tv Meet the Press NBC August 28, 2011 8:00am-9:00am PDT
this sunday, special coverage of hurricane irene as she slams the northeast. after mandatory evacuations are ordered along the eastern seaboard. the latest on the storm's path and strength as it now moves over new york city. updates this morning from the ground and from the director of fema, the federal emergency management agency, craig fugate, on relief efforts and what lies ahead. also with us, new jersey governor chris christie on how his state is faring in the storm. we'll go beyond the breaking news to ask some of the larger questions as well. how prepared is the country to handle disasters like this? president obama cut short his martha's vineyard vacation.
>> all indications point to this being a historic hurricane. >> what has been learned from past failures like the response to hurricane katrina just six years ago this weekend? and what new planning must be done to weather unanticipated threats like this week's rare earthquake on the east coast? also, our "political roundtable" this morning on the politics of disaster response and the new force taking over the republican field for the presidency, texas governor rick perry. >> our country is in trouble, and it's got to have someone who understands how to get america working again, and i'm it! >> and former vice president dick cheney's new memoir takes on the critics. >> this book is going to make a lot of people angry. >> there will be heads exploding all over washington. >> with us, national correspondent for the "today" program, jamie gangel, columnist for "the new york times," david brooks, author and georgetown
university professor michael eric dyson, and the bbc's catty kay. good morning, the worst may still be to come as hurricane irene hits new york city. it's just a matter of time, and the concern now, flooding from storm surges. after making landfall early saturday, irene left her mark on the outer banks with heavy rain and high wind. by last evening, the storm unrelenting in ocean city, maryland, and coastal virginia. this morning at 5:30 a.m., a second landfall in little egg inlet, new jersey. so far, the storm is responsible for at least ten deaths and power outages across nine states, leaving more than 3 million homes without electricity this morning. states of emergency have been declared in ten states along the eastern seaboard. joining us now for the very latest from new york, nbc
meteorologist bill karins. and bill, do we have an actual change in what the storm is now? >> yes. as expected, it is now a tropical storm. it really rapidly weakened overnight last night. we haven't even had any hurricane gusts in about 12 hours, so the hurricane center now officially calling it a tropical storm. that really shouldn't change anything, though, anyone in its path. i'm talking specifically to everyone in new england. as we look at the storm, all the heavy rain is already in new england. there's not a lot of back side to this storm, so the weather will rapidly improve during the day new york city southward, but if you live in connecticut, vermont, new hampshire, maine, up state new york, those are areas that you want to still be in the safe room with your families because we'll have trees falling, the soil is saturated, wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour, and that's what's going to cause the biggest issues out there. as far as what we're dealing with with the storm, the storm itself is going to continue to weaken, but it is rapidly moving to the north, too, though, so that's the one piece of good news we have with this storm system. we did see peak winds overnight and during the last couple days
that were very high, especially down along the coastline of virginia, especially, with the worst of it. we saw wind gusts there up to almost 100 miles per hour, and that includes areas down to the south. so, the southerly winds are piling up the water. this is kind of the graphic i want to concentrate on the most, along the connecticut coastline and also long island. now through noon is when the waves will do the most damage, and all the little inlets there as we head up towards providence and the connecticut area, where the worst of it will be. the storm path itself travels up north through new england during the day today as it continues to weaken. one thing we will see later today and also into tonight, the historic flooding from this storm from the rain. this isn't the coast, this is inland. some of the new jersey rivers are going to be close to their all-time record levels. that means evacuations on rivers and rivers going through houses throughout the next two days. the river, it wasn't quite as bad around d.c., about 3 1/2 inches of rain, but through eastern portions of virginia, especially through the williamsburg area to norfolk
that was the worst of it, david, where we saw as much as six to ten inches of rain. i guess the bottom line, irene now a tropical storm, still a threat out there, but it will be quickly leaving and the cleanup will begin as we go throughout the night tonight and all day monday. >> all right. bill karins up in new york for us, our meteorologist. thanks very much. joining me now from the regional operations intelligence center in ewing, new jersey, is the governor of new jersey, chris christie. governor, good to have you here. what's your big issue, your big concern this morning? >> david, our big concern right now is flooding, not only on the coast, but inland. we have our rivers here that are swelling over their banks. we have flooding inland already and we have over 250 road closures already in new jersey, more than 15,000 people in 45 different shelters, and that number is climbing, and we have over 500,000 people without power. and so, what we're transitioning now towards is dealing with the flooding and the aftermath.
