The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/01/12
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: That`s “THE ED SHOW.” I`m Ed
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. I`m so glad to hear that
you`re going to do a fresh Ed Schultz Show at 11:00.
SCHULTZ: Working late on a Friday night.
MADDOW: No – at this point, the weekdays have no meaning. You know
what I mean?
SCHULTZ: Oh, and we`re going to be here Saturday night and Sunday
night, too, doing “THE ED SHOW.”
MADDOW: That`s right. Weekends are for other times of the year.
MADDOW: Well, get some sleep tonight if you can, man. Thank you very
SCHULTZ: I will do that. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. And thanks so you at home for staying with us for
the next hour.
At almost exactly this point in the presidential race of 1956, on
October 29th, 1956, with the election that year coming up just a week
later, Israel invaded Egypt. And they did it with the secret support of
two major U.S. allies, France and England. It was a fight over control of
the Suez Canal.
The American president at that time, in 1956, was, of course, Dwight
Eisenhower, Republican. He was running for re-election against the
Democratic candidate that year, Adlai Stevenson.
I mean, you talk about an October surprise, right? That year, it was
eight days before Election Day. And both candidates are forced to deal
with an unexpected and genuine giant foreign policy crisis.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ADLAI STEVENSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: On Sunday, the Israeli
government ordered total mobilization. On Monday, their armed forces
penetrated deeply into Egypt and to the vicinity of the Suez Canal, nearly
100 miles away.
And on Tuesday, the British and French governments delivered a 12-hour
ultimatum to Israel and Egypt, now followed up by armed attack against
The United States was not consulted in any way about any phase of
these actions. Nor were we informed of them in advance.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Eisenhower sounding kind of mad, right? I mean,
the U.S. had not been informed about the attack ahead of time, because Ike
had made clear to our allies, to England specifically, that he didn`t want
another big multi-country conflict in the world. He`d worked with the U.N.
to keep that attack from happening. He had made his intentions clear and
then England and France just went behind his back and did it anyway and
they did it a week before he was facing re-election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Dwight D. Eisenhower is re-elected to
the highest office in the land as world peace faces the greatest crisis
since the Second World War. This electoral victory comes after a
tumultuous campaign in which both the major, domestic and foreign policies
of this administration were put sharply an issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Especially that last week. Dwight Eisenhower ultimately
pressured our allies to end that war. They did end it. He won re-election
decisively that year in a victory that was partly attributed to his
handling of that unexpected sudden foreign policy disaster that landed in
the middle of the campaign just a week and a day before Election Day, 1956.
Real October surprises like that one almost never happen. The phrase
“October surprise” is really overused. We talk about October surprises as
if there is one every year, as if they happen all the time. But in
presidential politics, they`re actually really rare.
I mean, in recent years we have had hurricanes affect presidential
elections but not at voting time. Instead they have happened at convention
time, and weirdly, they have specifically happened at Republican convention
time. Now, two elections in a row, in 2008 the McCain campaign postponed
their Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to hurricane
Gustav. And then this year the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida,
had to be delayed for a day due to another hurricane, hurricane Isaac.
But the biggest true October surprise we have ever had where it wasn`t
just affecting a convention or something else in the campaign but it was
right before the election, the biggest true October surprise we ever had
was that one in 1956.
The only other arguably really big one besides 1956 what was happened
in 2004. That year, it was not a hurricane. It was not a war abroad. It
wasn`t a natural disaster of any kind. It wasn`t something one of our
allies did. That year, it was bin Laden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Tonight, Osama bin Laden has a message for
America four days before this country votes.
REPORTER: It`s the first new video from Osama bin Laden, himself, in
more three years. An extraordinary statement addressed to an American
audience with direct references to the two presidential candidates. He
says, quote, “Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al
Qaeda, it`s in your hands.” The big question tonight, why release a tape
apparently timed to come out on the eve of the U.S. election?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That tape came out four days before the election, and four
days after the tape came out in 2004, George W. Bush went on to beat John
Kerry in the presidential election that year by less than three points.
There is, thankfully, no chance of Osama bin Laden releasing a
videotape this year, because he is dead as a door nail. But we did have an
October surprise of a different sort this year, with this giant devastating
storm hitting the most densely populated part of the United States. And it
really is almost no precedent in American politics for something this large
happening outside the political sphere, something this large happening this
close to when we vote in an election that is this close.
There are only a couple of other instances in our history when
anything like this has happened. And lots of people, of course, are asking
how this disaster on the East Coast could affect our election. Honestly,
the answer is that we do not know. There is not enough relevant historical
precedent to study in order to come up with a historically well-informed
answer to that question.
