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Stopping Voter Fraud; The Final Countdown; Concerns over FEMA Funds; Campaigning Door-to-Door; 43rd Annual NYC Marathon; Superstorm Reshaped Barrier Islands; Candidates Resume Campaigning; 158,000 jobs added in October

Aired November 1, 2012 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Today its long cherished barrier islands barely recognizable. Democrats and Republicans set aside their differences to rush emergency aid to the storm zone. But one lawmaker says not so fast. He says we should learn from the aid given to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.


REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: They spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors, and everything you can think of.


COSTELLO: We will hear more from Iowa Congressman Steve King straight ahead.

More charges expected today in the Penn State sex abuse scandal. The likely target is the school's former president, why he could be charged with perjury.

Plus this --

When negative ads and robocalls quit working, the political campaigns show up on doorsteps in Ohio. What's it like to be a door-to-door campaign volunteer?

NEWSROOM starts now.

And good morning. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Carol Costello.

New images, new death toll and deepening concern from superstorm Sandy three days after the storm washed ashore. Here's a time lapsed video. That's what you're looking at right now. Watch the right side of your screen as the New York City skyline is plunged into darkness.

There it goes. Today, nearly five million homes and businesses are still without power. The death toll is inching up again. The superstorm blamed for 56 deaths in the United States. Half the victims just in New York City. And its mayor says he expects that number to rise. Officials say it is a miracle no one died in the firestorm that burned 111 homes to the waterline in Queens. The likely cause? Broken lines of natural gas. Dozens of those fires still burn in several states. We'll have more on that in just a minute.

And the last of the patients are now evacuated from New York's Bellevue Hospital. National Guard troops lined the stairwells to usher out more than 700 patients. The soldiers call themselves, quote, "a human bucket brigade."

As superstorm Sandy plowed into the Jersey shore its fragile barrier islands weren't even a speed bump. The ferocious winds and surging floodwaters have left towns and lives in ruins.

CNN's Michael Holmes has the latest from the coast.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These communities, holiday Meccas to so many tourists, are in some places unrecognizable. Portly Beach's iconic Surf Club was pounded into pieces, main roads are buckled, famed boardwalks splintered.

On the street those who'd remained and survived the tempest wondered and rued their decision to stay.

MELISSA GRIFFITH, RESIDENT: Came out Monday and we just couldn't believe the devastation. It's -- we're just sick to our stomachs and pray for everybody, that everybody is safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're glad we're safe.

GRIFFITH: And we're safe.

HOLMES: All day more and more were evacuated to the mainland. Many of them still in shock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as I was down in the basement, debris hit one of the windows and burst it open so the water started rushing and all I could hear was Jack say, run, run, run.

HOLMES: This man, whose wife had Alzheimer's, gave in to her pleas to remain in familiar surroundings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went through the storm a year ago. I really would have gotten out. I believed them, like I said, with my wife, her condition -- we have (INAUDIBLE). It's hard to change.


COSTELLO: Holmes reporting.

Jim Clancy is also with CNN. Jim is in that area right now.

Jim, is there a sense that danger has passed? JIM CLANCY, ANCHOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Well, there's a sense that they faced, you know, what -- faced down the destruction that has been caused. They have now seen some of those images that you showed. You saw the faces of those evacuees, what they have been through. But there's dangers still looming out there. There's still a long way to go.

The gas lines that you were talking about are still a challenge in some areas. Some residents challenging, you know, why they haven't been cut off much earlier. And there's hopes that they can be -- that can be done today. Not as easy as it sounds. Gaining access to where they can cut off these lines, you're still going to leave some of those lines pressurized. There's still a potential threat there.

And of course, before they can reenergize any of the electric lines in some of these communities, they have to ensure that job is done, Carol. Because, otherwise, it could ignite new fires. So there's one of the major risks that remains.