the good news is we got a million people off the jersey shore in 20 hours and i think we would have had significant loss of life if we hadn't done that. >> talk about that decision. you know, there's a lot of lessons learned from past disasters, like a hurricane katrina, even the big storm earlier this year in the northeast in the new york city area. what triggered it for you that said, you know what, you know, conditions can change, forecasts can change, but i'm going to be very deliberate in saying you've got to get off of the coast, no question about it, it's got to be mandatory? >> well, you know, david, first thing is that i think your number one goal as a governor in this situation is the saving of human life. everything else is secondary. and so, once we saw that the meteorologists and national weather service were really focusing in on a track that was going to have the hurricane hit where it did today, on the jersey shore, it was my call that we're just, we're not going to have people on those barrier islands on the coastline, because if there was significant
destruction, we'd have significant loss of life. and so, you know, those are never easy calls to make, but if you prioritize things the way we have, which is saving human life is the most important thing, then the rest of the decision was relatively easy. >> governor, as you know, you just heard from bill karins, this is downgraded to a tropical storm. there's going to be that instinct on the part of a lot of people in your state to say, well, okay, looks like the worst is over, let me go back and see what's the situation on the coast, in my home, in my area. you'd like to caution people against doing that right now. >> absolutely, david. the storm is still covering half of our state as we speak right now, and so, i want folks to stay inside their homes. stay inside their homes until it's already cleared. we have downed power wires all over the place, we have flooding of streets, 250 roads already closed, and that number is climbing. and the one real problem that we've had this morning is one woman who went out in her car, she got caught in some flash flooding and she was carried down river now and is still missing. those are the kinds of things
that can happen. everyone will be fine if we stay in our homes, we let the storm pass and then we wait to hear an assessment for people when they can go back out. but right now, i want to make sure that we have downed power wires dealt with, we don't have people getting electrocuted. we don't have the other issues that would be tragic if we got through the storm and then lose life because we're careless on the back end. so, i'm asking people in new jersey as subtly as i do, david, please, stay calm. >> safety first, as you repeated over and over again. there will be a morning-after damage assessment, and this is going to be a big story, isn't it, governor, up and down the seaboard? we already have local municipalities and states being so hard hit in this economy. what kind of cost, damage estimates, are you expecting at this early point? >> listen, i've got to imagine that the damage estimates are going to be in the billions of dollars, david, if not the tens of billions of dollars. we're going to start later this afternoon, as soon as the storm clears. i'm going to personally go and start making assessments of the coastline and see what the
damages are like there. and at the same time, we need to deal with this inland flooding, which may not completely subside in new jersey until tuesday on some of our rivers. so, the damage assessment's going to be a rolling one. the coastline will be the first we'll be able to judge, but then inland we're going to have a lot of damage, too, from these river floodings. >> any lessons you take away? i mean, this has been an extraordinary week, not only for your state and this storm, but also an earthquake. as a los angeles guy, i was not as freaked out about that, but now as an easterner, i was. if you look at that and the coordination between a big state like yours and the federal government, are there lessons you take away from this week, jobs well done, things you can improve on? >> well, certainly we're going to have an after-action program to look at what we can do better. i know there's always things that we could have done better, but what i'm proud of is that we're coordinating well with the federal government, we have fema folks here on site in the operations and intelligence center. you see here, they're working incredibly hard and providing us things we need. our own team at the state level
has put aside everything except for saying, listen, how do we best serve making sure the human life is saved and then try to minimize property damage. so, we'll do an after-action report, david, and take a look at it. i know there's always things we can do better, but the key is that we've tried to keep people fully informed, be fully transparent, to lower fear and raise confidence. and that's what we're trying to do and i think that's the best thing a governor can do in this circumstance. >> governor chris christie in new jersey, you've been going 24/7 in the last several days up until this storm. we really appreciate your time this morning. thank you. >> david, thanks for having us. everybody stay home and stay safe. >> good message. good advice. joining me from coney island in new york is our correspondent peter alexander, who's been in the thick of it all morning long. peter, describe your situation and where things stand for new york city at this point. >> sara: davi . >> david, we're at the iconic
boardwalk in coney island with the permission of the police, who we've been communicating with all morning long and they've been telling us what they've been seeing around the area as well, which is heavy flooding right now. what's remarkable now compared to an hour ago is that you can just walk a straight line very easily. the wind has definitely subsided in the course of the last hour. about an hour ago here at coney island, we got hit with the hardest winds to this point, 60-mile-per-hour gusts here, 30 to 35-mile-per-hour winds sustained. but if you see on this boardwalk, a lot of husbands here with their wives on weekends like this in the middle of the summer to power-wash the deck? coney island's boardwalk got one heck of a free power wash courtesy of mother nature today. if you look in this direction, the real concern according to forecasters has been this tidal surge and storm surge coming this way. they expected seas to rise four to eight feet, and with that, five to ten inches of rain in and around new york city. new york city, david, as we've been reporting, has more than 17 inches of rain in the month of august. that makes it the wettest month
ever on record for new york city, not august, the wettest month ever for new york city. robert adams, our cameraman, if you'll pan this direction, i want to let you know what the winds look like right now. you can see how they've literally torn apart these american flags, and this young lady here holding her beer and burger, you know, for all the guests who come here on a normal weekend day, is still holding steady at this point, but we thought we might lose her a little while earlier. the good news is, as we see a guy jogging out here, one of the brave ones, is that we're on the back side of this now. it appears that we dodged a bullet, at least here, in that this ocean didn't come all the way up to the boardwalk itself. right now, roughly 300 trees we have heard about that have already been uprooted all over new york city itself, as we clean our lens for you. there are even as we speak still this morning warnings of the possibility of tornadoes throughout this area as well, david. so, while we've seen the worst of it, there's still a lot to be concerned about, as you just heard from the governor a short time ago. >> all right.