The sample size is just too small. We cannot say at this point how
this disaster might change what happens on November 6th. We just do not
But that makes it comforting to me to focus on what we do know. We do
know on the evening of November 6th, this is what`s going to happen in the
7:00 hour, East Coast Time: polls are going to close in these nine states.
OK? By 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time on election night, we`re going to have real
live actual results from these states you see blinking right there and
listed on the right side of your screen.
Of these nine states, of course, the states that everybody is going to
be the most interested in are Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Just so you have some general idea about how close it is in those
states right now, the “Real Clear Politics” average of the most recent
polling in the state of Ohio shows President Obama ahead in Ohio by 2.3
points. These “Real Clear Politics” averages are an imperfect measure. I
want to give you a very rough idea of how basically how close it is right
now. That`s what it is in Ohio.
In Virginia, that same polling average has Mitt Romney ahead by 0.5
points. And in North Carolina, the polling average has Mr. Romney ahead by
3.8 points. So that`s the 7:00 hour.
And then in the 8:00 hour, polls will be closing in these 18 states.
Of these states, again, there will be three that we`re going to be watching
most closely, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. The “Real Clear
Politics” polling average right now in Florida has Romney ahead by 1.2
point. In Pennsylvania, the polling average says it is President Obama
who`s ahead by 4.6 points. In New Hampshire, again, President Obama ahead
with a 1.3 lead. That`s the 8:00 hour.
At 9:00, we`ll have polls closed in all those places, and the blinking
states here will be the ones that are closing: 14 states mostly in the
Midwest and the south. Of the – southwest, excuse me.
Of these 14 states, the states everybody`s going to be watching are
three: Colorado, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Here`s what it looks like right
now in those states. Polling average in the state of Colorado, it`s very
close: President Obama ahead by less than a point. In Michigan, it`s
President Obama ahead by three points. And in Wisconsin, the polling
average has Mr. Obama ahead by more, by five points.
Then at 10:00 Eastern Time, polls will be closed in all of those
states and we`ll be closing polls in the 10:00 Eastern Time in that hour in
the states that you see blinking right here.
These four states. Of those four states – Iowa, Montana, Nevada, and
Utah – two of them are going to be watched really closely. Those, of
course, are Iowa and Nevada. The “real clear politics” polling average in
Iowa and Nevada – excuse me, in Iowa right now shows President Obama ahead
by two, and in Nevada, President Obama ahead by 2.7.
Then later in the night at 11:00 p.m. and then 1:00 a.m., we`ll have
California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and then the last poll
closing in Alaska. Unless, this is a very strange night, those races will
be interesting for governors` races and Senate and House races and state
issues, but not necessarily for the presidency, unless things go very, very
differently than expected to go.
So, this is how your election viewing is going to unfold hour by hour
on Tuesday night. If you just exclude the states for the presidential race
where everybody pretty much knows exactly how it`s going to go and it is
just the states where there is some question as to what`s going to happen,
here is a clip and save thing for you about these states. The
battlegrounds. All right? States that you know are going to be important
and everybody thinks they`re going to be close. These are the states
everybody is going to be watching on Tuesday night.
Each of these states, as you know, has a top elections official. And
each of these states has a top elections official who is a partisan, who is
either a Democrat or a Republican. And in a democracy, that should mean
nothing. The conduct of elections should just be a technocratic, not at
all partisan thing. Wouldn`t that be awesome?
It`s not the way we work it. In our democracy right now, with how
partisan the issue of voting rights has become, the partisan affiliation of
the top elections official in these states may end up mattering. I`m sorry
So with that in mind, here`s your clip and save guide. These are the
states from the battleground map where the top election official in the
state is a Democrat. There`s four of them – Nevada, Wisconsin, North
Carolina, and New Hampshire. The elections in those states, top elections
official in those states is a Democrat.
In all of the other battleground states, the top election official,
the secretary of state, is a Republican. And most of these Republican
elections officials have been involved in efforts to restrict voting rights
in their state for this election. Trying to make registering to vote or
voting, itself, more difficult.
OK. So I`m going to pause for a second so you can rush up to the TV,
get your camera phone out. Got it? Take a picture. Clip it out and put
it up on the fridge. Tada!
All right. Come election night, knowing who is in charge in these
states is something that can come in handy. Particularly if it is as close
as everybody says it`s going to be.
Common wisdom this year says the last major event in this presidential
campaign was going to be the debate season, right? That was supposed to be
the last big thing in this campaign, the last landmark.
But thanks to hurricane Sandy, that is not actually how it worked out.
