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November Job Report: The Final Factor?; Closing Arguments in the Campaigns; Waiting and Worrying

Aired November 2, 2012 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The final factor. Four days before America votes, we are about to get the last pre-election numbers on jobs and our economy.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got nothing left. Memories or anything else. Everything is ruined. Ruined.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: This is so sad. Survivors of Hurricane Sandy still waiting for help. They are worrying about the future.

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. And we're going begin with a sprint to the finish line, the last major hurdle in the way. Big news today: the government's October jobs report will be released in about just three and a half hours, at 8:30 Eastern Time. And both the Obama and Romney campaigns hope the numbers will bolster their economic arguments in the final days of the race. It's really just too close to call right now.

Christine Romans is previewing the report for us and we're going to have Paul Steinhauser look at the political impact.

Let's start with Christine. Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, guys. Let's talk about what we are expecting in this final big economic report before the election on Tuesday. And in about three and a half hours, we'll find out what happens for jobs, job creation, and the unemployment rate in the month of October. And the expectation of economists surveyed by CNN Money is the unemployment rate is 7.9 percent. That would be picking up just slightly with 125,000 jobs added, net new jobs in the month.

The trend, though, is what is so important here, right? Because sometimes you get a little volatility during the month, but the trend here is what's important. So, let's look at what's happened since the president took office -- 7.8 percent was the unemployment rate when the president took office. So, as of last month, he's back to where he started. Remember, February 2009, that's the stimulus -- the stimulus. And then you have the unemployment rate continue to rise up to 10 percent in October 2009, as all that stimulus money was being deployed into the economy, stubbornly high unemployment rate into the beginning of 2011. And then it has been drifting lower much of this year.

We can look at job creation and you can se how jobs have been added consistently now since the end of 2010, consistently but not robustly. And this is where the arguments come about the job market, you guys.

Has it been strong enough? No. Who is at fault and what can fix it? That's what voters decide on Tuesday.

BERMAN: And that's what the candidates are arguing about, no doubt. The political implication of this is simply huge. And later on in "STARTING POINT," Soledad will be joined by Grover Norquist, Sheila Bair, Robert Gibbs, Ken Rogoff, a cast of thousands, I don't know where I'm going to be sitting -- talk about all the important numbers, a lot to talk about.

There will be a powerhouse CNN team as well -- Christine Romans, Ali Velshi, Erin Burnett and Candy Crowley.

SAMBOLIN: It's a lot of perspective there.

And the countdown is on, less than three and a half hours away. Christine will break the jobs numbers as soon as they come out. She is standing by.

BERMAN: And coming up at 9:00 Eastern, Christine and chief business correspondent Ali Velshi will host a one-hour special. They'll analyze the final jobs report before the big vote, and what it all means for the presidential election.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, no matter what the jobs report says, both the Obama and Romney campaigns will be spinning it in a virtual non- stop rush to Election Day. And the election, more than anything, is about the economy as you very well know.

In a National Public Radio poll, 57 percent say economic issues are most likely to affect their vote.

In an ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, 49 percent believe Romney would do a better job handling the economy, and 47 percent say President Obama.

And the Pew Research poll finds 50 percent think Romney is more likely to improve the job situation. That is compared to 42 percent for President Obama.

CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser is live in Washington. I know you just love these numbers. So, it's down to the wire now. And I actually have the campaign schedule here. It's pretty crazy. What do they have planned on the final days to the race?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: You know, it's all about location, location, location in the final four days of campaigning before the election. Let's go right to the maps. Take a look at the where the president is going to be over the next four days starting with today.

And look at the map and you get a sense of Ohio, Ohio, Ohio is pretty important. The president making a number of stops in the next couple of days in Ohio, but also Iowa as well. And he's going to end his campaign on Monday night in Iowa. Remember, this is the place where he got his first victory way back in January of 2008.

If you look at the map for Romney as well, you see the same thing, a lot in Ohio as well. But you're also seeing some other states there, and one in particular for Mitt Romney that pops to my mind is Pennsylvania. He will be there spending one day over the weekend in Pennsylvania and so will his running mate, Paul Ryan.