peter alexander, good to see the wind's died down a little bit, that guy is jogging in your camera position we saw him twice, so he's sticking to the routine. peter, thanks very much. we want to go now to the headquarters of fema, the federal emergency management agency and speak to the administrator, craig fugate. mr. fugate, good to have you with us this morning. i know the president has convened you and others on his team to get the latest updates. at this point, what is the headline from this storm? >> i think the big headline is power outages. you know, we've got damages down in virginia and north carolina from flooding and storm surge, river flooding, but i think most people are being impacted across the area, really with power outages right now. >> what about flooding? we're talking about surges in the new york city area and that part, as you go up the coast a little bit into new england. how is that affecting everyone also on the new jersey coast? >> well, yes. as governor christie said, they already have a person missing, and that's why it's critical people stay inside, stay off the roads. i'll give you an example down in north carolina where irene first
came ashore, they were reporting over 76 swift water rescues where we had to rescue people in the storm. so we expect the rivers are still coming up. we have more rescues that will be required. >> so, because you do have people who may think, okay, tropical storm now, i can actually go back, as we look in the rearview mirror, north carolina and along the coast, other areas, they want to make an assessment. where on the map is it okay to do that and where should people not be leaving? >> don't go back yet. let the local officials give you that all clear. part of it is roads that are blocked by debris, downed trees, but also power lines down. and if we want the power back on quick, stay off the roads and let the power crews get out there and get to work. they don't need you out there sight seeing. stay home, unless it's urgent, and don't go back until local officials tell you it's okay. >> you know, mr. fugate, this picture we've got up right now, which is a live picture of times square in new york, which is remarkable, even by sunday morning standards.
i can't see hardly anybody on the street. there was a vigilance on the part of local leaders up and down the coast who said you don't just want to have a plan, you don't want to just be prepared, you need to get out. you need to evacuate. in new york city, of course, that decision was made for mandatory evacuations in lower manhattan. what drove that level of vigilance? was it events like hurricane katrina, even the snowstorm up in new york earlier this year? >> i think it's, as governor christie said, it's the preservation of life. you know, these are forecasts. they're not going to tell us 100% where we're going to have damag damages, but you have to make decisions at a point based on the forecast. if you don't, you may not get people out in time. it's a life safety that drives these decisions. obviously, if we could tell people you don't have to evacuate, we have enough confidence you won't be in danger, we do it, but this is the forecast. i think local officials took it to heart. they wanted to make sure people got to safety and had time, so
they ordered the evacuations. >> let me ask you about power, because as you said, that will be a big headline out of all this. what can people expect in the storm zone in terms of restoration of power? what kind of time is it going to take for that to happen? >> well, we were telling people before the storm expect days or longer. we won't really know until the power crews get out there, start seeing the types of damages. i think some people will get power back rather quickly, but other people, it's going to probably be days depending upon how much damage there is to poles, transformers and power lines. >> i mentioned just a moment ago at the top of the program states of emergency declared. these are requests that are made of the federal government. explain what it means and what the federal government is now doing and in a position to do to help the states in the storm's path. >> well, what these were, as governors were getting ready to prepare for the storms, they asked president obama to declare a federal emergency, provide assistance fundings for measures they are taking, calling out
their national guard and lots of things they are doing, as well as directing federal assistance from federal teams in the military. but this can be expensive, so it offsets the cost with 75% funding from the government and state officials will match that. but we're also already getting damage assessments already from puerto rico. we have declared a disaster declaration for rebuilding efforts and are starting assessments in north carolina and we'll be working up the coast as conditions improve and the governors and their teams start going out and looking at the damages. >> that damage assessment i know is just moving forward. what kind of costs are we talking about for this storm? >> i wouldn't even hazard a guess. i've been doing this for a long time, and in these early stages, you just don't know until you get out there and start seeing what kind of damages you have, and then we'll have a better idea as we get those in. >> is this a model for you? i know you've studied some of the past responses. where does this rank as a model of response? federal government coordinating with state governments and down
the line? >> yeah, each opportunity, as governor christie says, we try to get better and we work harder to build this team. you really try to take away this idea that we're dealing with local government and then we're dealing with state government and then we're dealing with federal government. we try to work as a team, bring in our volunteers and faith-based as part of that team and also work with the private sector. those are the big lessons after katrina, we all have to work as a team. >> well, administrator fugate, thank you very much for your time. i know you're busy all morning long and we appreciate the time you're giving us. >> thank you. >> i want to go up and down the storm zone here and get some quick updates from those governors whose states are affected by what is now a tropical storm irene. the governor of the state of virginia is with us, bob mcdonald. he joins us from the emergency operations center in richmond. before we get to the governor, though, we're going to go to maryland to governor martin o'malley. he's at the emergency ops center in his state. governor o'malley, the same question to you -- what's your big concern as you're watching
the storm move out of maryland now? >> well, right now it's all about recovery and restoration. i mean, we have a number of trees that have fallen on power lines, we have a record number of families that are without electricity, over 800,000, david, throughout our state. but hey, look, the good news is th this, because of fema's partnership, because people listened, we were able to avoid any big problems in terms of threats to the public, to lives and to public safety. so, ocean city, i was on the phone with their mayor earlier today and he had a great report. the beach actually looks pretty good. we've invested a lot of money into the dunes and protecting ocean city. the boardwalk's in good shape and ocean city's going to be open come noon today. so, that is great, great news. now, in southern maryland, a little harder hit than we had anticipated, and we're going to be digging out for a while. >> governor, i'm looking at some of the data here, expecting about 12 inches of rain when
it's all said and done, and you've got nearly 800,000 people without power. what's it going to take in terms of how long before you get that power restored? >> well, we don't have an estimate on that yet, but i can tell you this, david, before the big snowstorm, snowmageddon, we had -- or rather, at the peak of it, we had about 300,000 people out of electricity. today, as it stands right now, we have 800,000 out. so, this is going to be a long effort, and we're just going to need to keep working at it. i do want to say, though, that craig fugate and the people at fema, secretary napolitano and president obama, they have been excellent. they have been with us since day one, and actually, before the storm arrived, they were here, and it's worked really, really well. this is a much better fema than the olden days. >> all right. and the olden days not that old, only about six years ago. governor o'malley, thank you very much. >> that's right. >> i want to go back to the state of virginia. bob mcdonald is the governor. of course, he joins me from the
emergency operations center in richmond. governor, let me ask you, what about shelters, what about people who left their homes, how many have sought shelter in the state? is it more than you imagined? >> fortunately, right now, it's less than we thought. we have about 74 shelters opened, just under 5,000 people in those shelters. we were ready for as many as 100,000, so fortunately, people have made either plans on their own or didn't have to evacuate. >> governor, we heard about it from administrator fugate from fema, the big story here is power outages, virginia particularly hard hit, about a million customers without electricity this morning, right? >> it is. it's the second largest power outage in the history of this state. a million customers means about 2.5 million people without power. so, that's going to be our biggest concern, i think, going forward. and of course, in the short run, we're telling people with a lot of power lines down, please be very vigilant, take it very slow and careful today. what we learned from isabel is
about half of the deaths actually occurred after the storm had passed with either overexertions, exposure to power lines. so, all the crews are out now, but it's going to be days, perhaps a week before all the power's restored. we just ask people to be patient. >> all right. and cost estimates at this point? i know it's very early, but there can be a lot of that damage to people's homes from trees falling and the like. >> we're just getting preliminary estimates at this point. we had three fatalities. we've got pretty widespread damage. in fact, way away from the coast, the heaviest rains were about 50 or 60 miles inland, over 16 inches, and very high winds and very heavy rain and half the power outages were in richmond, which is almost 100 miles inland. so, we're still doing damage assessments. with that storm surge being 7.5 feet, one of the highest on record, we're expecting widespread flooding damage, but we're still getting those estimates in. it's still early. >> all right. governor, thank you very much. good luck to you and all your
emergency response folks in your state. thanks for joining us this morning. one of the remarkable aspects of this storm is that it's been a couple of decades since major metropolitan centers along the eastern seaboard have been affected like this. we've talked about new york city. joining me now is michael nutter, the mayor of philadelphia. mayor, what did your region wake up to this morning? >> david, we expected about seven to nine inches of rain. we have significant flooding. both the schuylkill, the delaware, creeks and streams all throughout the city, road blockages, trees down, about 297,000 people without power in the philadelphia region. in philadelphia, about 21,000 without power. pico, our power company, our energy company, they're all over the place and getting up to speed and doing the job, but this has been pretty tough on all of us. >> what are you asking of your residents right now? because there's going to be a temptation to look outside the
window and say, well, this has really passed and it wasn't as big as we thought, so we can get back to business as usual. >> exactly. that's our concern. i've been on local news. i'm going to have a press conference very shortly. you're absolutely right, we don't want people to be deceived by what might still appear to be just a little bit of rain outside. there's more rain to come and winds of upwards of 50 miles an hour with gusts of maybe 65 miles an hour. so, this storm is not over, and the after effect can be just as difficult as what we saw overnight. so what we're asking folks to do is keep doing what you've been doing -- stay inside. if you don't have to be out, don't come out. give us the time to do the cleanup, and we want you to be safe, make good decisions, check on neighbors and senior citizens and the like. just take it easy, you know, kind of enjoy your sunday and let us do our job and try to get the city back in shape. >> all right. mayor nutter, good luck to you as your efforts move forward. >> thanks, david. >> good to get an update from you. i want to go back to new jersey
now with the mayor of newark, cory booker, at newark command center, joining us now via skype. mr. mayor, talk about what you're seeing. i mean, we've seen reporting in places like newark and hoboken and the like. there's a real concern about downed lines and live electrical wires. i mean, these are the very realities, the real threats that are still out there. >> well, this is actually really serious. we've already had to do about ten water rescues where we had to get zodiac go into the water on flooded streets to get people out of their cars. we've got downed power lines and a lot of hidden hazards. high waters can obscure live power lines. we have manhole covers moved aside. even people wading through water are facing real danger. so, this is a time for everybody to be staying inside their homes. we're dealing with a lot of challenges from trees down and the likes. thank god, we've had no injuries, but we've had to move lots of people into shelters this morning. >> mayor, i want to ask you something i asked governor christie as well, which is an
important bigger question out of this, which is, how prepared are we as a country, not just newark or the state of new jersey, but as a country, to deal with disasters of any magnitude, on a week when you had hurricane irene and you had also an earthquake that is so rare along the east coast? >> first of all, i'm proud of my president, i'm proud of my governor for both jumping in and being very, very precautious by calling a state of emergency. it's much better to be prepared for an emergency and not have one than have an emergency and not be prepared. but to your point, i'm very concerned in our country that we have not been investing in infrastructure like we need to. we're seeing in the city of newark lots of flooding and problems because our infrastructure is getting very aged and we haven't had the kind of investment or the resources to put the investment into it to keep our infrastructure strong and safe. and i know this is a problem from around the country. i've talked to many mayors. we need to understand that investments in infrastructure is actually going to save us money over the long term, it's going
to keep people safe, and it's actually going to help our economy as well. >> all right. mayor booker, thank you very much. more of that discussion ahead, of course, and good luck to you as you continue with your efforts for rescue and damage assessment there in newark and the surrounding areas. we're going to take a break here. we're going to continue the discussion. coming up, this really is a test of national preparedness, as mother nature strikes twice this week, as we've been mentioning. first, a rare earthquake on the east coast, and then, of course, hurricane irene barreling up the eastern seaboard. how prepared is the country to deal with these unexpected national emergencies? our roundtable's going to talk about it. and of course, the politics never stop. former vice president dick cheney speaks out. and rick perry now ahead of mitt romney in some new polls. our roundtable weighs in. jamie gangel, columnist david brooks, georgetown professor michael eric dyson and the bbc's katty kay.
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yeah. priority mail flat rate shipping starts at just $4.95, only from the postal service. a simpler way to ship. we're back now and we're going to keep tabs on hurricane irene, now a tropical storm. in just a few minutes we'll also talk to nbc's al roker, who is in new york on long island. he's going to give us the very latest on the storm. before we do that, though, i want to talk to my roundtable and also give you a programming note. we were supposed to have republican presidential candidate jon huntsman on this morning, scheduled to appear as part of our "meet the candidates" series, but due to his travel conditions and coverage of the hurricane, it will happen at a later date. we look forward to him being on the program. but for now, our roundtable is here. joining me, the bbc's washington correspondent katty kay, national correspondent for "today," jamie gangel, columnist for "the new york times," david brooks, and author as well as georgetown university professor
michael eric dyson. good to have all of you. glad we were able to get in. really, the d.c., the story was a lot of wind and rain, but nothing compared to what we're seeing along the eastern seaboard. interesting, david brooks, the political aspect of the storm -- and there is always one, because the politics don't stop -- was be prepared, be very, very prepared. here's a look at some of the admonitions from leaders on the east coast. we put it together. >> we are today issuing a mandatory, i repeat the word mandatory, evacuation order. >> this is very important that people heed this warning and do it now. tomorrow will be too late. >> get the hell off the beach in asbury park and get out. >> so, there's that sliding scale. be prudent, it's mandatory, and get out. what was the lesson that was learned that was put into practice here? >> i was waiting for say last rights, say good-bye to your families. in washington, all the lobbyists
were stuck with their pinot grigio, the panic was so bad. obviously, since katrina, the message to politicians is go all out, maximize the warning. and i suppose that's fair in parts of the country, that's fair, but in places like washington where it wasn't that big of a storm, what's going to happen over time if they do this every time there's a storm, people will begin tuning them out. obviously, there's an incentive to play it safe, but you have to counterbalance that, and if you go hyper every time, people will tune you out. >> jamie gangel, we went back looking at hurricane katrina and some of the response to that, and we showed some of those images as a reminder of what slow decision-making and poor leadership resulted in, people screaming for help in a major city, stranded, needing to be rescued. the damage obvious as the levees were breached, but the response pointed out something that was so frightening, which is, the government, if it can't be there for you, who else is going to save you? president bush wrote in his
memoir something interesting that i thought was topical this morning. "as a leader of the federal government, i should have recognized the deficiencies sooner and intervened faster. i prided myself on my ability to make crisp and effective decisions, yet in the days after katrina, that didn't happen. the problem was not that i made the wrong decisions, it was that i took too long to decide." and mayor bloomberg in new york, he gets the word that the storm is coming in 9:00 p.m. on friday. he says evacuations are mandatory starting on saturday. >> look, as david said, since katrina, no politician wants to be katrinaed. you know, every dog gets one bite. every politician after katrina was put on notice, not on my watch is this going to happen to me. it's interesting, though, in former vice president cheney's book, as opposed to what former president bush wrote, he blamed governor blanco, and he uses a word that when you know dick cheney uses this word, it's a firing offense. he said the governor "dithered"
in asking for help. >> well, and it's the same point, katty kay. we saw it in new york. we're talking about the response in new york city earlier this year huge snowstorm, and what happens? a slow response. >> right. >> you had people stranded, emergency vehicles not being able to get through, top aides to the mayor were away. again, that idea of dithering, not being as prepared as you can be. everybody studied that. they studied katrina, they studied that response and they were determined to avoid it this time. >> you could see mayor bloomberg in the press conference, surrounded by experts. he made sure he had all the right people out there, all of the meteorologists behind him to back him up and say you've got to get out. you've got to be thinking i remember how well cory booker did in that same snowstorm. you just had him on the program, and how poorly michael bloomberg came out, and overpreparedness and underpreparedness. but it's very different when you have three days warning, as opposed to what happened in japan, for example. imagine that. how is the country prepared for
that? if you had a seismic earthquake of something like the west coast and then a tsunami, you don't have time to prepare in any country. >> i want to get to that point, but before we leave the activism and preparation, we talked to cory booker, mayor of newark. this is a tweet he sent out last night, yes, on saturday. "heading on a pizza run. i'm going to deliver ten pizzas to those staying in our shelter at jfk." so, i mean, if you have the contrast, michael eric dyson, between president bush regretting he had a flyover of the storm zone and here's mayor booker personally delivering pizzas. >> probably prescription medicine as well, as you got pushed. you have to err on the side of caution, and i think these political figures did an admirable job. obviously, we're grateful that there wasn't the kind of mass fallout that it was predicted or forecast, but the reality is, after katrina, politicians have been served notice that you have to be involved actively, you have to know your evacuation plans. i think bloomberg came out
looking very well. the only problem i would have is that there were 12,000, you know, prisoners in rikers island who were not planned to be evacuated with either plan "a" or zone "a" or "b," and that's pretty reprehensible because the four acres of rikers island are on landfill, which is most vulnerable alone. so you have to figure out a plan to keep them out of harm's way as well. >> let me disk with you. there's a larger point and i think mayor booker brought it up. here we're having a debate over the budget in this town, the federal budget and deficit, and also the need for infrastructure improvements. we had an earthquake this week, which pointed out the fact that the east coast is not prepared for something that is rare but still happened. and then just the kind of damage to our infrastructure that storms like this pony up. what's it do to that debate? >> i think it suggests that, a, you've got to be prepared in the sense of knowing where the weak spots are and the hotspots are. number two, you've got to understand that investment in infrastructure is extremely important. it does have a resounding effect
on the debate about whether we invest or whether we cut spending. if you look at infrastructure spending, you've got to be fed up in order to be prepared, and then ultimately, david, i think what happens is that these political figures get the sense that in the midst of the storm is not the time to be calculating what the consequences will be. you've got to anticipate that. and the upping of fema, by the way, under the bush administration, downgraded to a kind of, you know, office within the presidency, at least in the administration that wasn't as important, political attention from the federal level to disaster is extremely important. infrastructure comes as a result. >> i want to turn to the politics of this week, too, which are a pretty hot story and don't stop, especially on our beat here on "meet the press." dick cheney's a big story, which we'll get to in a minute, jamie. first, let's look at the presidential field and look at the gallup numbers this week. rick perry is at 29%. the texas governor. another texas governor storming his way forward. that metaphor's been used even by the romney people who said they were hunkering down as
hurricane perry was coming over top. david brooks, what does his candidacy mean? >> it means he's the front-runner now and it means the republican party was waiting for this guy. if you looked at the 2008 electorate, romney would have been perfectly fine for that electorate right now, but the 2012 electorate is a different electorate. the country as a whole has moved to the right. the republican party has moved vehemently to the right. and what the core message is, we hate washington, we hate the quarter, all those folks who just got hit by the hurricane, but we also have a fear of national decline. the country's losing its vigor. we've got to get back to our hard, sort of pioneer virtues. rick perry personifies that. he's got tons of baggage, but he meets the republican at the moment. >> not just a summer fad, as you wrote in your column. jamie and katty, what's interesting about this is there's got to be a fight within the republican party about what it's going to be for this election cycle. you have mitt romney, who's hunkered down, who does not want to engage.
he'll have an opportunity in this politico debate to debate rick perry, but jon huntsman said he seemed to take on bachmann and perry and others on the right. he said "right now, this country is crying out for a sensible middle ground. this is a center-right country, i'm a center-right candidate. right now we've got people on the fringes. president obama is too far to the left. we've got people on the republican side who are too far to the right. and we have zero substance." that's a shot across the bow. >> it is, but i just wonder, david, how much governor perry's success right now has to do, again, with a lack of enthusiasm over mitt romney. and we know, as we look at polls of past elections at this time, the guys who got the nomination were not the guys leading in the polls. >> yeah, let me just say one thing. i started out the week wanting to write a column saying huntsman's going to have his day because the electorate is still there in the republican primary. you look at the data, it's not there. 15% of the party is where huntsman is.
i think they are where perry is. so, i think he's not a fred thompson, who was more of a media phenomenon. i think he's representing where the party is. >> katty, what about that fight? they'll have to take this on within the party. >> this gets to not just where the republican party is, as you're suggesting, but where america is, how angry people are, and who's best equipped to tap into the mood of the party. now, huntsman is hoping that there is this group of people in the middle of the country who don't like this angry tone. he's particularly looking at women voters who tend to be turned off by the kinds of language that rick perry has used in the past, and he's hoping that that group can sway the republican party to decide that he is the more electable candidate. i think the other thing, though, that perry has in his favor is he has a record he can run on, and it's tied to the main issues of the election campaign, to the economy and jobs. and he can spin -- now he's going to be under scrutiny and his texas record and how much is oil and gas and how much is health care and government
services that have expanded, but he can say i have a positive narrative to tell on the major issue of this campaign against the negative narrative of the white house, and that's -- >> well, the white house is dealing with the job situation. in the "los angeles times," it's framed as succinctly as you can, which is "the central question facing barack obama's 2012 re-election campaign is this -- can the president persuade voters to let him keep his job when so many of them have lost theirs? he has yet to really confront this in a way that lets people think he's not vulnerable. >> yeah, well, i think obviously this speech he's going to give after his shortened vacation by a day, the reality is that he's going to come out strong, and i think that the white house, of course, is regrouping now to articulate a plan that is clear, that is concise, that is legible to the masses of the american people. but to go back to the republican, if you would, debacle, i think that what's happening here is that mitt romney starts off like, you know, hurricane irene. he's promising to have a
profound effect, he's downgraded to a tropical storm, and here comes the hurricane perry. but i think mitt romney would be well advised to do what obama did in regards to libya. it's not leading from behind, it's laying back in the cut, allowing the forces to fight themselves out and then you intervene strategically. so, i think at this point, the republicans have to figure out if huntsman has the east coast, not the acela crowd, but the east coast, this vanishing reality of a moderate republican. if they exist, then huntsman has a chance and romney has a chance. otherwise, the right wing has captivated the republican party. >> let me turn to jamie gangel and talk about your interview and a special coming up on "dateline" tomorrow night. the former vice president. his memoir is coming out. he said heads are going to explode all over washington. he talks about former secretary of state colin powell, had some pointed words for him. this is from his memoir. "like the president, i had believed colin powell would be an effective secretary of state, but i was particularly disappointed in the way he handled policy differences. time and again i heard that he
was opposed to the war in iraq but never once at any meeting did i hear him voice objection it was as though he thought the proper way to express his views was by criticizing administration policy to people outside of government. when president bush accepted powell's resignation, i thought it was for the best." scores are going to get settled. >> yes. first of all, we have to s press here. press here. he quit when the going got tough, goes after john mccain, goes after powell and is withering in his criticism of condie rice. there are words like trainwreck and utterly misleading. i do think in the end, though, what may be most surprising are the differences that he airs with former president bush and the fact that he went public at all. dick cheney is known as the man
who would never write a book. so, just the fact there are numerous differences between bush's account, cheney's account, private conversations that i think are going to be stunning. >> i want to ask, as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, an historic interview on this program that tim russert did with then vice president dick cheney aired september 16th, 2001, and mr. cheney writes about it. first off, i'll play you the exchange and then show you what the vice president wrote about it. >> we also have to work sort of the dark side, if you will, spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. a lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies. >> he writes in his memoir -- "my comments on "meet the press" about the dark side have been used by critics over the years to suggest something sinister. i don't see it that way. only five days earlier we had lost nearly 3,000 americans.
