1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 10/31/2012 11:29:31 AM ET 2012-10-31T15:29:31

HARDBALL
October 29, 2012

Guests: Janel Klein, Christine Quinn, Jack Markell, John Nichols, m
Cantore

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Facing the storm.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

"Let Me Start" tonight with the storm, but also the society and the
leadership that`s facing it tonight. This is not the first storm this
president has led us through.

He came into office facing the full blast of the worst Wall Street
collapse in eight decades, a jobless rate spiking to double digits, and
amid Republicans sitting under their desks saying, No, no, this can`t be
happening, no, no, no to every step the new president took to regulate Wall
Street, to pull us back from the economic cliff, to reform health care, to
equalize pay between the sexes, to end the war in Iraq, to pound al Qaeda
to destruction and, of course, to cut off its head.

Well, tonight, this president, who has prevailed against so many
storms, both natural and man-made, stands on post in the same Situation
Room where he directed the killing of bin Laden. Again, the officer in
charge through perilous times.

Here`s where things stand at 5:00 o`clock Eastern. The storm is
expected to make landfall in southern New Jersey or in Delaware within the
hour. The slow-moving storm is expected to batter the Northeast into
tomorrow, with winds remaining strong by mid-afternoon. Wind gusts in New
York City had reached 60 miles per hour already and were expected to climb
throughout the night and into tomorrow. This is going to last.

Already it`s caused massive damage. In Atlantic City, part of the
famous boardwalk has washed away and a large part of the city was under
water late today. Along the shore in Maryland and Delaware, communities
are dealing with wide-scale flooding, with parts of Ocean City, Maryland,
and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, already under water.

In midtown Manhattan, police closed off streets around a building
where a crane collapsed and remains dangling there. And trains, subways
and other public transportation systems have been suspended in cities from
Boston down to Washington, D.C. Nearly 14,000 flights have been grounded.

We begin our coverage tonight with NBC`s Tranh Truong. He`s in
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. But I think we`re going to start with Ron Allen
-- we`re going to go with Tranh Truong. We`ve been trying to figure --
we`re going with Tranh Truong, there he is in Rehoboth Beach.

Tranh, thank you for joining us. Give us an update on what`s
happening where you`re standing. I think you`re in the water right there.

TRANH TRUONG, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is actually the --
obviously, this is the Atlantic Ocean. And Chris, you know this area
probably very well. This is a very popular destination for a lot of D.C.
folks.

But take a look at the ocean right now. This is actually low tide,
but in a matter of three hours or so -- and this is what the governor`s
really concerned about -- we`re going to get the high tide conditions.

And all day, this water has been slowly and steadily pushing towards
this area. You can see what it`s done to the fence here. But by the time
it comes around 8:00 o`clock tonight and well past the midnight hour, we
anticipate that a lot of the water is going to be pushing up onto this
boardwalk and pushing up against the seawalls here, as well.

The governor just had a briefing a short while ago. He did give us an
update. There`s 6,600 people without power right now. He anticipates that
number will climb as this storm approaches. He also says for now, it seems
like the infrastructure of the coastal areas of Delaware are holding firm
right now, and they attribute a lot of that to the coastal restoration that
they had this year. But obviously, a lot of that work is going to be
undone because of what you`re seeing with these waves crashing along the
beach.

Some areas of Delaware, especially just south of here, Dewey (ph)
Beach, are impassable at this point. They say because of the heeding of
the evacuation order, the mandatory evacuation order, 50,000 residents were
basically cleared out of here.

So far, they have no reports of any deaths or injuries, and the
governor is attributing that to their heeding of that warning. He says
this is going to be a very long night. So far, he says that the
infrastructure is holding up, but he says they can`t get complacent because
between 8:00 and past midnight, they say that`s going to be the true test
of the infrastructure here. That`s when the high tide rolls in and that`s
when a lot of action could happen, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, we`re going to have the governor on later in the
program, the governor of Delaware, to give us an update from himself. But
what`s happening with the traffic down there, Route 1, for example? Is
everything shut down?

TRUONG: It`s basically a ghost town right now, Chris. It`s hard to
find anybody at a store. The governor actually ordered all the businesses
in and around this area to be shut down at 6:00 o`clock last night. There
are roads that are impassable.

If anybody did decide to stay, he says that is going to be a mistake,
but he says if at this time they did decide to stay, the only thing they
can do is hunker down because there are no businesses, very few gas
stations open.

They`re going to have to stay where they are pretty much all night and
well into the next day because they anticipate when the power does go out,
it will take maybe -- he`s anticipating probably a week until they can get
it on because a lot of the utility workers will be responding to a wide
swathe of areas right now. He says if this is going to have a wide --
massive power outage, they`re going to be stuck for quite a while, Chris.

MATTHEWS: How far inland -- it`s basically sea level down there at
Rehoboth. It`s not very -- doesn`t get very high, the ground there. How
far in can the ocean come tonight, do you think, based upon where you`re
at?

TRUONG: Well, right now, Chris, if you take a look from where I`m
standing -- this is low tide, obviously, but this has been lapping up. And
take a look at the boardwalk. You see that fence. We anticipate that the
water is going to be pushing right up along that fence, where our hotel and
our holding position is right now. That`s sort of our -- that`s sort of
going to be our threshold.