The big question here is, is the Romney campaign trying to put Pennsylvania in play? Is it a move of strength or is it a move of desperation? Both sides have different answers on that one, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we are going to be digging a little deeper into that later. And, Paul, gloves have come off, back off I guess on the campaign trail. Let's take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the closing weeks of the campaign, Romney has been using all his formidable talents as a salesman to dress up the very same policies that failed our country so badly. The very same policies we have been cleaning up after these past four years and he's offering them up as change.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Again, a lot of people are hurting. They don't want to see another four years like the last four. Do you want to see four more years with 23 million Americans struggling for good jobs?



SAMBOLIN: So, they took a little break because of Superstorm Sandy, but now, there's a lot of rhetoric.

STEINHAUSER: A lot of rhetoric. The gloves are definitely off. The ceasefire is over. And here's one reason why. You guys mentioned at the top of the show. Take a look at this. The race is extremely tight right now.

Here's our national CNN poll of polls. We took the 10 live operator of non-partisan surveys out over the last week and a half. Average them altogether. It's about as close as you can get, Zoraida. And take a look at these numbers. Our brand new numbers from CNN/ORC in Colorado, one of those eight battleground states. We're looking at again, a very, very close contest. That's why you're going to hear the rhetoric. That's why you're seeing the candidates to go all these remaining battleground states in the last four days -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Paul Steinhauser, live in Washington for us, thank you.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, we are still talking about chairs this morning. Actor Clint Eastwood, a Romney supporter, appeared on FOX News to talk about his somewhat wacky Republican National Convention speech and how it came to be, how the chair came to be on stage with him talking to it. Just in case you missed the original speech, here it is.


CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. Can't do that to himself.

You're absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden.


BERMAN: Now, the acting and directing legend says it was an ad lib, which seemed pretty obvious at the time. But let's listen.


EASTWOOD: I have to give John Voight a pat on the back because I was sitting with him and a couple other people. We were commiserating about the situation of the economy and everything. And he said, why doesn't anybody in Hollywood ever speak up? I thought, yes, you know, he's right. He's right. We are kind of chicken.

And the chair idea, that just came out of the air, you know? I was sitting there and the guy behind the stage said here, you want to sit down? I said, no, but take it out and set it next to the podium. He says, you want to sit down? I said, no, just put it there.

At that time, I thought, I was really stupid, why did I do that. But then, afterwards, people started to come out and said, well, it was fun.


BERMAN: Well, there you have it.

On a more serious note, Clint Eastwood also says he's not happy with how the Obama administration has handled the attack in Benghazi.

SAMBOLIN: Seven minutes past the hour.

Vice President Joe Biden took time off from the campaign trail to appear on a late show with David Letterman last night, with four days to go before the election. Biden read the top 10 good things about voting early. And here are a few highlights.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Single, looking to mingle. Find that special someone in the early voting.

If you vote early, you don't have to pay taxes. I'm sorry. I'm being told that's not accurate.


BIDEN: Honestly, don't you want this election over with already?

LETTERMAN: Yes, we do.


BERMAN: And in just four days, it will be election night in America. CNN's live coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

SAMBOLIN: Eight minutes past the hour now.

Up next, the destruction left behind by Superstorm Sandy. Basic commodities, folks, like gasoline are in short supply in the disaster zone. It is testing patience and fraying a lot of nerves.

You are watching EARLY START.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

Now to the latest on the damage and destruction from Superstorm Sandy. The massive storm has killed at least 88 people now in the U.S. Nearly 3.5 million customers in the eastern United States are still without power. And damage estimates are just staggering, ranging from $30 billion to $50 billion.

SAMBOLIN: The New York City borough of Staten Island was especially hard hit. And three days after Sandy struck, angry residents are crying out for help. Today, Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano will visit Staten Island with the top officials from FEMA to survey the recovery efforts there.

BERMAN: New York City's subway system is slowly getting back up to speed. But several subway tunnels were still out of commission until all the water can be pumped out of them. Other tunnels are without power because they are located in parts of the city that are still in the darks.

SAMBOLIN: And a new problem flaring up in the disaster zone, they are running out of gas. For cars and gas powered generators. A lot of people are using those. Frustration is turning into anger and into rage on long lines across the Tri-State area. And officials say their shortages may not end for another week. BERMAN: Police have been called in to keep the peace at gas stations in New York and in New Jersey. People are waiting for hours, some waiting for so long, they say the gas stations actually close without them getting a single drop of fuel.

Rob was following all of this. Rob, I was driving this morning at 2:30 a.m. and there was a line for gas that looks like it was three hours long at a gas station, at 2:30 a.m. This is bad.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's crazy. That may be the average quite honestly. Anywhere from a half mile long to, in some cases in New Jersey a full mile long just to get gasoline.

