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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/29/12

Guests: Cory Booker

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. We will stay -- we will keep good custody to the crane cam. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: There`s rights to that, you know? MADDOW: Yes, seriously. Thank you, man. Thanks a lot. Thanks for staying with us for the next hour. Only eight days from now, a week from tomorrow, voting will begin nationwide in the 2012 presidential election. And on a normal night, the story of that election being that -- this close to upon us, that would drive our coverage and dominate this news hour. But tonight is not a normal night, because right outside this building right now, in the biggest city in the country, there is a massive storm that has just made landfall and all day long has been imposing its will on the Atlantic coast, from the Carolinas all the way up to New England. It has toppled cranes on skyscrapers. This is that crane falling today. Yes, it has toppled cranes on skyscrapers. It has flooded the Eastern seaboard. Yes, it has messed up the presidential election. But this giant storm called Sandy is not over yet. The storm making landfall just outside Atlantic City, New Jersey, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time tonight. Forecasters calling Sandy a post-tropical cyclone which might sound better than what we have been calling it, but it isn`t really better. All it means is the storm has lost the characteristics of a tropical cyclone but still has hurricane-force winds. We want to go near where Sandy made landfall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, where reporter Chris Cato from NBC`s Philadelphia station, WCAU, has been monitoring the storm. Chris, thank you for joining us. What can you tell us about the scene at the site of the landfall? CHRIS CATO, WCAU: Well, things are a little calmer now than a couple hours ago as Sandy came ashore just a few miles south of where we are. Now, the winds have kicked up again, but the rain has stopped. And the tide, which the high tide came in at 8:00 p.m. and almost breached these dunes over here, the tide has gone back out some. But it`s just an eerie scene looking -- MADDOW: That`s Chris live on the scene at Atlantic City, which is near where the storm made landfall. As you can tell, we lost the shot. That happens a lot in circumstances like this. And we`ll try to get WCAU Chris Cato back tonight if we can. Do we have him back? Chris, I think we lost you for a second there, but we brought you back. You were just explaining about the eeriness of the calm where you are right now. Telling us what you`re looking at down that road behind you. CATO: Yes. You know, the boardwalk, everyone knows the boardwalk, it took a et beating in this storm. Earlier today, a 50-foot section on the north end collapsed after some heavy wind and rain at the beginning of the storm. But it`s held up very well after that. Mandatory evacuation has been in place for Atlantic City since Sunday. Most people heeded that warning. However, some did not. There`s been a bit of a political pushback going on this evening. Governor Chris Christie earlier this afternoon called out Atlantic City Mayor Langford, admonishing him for keeping shelters open on this barrier island instead of bussing people off the island as they did last year during Irene. And that`s why we have a situation. Let`s show you over here. Let`s walk over here and show you what the rest o of Atlantic City is dealing with. This is an access ramp that takes you up to the boardwalk. So these are the streets of Atlantic City down here. This is what it looks like, several feet of water covering the street. And here`s where things became a problem. You have 400 people on the other side of the city who decided to ride out the storm and stay in their homes and as we talked earlier today with emergency operations people, water -- flood water was coming into those homes and there was no way for local emergency crews to get to them. So they had to mobilize National Guard units to try to get those people out of their homes. We`re told that things got so dangerous they had to pull the personnel back. So there were several, a couple hundred people still in their homes on the bay side of the city. The governor said it`s a situation they`ll have to monitor and first thing in the morning at first light respond to and try to get those people out. Not far from here, just a couple blocks, one of the city`s last resort shelters as they call them (AUDIO BREAK) and a National Guard unit just went in there and pulled those people out and took them to Atlantic City High School. So the shelters that were kept if place drawing criticism. Chris Christie`s statement is that there shouldn`t have been shelters open here on the island. Everyone should have (AUDIO BREAK). Some finger- pointing going on. The winds are still coming ashore here. And we really won`t know what kind of damage has taken place inside the city proper. I`m Chris Cato reporting for NBC -- MADDOW: Chris Cato, reporting for WCAU tonight from Atlantic City, New Jersey. What he was explaining was cutting out of some of the time because we have a live shot in the middle of the storm about those -- the controversy over those shelters. The contrast is between the wishes of the local mayor and the wishes of the governor. Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey saying there should not have been any sheltering in place, there shouldn`t have been any shelters on site in Atlantic City that everybody should have been evacuated. Local officials, obviously, did make some local sites available for people to stay in, but some of those places had to be responded to by first responders today. Some of those people had to be rescued out of those shelters. But, again, the important thing in what Chris was saying, they believe there are several hundred people who are sheltering in their homes even in the face of rising flood waters, on the bay side of Atlantic City. So that`s something that local officials and local law enforcement is keeping a very close eye on and those people are, of course, in peril. That`s where near the storm came ashore. The fact that it has come ashore does not mean that the flood waters will stop rising or that the threat there is over. Sandy is claiming the first three casualties, three fatalities that we know of tonight in the United States. The New York City NBC affiliate WNBC is reporting that a 30-year-old man was found dead trapped by a fallen tree outside his home in Queens in New York. Another person has died after a tree fell on them in Connecticut. And the "Associated Press" is reporting that there was another storm-related fatality, a traffic accident in Maryland. To the east of the eye of the storm, authorities having warning that New York City and long island could get the worst of the storm surge. What they e predicted is an 11-foot wall of sea water flooding into Lower Manhattan. At this hour, right now with the storm, the winds are estimated to be gusting at about 80 miles per hour. Earlier this afternoon, at 2:30 p.m., this is what high winds did to a construction crane on top a high rise building in Midtown Manhattan, at 57th Street. The crane just collapsing in the wind. Forecasters saying the wind at the top of the building at the time of the collapse may have been close to 95 miles per hour. That crane in this shot you`re seeing where it`s nighttime, that`s because this is a live shot. That is the live shot of the crane still dangling precariously over Midtown Manhattan at this hour after it collapsed this afternoon in those high winds. In addition to the wind, there`s the water even before Sandy came ashore. The storm was causing havoc up and down the East Coast, about 90 miles off of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. Te Coast Guard today rescued 14 crew members of a replica 18th century sailing ship, a tall ship that lost power in the middle of the night during its voyage from Connecticut to Florida. First, 14 crew members had to abandon ship and when the Coast Guard arrived, the stranded crew members had to jump out of their life raft and into the roiling waters of the Atlantic so they could be grabbed and rescued by rescue swimmers, lift them to safety. Later, one missing crew member was pulled from the water unresponsive and was flown to the hospital tonight. The Coast Guard is still searching for one remaining crew member from that ship who is still missing. The ship is this, the HMS Bounty. This is a photo taken from this summer. It was built as a replica for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie "Mutiny on the Bounty." That ship now sits at the bottom of the ocean tonight. It sunk in the storm. On a coastline in nearby Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, there`s a lot less of the Avalon Pier than there used to be because of the storm today. Same with the fishing pier in Ocean City, Maryland, further up the coast. And this is the most recent footage of what it looks like in Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan tonight. That`s Lower Manhattan. High tide at the Battery of New York harbor 8:53 p.m. It`s only minutes ago. And today, of course, is a full moon, which makes for higher tides in even the best of weather. What a surge of salt water could do to tunnels and as well miles upon miles of underground electrical and communications lines prompted authorities to shut down New York City`s massive transportation system starting at 7:00 p.m. last night. They moved trains to higher ground and barricaded tunnels and entrances with sandbags. Also in Lower Manhattan, the New York Stocks Exchange closed. This is what the floor of the stock exchange look like today and it will look just as empty tomorrow when they keep it closed for a second day. In Washington, D.C., federal office buildings were closed today and, yes, that could complicate Friday`s scheduled release of the October jobs report, which would have been the final look at employment numbers before the presidential election. Officials at the Labor Department are acknowledging there could be a delay, but they are still hopeful to release the report on Friday as planned. Another element to cope with in this storm system is snow. Today, in West Virginia, one reason why everybody has been calling this a super storm, a monster storm, even a Frankenstorm is because of hurricane Sandy not just standing alone but merging with a cold front from the West. As well -- they are describing it as an arctic blast coming down from the north. This is three separate elements coming together to form conditions like this in West Virginia. This is not your normal hurricane. The state of West Virginia is already buried under two feet of snow in some areas and there`s big concern of the widespread power outages because of that heavy snow, especially in places where the tree canopy was still full. Trees hadn`t lost the leaves. In fact, losing electricity is a big concern everywhere. Ahead of the storms, trucks steamed north and east by the hundreds with crews and equipment ready to help restore power when the time comes. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, among other officials today, warning that power outages at this point are to be expected -- not to be wondered about, they are to be expected. You should be surprised if you`re in the field of the storm in some cases and your power does not go out. He`s saying the outages should be expected and should not be a cause for panic. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: It`s made a dangerous situation on the bridges and the metropolitan area, we`re going to be closing a number of bridges, there may be some brief intervals in electric service also, I want you to know. That may very well happen. Don`t be alarmed and surprised if it does. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Part of the choreography of a natural disaster in progress. A crisis like this one is seeing public officials like Governor Cuomo and like the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, holding regular news conferences to update residents on what to expect. It is useful information and sometimes reassuring. If you`re not too freaked out, it can also be entertaining. But what it is never is -- the thing it never is, is partisan. This is a particularly nonpartisan time for our elected officials. This is the part of their job that`s about cooperation and taking charge of public safety and informing people about what they need to be informed about. Because of that, what can seem weird on a day like today, even out of the range of the storm, what can seem weird on a day like today is politicking, is campaigning, even when a storm hits eight days before a very important national general election, especially when that storm takes aim for the most densely populated part of this country. President Obama cancelled his event in Florida. He had flown down to Florida for the event before canceling both today`s event and tomorrow`s full schedule in Wisconsin before flying back to D.C. this morning. Back in the White House, the president was briefed on the response to hurricane Sandy by security officials. He also spoke to cameras himself. President Clinton held President Obama`s campaign event in Orlando without him. As well as a second event in Ohio with Vice President Biden. The Republican challenger for the White House, Mitt Romney, meanwhile, cancelled one of three campaign events on his schedule today. He did still address crowds in Avon Lake, Ohio, and in Davenport, Iowa. Between events, Mr. Romney held a town hall with voters in Ohio by teleconference. But now, Romney`s slate of events for tomorrow has been cleared. Mr. Romney`s running mate Paul Ryan held one event in Florida before cutting the day short and heading to his home in Wisconsin. In terms of hurricane Sandy`s direct effect on next week`s election, NBC`s Chuck Todd reports tonight that the FEMA director Craig Fugate has told states if they incur extra costs because of the storm, if they have to move polling places or bring in generators for power, should Sandy cause elections officials any expensive changes, states and cities will be reimbursed for those costs by the federal government. You know, good old disaster relief, even if one doesn`t believe in that sort of thing. This is not a time for ideology. Let`s bring in NBC`s Michelle Franzen, who is in Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Michelle, everybody has been keeping an eye on the storm surge there and wondering how high the water is going to rise. And what threat it`s going to impose, not just to Lower Manhattan but potentially to the whole subway system, what are you able to tell us about the conditions and how they`re changing now? MICHELLE FRANZEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they have certainly deteriorated, Rachel, in this past hour. And we`ve got a photo to show you just the latest while we take on this gust. There`s some water that`s been reported gushing into the Brooklyn Battery tunnel. That`s not a good sign of all this water pouring into Lower Manhattan area. We have a picture of that to show you. Obviously, it`s a dangerous situation for emergency workers too, trying to assess the damage or what`s going on exactly. And then back here at Battery, we`ve also reached a new record, 11.87-foot record. The last time that happened was in 1821. So, it surpassed that record. Let me show you back here. This is certainly not to bury the lead here -- this water has been coming over the esplanade here in Battery Park. We`re at the southern tip, of course, of Lower Manhattan. These are waves that are just coming in. This is grass right here. You have the whole walkway and all the lights have been cut down here to the Battery area and other areas are still showing they have power, whether that`s generator power or whether Con Ed, the utility company is selectively taking down power, we don`t know. But that`s part of their plan. They are hoping that they will be able to shut down parts of the grid in order to make it more easily to restore those areas after Sandy comes through. Of course, we are still continuing to get these big gusts. There`s also some localized street flooding also in the Lower Manhattan area, further south of Wall Street. So a lot of areas here that are still of great concern. We`re just going to have to wait to see what the next few hours bring. We`re past the high tide point, but as you well know, Rachel, we`re in a big unknown right now. MADDOW: Michelle, just briefly, in terms of what we have seen already, we have seen the flooding in the tunnel, Brooklyn Battery tunnel. You described there`s some minor street flooding at least further south of where you are, in the Wall Street area. Do we know anything about the extent of the street flooding or how much is expected given how high the surge came up? FRANZEN: Well, they were talking initially about the surge between six and 12 feet. So it`s just a matter of just how long the water is going to continue to inundate this Lower Manhattan area and whether it`s going to compromise the subway systems or not. Of course, it`s a big system down here. A lot of train stops and we`re just waiting word to see what those systems look like, the subway systems tonight. But we`re still just trying to assess the water as it comes over here. It`s just not backing down at all yet. It`s still rising here in Battery Park City. MADDOW: NBC`s Michelle Franzen, thank you. And good luck and stay safe down there. We really appreciate it. All right. We`ve got much more to come on the storm and on the campaign. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Stay tuned for more of MSNBC`s live coverage of hurricane Sandy as it continues to pound the whole Eastern Seaboard. Newark Mayor Corey Booker will join us just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN THOMPSON, WNBC: I got to tell you. This is something really strong. It`s definitely picking up right now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: WNBC reporter Brian Thompson earlier this evening in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. What was hurricane Sandy is now called something else. And it is dumping rain and producing dangerous sustained high winds all over the Eastern Seaboard right now. The number of people without power across the region is estimated to already be in the millions and the peak of the storm`s impact may be yet to come. Let`s bring in MSNBC meteorologist Dylan Dreyer for the update on the track condition and the track of the storm. Dylan, thanks for your help with this. What can you tell us about the change in nomenclature for the way the storm is described and what else we should be expecting tonight? DYLAN DREYER, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Rachel, it`s a good question because I wish there was a word more ominous than post-tropical cyclone, because it`s not like it weakened to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression. It is still a very powerful storm. We still have wind gusts up near 80 miles per hour. So it really took on a whole different form. It lost its tropical characteristics. The development of the storm with the warm center that makes it a tropical system, now it is transformed and merged with that cold front to the west. It`s taking on more of a nor`easter-typeset up here. So, that`s why there`s no real word for it. But the title doesn`t matter. This is still a very strong storm. You can see the rain is just racing inland as the eye of the storm crossed over southern New Jersey at about 8:00 today officially. Although things did start to weaken and calm a little bit just like the eye of the storm in Atlantic City. But it`s north of the storm we`re seeing our strongest impacts right now. This area of low pressure now that we`ll call it will actually slow down. It`s going to slow in forward speed to the point where it`s going to rain and rain across portions of Pennsylvania and New York state. It`s eventually going to cause inland flooding where several inches of rain is likely. Look at Baltimore, Maryland. MADDOW: Wow. DREYER: This particular model is predicting more than 10.5 inches of rainfall. We have a coastal concern, but eventually we`re going to have an inland concern because of all that flooding. Winds are still gusting up to 68 miles per hour in New York City. Trenton, New Jersey, inland a little bit still gusting near 60 miles per hour. We had reports of an 82 miles per hour wind gust in Islip. So the winds on the north side of this storm were certainly strongest. But elsewhere, we`re still getting gusts of near 50 to 60 miles per hour. You see the orange, I guess, blob there? That`s stretching from northern New England still all the way down into North Carolina. That`s where winds will still be at 39 miles per hour and higher. That`s through Tuesday afternoon. That`s through Wednesday morning. Then, eventually, the winds will start to ease. But they will still be around 20 or 30 miles per hour as the storm continues to move up to the north and east. We`re talking about the storm surge. This is still going to be a concern. Look at the high tide time for southern portions of Long Island and areas across northern Long Island into Massachusetts. Not until about 9:30 to 11:00 tonight and even beyond midnight for the Massachusetts area. So we still have the potential in that little shade of purple there for a six to 11 foot storm surge. That`s what we`re expecting through the night tonight, and even as we go into tomorrow morning, we have another high tide cycle at about 8:00 in the morning. We`re going to see the ebb and flow of the high and low tide still create some flooding concerns tomorrow morning into Tuesday night high tide cycle as well. Then we showed pictures of the snow. We have picked up more than 10 inches of snow already in the mountainous regions of West Virginia and it looks like those regions will end up with more than a foot of snow. So, that`s why it really is a hybrid storm here that`s taken on at first hurricane characteristics. Now it`s transforming into more nor`easter characteristics and I wish there was a better name for it because post-tropical cyclone really doesn`t sound threatening. But we`ll be talking about this for several days because of those gusty winds, because of the torrential rains and the power outages and the power crews to get to those power outages will be an issue, because tomorrow`s not going to be that great. Wednesday is a little bit better, but still not great. So, it`s going to take awhile for the cleanup to happen. MADDOW: Dylan, in terms of that snow area, do we expect that the area affected by that snowfall is expected to get much larger? Or do you expect the snow event to be confined to where it`s already been? DREYER: It`s more of an elevation event. You know, we are seeing some of that arctic air start to work on the backside of the storm. But it does look like most of the accumulating snow or at least the significant accumulating snow has been in the highest elevations. So, the mountainous regions back through Maryland, back in the West Virginia, that should be the region, that is the only region that should have to deal with significant snowfall. MADDOW: OK. MSNBC meteorologist Dylan Dryer, you`re very busy. Thanks for spending some of your time with us. I appreciate it. All right. We will now continue to monitor the weather on the Eastern Seaboard tonight, which, of course, is happening just before the finish line of a presidential campaign marathon. Plenty of news about that, including Governor Mitt Romney finishing the way he started. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most important message I have right now is please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay. Don`t pause. Don`t question the instructions being given because this is a serious storm and it could potentially have fatal consequences if people haven`t acted quickly. For folks who are not following instructions, if you are not evacuating when you have been asked to evacuate, you`re putting first responders at danger. We`re going to have search and rescue teams in and around multiple states all at the same time. Although we`ve got Coast Guard and the Department of Defense all positioned, if the public is not following instructions, that makes it more dangerous for people and it means that we could have fatalities that could have been avoided. MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: As the winds start building this afternoon, it gets more and more dangerous to go outside, and so you sort of caught between a rock and hard place. You should have left but it`s getting to be too late to leave. If you really experience an emergency, 911. We will send our first responders in, although we`d love very much not to have to put their lives at risk and you can control that by getting out now. EDWARD MANGANO (R), NASSAU COUNTY, NY EXECUTIVE: I`m very, very concerned and alarmed by those that are not following the mandatory evacuation instructions. They are putting themselves in harm`s way and they are certainly putting first responders in harm`s way. I think what you just witnessed in Suffolk County with people refusing to leave fire island and having to go back and just rescue them at this point, fortunately, only equipment was lost, but that easily could have been a first responder injured or harmed, and that would have been needless because we have the warnings that need to be followed. Now is the time. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I read some joker in the newspaper this morning saying, you now, I have never run away in his fatigues, saying he`s never run away from these. He`s not going to run away now. Well, you mind wind up under it, not running away from it. This is not a time to be a show-off. This is not a time to be stupid. This is a time to try to save yourself and your family. So, for anyone who still has electricity on the barrier islands and can hear this or see it, if you can get off the island in a few hours safely, I would suggest you would because tonight is going to be significantly worse in the barrier islands than it was last night or during the day so far today. Lastly for those folks in the barriers, you`re putting people in harm`s way as well. We have rescues ongoing on the barrier islands. This is putting first responders in significant, significant danger. It`s not fair to their families for you to be putting them in that danger because you decided you wanted to be hard headed. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: There are times in our civilian lives when we are called on to do things for our country, for our fellow Americans, for someone other than ourselves. We`re asked to do something that may not be what we want to do, that maybe something that`s annoying, something that will certainly be inconvenient, but it is nevertheless the right thing to do. Take one for the team. Accept your responsibility not just for yourself, but as a member of a group of people who are mutually responsible to each other for something we all belong to. We heard those kinds of calls for civic responsibility from leaders in the path of the storm today all day long. You might want to stay where you are even in the face of an evacuation order, but if you do that, you will be hurting your country, your city, your state, your fellow Americans. These leaders of both parties or no parties are making an appeal to self- sacrifice in the name of patriotism and responsibility. For the last couple weeks, people who watch the show have been sending photos of what it looks like when they have gone to early vote. As you can see, it`s lots of long lines everywhere, which is aggravating that it`s still this hard to vote in this country, particularly in the swing states, particularly in densely-populated areas which incidentally tend to vote Democratic. We should have more days to early vote. We should have more hours. We should have more voting machines, more polling places open. It`s so aggravating it has to be this hard. But it is also, perversely, sort of inspiring that even with how hard it is, people are still willing to do it. Even with how hard, people are willing to do it. A voter named Andrew sent us his photos from his early voting location in Baltimore, in Park Heights in Baltimore, where he said there were more than 500 people in line when he was there to vote this weekend. Andrew said it was more fun than a drag to be there because he said every time the town clerk would shout out that there was a first time voter, everybody in the whole line of voters would applaud for them, everybody encouraging each other to stick it out and stay there. Look at where they were. This voting site is a public safety training facility. So, it gets police cadets. As hundreds and hundreds of voters are lining up to wait, they have to pass in that hallway under these banners set up for Maryland police cadets. These banners, the first one says, as you can see it here, "integrity." And then they get a little further down the line and the next banner says "courage." And the last banner they pass under in the voting line, 500 people before they go to vote in a gymnasium is a banner that says "honor." And then everybody cheers for the first time voters. We are used to calls to civic responsibility at this point on the American calendar. When we get asked by candidates, when we ask each other to go vote, we`re asking each other to do something that is honestly inconvenient and sometimes time-consuming and difficult -- something that has individual personal pay off. But it`s something that your country needs you to do. Your country, your city, your state needs you to do this thing. That`s true about voting. It`s as true now as it is any year, maybe even more so as many places make voting so