We anticipate that`s -- the water is going to be rushing up there
sometime tonight, but you know, hopefully, if the storm somehow spares this
area, but because of the high tide and because of the power of the storm
coming in, we do anticipate a lot of that water that you`re seeing behind
me is going to start pushing up against the boardwalk. And we don`t know
if that boardwalk is going to hold, but`s going to be the true test
tonight, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about where the center is going to hit. We
talked tonight about -- or just a few moments ago, before you came on,
about the storm coming in at New Jersey, southern New Jersey, down around
Cape May at the bottom there, or in Delaware. What`s going to get hit the
hardest? Can you tell yet? What part of Jersey or Delaware itself?

TRUONG: It`s -- right now, it looks like it`s tracking north, Chris.
I believe it`s going to hit a little bit north and further into New Jersey
than down here. But it does -- this is such a massive storm, it`s such a
wide storm, that we`ve been seeing effects of the storm for the past two
days.

Now we`re probably starting to get into the worst of it. It`s come
around 8:00 o`clock, when the tide comes in. The winds have been pretty
steady right now. They`ve been predicting that we should have gusts of up
to 60 miles an hour or so. We haven`t really felt that, but we have had
some strong gusts of wind throughout the day.

The rain has been pretty steady, but for now, this is probably going
to be the worst of it. But obviously, as high tide comes in, we`re going
to see this get even higher, and then that water starting to push up
against that wall that we`ve been referring to, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Tranh, I`m thinking -- having grown up on the Jersey shore
and certainly Rehoboth, I thought of all the almost billions of dollars the
federal government has spent trying to save those beaches and restore them
again and again every few years. This is going to wreak havoc on all that
construction of really beautiful beach we`ve had over the recent years.

TRUONG: Oh, absolutely. And actually, this boardwalk -- what I`m
told is that this boardwalk actually used stimulus money to restore it. So
if this does go under, obviously, that`s going to be a big challenge to
restore it.

But a lot of money has been invested into beach restoration. And I
did ask the governor how much money in terms of an economic impact that he
anticipated in terms of a shutdown because, obviously, the state government
is shut down. Nobody`s going to work at the state government. And a big
mass of businesses here have closed, as well. So you can imagine people
not working. That`s going to be a huge economic loss.

But he said the most important thing is that there are no lives lost
at this point. He says he`ll deal with the economic losses later, as long
as they can save lives at this point, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s great reporting. It`s great to have you on,
Tranh Truong, who`s at Rehoboth Beach, which is the seashore of everyone
living in Washington.

So what does the storm mean for the presidential election? For that,
we`re joined by David Corn, who`s sitting with me, Washington bureau chief
for "Mother Jones" and author of "47 Percent."

David, this is an odd thing but here we are, a week before an
election. The election`s going to be held. We`ve been holding them since
1788. Every two years, we hold elections. And this is happening. I`m
going to talk later in the show, is this the "black swan" we always hear
about, the strange thing like the DUI charge that almost cost Bush the
election, in fact, cost him his actual plurality?

DAVID CORN, "MOTHER JONES," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we
won`t know until the end of the week. Right now, we see the campaigns sort
of in a state of suspension. The president has canceled his campaign
events and Mitt Romney has done the same. The president`s...

MATTHEWS: But not before coming out against FEMA. Now, this is where
I talk about the strange things. It`s not just the weather, it`s the
conjunction of weather and politics. Now, not long ago, in June -- we`re
going to look at a picture now -- this is when the Republican candidate for
president, Mitt Romney, went on the usual ideological facet (ph) that
people take in politics, saying, Why don`t we just get rid of this and let
the states handle this? Well, nobody`s saying that tonight.

CORN: Oh, no, no.

MATTHEWS: Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN: FEMA is about to run out of money. And there are
some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis, and some people who say,
You know, maybe we`re learning a lesson here that the states should take on
more of this role. How do deal with something like that?

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Absolutely.
Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal
government and send it back to the states, that`s the right direction. And
if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that`s
even better. We`re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we`re
taking in!

KING: Including disaster relief, though.

ROMNEY: We cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without
jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view,
for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to
our kids, knowing full well that we`ll all be dead and gone before it`s
paid off. Makes no sense at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: OK, here`s his math. Add $2 billion to defense budget that
the commanders have never asked for, add $5 billion in tax cuts and get rid
of FEMA.

CORN: No, but...

MATTHEWS: Do you think that`s a popular priority right now?

CORN: I don`t think it is. But also, look at a state like North
Carolina. We saw earlier today that the North Carolina Outer Banks have
been run over by water.

And what about the federal flood insurance program that people out
there take advantage of, not just FEMA, and all the stimulus money and
other federal projects that have developed that part of the country for all
of us?

You know, it`s not just what he said at that debate. The Ryan budget,
which he endorses, would eviscerate FEMA and all these sort of programs.
Now, I know we don`t want to play politics right now when all this -- when
it`s a dangerous moment, but it`s the type of thing that brings to question
what he wants to do versus what the president wants to do.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think this isn`t a case of Big Bird, it`s a case of
"big bath" here.

Joy Reid is also joining us. She`s managing editor of TheGrio. Isn`t
it interesting how chickens come home to roost, things occur that teach
people what they need government for, what they don`t need it for? And he
we are facing -- as we look at the pictures, they`re conjunctive (ph) with
you right now as we`re looking at you, Joy -- these scenes of where the
federal government -- only one government can really do everything. You
can`t have a FEMA for every state. It would be redundant.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here we are in the Northeast, facing the need for a federal
role.