Of course, the problem is two-fold. You've got gas stations that are out of power and unable to pump. I mean, you've got gasoline stations that have power but don't have gasoline. Why? Many of the refineries in New Jersey shut down before the storm. And on top of that, a lot of them were damaged during the storm. So, we don't have the supply coming in.

Governor Chris Christie actually gave authorization for some of the gas stations to buy that supply from out of state. That's not usually done to alleviate the problem. It's going to take time.

I mean, we were running out of gas as well. We were going to shoot gas stations with a long line. By the time we found one that actually had gasoline and a line, we were out of gas as well. This went on 145th Street, and, boy, tempers were flaring.

Take a look and listen to how people were dealing with it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got to make three trips to this gas station.

MARCIANO: A little tank, you have to fill it up three times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three times, just to get home. It still might not make it.

MARCIANO: Any other gas stations with gas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No other gas stations with gas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm broke down. I'm stranded. I can't get home. No gas.


MARCIANO: So, you know, this affects everybody from delivery cabs to people delivering food, to people just wanting to get home. I don't think the problem is going to be alleviated anymore soon.

You mentioned MTA, you know, there are a few trains that are back online. Some of the commuter railroads as well. But everything, still, southern Manhattan, it's still dark around me. It's dark. And the best way of action, either because it's forced upon you or because you choose to be, maybe by foot.

The gas situation is certainly a serious one going forward.

BERMAN: You mentioned the dark, Rob, what is the latest on the power restoration in Manhattan, and New Jersey and other places?

MARCIANO: Unfortunately, the estimates that Con Edison gave us a couple of days ago really aren't much improved, if anything, maybe delayed a day or two. This is day four. They said Lower Manhattan would take four days to see recovery. We haven't seen a lot of lights on.

So, hopefully, today, if not tomorrow here in Lower Manhattan, up to seven or eight days, and outer boroughs, the Westchester County, those numbers also echoed for New Jersey. So, you know, you've got the below the ground problem where you got to dry out the infrastructure and then repair, and the aboveground problem where that's strictly a manpower thing.

You got to clear the lines from the debris. You got to get trained linemen in here, a lot of them coming from out of state. There's so many trees and power lines down it's going to take that long to get everybody back up and running.

BERMAN: All right. Rob Marciano, covering this for us -- thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: Gasoline shortages aren't the only problem facing residents in the Garden State. In between tours of devastated neighborhoods where he tried to comfort people who lost everything, Governor Christie signs an executive order declaring a state of water emergency now. That clears the way for water use restrictions across the entire state.

BERMAN: Total devastation, those are the words used by the police chief of Jersey shore return town of Seaside Heights to describe the place where he's lived his entire life. Two piers that had been amusement parks that provided summer memories for generations, they collapsed in the storm, dumping the Jet Star rollercoaster and other rides right into the sea. Look at that.

SAMBOLIN: It's going to be hard to leave during that, right? This is your home that has been destroyed.

For more information on Superstorm Sandy, what you can do to help those that are affected, check out

BERMAN: And coming up, it's all about the jobs. We are hours away from the final employment numbers before Election Day. We're going to see how those numbers are shaping up in the key swing states that could decide this presidential race.


SAMBOLIN: Hey, good morning to you. Welcome back. We are minding your business this morning. Stock futures are flat ahead of the opening bell. Everyone -- and I mean everyone is waiting for the jobs report.

BERMAN: We are about three hours away now, counting down every second here.

Christine Romans is here with a look at the jobless rate, not just around the nation, but really in the key swing states.

ROMANS: Right. Because what? The polls are very, very tight. And you look at these swing states. And his is where -- wow, this is where these votes are going to decide this election.

I want to show you the unemployment rates in these swing states right now -- Nevada, still 11.8 percent, Colorado still 8 percent. Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Iowa. Look at Iowa, 5.2 percent. That's essentially full employment in Iowa but they are still in that state very concerned about debt, deficit and the quality of jobs you are getting.

Let's start with the Ohio jobless rates, because as you know, no GOP candidate has won an election without winning Ohio. Ohio makes and means presidents, doesn't it?

Today, 7 percent is the unemployment rate, less than when the president took office, 8.6 percent back in January 2009, 7 percent. That is better than the national average. They have been adding manufacturing jobs, although not as many by any stretch of the imagination that they lost.