And nobody knows exactly how this particular October surprise hurricane is
going to affect the technical act of voting. I mean, we`ve had some early
voting suspensions and voter registration deadlines and absentee ballot
deadlines change in a lot of states directly affected so there may be a
technical direct effect of the storm, but more broadly, and especially in
terms of these key swing states, this storm is a major unexpected external
variable that, frankly, rivals the election in terms of the country`s
And it turns out this October surprise does have political salience,
at least in this sense. The most eagerly awaited endorsement in this
presidential race happened just before the storm, right? That was Colin
President Obama today actually released an ad highlighting the Colin
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you endorse President Obama?
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes. When he took over, we
were in one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a
depression. And I saw over the next several years stabilization come back
in the financial community. Housing is starting to pick up. The president
saved the auto industry, and the actions he has taken with respect to
protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The reason Colin Powell`s was the most eagerly anticipated
endorsement of this election was because his endorsement of Barack Obama in
2008 was seen as being a very consequential thing in terms of the Obama
lead over McCain in `08 and how the election was going to turn out. But,
also more importantly, Colin Powell is probably the single Republican in
the country who has the most gravitas and credibility with crossover
voters, with independent voters and with generally speaking non-ideological
people who admire his leadership and his judgment.
Even after the Iraq war, Colin Powell is the rare figure in American
politics who is very famous and widely respected not seen as being in
anybody`s pocket and whose opinion and endorsement particularly for middle-
of-the-road and potentially undecided voters really does just matter a lot.
That is why that endorsement was so highly anticipated.
This guy is the only other political figure in America who is anything
remotely like that, Michael Bloomberg, New York City`s mayor. He`s an ex-
Republican and ex-Democrat. He`s now an independent. He`s in his third
term as the highly visible mayor of America`s largest city.
Before it happened today, nobody expected Michael Bloomberg to make an
endorsement at all in this year`s presidential race. That`s mostly because
he said he wouldn`t. Back in June, Mr. Bloomberg made sure to be overheard
telling people at a party in New York City that he intended to remain
publicly neutral in this year`s presidential race.
But then today, he didn`t. In the midst of this city`s ongoing and
complicated and exhausting and heartbreaking and painstaking response to
this unprecedented storm, the mayor of New York City published this 17-
paragraph endorsement of President Obama. The fact that nobody knew it was
coming and that he said he wouldn`t make an endorsement just made it that
much more important, as did the fact it was not at all clear if he was
going to make an endorsement the guy who he would endorse would be
I mean, Michael Bloomberg has been critical of President Obama on a
number of issues. He frankly, has personified and personally articulated
the sort of Wall Street business critique of Mr. Obama that Mitt Romney has
so gleefully capitalized on – literally, in terms of massive support from
places like Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms.
But ultimately, Mayor Bloomberg`s endorsement said when you look at
Obama versus Romney on a whole bunch of issues like education he mentioned
and choice and marriage equality and most emphatically, if you look at the
fact that he believes in science and does not scoff at the idea of climate
change and has taken concrete action to combat it, Mr. Bloomberg said the
choice to him is clear.
Quote, “One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens
our planet. One does not. I want our president to place scientific
evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”
This endorsement criticized Mitt Romney`s leadership on the other hand
saying, quote, “In the past Mr. Romney has also taken sensible positions,
but he has reversed course on all of them and he`s even running against the
health care model he signed into law in Massachusetts.”
Mike Bloomberg criticizes Mr. Romney specifically for flip-flopping
and dropping his previous positions on climate change then says, quote,
“This issue is too important. We need determined leadership at the
national level.” In other words, I don`t think we`re going to get
determined leadership from Mitt Romney. I think he has taken occasionally
attractive positions, but leadership, no.
Speaking to you from New York City, this storm and its aftermath, this
externality to the big election is a big enough deal that it is not
surprising it`s having an effect on the election. Its exact effect I think
is still unknown.
I am, I think, its exact effect could not have been foretold. I`m not
sure we know exactly where it`s going to end up.
But there`s been an important, important development in the race post-
debate. That endorsement today by Mayor Michael Bloomberg following that
endorsement from Colin Powell and that image, right there, these images
that we have seen of President Obama and New Jersey Republican Governor
Chris Christie responding together and touring the damage together, this
emphatic visual rebuke to the Republican closing argument that President
Obama can never work with Republicans.
This isn`t Israel invading Egypt in 1956, but this is a real deal and
rare October surprise that could affect this election and honestly nobody
saw it coming.