There are still some people that are holding out, some elderly with their pets, but they're about to give it up. There's no electricity. And there's no prospect that -- anything is going to be coming back online here in Belmar any time soon, in a matter of hours or even days. So people are resigned to the fact that they're going to have to -- you know, even the most stubborn -- to leave.

It's a -- it's a situation of people coming to be aware of what has happened to them and how lucky, how lucky that they have really been, and how much work is yet to go -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Absolutely. Jim Clancy reporting live for us this morning.

Getting around New York City still quite the nightmare. LaGuardia hit hard by superstorm Sandy opened just a few hours ago but with limited service. Also limited service at some of the other New York airports.

This morning a few subway lines are back up and running. The trains will stay away from lower Manhattan where the power is still out. Buses, as you might expect, are packed with many people waiting hours in line to get on board.

The good news? All public transportation is free today and tomorrow. Oh, but then there's the traffic gridlock. Streets are packed and Mayor Michael Bloomberg says all cars coming into Manhattan must have at least three people inside.

As Washington scrambles to help the superstorm ravaged areas, one lawmaker is balking at the idea of spending your tax dollars there.

Steve King is a Republican congressman from Landlocked, Iowa. He's a fiscal conservative who often rails against spending. In fact, he gained prominence for being one of the only lawmakers who opposed federal aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina. He says the mistakes made to Katrina can teach us lessons now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KING: I want to get them the resources that are necessary to lift them out of this water and this sand and the ashes and the death that's over there in the east coast and especially the northeast. But not one big shot that just opens up the checkbook, because they spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you can think of and in addition to what was necessary.


COSTELLO: Representative King said that during a debate. His Democratic opponent seized on his comment in this final debate before Tuesday's election. She called King's words, quote, "heartless."

President Obama back on the campaign trail today, but still following recovery efforts in the wake of superstorm Sandy. The President spent Wednesday afternoon with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The two saw devastated areas from the air on Marine One then they met with people in the Oceanside City of Brigantine, New Jersey, both of them trying to lift the spirits of residents left to pick up the pieces and pledging to work together.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I cannot thank the President enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and for the people of our state. And I heard on the phone conversations with him, and I was able to witness it today personally.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the people of New Jersey recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure that the people of New Jersey bounce back even stronger than before.


COSTELLO: White house correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us now from Green Bay, Wisconsin, where the President will make his first campaign stop since the storm.

Brianna, will the President -- of course the President will continue to monitor from Wisconsin, right?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Of course, he will, Carol. We're hearing from White House -- from a White House official that before he leaves this morning, heading back on the campaign trail, he'll be receiving a briefing from the head of FEMA, Craig Fugate, as well as some of his top aides, and that he's going to remain in contact with them while he is traveling here today to Wisconsin, also to Nevada and Colorado and that he will be doing conference calls with his local officials from areas where the storm has hit.

As you know, Air Force One is equipped so that he can stay in constant contact while he travels -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And what do you think his tone will be out on the campaign trail today?

KEILAR: I think that we've seen a little bit of a break, obviously, from a lot of the harsh back and forth. But we're going to start to see it ramping back up. I do know from a campaign source that when President Obama comes here to Straubel Airport this morning in the 11:00 Eastern hour, he will be talking about the storm at the beginning of his remarks, but he's also going to be making his case for why he should be re-elected.

So we're going to be seeing him re-entering into the political fray and certainly we'll be seeing things heat up again going into election day. The thing is when you look at Wisconsin, this is a place where, obviously, it's key. It's a battleground state. President Obama has had a small lead. And he needs to maintain that. So he's trying to shore up support.

You look at a poll out this morning from NBC/"Wall Street Journal." It has him up three points here. That is important, but it is not really comfortable. There was a poll out yesterday from Marquette University, a local poll done out of Milwaukee, that had him up much more than that, eight points.

You talk to the Obama campaign, certainly they're pointing to the Marquette poll. They want there to be this appearance of the fact that they're doing very well and they're just sort of trying to hold their lead here. It seemed more likely that their internal polls are somewhere in between those two polls, Carol.

But something also interesting today when the President speaks, ahead of him, Charles Woodson, a safety for the Green Bay Packers, will be firing up the crowd. You know the folks here in Green Bay love their Packers. What is Charles Woodson? He is a safety. And what does the safety do? The safety protects against long passes -- that's right, the hail Mary. And that's something that the Obama campaign is trying to do here in Wisconsin.

COSTELLO: OK. So that makes me wonder, that long line behind you, are they waiting to see Charles Woodson or President Obama?

KEILAR: You know, it's hard to tell. But, yes, I think they're probably here to see both of them but obviously this is a crowd of supporters of President Obama, and they're going to be making their to the airport for his remarks.

Very dedicated, I have to say, because it is freezing cold here and they're lined up. There is a ton of people you can't even see off camera. And they are ready for this event -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Hey, it's Green Bay. They're used to the cold. Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.

In the meantime Mitt Romney already back on the campaign trail. He'll hold three different rallies in Virginia today, beginning next hour in Roanoke, and then later in Doswell and Virginia Beach.

Romney was supposed to visit on Sunday but he canceled because of superstorm Sandy. Yesterday Romney visited Florida and at times used a softer tone in his campaign message.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: That's one of the great characteristics of our people. We come together in times of trial. And this is one of those times for millions of people in our country. So do your very best in your prayers, in your thoughts and with your funds, if you can.

In seven days the whole nation is going to come together because in seven days after the election is over, we're going to come together and do the work that needs to be done.


COSTELLO: Romney's softer tone did not last long. He did attack the President over his response to the killing of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Something sure to have political impact. The jobs report, tomorrow's number from the Labor Department will be the last one we'll get before the election. But we've already gotten an advance indicator this morning. Private payroll numbers. And the woman in the know was with Alison Kosik. She's at the New York Stock Exchange.

So, share.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So this is kind of the appetizer, Carol, and it was pretty good, considering, you know, what we've seen lately. ADP says private employers added 158,000 jobs in October. And this could be a good indication ahead of a big show, and that is the government jobs report that comes out Friday. Now at the moment the government jobs report expectations comes in a bit less than that.

CNN Money economists are pegging that number anywhere from 105,000 to 130,000. But you know, any way you slice it, you know, we're still at a point where we're only adding enough to barely keep up with population growth. It's not going to bring down unemployment in a significant way at this point. We've been kind of stuck. The economy added 114,000 jobs in September. But this one is the last jobs report before the election. So it takes on that much more importance.

Both sides likely to find something to talk about. President Obama could say it's better than the 800,000 jobs we were losing when he took office. Romney could come out and say hey, the unemployment rate is too high. And guess what, both would be right. Analyst say, you know what, it doesn't matter. What really matters is your own economy. Meaning what's going on in your own life? Do you have a job? Does your spouse have a job?

You know what, Carol, people are more likely to vote based on what their own situation is -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I was just going to say most people, when they hear the candidates talk about these jobs numbers, we'll hear blah, blah, blah. KOSIK: Yes, and a lot of it --

COSTELLO: So you're exactly right.

KOSIK: A lot of it becomes -- it becomes very statistical, very theoretical, but it really is, you know, what you're feeling.

COSTELLO: Alison Kosik. Thanks so much.

More charges expected in the Penn State sex abuse case this time against the university's former president, Graham Spanier. Multiple reports say Pennsylvania's attorney general is expected to announce perjury and obstruction of justice charges against Spanier later today.

As you know, Spanier resigned last year in the wake of charges being filed against Jerry Sandusky. Spanier has denied any knowledge of the two incidents involving Sandusky and those young boys in a university shower.

With an election this close every vote should count but a push to stop voter fraud could make it harder for some people to get to the polls.


COSTELLO: As you well know, the election is so close. A handful of votes could decide who wins the White House. But according to the Brennan Center for Justice, 14 states have laws restricting voter registration drives and early voting, and forcing some voters to show an ID. Those 14 states are worth 185 electoral votes. That's 68 percent of what's need to win.