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, no, absolutely. And
you called it. Ronald Reagan said the most terrifying words in the English
language are, I`m from the government, and I`m here to help.

When something like this happens, when you have a natural disaster,
that`s exactly what people want to hear. The government -- the federal
government is the only entity with the size and the breadth and the -- you
know, the ability to help people in these situations. And you know what,
Chris...

MATTHEWS: And the shared risk.

REID: And the shared risk.

MATTHEWS: The shared risk. Never forget that.

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Every state doesn`t face this.

REID: And not only that, but I was listening...

MATTHEWS: Seven or eight states may face this.

REID: to your discussion with David. There`s a fundamental hypocrisy
in this constant Republican drumbeat to privatize because if you look at
what we`ve done with military spending, for instance, where we have all
these private contractors, where do they get the incentive and the money to
do the things that they do supposedly privately? They get it from the
federal government. It`s contracts that go to private businesses, but they
come from the federal government.

Whether it`s the Olympics that Mitt Romney got tons of federal money
for or whether it`s Halliburton getting federal money to go in and rebuild
Iraq, or whether it`s something -- if you privatize the function of
disaster relief, the money would still come from government.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Donald Trump is probably out there somewhere saying
the president`s doing a rain dance or something. Look, they`re going to
have some weird excuse for this.

CORN: Right.

MATTHEWS: If the president looks good handling this, they will come
up with something. Don`t put it past them.

CORN: Some secret weather machine. But even beyond what Joy just
said, there`s an issue -- you know, you do what Ryan and Romney want to do
budgetarily, you won`t have money for NOAA.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: You know, you won`t have money for weather research. You won`t
have money for climate research.

MATTHEWS: OK...

CORN: All these things...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know the federal government, and so does Joy. The
governor gets on the phone. Who does he call?

CORN: He calls the president.

MATTHEWS: Right. And he calls and he asks for -- Can you get me some
help from FEMA? They get hold of the FEMA director. The president meets
with the FEMA director. Then you go to -- I was working on this project
back in the Carter administration, when we created FEMA. You know why we
created it?

CORN: Because the states...

MATTHEWS: So this would be handled by one federal unit.

Now, along the way, Joy -- and this is a purely partisan observation -
- W, President George W. Bush, did not take this job seriously.

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: When he -- not just going into Iraq, which was wrong, he
created a federal agency and turned it into -- run by what was that guy`s
name?

CORN: Joe Allbaugh.

MATTHEWS: No, Michael Brown.

CORN: Well, that was later...

REID: It was Brown.

CORN: ... but it was...

MATTHEWS: Michael Brown.

REID: Brownie.

MATTHEWS: Allbaugh was the good guy. Allbaugh was the other guy.

REID: It was "Heck of a job, Brownie."

MATTHEWS: Michael Brown was -- was -- You`re doing a great job,
Brownie. He took a guy from the Arabian Horse Racing Association...

REID: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: ... and put him in charge, showing exactly how much focus
he had on this kind of, well, disaster situation.

REID: Well, no, Chris, he turned it into a patronage job. And
Republicans like to claim that Democrats basically use government for
patronage, but George W. Bush, you know, famously turned almost every
federal agency as a place to park corporate executives who were formerly
being regulated by that agency.

And when he put Michael Brown into FEMA, it was a slap in the face to
the notion that the federal government`s job is to step in and help people
in these disasters. He thought anybody could do the job. Clearly,
Brownie...

MATTHEWS: Well, based on his own experience...

REID: ... couldn`t.

MATTHEWS: ... as president, I assume that was.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, David Corn, and thank you, Joy. In all
seriousness -- this is a serious situation.

REID: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: But it does bring up the serious decisions the voters have
to make, what matters, what doesn`t matter, what is waste and what isn`t.
And I think we need a federal role here, and I think everybody agrees.

REID: Amen.

MATTHEWS: Coming up, we`re continue to track Hurricane Sandy as it
bears down on the East Coast. We`ll watch the pictures as they occur.
We`re going to talk to the Weather Channel`s Jim Cantore, who`s down in
Lower Manhattan, where there`s a lot going on there, with the high storm
surge expected to rise. And a crane has toppled in midtown Manhattan
because of all this wind.

And this is HARDBALL. It`s live coverage of Hurricane Sandy. Back
with more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hurricane Sandy will make
landfall in a few hours, and while millions along the East Coast have yet
to see the worst this storm has to offer, residents along the coastal
shorelines are already getting a taste of Sandy`s wrath, if you will.
375,000 residents were ordered to evacuate from New York City in advance of
Hurricane Sandy`s rough winds and high water.

The Weather Channel`s Jim Cantore is with us tonight from Battery
Park. That`s in Lower Manhattan, at the very bottom. Jim, I see the rough
seas out there. This doesn`t make any sense to me historically. I grew up
in a country, Philadelphia, where you had a certain number of snows every
winter, which were normal. You had your hurricane season around August,
September, and it was down south.

Now what is this? If you -- without getting involved in the big fight
over global warming or climate change, what is going on?

JIM CANTORE, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: This is just a late season hybrid.
I mean, here`s the deal. What we`ve seen in the last several days -- I`ll
try and make this as brief as I can, Chris -- is what we call high latitude
blocking.