MADDOW: A very big and very timely booking tonight for the show about
which we are very glad and excited. New York`s Governor Andrew Cuomo is
going to be joining us live in just a couple of minutes. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPs)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor Christie
throughout this process has been responsive. He`s been aggressive in
making sure that the state got out in front of this incredible storm. And
I think the people of New Jersey recognize that he has put his heart and
soul into making sure that the people of New Jersey bounce back even
stronger than before.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I think this is our sixth
conversation since the weekend, and it`s been a great working relationship
to make sure that we`re doings jobs people elected us to do. I cannot
thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our
state and for people of our state.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: President Obama and New Jersey`s Republican Governor Chris
Christie expressing mutual appreciation for one another yesterday, talking
about the joint, federal and state response to Hurricane Sandy.
This hurricane is obviously a huge and extreme weather event. But it
is moments like that, moments like that that make this – what is known in
politics as an October surprise.
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki. He`s co-host of MSNBC`s “THE CYCLE”
and he`s senior writer for Salon.com.
Steve, it`s good to see you.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC`S “THE CYCLE” CO-HOST: Good to see you.
MADDOW: We talk about October surprises as something that`s very
frequent in American politics as if there`s one every year. I don`t think
there have been very many that have been this big – the Suez crisis in
1956, arguably, the bin Laden tape in 2004. But in terms of a big external
event imposing itself on the election in a way that distracts the country`s
attention, I`m not sure there are many things like this. Because there`s
such a small sample size, do we know how these things might typically be
expected to affect an election?
KORNACKI: No, we don`t know. I mean, one that comes to mind is the
scale is totally different, but just think back to 2000 when in the final
days of the election, you had the DUI revelation about George W. Bush. If
you remember in that campaign, Bush had actually been leading in the
popular vote poll and had his Electoral College problem, and then he ended
up losing the popular vote and winning Electoral College.
There`s a lot of – the research that`s been done has said the DUI
thing didn`t have that much impact. It might have been the kind of thing
in the last minute people who had kind of gone along with Bush who had
reservations about his maturity, maybe it brought that back a little bit in
the final days. That`s the only other one I can think of.
But, no, we`ve never seen anything like this.
MADDOW: In terms of what has happened since the onset of the storm,
obviously, it was not just the storm arriving. It was the knowledge it was
coming, the prepositioning of assets. The way that the campaigns both
addressed the impending crisis and the way the president has responded
since it happened – is there a way to I think reasonably measure the
political impact of what`s happened thus far?
KORNACKI: Yes, well, we can measure it I think, you know, if we get
more national polling in the next few days when they`re back up and running
or obviously after the election next week. I mean, it`s hard for me to
This is a high-profile test of presidential leadership. Whether it
happened a week before the election or any other time in his presidency,
this is one of the ultimate tests of presidential leadership when something
like this happens. And what you`re seeing is – first of all, you`re not
seeing the stories like we had during Katrina where it was failures on the
part of the federal government`s response. You don`t have that negative
And what you do have is Chris Christie who is outside of Mitt Romney,
the Republican presidential nominee, Chris Christie is the most visible
Republican in the country right now really and, certainly, according to the
media one of the better liked ones. He`s out there using his platform to
vouch for the leadership of the Democratic president. I think that makes a
powerful statement to people.
I think having Bloomberg weigh in makes a pretty strong statement to
people as well. And I think just – it`s tough to quantify this. I think
it`s impossible to quantify this.
But to me, it creates this noise that`s sort of in the air, in the
media air, and sort of in the conversational air in this country. It
creates noise that I think takes wavering voters who maybe were soft Obama
supporters or soft Romney supporters – I could see it moving them, you
know, a small share of people, but I could see it moving people towards
Obama, making them more comfortable with the idea of re-electing him.
You know, if it`s a 1 percent or something, small, but it`s big in the
context of this election.
MADDOW: In the context of endorsements, specifically, I was struck by
the fact that the Obama campaign today in its first day essentially back
with the president back on the campaign trail after this hiatus for dealing
with the storm full time, they`re running an ad that is just verbatim, just
running a clip of Colin Powell`s endorsement, on the same day that we get
this unexpected Michael Bloomberg statement, after Mike Bloomberg has been
very critical and very cool toward President Obama throughout this first
I tend to think endorsements don`t much matter unless they are
unexpected. That you don`t really know which way the person`s going to go.
And the person has to have some kind of gravitas or appeal that is going to
speak to the kind of people who might still be making their decision at
this point in the election.
To me, that makes the Colin Powell endorsement and the Mike Bloomberg
endorsement almost more important than any others that I know of. Are they
in competition with other people whose endorsement might actually be
KORNACKI: No, I think that`s right. Christie`s thing is not an
endorsement, but I would consider its effect to be similar to that of an
KORNACKI: And I think the most important thing here is sort of the
context in which it`s happening. Like I said, this is a test of
presidential leadership. And what you`re finding in the polls to the
extent there are swing voters in this election, they have very sort of
conflicted feelings about Obama and the Obama presidency. A lot of – for
instance, there`s been polling in the swing states with we can break this
down to, like, married mothers. This is a swing constituency like in Ohio.