So, is voting fraud a big problem? Will what I just said affect the election?

Nicole Austin-Hillery is director and counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice. She joins us from Washington this morning.

Good morning.


COSTELLO: Let's talk about these new laws put in place in many states across the nation. How will this affect voting Tuesday?

AUSTIN-HILLERY: Well, in 2011, the Brennan Center issued a report, when we first saw the onslaught of these laws being introduced across the country. And at that point, we were extremely worried because it looked like up to 5 million voters would be impacted by these laws and impacted in such a way where many of them might have their right to vote encumbered.

We issued a new report, however, a year later. It just came out last week -- I'm sorry, early this week that shows that because of the pushback that happened across the country, because of the Department of Justice, citizen referenda, courts and other initiatives, there has been a great deal of success in pushing back with respect to these laws.

And so, we are happy to report that that number is far fewer in terms of how many voters are going to be impacted. Most of the courts have ruled where there has been litigation that these laws will not go into effect before the November 6th election. So, we are very hopeful and very exuberant about the fact that we think many more voters will not have their right to vote encumbered.

COSTELLO: Well, many of these laws were going to be put into place to prevent voter fraud. The push against fraud started really in Florida. And their voter rules were examined. Lawsuits were filed.

So, how much voter fraud was actually found in Florida, do you know?

AUSTIN-HILLERY: You know, let me say this generally, Carol. The last Bush administration actually did its own investigation to look at this whole issue of voter fraud. And what they found at the conclusion of their investigation is that issues of voter fraud were quite at de minimis.

And what we have seen as we've looked at these various laws that have been introduced throughout this past year is that attempts at voter fraud have, again, continued to be de minimis.

So, we don't really think this is as big an issue as some had previously thought.

And, look, the Brennan Center, along with many other organizations that fight for voting rights, none of us wants to see voter fraud. We all think it's wrong. And when it does exist we want it stamped out. But the truth is that there's really little evidence that it exists.

COSTELLO: OK. Well, let's talk about -- let's talk about Ohio, because some election officials there tried to restrict early voting. And like you said, a judge threw that out. So, you know, they were really worried that early voting might have a less than desirable effect on the election in Ohio. Has it?

AUSTIN-HILLERY: Well, you know, I think the jury is still out on that. As we know, early voting is still going on in many parts of the country.

What we are happy to report, though, is that -- as you said, early voting has been able to go forward in Ohio, as it has in many other jurisdictions. The numbers are out. I think even your own network has been reporting, how the lines have been long, how there's exuberance shown by voters. And lots of people have been talking advantage of early voting.

So, we are bouyed by the fact that voters are engaged. And that really, Carol, is the things that we want to see. We want voters to be engaged in our electoral system and get out there and voice their opinion through the ballot box. So, we're happy to see that it's happening and it looks like in Ohio, that's happening as well for those voters.

COSTELLO: Nicole Austin-Hillery, from the Brennan Center, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

AUSTIN-HILLERY: You're welcome, Carol.

COSTELLO: Talk back question for you this morning, is FEMA necessary?, I'll be back.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, is FEMA necessary? FEMA fever, it's back! Everybody has caught it, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who toured the damage left by superstorm Sandy along with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and President Obama.

But one man, Iowa Congressman Steve King, thinks FEMA has a fever.


REP. PETER KING (R), IOWA: I want to get them the resources that are necessary to lift them out of this water and this sand and the ashes and the death that's over there in the east coast and especially in the northeast. But not one big shot that just opens up the checkbook, because they spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you can think of in addition to what was necessary.


COSTELLO: Congressman King, who is up for re-election, seems to be echoing the sentiments of some of his fellow Republican, including Senator Lindsey Graham who said, quote, "We can't borrow money every time something goes wrong in America." And Ron Paul who asks, quote, "Why should people like myself, who not too long ago had a house on a Gulf Coast -- it's expensive, risky and dangerous. Why should somebody from the central part of the United States rebuild my house?"

After all, FEMA represents big government. Although it's doubtful that Gucci bag and trip to the massage parlor would be tops on your list if your home or business was gone.


DONNA VAN ZANDT, MARINA OWNER: I was shocked that he even came to Brigantine and to my marina. It was very heartwarming actually. And for him to have the director of FEMA with him and to shake his hand and both to say that we will get help almost immediately was very calming to me.


COSTELLO: That's one New Jersey woman who is counting on FEMA to fulfill its mission, which is, in part, to offer housing, medical and property assistance after both natural and man-made disasters. Mitt Romney suddenly yearns for that very thing. After refusing to answer whether he favors doing away with FEMA 14 times, his campaign spun this answer. Quote, "I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission."

That's a little different from what he said during a GOP primary debate.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: FEMA is about to run out of money and there are some people who say do it on a case by case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning the lesson here that states should take on more of this role.

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion and take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.


COSTELLO: It seems that in the wake of Sandy, those against FEMA's future may be having a change of heart. So, what do you think? Is FEMA necessary?, Your responses later this hour.

Are you tired of seeing these two guys al over your TV screen or hearing them on the radio? Well, you're not the only one. Wait until you hear what one 4-year-old in a swing state said about the race for the White House.


COSTELLO: It is 30 minutes past the hour. Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you very much for joining us.

Five more days, then you can cast your ballot and be done with it. Voter fatigue seems to be at an all-time high. I think this little girl sums it up nicely.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I'm tired -- I'm tired of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's why you're crying? Oh, it will be over soon, Abby. OK? The election will be over soon, OK?



COSTELLO: I know many of you feel the same way. To think, the election that made that little girl cry has a $6 billion price tag. And yes, that would be a record.

Let's talk about this and more with CNN political analyst Roland Martin, who leans left. And CNN contributor Will Cain, who leans right.

Welcome, gentlemen.



CAIN: Are you leaning, Roland? I see you're leaning.

COSTELLO: I see you're leaning.

MARTIN: That's right. I'm doing the swerve here in Dallas.

COSTELLO: Roland, I'll start with you. You can confess. Have you cried, like that little girl, wishing the election would be over?

MARTIN: No. I wish folks would stop whining about this.


MARTIN: Actually -- remember, Will is the one who said speaking as a woman about the issue of abortion? So he got an experience there. I'll leave it up to him.

Look, I'm the kind of folks whining about this whole deal. We're showing a 4-year-old girl. People always say this year that on November 7th when they begin to see who was elected, you begin to hear a whole different conversation. I'm not one of these folks who complains about it.

The bottom line is: this is one of the most important choices Americans can make when it comes to who is president, but also we're voting on members of Congress, D.A.'s, city council people, you name it, across the states, ballot initiatives. And so, I say, look, don't whine about it, this is what it means to be an American to cast your ballot.

COSTELLO: And, plus, your a political analyst and you make a good living. I'm just kidding.

MARTIN: No. I mean, I do believe in the concept of vote or shut the hell up. We complain about stuff all too often. So we should recognize that these electrics matter.

COSTELLO: That's true. And I agree with that. These elections do matter.

Will, do you confess to crying like a little girl, wishing the election would be over?

CAIN: No. I also take issue with the fact that it's costing us $6 billion. Great. I think the more money spent, the better. It means more speeches involved. More money means more speech.

Can you make me a promise? From now on every time I'm in the show with Roland, will you start every question with -- Roland, did you cry like a little girl? And then proceed to the next part of the question because it makes my day.

MARTIN: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Then, again, the Texas Longhorn, you will cry like a little girl if you don't beat Kansas. I understand.

COSTELLO: OK, we have to pivot and have an intelligent conversation now.

President Obama campaigning again after appearing with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who, again, took time to praise the President. Let's listen.


CHRISTIE: And I cannot thank the President enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and for the people of our state. And I heard it on the phone conversations with him. I was able to witness it today personally.

And so, we're going to continue -- our state government is here, doing what we need to do, we're coordinating with FEMA, and I want to thank Administrator Fugate for being here, and for the input he's already had. It makes our operation even better.


COSTELLO: Some say Chris Christie could win the election for Mr. Obama. Seriously, Will?

CAIN: Look, I don't know. Can he win the election for President Obama? No, I do know, the answer is no. That's not going to have that big of an impact on the election. Many people look at Chris Christie.

And maybe I'm not looking with the appropriate amount of cynicism. Politics deserve cynicism.

Chris Christie has earned over the last, you know, several years the right to be granted honesty and authenticity. And I think he's a governor, dealing with a tragedy that you really can't overstate if you look at pictures, you live up in this area, you know, how awful it is. He's dealing with that as his first priority and the President has his back and is giving him credit for that.

COSTELLO: OK. And, Roland, I'm going to get really cynical now, there are some political observers out there who say Chris Christie is either totally sincere or he's gearing up himself for a run for president. What do you think?

MARTIN: He's acting like a governor, OK? Jon Stewart had a great mashup last night where he showed Chris Christie 12 days ago just going off on the President, saying he had no leadership. Well, guess what? That was politics.

You've seen the last four days, from the time hurricane Sandy what happens when you do show leadership. And so, I think he is doing exactly what a governor should do.

And the bottom line is that he needs his state to recover. He needs federal funds to actually do it. He's doing exactly what he should be doing, acting like a governor, not a partisan hack. That is what he should be doing.

COSTELLO: Roland Martin, Will Cain, thank you for an interesting conversation.


CAIN: What's that?

COSTELLO: Bye, guys.

CAIN: Bye.

COSTELLO: We'll be right back. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Floodwaters from superstorm Sandy caught many people by surprise.

Kristen Mondelli was in her living room when Sandy hit, she says she and her husband watched in shock as floodwaters started coming in through the air conditioning vents. The water rose a foot and a half in their home and also flooded their car. Now, they're ripping out the carpeting and trying to dry everything out.


KRISTEN MONDELLI, CLEANING UP HOME AFTER SANDY: It's rough. Emotionally, it's devastating. Going through bouts of emotions here.

REPORTER: It's not the way it is, where there's moments where you're working, trying to clean up and then it hits you, right?

MONDELLI: Yes, it does. It was like I was thinking of everything that was under the beds that I've lost, pictures I didn't think of, old pictures that I'd had since I was -- of me when I was a kid that were under the bed. Stuff like that. That's hard.


COSTELLO: Yes. What's really hard -- what's the scary part is that even if the family has flood insurance it's not clear whether FEMA has enough money to cover everyone's claims.

Our business correspondent Christine Romans is here to help us break down the numbers.

OK. That is scary.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Kristen is insured for $250,000 for her house and $100,000 for the contents of her house if she bought a flood insurance policy. And that's administered by the federal government. FEMA administers disaster relief, Carol, and the flood insurance program. And it has -- experts tell us about $3.8 billion at its disposal for the flood insurance part of this.

Now to put it in perspective, back for Irene it was $1.8 billion paid out because of flood damage in Irene. And you have more people who have flood insurance now, quite frankly. Before Irene, about 5 percent of people had flood insurance. Now, it's 14 percent. So, there will be more claims for the government to pay out, Carol.

And as I said, there's about $3.8 billion experts say on hand for them to do that. So, FEMA right now in disaster recovery mode. They'll be doing some very critical math in the days ahead.

COSTELLO: OK. So I'm scared to ask you this next question because I kind of know what the answer is. What happens if FEMA runs out of money for the flood insurance program?

ROMANS: Well, you know, Congress has given them this big sort of line of credit with the Treasury Department. They've got to borrow more money to do that. They would borrow money to pay out those claims and to keep its fund flush.

But when you borrow money from the federal government you have to pay it back, right? So, you pay it back either by raising premiums, which now they are allowed to do that, or taxpayers take a hit on it eventually.

So I don't think we're in a situation where people won't get their claim paid. They have to find the money somewhere, Carol.

COSTELLO: And eventually Congress would have to approve more funding for FEMA. We know how that went down the last time.

ROMANS: Absolutely. You're absolutely right. You know, look, we live in an era where we're spending more money than we take in and the nation is really grappling with what its priorities are, Carol.

So far, I don't think you've seen a politicization of this storm, right? But when math starts to become critical, that's when politics start to come in.

COSTELLO: Christine Romans, you're so right. Thanks so much.

When a swarm of negative ads and robocalls no longer work in Ohio, campaigns turn to the troops. We're talking about volunteers who go door to door. We'll show you how they sway voters five days before the election.


COSTELLO: Right now, Mitt Romney is getting ready to speak in Roanoke, Virginia. He's at the Integrity Windows plant, talking to -- well, he will be talking to a sizable crowd. The guy is just introducing him now.

Some recent poll suggests that Romney has an advantage among independent voters in the tossup state. Obama won in Virginia in 2008. He was the first Democrat to win that state since 1964. Governor Romney will also visit Doswell and Virginia Beach later today.

When Mr. Romney begins speaking of course we'll take that event for you live.

It seems that President Obama has the lead in the battleground state of Ohio. A new CNN poll of polls shows Obama has a three-point lead on Romney. It's a combination of five recent polls. With only days to go both campaigns going door-to-door, racing to get people to the polls, to vote for their candidates.

Here is CNN's Don Lemon in Dayton, Ohio.


DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The front line on the Ohio battleground -- cold, soggy and gray. But neither snow nor sleet nor bad directions --

(on camera): Are you lost now?


LEMON (voice-over): Shall keep these volunteers from their appointed rounds.

(on camera): Why are you doing this?

HENNING: I do it to support Governor Romney.

LEMON: When college sophomore and first-time voter Sean Henning isn't in class or working, he's driving, walking --

(on camera): Is this your next one?


LEMON: Knocking and talking to voters.

HENNING: When you are going to vote, if you are going to go in early or like or on Election Day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going on Election Day.

LEMON: Is it worth it? It's cold, it's rainy, some people slam the door in your face, others don't. Some people are receptive but is it worth it?

HENNING: In the long run hopefully it will be. If I see my man, Romney, as the President, yes.

LEMON: A President Romney is the last thing Bethany wants.

She says she has a pre-existing medical condition. So she put on her boots, put her jewelry business on hold last summer to volunteer full time to make sure President Obama and his health care plan stay put.

BETHANY, BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER: You voted for the President for re- election?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney doesn't have what it takes.

LEMON: Both campaigns say in these critical final moments, they need people like Beth and Sean.

OBAMA: See your taxes go up --

LEMON: -- and other dedicated volunteers because of a barrage of negative ads and robo calls have run their course.

(on camera): So it's about personal contact?


Person to person, not robo calls. Not mass mailing, what's important to you and -- and what can I say about that subject.

LEMON: You don't get more personal than Gayle and Matt Caffrey.

GAYLE CAFFREY, OBAMA SUPPORTER: So do you live in Mexico now?

LEMON: When they're not out knocking on doors, these neighborhood team leaders rally the Obama troops from home, working the phones each evening after work.

M. CAFFREY: We are very well organized. We have been doing this. A lot of us participated in '08. So it's like a veteran army, going to fight another battle.


COSTELLO: Don Lemon joins us now from the only early voting location in Dayton, Ohio. So I'm glad you're inside. I'll say that for a start.

LEMON: Me, too.

COSTELLO: Oh my gosh you look miserable. So what's the early voter turnout look like.

LEMON: I'm glad I'm inside. Yes, I came all bundled up and I'm inside. It's been -- it's been great and I just asked one of the judges here how -- how it's been going. He said since October 2nd it's been a steady flow. We're going to try to get you around this corner a little later on. You can hear people applauding in there.