it was true then and remains true today that preventing another attack require efforts that have to be kept secret, and work that goes on in the shadows, sometimes with less than upstanding individuals, in order to save american lives." katty, we knew he'd be unapologetic about this point. it's taking on people with a darker assessment of the past ten years. >> and more specifically, when asked about waterboarding, says absolutely, he agrees it's still a policy and should be something that americans are doing. pressed on whether that's torture, carries on saying, yes, this is actually something that we should still be doing against our enemies. it is a remarkably unapologetic account, and he's clearly wanting -- i guess it's his legacy moment to say the policies i advocated were the right ones. those who disagreed with me -- and it's interesting how many times he puts down people that disagreed with me, anyone that disagrees with me was wrong when it comes to defending america. he's absolutely adamant. >> i thought some of his suggestions in the book were correct. it talks about bombing the
nuclear reactor and us against it. i think he was right on that one. but he's part of the, we're serious people, we know what's going on. we don't have to worry about the rest of the country, those people don't understand like we understand. if you don't bring the people along, then you're going to be alone and your policy's going to be isolated, and i think that's what happened. and condie rice beat him again and again within the white house, and i think that's why he's so hostile. >> i think ultimately, the contract between working the dark side and the obama administration's approach, i mean, the proof is in the pudding of bin laden is killed under the obama administration's attempt to extricate information in a reasonable fashion without resort to waterboarding and torture, and the consequences pay off and the dividends pay off hugely, versus the kind of dark side, of which the consequences are still unclear. >> jamie, quickly there was a light moment in the interview and i just want to play that exchange. >> during the transition to the obama white house, you
apparently gave some very sage advice to the incoming chief of staff, rahm emanuel. you told him? >> well, we had a meeting convened by josh bolton, our chief of staff, of all the people that previously held that job. at the meeting, we went around the table and asked each person to give a crucial piece of advice to rahm, who was about to take over as president obama's chief of staff. when they got to me, i said look, rahm, first thing you've got to do is make sure you've got your vice president under control, which got a great laugh. >> it's funny, though, jamie, you know, vice president biden has been a pretty strong vice president. maybe not exactly like cheney, but pretty strong. >> and dick cheney likes joe biden, by the way. >> right, right. >> he goes on to say. >> keeping the model up and running. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> all right, we're going to take a quick break here. as i mentioned, we'll be right back with more from our roundtable, also the very latest on hurricane irene with nbc's al
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we are back with our roundtable for the latest on hurricane, now tropical storm irene. let's check in with "today's" al roker. he is in long beach, new york. al, what's the latest there? >> well, the good news is, david, the torrential rains, at least here along the south-facing shores -- we're in long beach, as you say -- this is a barrier island, basically, a south-facing barrier island. the biggest problem now, the winds. as we look at our anemometer, we have a sustained wind of about 65 miles per hour at this time. the seas very angry, but high tide is over. we had a storm surge. there is flooding here. there has been some flooding in lower manhattan. in fact, interestingly enough, it seems like the areas away from the coast have taken the brunt of what was then hurricane
irene, now tropical storm irene. new york city now having its wettest month ever. over 17 inches of rain. we've got more heavy rain in central pennsylvania, massachusetts, interior massachusetts, upstate new york. the new york state thruway is closed in places because of flooding and because of mud slides. so, we're talking about a lot of activity. but the good news is, it could have been a lot worse. it started to weaken as it came up the new jersey shoreline. as it did, it started to lose steam. and so, we didn't see really much in the way of major structural damage. in fact, a little earlier, there's a guard shack, a lifeguard shack that was in that area by that flag pole. it broke loose from its moorings and it's slammed up against the boardwalk, and that seems to be the biggest problem. there is some flooding here in long beach, some downed power lines, downed trees, but for the most part, irene has caused more problems inland than it has
along the coast, david. >> all right. al roker, thank you very much for your reporting all week and for taking this extra time with us this morning. stay safe. we're going to be, of course, tracking for the very latest on the hurricane, now tropical storm, we want you to stay with nbc news and msnbc throughout the day. it's also an important topic on twitter, as you might imagine. we go to our big board here and see some of the trending topics. irene, fema and the hurricane generally, just a terrific source of information. one thing, with just a few seconds left, david brooks, what would be a very big story and still may be in the week ahead is going to be libya, something the white house is tracking. moammar gadhafi is still at large, and that's a story that's getting ready to break. >> yeah. i give the obama administration a lot of credit on this. a lot of people in this country want to do nothing, europeans want to do the no-fly zone. obama pushed this hard. they organized pretty well with the opposition. i think they're not getting because of the storm and other things, not getting the credit they deserve on this. >> still the question of what
comes next, what the region will be like after gadhafi, and we'll be talking about that certainly in the weeks to come. before we go here, a special programming note, as we've been mentioning, a "dateline" special monday night, the dick cheney interview with nbc's jamie gangel. she sat down exclusively with the former vice president. you can see that tomorrow night in its completion here. we've been previewing it here this morning and have been doing that the last couple of days. that's 10:00/9:00 central. .hat is all for tay we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." if you have it, you know how hard it can be to breathe and what that feels like. copd includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. spiriva helps control my copd symptoms... by keeping my airways open a full 24 hours. plus, it reduces copd flare-ups. spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled copd maintenance treatment that does both. and it's steroid-free. spiriva does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, glaucoma,
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