I want to look at Florida, quickly, and look at the trend in the jobless rate in Florida. It's about exactly where it was when the president took office. Still higher than the national average. But it has been coming down. Housing is still a major issue here.

In Virginia, 13 electoral votes, jobless rate is low now, a 5.9 percent in Virginia. But, it's still higher than when the president took office. Essentially flat in Virginia.

Virginia is going to be interesting as well because Superstorm Sandy could have an effect in Virginia. Power outages there. We don't know what Tuesday is going to look like. We're hoping that everything is hunky-dory by Tuesday. But that was a state affected by Sandy.

All of those really interesting trends, different trends for unemployment in many of these states.

BERMAN: What is the cut-off date for the numbers? It goes to the end of the month?

ROMANS: Well, it goes -- well, they take -- so the sample for these numbers was two weeks in the middle of the month, whatever is the two weeks right around the 12th. So you are not going to have Sandy impacts in these numbers for the October jobless reports. They will be not in these numbers.

BERMAN: Interesting.

SAMBOLIN: Christine, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Thank you so much.

And we're going to see this jobs report is likely to impact voters in the state of Ohio. We are going hone in there. Our chief business correspondent Ali Velshi is going to join us from Toledo.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch anytime on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to


SAMBOLIN: Will it be a November surprise? New jobs figures due, which is four days to go before Election Day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to die. You don't understand. You've got to get your truck here on this corner now.


BERMAN: Desperate, desperate hours in the disaster zone. Survivors of Sandy going on four days now without power, without heat. Sometimes without food. It is tough in a lot of places right now.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: It's really tough to listen to that, right? Those cries for help.

Thanks for being with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Twenty- seven minutes past the hour.

So, we're only three hours away from the release of the all important October jobs report. Will it have an impact on the results of the presidential election which is now only four days away?

BERMAN: We want to get some really fantastic insight on this. We're going to turn to our chief business Ali Velshi who is in Toledo, Ohio, this morning. You don't have to hear from me. Ohio is one of the most important states, if not the most important state in this election. And Ali is right in the middle of it, actually on the side of it.

But, good morning, Ali. Tell us what's going on there.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. You are right. It is not only important, but like Virginia, like Florida, like the other swing states, they are swing states for a reason. They are really tight.

The decision here is going to be made on the basis of two things, the ground game, getting out the vote, and nudging that small and increasingly smaller pie of independent or undecided, or uncommitted voters. And that's why the jobs numbers is going to be so crucial, because for years, we have talked about the economy as the number one issue for Americans. And for most Americans, jobs topped the list.

For some Americans, those who are a little more prosperous and those who lean Republican, the debt and deficit sometimes edge out job creation. But certainly for those many millions of Americans who are unemployed or not working in a job they like, the numbers are more important.

Now, let's go back to 2008 and a little beyond. Remember the -- before that. Remember, the recession started in the beginning of 2008. If you look at four years ago today, we are not better off from an unemployment situation than we were.

But what we are better off in is a general economic situation. We were in the freefall and a credit collapse. So I saw a sign in Ohio yesterday that says, "No, President Obama, we are not better off."

But take a look at the number of jobs that we were losing just before President Obama took office and in then those early months. And what you see as a general trend, there have been anomalies, but as a general trend, we have seen the job losses and job creation begin, and we have seen all of the jobs lost during the four years of the Obama administration regained. That is what you are going to hear from President Obama after 8:30 this morning when the jobs numbers come out.

We are certain it's going to be positive jobs number, will probably create about 125,000 jobs. If it's less than 100,000, you are going to see Republicans pounce on that. If it's more than 150,000 or close to 200,000, you're going to see the Obama administration calling about that. Now, that's the number they should be paying attention to.

What you are going to hear way too much about today is the unemployment rate, 7.8 percent, and a drop as you recall, probably going to go to 7.9 percent. Christine will explain in greater detail why the job loss and job creation numbers are different from the unemployment rate and why these ones, that bar chart I showed you, is the more important number.

But the bottom line is, all you're going to hear for the rest of day is spend and all we're going to do for the rest of the day is tell you what really matters, but it is going to be a deciding factor for some voters.

BERMAN: I still want to talk to you because we want to get beyond the spin alley, and the jobs number when it comes out is a number you see, but you've been on the ground in Ohio. We want to know what it feels like there when it comes to jobs. What are people saying?

VELSHI: Yes. So, you know Ohio has been hard hit. I mean, I was in Youngstown yesterday, which was the second biggest deal maker in the country after Philadelphia, and then it had autos and it got crushed in the auto -- what we know -- in the auto crisis. So, they have a plant there called the lower south plant here in Toledo. They make the jeep.

These people really feel saved by the auto bailout. This is heavy union country. We are in a swing county right now, Lucas County, but the unemployment rate in Ohio, as Christine just pointed out, is now lower than the national average. So, the question is, who do you hold responsible for that? Who do you credit for that?

Now, I did talk to one woman who really, you know, gave me a sense of what the issue is. This woman in her 50s, she was a flight attendant. She worked for Continental Airlines for a little -- for long time, for 20 years, lost her job. She went and retrained. She got a bachelor's degree, then she got a masters degree.

And now, she's earning very close to minimum wage. And she says it's very hard to make the case for higher education, even though we know, statistically, higher education gives you a better chance of not being unemployed. Listen to how she put it.


LYNN DEAN, VOTER: It's hard for me to talk to the younger generation or the generation that's my age when you say you went to college and you owe $60,000 in loans and you not making no more than a person as working at McDonald's.


VELSHI: Not making anymore than a person working at McDonalds. John, we'll talk about this through the course of the morning, but the issue isn't just the quantity of jobs and you'll hear this from Mitt Romney after 8:30 this morning. It's the quality of jobs.

BERMAN: All right. Ali Velshi on the ground in Ohio. So great to get the real story from where you're standing. Thanks very much.

And later on "Starting Point," Grover Norquist, Sheila Bair, Robert Gibbs, Ken Rogoff, they're going to join Soledad to talk about these all important jobs report, and we will have an incredible CNN team there as well. Christine Romans, Ali Velshi coming back, Erin Burnett and Candy Crowley. We are covering it from every imaginable angle this morning.

SAMBOLIN: And that jobs report is about three hours away. Christine will bring us the numbers as soon the minute that they come out.

BERMAN: And then, coming up at 9:00 a.m. eastern, Ali Velshi and Christine will be back to host a one hour special analyzing this final jobs report right before the big vote, what it all means for you and what it means for the presidential election.

SAMBOLIN: Well, let's bring in editor-in-chief and CNN contributor, Erick Erickson, and Michael Skolnik for a closer look at the politics of all this headed into election week. So, we just listened to Ali as he was talking there about this woman who has a bachelor's, a masters, and is now making minimum wage. So, I want to put some projections up here from CNNMoney. They're predicting 125,000 jobs added which would put unemployment roughly at about 7.9 percent. Think the conversation will say pretty much the same if it stays below eight percent or if we get back to the eight percent, could it hurt the president? I'm going to start with you, Michael?

MICHAEL SKOLNIK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GLOBALGRIND.COM: Yes. I think the important thing here is that when the jobs report came out last month, Republicans, their response was not this is good for America. America is moving in the right direction. It's the president is lying. Departmentally (ph), they're making up the statistics.

I only can hope if the jobs numbers are good, Republicans say this is good for America if we will getting back to work. I was in Ohio last weekend, in Cleveland, Ohio. I saw people who were saying, thanking the president and this thing in this package and the auto bailout because they got jobs again.

So, as all Americans, Republican or Democrat, we should look at this job report and think if the numbers are positive, it's good for America, for all Americans.

SAMBOLIN: We're trying to define what positive means, right, Erick? What's your take on that?

ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: Well, you know, I wasn't one of those people who thought that the numbers were rigged last month somehow. I think the problem was that the unemployment rate fell down to 7.8 percent because so many part-time jobs were reclassified as full-time jobs, which is going to what Ali was talking about earlier, it's a big burden.

It's not just the number of jobs, but the quality of jobs that really matter. Now, psychologically where the number to go down further than 7.8 percent, which I don't think many people believe is going to happen. Does it really help the president? Maybe at the margins for the few undecided left (ph), but most people at this point, I think, are locking in their vote.

I don't think any major news this week, and unless, it's a huge scandal one way or the other is going to change their vote. Does it go back up? Again, I think most people have started to lock in their vote already and they reinforce people's vote one way or the other depending on what the number does, but, at this point, we're talking five to six persons undecided. If they haven't made up their mind by Tuesday, they may not even go vote.

SAMBOLIN: Erick, I want to stay with you and I want to focus on Pennsylvania here, because that's where Romney is headed on Sunday according to his schedule here. And Paul Ryan is going to be there on Saturday. Is this a show of strength or is it desperation?

ERICKSON: You know, I honestly, am not sure. I hate to play the spin game on things -- I've got two thoughts. One could be they've decided that Ohio is out of balance, although, from what I hear on the ground on Ohio, they don't think so. They really do think they're opening up a new front in Pennsylvania.

If you look at Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which is the swingiest of the swing counties in Pennsylvania, Romney is doing very, very well there, which is it's giving them positive signs there as well as Wisconsin. I mean, the fact of the matter is, if they have Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and a lot of people think they might, you throw in Colorado which the Republicans are doing well, then you don't need Ohio.

The question, though, becomes, are they losing Ohio or not and are they opening a new front? My sense from talking to republicans is that they honestly think they've got Ohio, that it's going to be close, but they're doing OK and they see the map expanding, not contracting for --

SAMBOLIN: So, Michael is shaking his head no. Do you think they're they making up for the potential losses in Ohio?

SKOLNIK: Absolutely. If Mitt Romney thought he could win Ohio, he'd be in Ohio. The president is in Ohio everyday until Election Day. Mitt Romney's decided to go to Pennsylvania. John McCain did the same exact thing in 2008. He went to Pennsylvania on Sunday before Election Day, he lost by ten points.

SAMBOLIN: All right. I want to talk about something that's really interesting to me. I know they're calling it an endorsement. It made headlines yesterday. It was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsing President Obama, but he didn't exactly shower him with praise. Some I'm going to read a little bit of it here for folks who have not read it.

"In 2008, Obama ran as a pragmatic problem solver and consensus builder, but as president, he devoted little time and effort to developing a sustaining a coalition of centrists which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction." This is actually an endorsement. Michael, your reaction to that? I know you read it fully.

SKOLNIK: I sure did. I think, look, the president in the past few days has a number of Republicans come out in favor of him, Gen. Colin Powell, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, of course, sort of (INAUDIBLE) for Chris Christie, the New Jersey wasn't an endorsement, but certainly have (ph) the effect of endorsement.

I think the president has tried his hardest in getting Republicans in Washington to work with him, but when a senator -- a majority leader -- Senate majority leader says, you know, our number one priority is to have a one-term president. Mitch McConnell said two years ago. It's very difficult to work with any centrist in Washington when their agenda is to get rid of you.

SAMBOLIN: Erick, I'm going to give you the final word here. Does this endorsement hurt Romney?

ERICKSON: No, actually, I don't think it does. I mean, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is a guy who wants to take away people's guns, cigars and big gulps. In Ohio and other states that are big on the Second Amendment. Mike Bloomberg isn't a big guy. He's not positive.

So, I would expect the Obama administration or the Obama campaign do not really tout Mike Bloomberg's endorsement outside of the New York City area. It may help them in Philadelphia, but when you get over to Ohio, in Wisconsin, and some of the other states and Western Pennsylvania, they don't like Mike Bloomberg because he's made (ph) to have trying (ph) to sue those states over Second Amendment issues.

SAMBOLIN: All right, gentlemen, Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief,, and Michael Skolnik, editor-in- chief of, thank you both for being with us this morning -- John.

BERMAN: In an election this tight, every vote counts. I mean, does it count? We asked some early voters to share their stories, the issues that matter most to them, who voted for -- who they voted for, why? We're calling all this votergraphs.

First up, Mitt Romney voter, Michelle Linger (ph) who is studying abroad in Sweden. She said she voted early because she's out of the country, and her big issues, the economy and the national debt.

SAMBOLIN: And this is voter, Sanjay Sedera (ph) who is originally from Sri Lanka. He voted for President Obama. He says he also took his 88-year-old mother-in-law and 98-year-old father-in-law to vote because they may not get many more chances to share the experience. His big issue, social programs that give lower income earners a boost.

BERMAN: And we want you to send us your votergraph. Do it now. The address is

It is the candidates' final push before the big vote. What is the focus of the campaigns right now? Will battleground states hold some big surprises? Anderson Cooper takes a closer look during this final sprint. You're going to watch "America's Choice 2012" countdown to Election Day. That's on Sunday night at eight o'clock eastern.

SAMBOLIN: And up next on EARLY START, tired of being treated like that other burrow? Staten Island hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Now, some frustrated residents are begging the government for help. And I really mean it when I say begging. They're criticizing the mayor's decision to allow the New York City marathon to be held this Sunday despite all of the widespread devastation.


BERMAN: Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano and top team officials will visit New York Staten Island today to inspect the damage there. Yesterday, the bodies of two young boys ages two and four, they were found. They were swept away from their mother's arms during the storm after an SUV got stuck. Just terrible.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Michael Grimm toured the devastation Thursday. They got an earful from residents who pleaded for more help from the government. Grimm said they expect more bodies to be found in the coming days. It is a grim situation there. Brian Todd is live on Staten Island this morning. Brian, what's the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this place still has the look of a bombed out war zone. It is pitch black out here except for our lights, of course. Neighbors here tell us that this was the home of an elderly couple. The neighbors say that the couple did get out in time and apparently were not hurt. That's the fortunate news.

The unfortunate news is what you can see behind me, that the home is completely leveled. The roof of the home is almost down to the ground. You can't quite see that from here, but it's kind of slanting down right toward the ground. About all that's left of it, maybe this table and chairs. You know, people are doing this all over Staten Island, bringing items to their front lawns to try to salvage them to see if maybe relatives can help them come pick up some stuff.

Here's a clock that someone is trying to salvage. Some other items back here are just pretty much gone. The residents here are still very, very bitter over what they say is the slow response of relief officials and others and getting to this place and trying to help some of the neighbors who are still walking around in kind a state of shock.

One of the local residents here spoke to reporters yesterday as we were just kind of arriving on the scene, she was very upset. Her name is Donna Soli. Take a listen.


DONNA SOLI, STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT: We're going die if we get killed with the weather. We're going to die. We're going to freeze. We got 90-year-old people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to pull this afternoon.

SOLI: Please. We have no cars. Don't you see, we need -- President Obama, please listen to us down here. We are going to die. You don't understand. You got to get your trucks here on this corner, now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying --

SOLI: This is three days.


TODD: So, obviously, people here still very, very angry, at least two days after the storm. They complain that relief agencies have still not gotten here. Now, we did find out yesterday that FEMA started to have a presence here at least a little bit yesterday. The Red Cross started to arrive yesterday, but according to residents like Donna Soli and others who we spoke and who showed us through their houses, it just was not fast enough.

And the Burrow president, James Molinaro, had also complained very bitterly about that, especially toward the Red Cross, but we were told that the Red Cross and some other state agencies were running shelters here yesterday afternoon, John. BERMAN: So, Brian, there's also a lot of controversy, and frankly, confusion over the status of the New York City marathon. It is still scheduled for Sunday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it's going to go on. It starts in Staten Island. There may be thousands of runners there. What are residents saying about this?

TODD: Residents are not really holding back much emotion on that, John. They're saying that that marathon should not be run. And the residents aren't the only people. Local congressmen were saying that yesterday at a briefing that we went to not far from here. They were saying that, you know, they don't know why the marathon is still being run when people in this burrow are still in such dire need.

As you mentioned, the New York City the marathon starts in this burrow, goes across the (INAUDIBLE) bridge. You know, people here are just incredibly frustrated about that. Now, Mayor Bloomberg has been quoted to saying that the marathon will not divert resources from the needs of the people of the city, but the people here are still in dire need. And what we just drove through Lower Manhattan. It's pitch black over there.

There's no power there, either. So, there's a lot that got to be done by marathon day to get the city back up to speed if things are going to return to normal.

BERMAN: All right. Brian Todd in Staten Island, thanks very much for that report.

SAMBOLIN: You know, we were just talking about the marathon a little while ago, and there are so many people there scheduled in their hotels, but there are so many people that displaced through their homes that are in the hotels. What do you do?

BERMAN: The flip side is that the marathon does pump millions and millions of dollars into the New York area economy, and that's money that the --

SAMBOLIN: But under normal circumstances.


SAMBOLIN: You know, I hear you. I hear you. This is a tough one. Tough call. Forty-seven minutes past the hour.

Up next on EARLY START, another storm could be in the works that's headed for storm wary folks already in the northeast, if you can believe it. We will show you the latest projection live from our weather center.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. The government's final pre- election unemployment and jobs numbers are due out little less than three hours from now. Analysts expected to show that 125,000 new jobs were created in October, and the unemployment rate taking up slightly to 7.9 percent. BERMAN: That jobs report at 8:30 a.m. eastern, we will bring it to you live on "Starting Point." You will not believe the television we have planned for you around this event. It is a big event. Stay with us for that.

Meanwhile, the Obama and Romney campaigns will be watching the jobs report closely as they descend on the battleground states in a campaign frenzy over the final four days. They make three stops today in the big prize state of Ohio. Mitt Romney delivering what his campaign calls a closing argument speech in Wisconsin before heading to the Buckeye State this afternoon for evening rallies.

SAMBOLIN: And the last thing people who were caught in Sandy's path want to hear about is another storm. CNN meteorologist, Alexandra Steele, has more from our weather center. You know, we love you, Alexandra, but we were both saying this morning just go away. Go away.

BERMAN: Yes. Not a good time.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: OK. Well, I'll go away in a minute, but let's talk about will the storm go away? Of course, crucial states, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, will they be impacted? Computer models, once again, like we saw with Superstorm Sandy, running. And now, last couple of days, computer models did have a nor'easter developing and moving it into the northeast.

This is the latest computer model. I'll stop it. This was Monday into Tuesday. Here comes this superstorm, hopefully not, right? This developing area of low pressure could become and will become a nor'easter, but this now, the latest run has it a little bit slower, so impacting Virginia saying south of Washington with the rain on Tuesday.

And then it moves and you can see on Wednesday what it does to New England. But if it's a little bit faster, it's a little bit farther west, so certainly, worth monitoring. This is the latest computer model. Earlier runs had it moving into the northeast on Tuesday, on Election Day, but we'll have to wait. We're still five days out.

So, certainly, this is a good indication a nor'easter is developing. Where will it go? How fast will it get there? Historically, though, now, we do see in no foul weather rain and snow impacts the election on voter -- voter turn out on Election Day. About an inch of rain, one percent lower turnout. an inch of snow, about half percent.

Foul (ph) weather seems to favor Republicans. Meaning, they get out despite the rain. The wild card guys, now will be these voters dealing with power outages, storm damage and all this obstructive travel in the northeast. One thing we know weather wise, it will be cold. Highs on Tuesday only in the upper 30s and 40s. So, a lot weather wise really to contend with the keep an eye for Tuesday.

BERMAN: Alexandra, just to be clear, right now, that forecast has it over Virginia on Tuesday, Election Day. And Virginia is a really key state here. I mean, that's tied right now. STEELE: Absolutely. So, certainly keeping an eye on that. We'll have to see if it moves in and a little bit farther north to Pennsylvania, a little bit farther north and west into Ohio, too.

BERMAN: All right. That could be a big story coming from Election Day. Thanks very much, Alexandra Steele, in Atlanta.

Fifty-four minutes after the hour right now. Before we come back, Sandy before and after. Stunning images of the destruction on the Jersey Shore.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Fifty-seven minutes after the hour right now. John Berman here along with Zoraida Sambolin. We're taking a look at the top CNN trends on the Internet this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Wiped out. Before and after satellite images from Stateside Heights, New Jersey, where the MTV show was shot. The before from Google Earth in September of 2010, take a look at that, and then the same place on Halloween. The roller coaster that sat at the end of the Funtown Pier is now resting on the ocean floor. Much of it intact.

Heartbreaking and really hard to believe especially for residents or anyone who ever spent a summer or a prom weekend there. It's just devastating, isn't it? You can check out other top CNN trends, just head to

BERMAN: They are tough times, but there are those trying to coax a smile in the aftermath of all this. Late night hosts got some mileage out of New York City's recovery plan. And when it comes to Mayor Mike Bloomberg's carpool rule, they all, including Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, hit the gas.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, may I ask --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I ask who this gentleman is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Chris, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Chris. How you doing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly didn't know Chris was coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bloomberg said you got to have three people in the car. So --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know to get into New York City, if you're in a private car, you have to have three passengers or more to enter New York City. And today, I had to car pool in with the girl's from "The View."

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LAST NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": New York City is still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and in fact, because of all the congestion in the city, Mayor Bloomberg is only allowing cars with at least three passengers to drive into Manhattan. That's right. You can't cross the bridge with a bunch of empty seats because it's really confusing for Clint Eastwood. It was like, I've got four Obamas in the car.



SAMBOLIN: EARLY START continues right now.