And they have – they`re disappointed in Obama on the economy. They
also don`t like where the Republican Party is on social issues. So,
they`ve sort of been bouncing back and forth between, you know, when
they`re focusing on the economy, they`re voting for Romney, when they`re
focusing more on the social issues they`re voting for Obama.
And I look at a constituency like that and think of an event like
this, this is just major sort of natural disaster and you have bipartisan,
cross partisan voices who are praising the president`s leadership in this
case and I almost could see that maybe would break the tie.
MADDOW: Yes, the loyal (ph) part.
KORNACKI: Yes. Bill Clinton out there campaigning for Obama, it can
be effective but people expect Bill Clinton to be campaigning for Obama.
When it`s Chris Christie suddenly, the guy who`s the keynote speaker at the
Republican Convention speaking up and vouching for him, that`s the kind of
thing, people who are wavering, you know, back and forth, that registers
with them to some extent.
MADDOW: I think that`s right. How are you hanging in personally
dealing with the storm?
KORNACKI: I have it a lot better than most people. I used to live in
Hoboken and the scenes from there, I`m just thinking of the people, my
neighbors from Hoboken from a few years ago and imagining what they`re
going through. So –
MADDOWE: An update on the situation in Hoboken. We`ve got New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo coming up live in a moment. He never does
interviews. I`m really happy he`s going to be here.
Steve, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki is the co-host of MSNBC`s “THE CYCLE”, which
you should be watching at 3:00 p.m. here on MSNBC. He also writes for
OK. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is going to join us shortly. Big
deal. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Ever since the financial industry collapsed and the economic
collapse at the end of the George W. Bush administration, a previously sort
of unheralded date on America`s monthly calendar has become a very hotly
anticipated thing. It`s the release of the monthly jobs report.
A nation turns its weary eyes to you, Bureau of Labor Statistics. How
are we doing this month?
Well, tomorrow, Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release
its very last monthly jobs report before the presidential election. It`s
due to happen at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow. Set your alarm.
The last time the jobs number came out and showed that unemployment
was not only continuing to drop but it had dropped below 8 percent, when
that happened last month, the right got very conspiratorial and decided
that that can`t be right. The jobs numbers must now be fake.
Since then, though, the right that was so upset about unemployment
going down, they must be really bummed because since then, the economic
signs keep pointing in a positive direction – unemployment benefit claims
down, worker productivity up, auto sales rising, home builders increasing
construction, manufacturing expansion, gains in retail sales, and consumer
confidence at the highest level since a year before President Obama took
Tomorrow morning, at about 8:30 a.m. Eastern, we will know if those
positive indicators since the last time we got a jobs report mean that
we`re about to get another good jobs report. If so, that would be very
good news for the country. It would also be good news for the president`s
If the jobs number is not a good number tomorrow morning, the right
will be all over the president for having a bad number. If the number is a
good number, the right will not be all over that number. The right will
deny that that number is true – if last month`s past is prologue.
You know, the right and left used to fight about what to do in the
country. Now, the right fights with the whole rest of the country about
what is true.
MADDOW: Remember the long gas lines of the 1970s that were the result
of the OPEC embargo? Maybe you`ve seen the pictures of that. Take a look
at all these cars. See any Mercury Bobcats or AMC Pacers? No. That`s
because these pictures are not of the 1970s. These are today.
People from Long Island to the Pennsylvania border of New Jersey
waiting for hours today for gas. People are still waiting for hours for
gas. If they have been lucky enough to find a station that has some. In
some places people are standing in line on foot with canisters that need
filling to try to keep their generators running, their only source of power
in the wake of the storm.
Many gas stations that do have gas do not have the electricity to
power the pumps. The stations that do have electricity are the ones
running out of gas. In New York City, up to 70 percent of stations cannot
sell any gas. That number is 80 percent in New Jersey. Five refineries
along the East Coast shut down ahead of the storm. And although three of
the five are up and running again, the big white holding tanks all along
the New Jersey turnpike that already have gasoline in them, they can`t get
that gasoline into delivery trucks as long as they don`t have electrical
The Coast Guard re-opened the port of New York to water traffic this
afternoon. That will allow barges through and that should help ease part
of the supply part of this problem within a couple of days.
But solving this problem is not simply just a matter of solving the
supply problem. It`s also about getting the power turned on. These are
two intertwined problems. About three-quarters of a million customers are
still without power today in New Jersey, a million and a half people in and
around New York City. Utility companies say it could be 10 days before all
the power is restored.