What climatologists and meteorologists are looking at is the fact that
the globe is warming, and we`re seeing these -- what we call high latitude
blocks. And what that does -- it`s just like a traffic jam. When the
traffic stops up there, it`s going to eventually stop right here.

And unfortunately, that`s starting to have implications on what`s
going on with our mid-latitude weather systems -- more droughts, more
floods, more strange systems like this that we certainly aren`t used to
seeing. That`s potentially what`s going on here. That`s everybody`s kind
of first stab at it.

But what this means is, is we`ve had something that started off as a
hurricane, still has a hurricane part to it, that`s become now a
nor`easter, and is going to produce blizzard-like conditions in West
Virginia. Plus, because of this blocking, it has come north and now hooked
off to the left. We have never seen that. We have never seen that.

So this is a storm that`s going to come in, we think, somewhere around
Cape May, New Jersey, within an hour or two. It may miss Cape May and
actually come in at Delaware. But either way, it`s already produced a
storm surge here in the Battery of 6.6 feet. That`s the rise in the water
just from the low pressure itself, OK?

So the high tide comes in -- here it is at 9:00 o`clock -- and that
means we`ve got to add the tide now to that 6.6 foot rise. That`s going to
bring the water -- because I remember. I was here with Irene, it was up to
the top of these benches. Now you`re talking about water that`s going to
be about this high.

So I think it`s without question that we`re going to flood the Battery
here. How much of this water gets in the subway system, I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: What about the wind?

CANTORE: A lot of the reports suggest that we`re within a -- what was
that? Go ahead.

MATTHEWS: Jim, are we going to see something like you see in Kansas
where you see roofs blown over after -- acres and acres of property? Are
we going to see that kind of wind damage up in the Northeast this time?

CANTORE: Don`t think of what I`m getting here as representative of
the wind, because it`s really not.

I`m protected from the buildings. But we have had gusts already out
at Montauk at 71. This is not like where you`re going to have 130-mile-
per-hour winds. So, no. The answer to that question is no.

But there will be so much tree damage, we think, across interior
Pennsylvania and New York and New Jersey, even parts of New England back
down through West Virginia, that that`s a big concern. I mean, we`re going
to have, you know, multiple power outages and for -- many millions we think
will be without power with this storm.

And believe it or not, the forecast is for or -- at least earlier --
was for record surge here at the Battery. I don`t think we`re going to get
that, but also for record storm surge on the Great Lakes. That`s
unprecedented -- 900 miles wide, that`s the tropical storm wind field with
this, something we have just certainly never seen before, something this
big and this sprawled out.

MATTHEWS: You cover natural events and meteorology. I cover
politics. And I`m thinking it`s now Monday, a week before an election.
Are we going to have this damage getting in the way of voters next Tuesday
and between now and then, obviously between now and then?

CANTORE: Well, that`s -- that`s a great question. I mean, I think,
you know, the president certainly has a chance to show up over the next few
days and be talking about this, as we have seen from President Obama.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CANTORE: We also have obviously the chance to have extended power
outages, depending on the type of potential destruction here. So, yes, I
think there will be places, there will be towns that will be without power
for several days, if not maybe even 10 days. And that takes us into --
certainly well into election time and past that could certainly be
implicated -- implicated with this weather system.

MATTHEWS: You know, it`s amazing to go to the stores. I went to a
bunch of CVSes yesterday in Washington, D.C., looking around for batteries,
C batteries, D batteries. They`re all gone. It`s like these kind of
products you assume they will always be on the shelves. And in something
like this, it`s just gone. People are in for the long haul, I think,
without electricity.

CANTORE: Well, you know what?

And that`s one -- what we saw with this early on was the potential for
this wind damage and these power outages. So, you know, when you`re
talking about 60 million people that will be impacted and forecasting 10
million people without power, you`re going to lose batteries off shelves.
There`s a lot of places in Upstate New York that have run out of generators
because people just don`t want to be without power for that long.

You know what? This is late October. Behind this, it`s going to get
cold. So you`re going to need the heat on in the house and that`s
something, you know, people want to deal with. It`s a little bit easier to
stay indoors when it`s 75, 85 degrees outside in the summer, like you would
get with a tropical system, but not when it`s 35 or 45.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CANTORE: The house gets very, very cold and uncomfortable to stay in.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about water level. I have heard about New
York City retrofitting itself for climate change at a higher sea level and
the fact that it`s going to happen over time. Now you have this first
incidence of water level -- I heard the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel
are closed.

CANTORE: Right.

MATTHEWS: How much can the water do -- damage can do to, say, a
metropolis like New York?

CANTORE: Oh, my goodness, you get water in that subway system and you
start dealing with those electrical transmission lines and, you know, you
could have extensive damage there.

As a matter of fact, if they start hearing that those tunnels are
filling with water, you know, you know what you do? And we see this all
the time with tropical systems. They will shut down the electric grid.
So, they will actually start shutting down to prevent power loss in
transformers, you know, dealing with all that electricity.

So, you know, I think that`s the big thing. And I think 7:00 to 9:00
tonight, we will find out if we`re going to get water in the subways. But
if reports were from last year with Irene that we were within a foot of
getting water in the subways, and now the surge is already 2.2 feet higher
than it was with Irene, there`s a pretty good chance we could get it in the
subway.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I hear the Lincoln is still working.

