you the scope and magnitude
of this storm and how far-reaching it is. Far to the south, D.C. is still
gusting to 60 and power outages are getting widespread down in the D.C.
area too. So there are still trees to fall, as we go throughout the night
Even our friends in northern portions of New England, you haven`t been
hit quite as bad. But we still have about 25,000 people without power all
the way up in Maine. It just shows you how far away and how strong the
winds are. Up in Maine, we still have winds at 44 miles per hour.
So it is going to get better during the evening, especially there in
Hartford and Boston, Worcester and Springfield. And the rain will
continue. For all our friends that live in the mountainous areas of West
Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia and even Maryland, this white on this
heap is snow. Yes, snow from a hurricane about as rare as it can get.
And we`re going to keep adding up this snow. This storm is going to
stall out for about two days. And for those people that are in this region
where the snow is falling and the trees are falling, too, because there`s
still leaves on them, it`s going to be hard to get out of those areas for
two or three days.
We`re going to be talking about one to two feet of additional snow, on
top of the one foot they already have in that area.
So, Lawrence, we have made history with this storm. This is one that
we`ve never seen the elements all come together like this. Unfortunately,
right through election day, I still think there will be a lot of people
O`DONNELL: In what is the very last week of hurricane season?
KARINS: It actually goes to the end of November.
O`DONNELL: I thought November 1st was the cut off.
KARINS: It`s very rare to have them in November, but yes.
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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL