IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/01/12

Guests: Andrew Cuomo

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. 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. SCHULTZ: Right. MADDOW: Well, get some sleep tonight if you can, man. Thank you very much. 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 Egypt. 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 know. 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 to say. 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 attention. 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 Powell. President Obama today actually released an ad highlighting the Colin Powell endorsement. (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 President Obama. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (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 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 see. 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 aspect. 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 term. 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 substantial? 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 endorsement. MADDOW: Yes. 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. KORNACKI: Sure. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 office. 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 re-election efforts. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 power. 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 States. 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 the city. 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 directly. 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 agencies. 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 tunnels. 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 weather. 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 country. 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 was designed. 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 patterns. 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 underground. 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 increasing frequency. 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 them both. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 great. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 Clinton`s day. This is a post-it note. This is a post-it note stuck on the computer of my pal Steve Benen from 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 Bush details. 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 great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END