Let me ask you about just back again to the beginning where we
started, history and where this fits in. Where does this storm fit into
history? Is it something new in terms of climate change that wouldn`t have
occurred in the past 50 or 100 years? Is it new, what we`re seeing?

CANTORE: Well, first of all, we`re only in chapter two of 10 because
I don`t think we have seen all this can do yet.

But chapter two is going to state like this. It`s going to say the
lowest pressure ever north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, has come into
the East Coast of the United States at 940 millibars. That`s where this
thing stands right now.

The previous low pressure was 1938 with the Long Island Express
hurricane that came up and slammed Long Island and New York and New England
with a pressure of 946 millibars. So we are six millibars lower than that
-- the pressure, of course, a measure of the deepness of the storm, the
intensity of the storm, and the lower that pressure typically the stronger
the storm.

So, sitting at 940, and that right there is chapter two, history in
the making.

MATTHEWS: Where is the Statue of Liberty right there behind you? Is
that right behind you?

CANTORE: Frank, Statue of Liberty, I don`t know if you can zoom out
to it.

It`s across the Hudson here. And you can see it kind of in the haze.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I see it.

CANTORE: But notice out there, too, almost at the top of the water
there, the white caps that are showing up.

MATTHEWS: There it is.

CANTORE: And then there`s this -- kind of this white area where it
looks like there`s a much stronger wind. Obviously, once you get away from
the building and things, it`s blowing like crazy out there.

So, again, like I said, don`t be thinking that the winds that we`re
dealing with here are representative of what`s going on in New York right
now. You get into some of those high-rises, and they`re about a category
stronger. So, we have a Category 1 hurricane. It`s a Category 2 on top of
these high-rises.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Jim Cantore, you`re the best, obviously. Thank you so much for your
time tonight.

CANTORE: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Just love to see the Statue of Liberty in the mist there
like that.

Much more ahead as Hurricane Sandy continues to batter the Eastern
Seaboard -- back with more in a minute.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In New York City, a construction crane there partially collapsed
earlier today, and part of it now hangs precariously over a Midtown
Manhattan street.

NBC News` Rehema Ellis is there.

Rehema, thanks for joining us.

This would normally be a local story, but this is part of a much
bigger story, this wacky, wacky, frightening storm that`s hit us.

REHEMA ELLIS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely is, Chris.

I have been out here a couple hours now, and I must tell you that the
wind gusts are getting -- are picking up and becoming much more violent.
And police have created what they call a collapse zone in the area
immediately around this building that you can see where this crane is
dangerously perched now and in a place where they wanted to make certain
that they keep everybody as safe as possible.

So, they have ordered people to evacuate the apartment buildings, the
businesses, even the hotel that`s right in that area, because they don`t
know what`s going to happen with this thing.

Authorities say, at about 2:30 in the afternoon, when they got the
report that the crane had -- the crane had tipped, the wind was blowing at
about 20 miles an hour then, with gusts up to 40 miles an hour. That
tipped this crane.

I think the winds are much stronger than that right now. They want to
make certain if this thing snaps off, it doesn`t go flying into an
apartment building. And then who knows what would happen before it crashes
down to the ground -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: Yes, this whole -- what`s it look like there between now
and midnight in New York City, where you`re at right in Midtown? What`s
going to happen tonight?

ELLIS: Right. Right. That`s a good question.

Hopefully, people will get off the streets. Authorities, the police,
the fire department, the city building department, they have brought over
inspectors. They`re going to try and go up as far as they can on this
construction site.

It is now a 65-story building, scheduled to go up to 90 stories. It`s
going to be one of the most expensive luxury apartment buildings in New
York City. But it`s under construction. They`re going to try and get guys
up there to see what, if anything, they can do, but these winds are violent
right now.

MATTHEWS: OK.

ELLIS: And I don`t know -- but I`m not an expert -- I don`t know if
they can do anything until the winds calm down -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you for that report from Midtown Manhattan,
Rehema Ellis in New York City.

You`re watching HARDBALL`s live coverage -- you can see it now -- of
Hurricane Sandy. What a story -- back with more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

When you think hurricane, you don`t think of snow, and yet that`s what
many Americans on the western side of this storm are facing.

Janel Klein of The Weather Channel is with me tonight from Snowshoe,
West Virginia.

Wow. Janel, you look out of place in a storm, sorry, but I`m sure
you`re not out of place in West Virginia. How does that relate to what we
just watched in New York City with the crane coming down and everybody
going crazy along Delaware Beaches? And how does it all connect?

JANEL KLEIN, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: It`s interesting, isn`t it, Chris?

It`s really not something that you would think of when you mention
hurricane, exactly like you said. But this is a direct effect of Sandy,
this system dumping tons of snow on the West Virginia region in Snowshoe,
aptly named, as you said, at the ski resort.

They are getting about two feet of snow here, could be even more than
that as this storm continues, and also high winds a very big concern. The
other big worry here is power outages, this snow really wet and heavy and
as that`s coming down and coating the power lines, that`s a big worry here,
that that`s going to take out power. This area lost power this summer in a
big windstorm.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

KLEIN: So now it`s fearing that it`s going to happen again.

And of course, with visibility so tough here and roads so covered in
snow and sleet, very, very concerned that people are going to lose power
and not be able to get out.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s good snowball weather, as I remember. Wet,
wet snow makes the best snowballs. It`s probably not good for the economic
health and safety.

But is there any danger in this kind of snowball weather moving east
or getting beyond the snow mountain there?

KLEIN: Definitely more widespread than you might imagine.

Again, this system a little unpredictable, as we`re seeing it move
along the East Coast with the hurricane weather, the snowstorm here. So,
it`s a bunch of things coming together and, as you`re seeing, a lot of
weird effects, things that we haven`t seen before.

And, in fact, the National Weather Service has issued a blizzard
warning, and today it`s saying it`s probably the only time it has had to do
that as a direct result of a hurricane. This really is such a rare, rare
condition and a rare set of circumstances that we`re seeing snow come from
this, but that`s exactly what`s happening here, certainly not expected here
in West Virginia and in this area, but we are getting quite a bit of snow
and probably going to get a lot more before this system is over.

MATTHEWS: I think this is nature saying, boo.

Anyway, thank you, Janel Klein, in Snowshoe, West Virginia.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Now back to the Eastern Seaboard, where Hurricane Sandy is
running headlong into the most populated areas of this country. The New
York City region will be in the teeth of the storm tonight.

Already, it`s disrupted the city significantly. The New York Stock
Exchange was shut down today and will be closed again tomorrow. Major
bridges and tunnels in and out of Manhattan are closed or will stay closed
or be closed soon. And New York City`s utility company, Con Edison, is
expecting record size outages.

Well, Christine Quinn is New York City Council speaker of the House up
there.

Thank you for joining us, Council President and -- Speaker, actually,
Madam Speaker.

CHRISTINE QUINN (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: Sure. Sure.

MATTHEWS: Tell us what`s going on. We want to feel good about this.
How is New York scrambling to deal with this?

QUINN: Well, the good news is that New York really isn`t scrambling.
We have a very well-organized Office of Emergency Management, a command
center with people staffing desks from every city agency, state agency,
federal agency, all working very cooperatively together.

Now, that said, this is an extreme storm. We have call for an
evacuation of our Zone A. That`s 375,000 people. There`s no way to know
exactly, but we think probably about half of those folks or somewhere
around that have left.

Within that, there have been a number, over 20, of our housing
authority, public housing authority developments. We have had to evacuate
those, deals with hospitals and nursing homes in that area. And it`s all
happened in an orderly way. Our first-responders are out there. We are
really as ready as you can possibly be for this storm and working very
closely, Mayor Bloomberg, also, with Governor Cuomo on sharing resources
coordinating.

So the good news is, we`re taking this seriously, we have prepared,
and we`re there to help New Yorkers get through the next hours or day of
this storm.

MATTHEWS: What`s interesting is how all the politicians are getting
along so well, your mayor, of course, with the governor, Governor Cuomo.
And we`re hearing great things from Governor Christie of adjoining New
Jersey saying nice things about President Obama.

What`s with the goodwill? Is it just necessity or does it bring
together people, this kind of thing?

QUINN: You know, you have to hope that, at times like this, when
you`re thrust into the reality of the real work of government, which is
about protecting people, saving people, keeping people safe, that that
really makes everybody work together.

And what you really also have to hope is that that experience will
create a little muscle memory, so the next time we have an issue that maybe
isn`t a natural disaster, we will all remember how we worked so well
together and how much better that is for the overall greater good.

MATTHEWS: It doesn`t always work this way. I mean, you sound very
optimistic about what you have -- you have watched today, you have overseen
it, in the city with the other council members.

But I think of John Lindsay, who was basically laughed out of office
after one of these snowstorms. I think of Jane Byrne in Chicago. I think
of Mayor Nagin down in New Orleans. They all were -- they were laughed to
death after these kinds of situations. They blew it.

QUINN: You know, you don`t want ever want that to happen on your
watch if you`re a mayor or elected official. And you don`t want it to
happen on your watch, obviously, to some degree because of politics, but
you don`t want it to happen on your watch because those folks were laughed
out of office, so to speak, because they didn`t deliver the services that
are the most core and most basic that their taxpayers pay for.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

QUINN: This is what you show up to do every day if you`re a municipal
employee or elected official, is things like this at the base.

If you can`t do this, people do have a right to be angry.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, Christine Quinn, speaker of the
House...

QUINN: Take care.

MATTHEWS: ... speaker of the City Council in New York City.

Up next, the latest as hurricane Sandy, what a strangely nice name
for this horror, back with more in a minute on Sandy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall within the
next hour or so in southern New Jersey or the state of Delaware.

With me now by phone is Delaware governor and chairman of the
National Governors Association, Jack Markell.

Governor Markell, thank you for joining us. We`re looking at a nice
scene earlier but looking at some scary stuff earlier from Rehoboth going
on right now. Your thoughts of what was happening.

GOV. JACK MARKELL (D), DELAWARE (via telephone): Well, it`s pretty -
- it`s a very significant event. I just left Rehoboth and Dewey Beach, the
bay is meeting the ocean right there, number one. Lots of flooding, lots
of rain, and lots wind. A lot more people in the last few hours having
lost power and, unfortunately, with this storm they could be without power
for a week or more.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of this storm? Here we are late October,
it`s frankly Halloween and we`re getting something that looks like it
should have been hitting Florida two months ago. This climate thing and
then we`re hearing snowfall in West Virginia, the wind, we haven`t seen the
danger from the wind yet, it could be really horrendous and it`s coming out
of nowhere.

This time of year it`s pretty calm weather-wise, most of the time.

MARKELL: This is -- this is usually a beautiful time of year in
Delaware and -- you know, talking to people who have been following this
for a long time, they have never seen anything like this before. We`re in
a bit uncharted territories and that`s why we`ve got a great community of
first responders, emergency response personnel doing a great job.

MATTHEWS: Tell me about FEMA. I had a role back in the Carter
administration of putting that back together, to coordinate all this stuff.
Apparently, Governor Christie has said some nice things about it. We
should have it.

Do we have that tape of Governor Christi Christie right now we can
show it? What he said about the president`s handling.

Let`s watch Governor Christie. I want you to react to this, Governor
Markell.

MARKELL: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Thank the president for his
telephone call inquiring about how things were going here and assured him
that things were going well so far. He invited me to call him at any time
if things are no the going well. So, we`ll make sure we do that and
appreciate the president`s outreach today in making sure that we know that
he`s watching this and is concerned about the health and the welfare and
safety of the people of the state of New Jersey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s the adjoining state of New Jersey. You`re governor
of Delaware, Governor. Tell us how this is being coordinated, how
effective. Give it a rating as of the past several hours, how is it going
between FEMA and the state level?

MARKELL: FEMA is a 10 and they have been. They were last year as
well with Irene. They`ve been absolutely terrific. They embed themselves
with our own emergency management agencies so it`s really -- it`s seamless.
The president did have a call yesterday with all of us governors, a lot of
mayors, and he went one by one asking if there was anything he could do.

I had an issue today. I got a response within about 10 minutes. And
that was from the White House as well. They`ve been terrific and we`re
really grateful for it.

MATTHEWS: Not to be too political but that`s what I do here,
Governor Romney in June of this year said we ought to think about getting
rid of FEMA, it may not be necessary, the states can handle he`s kinds of
situations. Your reaction?

MARKELL: Yes, it`s absurd. I mean, it really is. We had -- we have
had issues here where the resources of the federal government are
extraordinarily important. And we expect more of that. And I think, you
know, again as you say not to get too political but what`s the irony that
here we are eight days before the election and people can be reminded of
what he said I think just last year in one of these debates.

MATTHEWS: So, here we go, give us a sense of you as governor of
Delaware, what is it going to look like in the next six hours, the next 12
hours? If we got up at seven tomorrow morning, what`s it going to be like
in Delaware?

MARKELL: Well, my biggest concern still has to do with the power.
I`ve been following over the last few hours, you know, a significant
increase in the number of Delaware homes without power. That`s going to
increase and increase and it`s going to take a while for the utility
companies to get that fixed.

So to me, that`s really the major issue. We had a mandatory
evacuations period. We`ve had driving restrictions and I`m appreciative
that people really seem to be following those. We`ve got shelters open and
we expect the number of people using the shelters to increase a lot as
people lose power.

So just an amazing group of first responders throughout the state,
Red Cross, National Guard, everybody pulling together. That being said,
Mother Nature is very, very powerful. People have to use common sense and
treat this seriously.

MATTHEWS: OK. Governor Jack Markell of Delaware, thanks for joining
us tonight.

MARKELL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Americans judge their leaders in their responses to
natural disasters like hurricane Sandy. And tonight, the presidential
campaign with just eight days left sits at a stand still with both
President Obama and Governor Romney canceling their events for tonight and
tomorrow night.

Here to answer some of the political questions this storm brings to
us is John Nichols, Washington correspondent for "The Nation."

John, thanks for joining us.

It isn`t exactly true that this is an equal playing field. The
president of the United States has a big job, especially when you got FEMA
working for you. He has all the powers of incumbency and all the
opportunities to display how good an executive he is. Romney, on the
sidelines, well, the breaks of the game.

Your thoughts about what this does to the situation eight days out.

JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: Well, it puts an awful lot on hold. And,
you know, people probably could never have imagined that a storm on the
East Coast of the United States would be canceling events in Wisconsin and
Ohio, scrambling events just this afternoon in Davenport, Iowa.

But the fact of the matter is over the next two days, Barack Obama
and Mitt Romney and also Paul Ryan have canceled events as far away as
Colorado. Not just because of concerns about the storm surge, but also
because of concerns about the image. This is for better or worse an image
game now, and nobody wants to be seen out having fun campaigning or having
a big event, when people are in harm`s way.

MATTHEWS: But let me ask you about John McCain. We have recent
example of John McCain, a recent example where a candidate called for an
end to the campaign. He was going to put off debates and everything else
back in the last election. And he looked a little foolish.

So tell me how that works.

NICHOLS: He did.

MATTHEWS: Explain.

NICHOLS: Yes, I mean -- it`s a careful balance here. When you say
that you want to halt everything because there`s a challenge, a disaster,
in that case, an economic challenge, you better have some reason for it,
something that`s coming of it.

And you also need to know when to restart. And that`s going to be
the great challenge over the next couple of days.

Look, the president of the United States is in an ideal position so
long as the response to this disaster is well done. If there`s a mess-up,
as you have referenced earlier in this show, like in Chicago in `79 with
Michael Bilandic and the snowstorm, that can blow back on the leader. But
if this goes well, if the president comes off well, he gains an advantage
here.

And for Mitt Romney, the great challenge is deciding when to go back
into a campaign mode. And there`s a secondary challenge -- how hard do you
attack a president who seems to be putting all of his energy into helping
the American people survive a storm? You know, it`s very hard to go out
there and say what a bad guy he is. So this scrambles the rest of this
campaign.

Chris, books will be written about this week. Not just about the
campaign and not just about the storm, but about the interplay of this
storm and this campaign and they will be very fascinating books.

MATTHEWS: You know, it`s bothered me for weeks now that the
president hasn`t been able to gain a natural advantage of the incumbency.
Of course, he`s paid the price for incumbency, but has gotten none of the
advantages that he`s never been able to take. Now, he`s forced to take
advantage of incumbency. He`s got a job to do. And maybe this will be
necessity is the mother of invention.

Anyway, President Obama earlier today warned the public of the Sandy
strength and scope, though he downplayed the potential effect on the
election itself. Let`s listen to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is going to be a
big storm. It`s going to be a difficult storm.

The great thing about America is when we go through tough times like
this, we all pull together. We look out for our friends, we look out for
our neighbors, and, you know, we set aside whatever issues we may otherwise
to make sure that we respond appropriately and with swiftness. And that`s
exactly what I anticipate is going to happen here.

REPORTER: What about the impact of the election, sir?

OBAMA: I am not worried at this point about the impact on the
election. I`m worried about the impacts 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.

You know, the election will take care of itself next week. Right
now, our number one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was answered rather well. What do you think,
John?

NICHOLS: Well, you know, it`s often said that President Obama is too
cool, too calm. And yet here you see it playing perfectly. This is a
calm, focused president of the United States. Not -- no hyperbole, no big
theater, talking people through a very difficult situation, in a way that
they would want to be talked to, as adults, responsible players, saying,
you know, look, pay attention, be cool here.

And then when the election comes up, being able to say, look, my
focus is on people`s safety.

Now, if we`re honest with ourselves, we know that that the president
of the United States has in the back of his head the reality that there is
an election in a week. But this puts him in to my mind, Barack Obama`s
strongest position. He is very good at a moment like this.

And so, I think Americans are, for better or worse, if we understand
politics, being reintroduced to their president in a meek, unprecedented
way that could very well have a great deal of significance in how they
decide how to vote in a week.

MATTHEWS: How long do you think it will take for Donald Trump to
take a crack at the president for engineering this?

NICHOLS: Well, you know, already there`s been blog traffic saying
absurd things.

But, you know, look, here`s the bottom line reality -- as much as we
suggest that the president of the United States looks good in this
situation, that it does give him a platform, there is great peril in this
and there`s great political challenges. If something isn`t handled well,
people can get very angry and we`re looking at the start of a storm. You
know, three or four days into a natural disaster when power hasn`t been
restored, people can get very angry and very upset.

So I think we should recognize that Barack Obama has the advantage of
incumbency here, but he also has the great overwhelming challenge of a
presidency on his shoulders, at a time when Americans are going through
something that is historically unprecedented. I went back and looked
through election history, trying to see something like this. The
equivalents are not in natural disasters, they are military, with Franklin
Roosevelt --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

NICHOLS: -- dealing with World War II, or Abraham Lincoln dealing
with the Civil War. That is the really equivalent, something so big that
it draws attention from the presidential race.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Very dramatic. Thank you so much, John
Nichols, for joining us tonight.

When we come back, more on hurricane Sandy in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight, again, with this storm. They are
called black swans -- those unpredictable, unknown forces that enter a
campaign often in the last week that, to use the language of the comic
books, change the course of mighty rivers. There was George W.`s admission
of an old driving under an influence charge. His real crime, I would say,
was leading this country under the influence of Dick Cheney and his neo
conservative allies in Iraq.

But the black swan now swooping across the country East Coast, our
country`s East Coast, carries with it all the unpredictables and unknowns
for which the species owes its name. It swoops in, it is dark with
mystery. This storm will pass, thank God, but what it leaves in its trail
is still a stranger.

I`ve said for days, that the power of the first presidential debate
would not die until operated on by an outside force. That`s Newton`s first
law of physics and it applies to politics as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, an outside force, whichever direction it takes
is now upon us. A black swan now has us on its wings.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.

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

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


More on TODAY.com

  1. On milestone birthday, Al shares 6 lessons for 6 decades

     Al Roker, who joined the national broadcast in 1996, is celebrating the big 6-0 and he’s sharing six lessons he learned along the way.

    8/20/2014 12:08:26 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T12:08:26
  2. ‘Everybody loves you, buddy!’Joe Biden surprises Al for birthday

    For the last year, Al has been begging the vice president to join TODAY’s Take and it finally happened! That was just one of the many surprises for Roker on his big day.

    8/20/2014 2:06:34 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T14:06:34
  3. video Jennifer Hudson, Heidi Klum, send well-wishes for Al

    video Some famous faces send along happy birthday messages for TODAY’s Al Roker. “You make 60 look hot,” said Heidi Klum.

    8/20/2014 2:10:22 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T14:10:22
  4. Peter Kramer / NBC
  1. Obama on journalist’s killing: ‘We are all heartbroken’

    President Barack Obama said Wednesday that “the entire world is appalled” by the beheading of James Foley, an American journalist, by the Islamist militant group ISIS.

    8/20/2014 5:07:51 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T17:07:51
  1. Courtesy of Bush Family

    President Bush accepts Jenna Bush Hager's Ice Bucket Challenge

    8/20/2014 11:04:14 AM +00:00 2014-08-20T11:04:14