much harder. And now, even more than that, as voting may become more of a challenge in the dozen states or more that will be coping with the storm, tonight and until Election Day. But in this storm, this year, we`re also being reminded of other kinds of civic responsibility that we`re being called on to exhibit in difficult times. Do what`s right not just for you alone, but do what`s right for all of us. We need to pull together. You need to think of yourself as something that is part of larger than just yourself. It is both totally apolitical and it is the very core of why we bother with politics in the first place. This is one of those times when government really matters, when we remember that elections are about picking a government. This is one of those times when leaders have to show that they are leaders. And they have to call on the best from all of us. One of those leaders who is right in the middle of this storm response and who had a remarkable day at responding to this storm personally joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: The president called me at 2:15 this afternoon. It was just the two of us on the phone. We had a good conversation. The president wanted to know if we had everything we needed to be able to respond to the storm from a federal perspective. I told him at this point we did. He wanted to check on the level of cooperation with FEMA, I said it was excellent because it is. And he told that if at any point over the next 48 hours, I was not getting something from the federal government, that I should call him directly at the White House and he was going to be there. And that I should just not worry about dealing with anybody else. Call him. So, I appreciate that call from the president. It was very pro- active and I appreciate that type of leadership. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey today in one of his several press conferences on the storm response in his state. Governor Christie, of course, is usually a very caustic partisan critic of President Obama, but this is not one of those days. One of the ways to watch the real time storm response in New Jersey`s largest city today was to follow the amazing Twitter feed of that city`s mayor, Cory Booker. So, this person tweets to Mayor Booker, "Transformer just went Kaboom at Riverview Court projects." The mayor tweets back, "We`ll alert the utility company. I`m five minutes from you and will do a drive by." Then you can tell from the time stamp, nine minutes later, the mayor says, "Gratitude at Riverview with team helping get folks to shelter. Thanks for the heads up." Then at 4:52 p.m., somebody tweets to the mayor, "Mr. Mayor, underpass outside of Newark Penn still has many homeless underneath." Three minutes later, the mayor tweets back, "I`ll head down now to take a look with emergency personnel." Then by 5:46, less than an hour later, there`s this, "Thank you, just left. We were able to convince and transport 32 homeless brothers and sisters to shelter." There`s a lot on the plate of a big city mayor on any day, but there`s a lot to be done to respond to a storm of this magnitude too. Sometimes that gets done personally by the mayor himself. Joining us now live on the phone is the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker. Mr. Mayor, thank you for taking the time to talk to us tonight. I know you`ve had a very busy and you`re going to have a busy night. MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NJ (via telephone): Thank you, Rachel, for covering the story and showing this goes beyond partisan politics and frankly celebrating the spirit I have seen during every crisis in our city, which is people pulling together, Americans pulling together and being there for each other. It was amazing to me, you just talked about it over the twitter feed. When I got there, I saw residents pulling together in ways nothing short of inspiring. We tried to convince an elderly woman (INAUDIBLE) to leave, she was in a wheelchair, she refused to go. Then her neighbor looked who was going to go with us, look at the woman, she`s a much younger African-American female, she said, I`m not leaving you here in this doorway alone. She elected to stay to watch over her with her neighbor. Just really incredible stories. The cab companies here in Newark giving people free rides to shelter. So many things today have inspired me and made me proud to be a part of this community and this country. MADDOW: Cory, how hard has Newark been hit and what are your biggest challenges are right now as the storm continues raging through the night? BOOKER: What we`ve got, blackout conditions in every area of the city. We`ve got storm waters rising in low areas. We have had some transformer fires. We fortunately got them under check. Remember, when power goes out, you have a lot of desperate situations. People who rely on power for medical conditions, elderly who rely on power as well. So, we`re going to have a lot of that right now. The biggest thing I worry about is what I saw in Irene is people not necessarily acting with common sense and becoming rescue situations themselves. Last year, we had people trying to drive through flooded streets, becoming stranded, and having to be sort of marine rescued. It`s often the biggest injuries we see come in the aftermath of storms, the power lines are down, electricity is still flowing and dangers abound. So, you know, we`ve got folks spread out throughout the city. We`re working well, frankly, in tight coordination with federal, state and local authorities. We had a great conference call with the president. The governor was on it, myself and others. So, there`s a lot of teamwork going on. We have learned a lot. MADDOW: The Newark, Jersey Mayor Cory Booker -- Cory, as this proceeds, if there`s things you need to get the word out nationally in terms of what`s going on in Newark, New Jersey`s largest city, you stay in touch with us. And stay safe. Thank you. BOOKER: Great. Thank you, Rachel. Thanks for always