In order to keep running all the utility trucks and emergency vehicles
that are aiding the recover recovery, military fuel trucks carrying 200,000
gallons of fuel arrived today at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey and
at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, rescue efforts are giving way in some cases to recovery
efforts. And the New York City borough of Staten Island, people – excuse
me, police today discovered the bodies of a couple who were last seen
driving away from their home when the storm struck. We also found the
bodies today of two toddler boys who were separated from their mother by a
large wave after they got stuck in the water. That brings the death toll
in Staten Island from Sandy to 19 out of at least 90 total in the United
Some officials in Staten Island also said today they were upset with
the city`s decision to go on with the New York City marathon on Sunday.
That`s this Sunday, about 60 hours from now. The reason for upset is the
marathon starts in Staten Island at the entrance to the Verrazano Bridge,
and Staten Island frankly has a lot on its plate right now.
Marathon organizers and Mayor Bloomberg are defending the decision to
go on with the race citing in part the economic activity it generates for
Across the Hudson River, we`ve been focusing on the ongoing flooding
crisis in Hoboken, New Jersey, over the last couple days. The water
receding dramatically overnight. The National Guard still on hand in
Hoboken. They`re now delivering supplies to residents. Residents who
today got their first look at what the water left behind – mud and debris
and a whole lot of mess.
You may have heard subways started running again in New York City
today. And that is sort of true. Tunnels under the rivers surrounding
Manhattan are still flooded and almost half of the island is still without
power, so trains are running in sections. And that means they are running
in places but does mean you sometimes get where you need to go and
sometimes you just get part of the way there.
And the outer boroughs getting into Manhattan often means getting off
the subway and getting on to buses that travel on to the island by bridge.
This is what the lines for the buses looked like around 10:45 this morning.
That is well after the height of the morning rush. However tough and
resilient New Yorkers are, and they are, there`s not a single New Yorker
anywhere who is hoping that this is the new normal.
Joining us now is the governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo, thank you very much for taking the time to join us
tonight. I know it`s a sacrifice for you.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK (via telephone): No, it`s my pleasure
to be with you.
MADDOW: I understand you just got off the phone with President Obama.
Can I ask what you two are discussing and how the coordination is going?
CUOMO: I`ll give you three guesses, Rachel. He wanted an update on
the storm and he wanted to talk to local officials in the affected area to
find out what they were thinking and he wanted to communicate with them
I have to tell you, he`s called multiple times a day just into this
state, just to find out what`s going on in New York. FEMA, his response
agency, has been fantastic. The whole cabinet has really been deployed.
So I think he`s done this very well. I worked in the Clinton
administration. I was the HUD secretary. And HUD is one of response
So, I know what the federal government traditionally does. They`re
doing an outstanding job, in my opinion.
MADDOW: What`s the top of the priority state for this state in terms
of recovery and repair in the state?
CUOMO: Well, we have two different types of situation if you will.
The situation you`re talking about is basically in Manhattan. And then you
have it out of Manhattan, within the downstate metropolitan area situation.
In Manhattan – Manhattan, as you know, has that elaborate information
below ground. And New York does not historically have floods or
hurricanes. It`s not what we get in this part of the country. So, we
designed this elaborate infrastructure without really anticipating that you
may have water coming over the banks and we`ve now flooded the whole tunnel
system, road tunnels, subway tunnels.
And we have under the – beneath the ground in Manhattan, 10, 15, 20
stories of infrastructure. So, now, we have the novel problem of how do
you pump out this whole infrastructure. The water is in the tunnels. The
electrical system is also in the tunnels. And the trains run in the
So you can`t turn on the power until you pump out the water. You
can`t have the trains run until you have the electricity on. So, we are –
we have the Army Corps of Engineers in here trying to pump out this
elaborate subway system.
Outside of Manhattan, it`s basically loss of power because of downed
power lines from trees with the high winds, but a very high percentage of
people without power, 90 percent on Long Island, 50 percent, 60 percent in
Westchester, suburban counties outside of New York City.
So, we have our hands full. We`re making good progress. As you said
in your introduction, things are getting better. But, you know, it`s not
to have power three or four days, the density of New York, it`s tough.
MADDOW: In terms of the infrastructure that you`re talking about and
the idea that the New York subway system was christened 108 years ago and
the George Washington Bridge was dedicated in 1931, we were not thinking of
a world in which the banks of the rivers that straddled New York City came
up over the banks, weren`t thinking of a world with frequent extreme
Does there need to be a major rethink, a major reimaging of the
infrastructure that makes New York City possible?
CUOMO: Look, I think, my answer is definitely, yes. You know, I
don`t accept anymore, Rachel, that this is once in a lifetime. I said to
the president the other day, half kidding, I said, you know, we now have
100-year floods every two years.
So there`s the explanations of this is a fluke and it`s gone and
that`s it. I don`t believe it.
There`s a frequency in these extreme weather conditions. It`s getting
worse. It`s getting worse all over the globe. It`s getting worse in this
And I think we have to accept the reality. This is a very expensive
disruption. This is going to be in the billions of dollars.
And you are exactly right. When this city was designed, we did not
anticipate this problem because we didn`t have this problem when this city
And now you take our greatest strength, which is New York`s coastal
environment, that`s what made New York New York, right? New York harbor,
Hudson River, to the Erie Canal, and you were out West. That was New York.
What made Manhattan Manhattan was the underground infrastructure, that
engineering marvel. Once you now say – well, that can flood, and you
can`t even find a way to pump out the water, you take the greatest asset
and you make it a liability.
And it`s a frightening premise to deal with, you know? I think that`s
one of the reasons why denial is so much easier, because once you say, yes,
extreme weather is here to say, we have to redesign this environment –
well, that`s a big undertaking and it`s threatening to many. But I think
that`s where we are.
MADDOW: Can New York City escape the sort of national sclerosis we`ve
got on that issue? It`s a big ideological fight at the national level.
But just out of necessity, can New York state and New York City lead on
this issue because we have to, even if the rest of the country isn`t ready
to arrive at any consensus and make any big national decisions?
CUOMO: We`re going to try. You know, what we practice in New York,
Rachel, is because we have a – whatever divergent opinions you have
anywhere in the country we have here in New York. We just have them more
vociferously and with a slightly different accent.
But, look, what I want to argue, because this is no doubt a political
topic, and it`s a controversial topic, and it becomes one of those
lightning rods – we can argue about the cause for the weather change, and
we can argue if the cause was human behavior or a natural cycle of weather
But you can`t argue about the effect. You can argue why the water is
coming over the bank, but the water`s coming over the bank. And when the
water comes over the bank, it floods the tunnels and the subway system.
That is a fact. And let`s address that fact.
Yes, we`ll argue about the cause and that argument is important
because long term, if you conclude that it`s human behavior influenced,
which I do believe, then you want to eliminate that human activity.
But the effect is real and the effect is inarguable. So let`s address
the effect. And we`ve had some success in the past few years in actually
coming up with concrete resolutions and moving forward rather than just
playing ping-pong with the different lobes in our political brain.
MADDOW: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – thank you very much for
taking time to talk to us. We`re all counting on you. Good luck, sir.
CUOMO: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Appreciate it. Thank you, sir.
In the spring of `88, you know what? Way back, the skies over New
York and New Jersey, and southern New England, opened up and it snowed days
and days and days. More than four feet of snow piled up, howling winds.
There were drifts of know 50 feet high.
A report from “The New York Times” back then describes New York City
as helpless in a tornado of wind and snow. It was the great blizzard of
1888. By the time it ended, quote, “Every horse, car, and elevated railway
train had stopped running.” Quote, “The electric wires, telegraph and
telephone were nearly all broken.”
Jordan Weissmann of “The Atlantic” dug up this old newspaper drawing
of what the storm was like 1888. If you look at this old photo, you can
see why the blizzard put out the lights. This was New York. Look, the
electric wires strung overhead where the elements could knock them down.
Hundreds of people died in that storm. An enormous number of
buildings burned because fire departments couldn`t reach them. When the
snow finally melted, the runoff was so great it created floods.
The great blizzard of 1888 was a huge disaster. New York City
historian Ric Burns reminded us about it last night, of how New York City
responded to that long ago disaster. New York City then built the modern
subway so the trains could keep running in the elements and they built a
new electrical system, this time with the wires not over ground but
Before the great Blizzard in 1888, New York City had been fighting for
years about whether to put the wires underground. But after the blizzard,
the abstract political debate stopped and the innovation began. They had a
problem that everybody could see. Overhead wires, vulnerable to storms,
and they fixed that problem. They put the wires under ground.
The scale of the still unfolding disaster of this storm, of Sandy, is
stunningly vast in terms of human misery and economic damage and how
widespread it is. New York City alone is losing something like $200
million a day, every day that the power stays out and the transportation
system doesn`t work.
New York City has the 17th largest economy in the world. If New York
City were a country it would be the 17th largest national economy in the
world. You unplug that and everybody hurts, whether you live in Manhattan
or New Jersey or live in Idaho. If you do not feel it yet where you live,
wait a minute because it`s coming.