focusing on what`s important. MADDOW: Thanks, Cory. Hang in there. All right. We are awaiting a news conference from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which is expected at any moment. We`re going to bring you that live when it happens. We`ll be bright back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I want to thank all the federal team, state and local teams that are in place. I`m confident that we`re ready. But I think the public needs to prepare for the fact that this is going to take a long time for us to clean up. The good news is we will clean up and we will get through this. REPORTER: What about the impact on the election, sir? OBAMA: I`m not worried that the 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. Right now, our number one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives, that are search and rescue teams will be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter they need in case of emergency, and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: "The election will take care of itself." That was President Obama addressing reporters earlier today at the White House. This is one of the things you can`t really predict in terms of the effect on a presidential campaign. This massive storm, a storm slamming into the East Coast right now, storm of more than regional, basically national significance, has had an effect of essentially hitting the pause button on a presidential campaign that was revving up for the final seven days stretch before Election Day. It is hard to know how it`s going to play out exactly, mostly because we don`t know what the overall impact of the storm itself is going to be. The de facto suspension of the campaign itself today and the handling of this crisis by President Obama and to a lesser extent Mitt Romney made themselves be things that affect the election. But the campaign effectively ceasing today does end the candidates most direct efforts to nudge the polls any further in one direction or another. For the record, here`s what the latest polling stands right now as the campaign stops. In term of the national tracking polls, Rasmussen, which means right, has Romney ahead by two points. "Politico" and George Washington University has President Obama ahead by one point. ABC News and "Washington Post" say, no, no, it`s Mitt Romney who`s ahead by one point. Pew has the race as a tie. I should note Gallup and IBD, which is another national tracking poll, they have both called off their national tracking polls for the storm. Here`s how it looks in the swing states right now. In the all important swing state of Ohio, a new local newspaper poll shows the race dead even, a 47-47 tie. A new left-leaning poll out of New Hampshire has President Obama up in New Hampshire by two points. A local university poll out of North Carolina has the race in North Carolina as a tie. A brand new CNN poll shows that in Florida, it is Mitt Romney ahead by one point. And in Colorado, an independent polling firm called ARG shows Mitt Romney up one point there as well. That is sort of the state of the race right now. It couldn`t be tighter. If there isn`t much more campaigning to be done over the next few days, that`s where the states will essentially stand heading into the election. The timing here is really interesting because this campaign was put on a forced indefinite hiatus just as both sides were starting to make their closing arguments. On the Democratic side here`s what`s going to end up being the closing argument for the Obama campaign. This ad is reportedly set to run in Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: In here, it`s just you. No ads, no debates, just you. So think about this -- Mitt Romney`s plan rolls back regulations on the banks that crashed our economy. Medicare, voucherized. Catastrophic cuts to education, millionaires who get one of the largest tax cuts ever, while middle-class families pay more. That`s what Mitt Romney wants to bring more. Remember that when you go here. OBAMA: I`m Barack Obama and I approved this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s the closing case being made by President Obama`s campaign right now. No more ads, no more debates. Now, it`s up to you. That`s on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, here`s the closing argument being made by Mitt Romney in the crucial swing state of Ohio. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: Who will do more for the auto industry? Not Barack Obama. Fact checkers confirm hills attacks on Mitt Romney are false. The truth? Mitt Romney has a plan to help the auto industry. He`s supported by Lee Iacocca and "The Detroit News". Obama took G.M. and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I`m Mitt Romney and I approved this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mitt Romney did actually say, let Detroit go bankrupt. He did oppose the bailout and said, if we did it, you could kiss the automotive industry good-bye. That didn`t really work out. And when the "Detroit News" did say they endorsed Mitt Romney, they did like him, they said despite him screwing up on the auto industry so badly. But it`s the point where they say Barack Obama sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. That part of the ad appears to be a spinoff of this line that Mitt Romney unveiled while campaigning in Ohio last week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers of this state, Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving all production to China. I will fight for every good job in America. I`m going to fight to make sure trade is fair and if it`s fair, America will win. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That line about Jeep moving American jobs to China? Moving all production to China? That is not true. Chrysler is not moving its production to China. That is not at all true. That is not true. That is a lie. Chrysler itself had to come out publicly and say, hey, what Mitt Romney just said there, that is not true. And the Romney campaign`s response to their candidate going out there and saying something blatantly false was not to apologize for it, was not to clarify what he said and tried to say it was a misstatement or something. Their response was to put out and ad saying it again, making Ohio voters think that Jeep is going to move its Ohio manufacturing jobs to China when the company itself says absolutely no plans to do that. They`re expanding here. They`re not moving their jobs to China. It`s not happening. That is the closing argument being made by the Romney campaign. This thing we`re saying isn`t at all true but it makes for a great ad so why not? And that, frankly, closes what`s been a remarkable loop in this campaign. The last ad based on the claim that Jeep is moving its American production to China, a claim that`s totally, blatantly not true. That is their last ad. You remember what their first ad was? Remember the first ad that Mitt Romney against -- in this election, against President Obama? Remember the first one? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I am confident that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Who`s been in charge of the economy? We need a rescue plan for the middle class. Provide relief for homeowners. It`s take a new direction. If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s the first Mitt Romney anti-Obama ad said this year. They`re quoting the president as saying, if we keep talking about the economy we`re going to lose. Here`s what President Obama actually said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said and I quote, "If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose." (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: He was quoting somebody else, to criticize the quote. The Romney campaign intentionally took President Obama totally out of context. Totally out of context so that was a complete lie and the response when they got called out on it was not to pull it down or cut a new version of it. Their response was to say they meant to do that. Mr. Romney himself personally defended that ad. It`s still on their Web site now. And so, now, with seven days left until the election, it probably should not come as a surprise that the Romney campaign`s closing argument is an ad that even the usually un-offendable Beltway press is calling a flat-out lie. It is not clear at this point how much campaigning is left before Election Day, given the storm bettering the east coast right now. Both candidates have officially cancelled all of their events for tomorrow. But now, if it`s done, if that`s it, essentially the end of the election, then the Romney campaign is giving Ohio voters and voter everywhere else for that matter a really clear view of what exactly they have been willing to do this whole campaign in order to try to win this election. Truth be damned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: As hurricane Sandy barrels through New Jersey and New York, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is just starting a press conference. Let`s listen in. BLOOMBERG: -- is experiencing power outages on an extremely wide basis. The late estimates show roughly a quarter million customers without power. It`s basically from river to river, at 35th Street, at 34th Street, on south and, in fact, there`s a few parts of very Lower Manhattan that still have power. Con Ed expects many of the outages to last at least throughout the morning and possibly longer. They have to pump out some stations and then fix their equipment. The one thing that we had not counted on, New York University`s hospital backup power, in spite of them being ensuring us it`s been tested, stopped working, and we`re working with them to help move people out. We are seeing a large number of fires caused by downed wires on electrical problems relating to outages. If you see a wire on the ground, please, don`t touch it. Just stay away. We have two serious problems that however, that New Yorkers can help us leave update and I`m asking New Yorkers do their part and help us get through this. Right now, the 911 system is receiving something like 10,000 calls per half an hour. Typical volume is only 1,000 calls per half an hour. Much of this is being driven by nonemergency calls like people calling to report downed trees, or to report nonemergency flooding. Please, please, do not call 911 if it is not a life-threatening emergency. You are putting other people`s lives at risk by occupying the lines. If you have a nonemergency, call 311 or better yet, text 311 at 311692 or go to 311 online via The second problem is we`re seeing a lot of cars getting stuck on the roads. Many of them are blocking emergency vehicles from getting to people in need. We need to keep the roads clear. Do not drive. Let me repeat, please do not drive. We`ve sent a message to all taxi and limo and delivery drivers to get off the road immediately. As I said earlier, the time to leave has passed. Do not go outside. It`s still very dangerous. And from now until the storm is well passed, you just have to shelter in place. You need to stay wherever you are. Let me repeat that: you have to stay wherever you are. So don`t call 911 unless it is a life-threatening emergency. You`re not going to get better service and you`re just keeping others who may have a real life-threatening emergency from getting service and to stay off the roads. You getting stuck just keeps the emergency vehicles from getting to help people and it may be your family that needs the help. The same thing that I`ve said before still goes. Stay away from windows, close the drapes. If water is coming into your home, go to the highest area. It is very important that you follow these instructions. It could save your life or the life of a fellow New Yorker. These are not games. We`ve said from the very beginning, this is a once in a long time storm. MADDOW: Lawrence O`Donnell continues our coverage from New York. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END