We`ve known this disaster was coming. For the one in five Americans
who live somewhere on an American coast near the sea, weird weather and
rising seas have been almost a scheduled nightmare. We knew this was
coming. We knew that storms like Sandy will keep coming and maybe with
Once that threat stops being too scary to consider and it starts being
a river in your street or in your house, then all that stuff that has
seemed inexorably mired and esoteric ideological political sites is no
longer esoteric or hypothetical. It`s no longer partisan.
In the city of Yonkers, New York, today, the Democratic mayor there
rationed gasoline to stop people from clogging the roads in Yonkers as they
look for somewhere to fill their tanks. The mayor said no more of that.
Yonkers has a 10 gallon limit per person until further notice.
In the city of New York, the mayor first elected as a Republican put
an emergency rule into effect that said you need three people in your car
before you`re allowed to drive into this city. The city established
checkpoints for drivers coming into Manhattan in order to enforce that
remarkable rule and try to unclog city streets. No subways, right?
The rationing and checkpoints are controversial and intrusive. But
local governments decided in the short term, they`ve got to find a way
forward – a big way forward right now.
For a few years now, the government of New York City has talked in
clear terms about climate change and the stuff New York City is going to
have to build if we`re going to continue having a New York City. At the
national level, the debate over climate change comes down to, like, Barbara
Boxer or James Inhofe as the head of the environment committee, right,
debating over polar bears and igloos in the Washington Mall. And God bless
But the ocean has already surged into New York and the city is going
to have to decide something now. They say it would cost $5 billion per
barrier to protect New York City from the seas in one of these high tech
surge barriers out of the sea, $5 billion. To anybody who wonders whether
we can afford something like that, I offer arithmetic.
Sandy is now estimated to cost this region an estimated $60 billion.
So, just for kicks, we could build eight of those $5 billion barriers, and
we could get $20 billion change back, along with saving ourselves.
With this historic fairly predictable, fully predicted disaster, what
is possible has become undefined by need, by what is so clearly needed.
What is possible is being redefined by what is happening around us.
MADDOW: Programming note, tomorrow night, there`s going to be a
telethon called “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together.” Bruce Springsteen, Jon
Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Christina Aguilera are all going to perform. The
whole point is to raise money for the Red Cross.
We hope that you will watch right here at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow. It`s
going to be airing on the other NBC family network. It`s going to be
And after that, at 9:00 tomorrow, we will have a fresh live episode of
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. So, we would love it if you would make a evening
of it. Telethon at 8:00, we`ll be here live at 9:00. And that`s tomorrow.
But, tonight, we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is what President Bill Clinton did today. He started
the day at the Obama campaign rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because I`ve had the job,
I`ve fought the fight, I`ve made my mistakes. I know when you get down and
crawl in the dirt and try to make change, instead of talk about change, it
is hard. Man, he has done it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was at 10:15 this morning. From there, President
Clinton headed off to another campaign rally in Perrysburg, Ohio. From
there, he headed to another campaign rally, in Akron, Ohio. And as we were
going on the air tonight, Bill Clinton was in Chillicothe, Ohio, at his
fourth campaign event today for President Obama. So, that was President
This is a post-it note. This is a post-it note stuck on the computer
of my pal Steve Benen from MaddowBlog.com. On said post-it note, you see
the date there 11/1. And then Steve Benen`s handwriting there, you see the
words Bush and Caymans.
Bush? Caymans? Oh, yes, Bush Caymans, save the date. Because today,
11/1, November 1st, is the Cayman alternative investment summit, where the
world`s leading institutional investors, fund managers, and regulators in
the Cayman Islands, the leading offshore domicile for investment funds, are
getting together to discuss the future of offshore investing. It`s
happening at the Ritz Carlton in the Cayman Islands.
And, yes, tonight`s keynote speaker is President George W. Bush.
There he is right under the tiny yacht cruise ship thingy. I didn`t think
he would really do it, but he really did. On the day when the last
Democratic president, President Clinton, did four campaign events for
Barack Obama, on that same day, five days before the election, the last
Republican president is in the Cayman Islands presumably getting paid a ton
of money to keynote a conference on how to offshore your investments in
order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Know anybody who has done that? No reporters were allowed inside,
organizers told the “A.P.”, we`ve got a complete blackout on discussing the
Given how the country feels about what we ended up with the last time
we put a Republican in the White House, you could see how the Romney
campaign might want to make sure that George W. Bush was as far away as
possible in these last few days before the election. But Cayman Islands,
really? It would have been more subtle if they just sent him to visit Mr.
Romney`s old bank accounts in Switzerland. Five days until the election
and George W. Bush is in the Cayman Islands?
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”. Have a
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