But that room is full of people, then they stream into here. So far almost 1.5 million people as of the 26th Carol, 1.2 million people had cast their ballots already here. And of course you know the secretary of state here sent out applications for absentee ballots to everyone to almost eight million voters.

But so far 1.2 and probably by today, 1.5 million people have voted here already in the state of Ohio. So they're getting it in early.

COSTELLO: So -- so are Democrats or Republicans saying that benefits them?

LEMON: Well, both sides now are saying it benefits them. Traditionally, early voting benefits Democrats. But this time, the Republicans have learned from what the Obama campaign and Democrats did back in 2008.

So now they -- you know they say that they -- they believe that they are benefiting from early voting. But here, you don't have to register by party so you don't really know. So it could be just talk from both sides. But I tell you I think what -- what the secretary of state did by mailing out those absentee applications to all of the registered voters, I think he sort of leveled the playing field here.

So again, who knows?

COSTELLO: We'll see. Don Lemon reporting live from Dayton, Ohio.

Many New York police officers and fire crews will be very busy this Sunday, but not just with disaster relief efforts. Instead they will be watching over the New York City -- the New York City Marathon. And that has some critics pretty darn angry.


COSTELLO: In New York City, the race will go on. Mayor Bloomberg said the 43rd annual marathon will take place this Sunday as scheduled. And that decision is not sitting well with many people. The route for the city's five boroughs is unchanged largely missing the area hit hardest by the hurricane but it's not without its reminders.

The race starts in Staten Island, just eight miles across the bay from the neighborhood completely destroyed by fire, Breezy Point. And it ends in Central Park, which is still cleaning up after half a million dollars worth of damage in trees alone.

Mary Wittenberg is the race director for the New York City Marathon. Mary, welcome.


COSTELLO: As you well know, the city and the mayor and yourself taking a lot of criticism over the decision for the race to go on, because it takes away resources like police and fire from the city. So why not delay the race?

WITTENBERG: Well, the idea is really to help the city rebound as effectively and efficiently as we can. You know for -- first our hearts go out to all the New Yorkers and everybody on the Eastern Seaboard that's been impacted by the storm. And once the Mayor said we want to go forward with the marathon, our job at New York (inaudible) is to do everything we can to make the most of this platform to remember those lost, to honor and support those hurt, and see how we can really mobilize and -- and get more support into the relief effort.

We're hoping people nation and worldwide who watch the TV show and say, how can I help, how can I donate, how can I support?

COSTELLO: I think one New York official put it this way. He -- he likened the marathon to a parade in that people who are standing outside of their ravaged homes will look at it and -- and actually not be uplifted. It would be the other way around.

WITTENBERG: You know the way -- the way we see it here in New York City and what we're hearing from the city in terms of how the marathon can help, it's going to bring the city together.

I would liken it more to a telethon, you know, how can we help raise more money, raise more support for the city, for the relief effort, and at the same time, really show the world the spirit of this city. You know, we often talk about the marathon as the triumph of the human spirit. I think this year is the triumph of the New York City area spirit.

And that's what -- that's the message, is you can help. Show people they can help and show them this city will rebound. It will be as vital and as vibrant as ever.

COSTELLO: So there are going to be a lot of runners in this race, almost 50,000. Getting the runners to the actual starting point will be quite the issue for you, because the Staten Island Ferry is still not running. So how do you plan on getting everyone there?

WITTENBERG: So what's key is at every turn we don't want any resources diverted from the recovery effort. And that's everybody's plan, and that's the way this has to be. So what we're doing with transportation is we've gone entirely to private resources.

So we will be bussing people. We're going out to the boroughs to get people. We'll be bussing people from the New York Public Library. So it's a whole new transportation system. And it's all built on a plan that seeks to not divert resources from the restoration, recovery. Only, in fact, to add to the resources and to get greater support behind this effort city and area-wide.

COSTELLO: Mary Wittenberg, good luck on Sunday and good luck to all the runners. We appreciate you being with us this morning.

WITTENBERG: Thanks so much.

COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question for you this morning. Is FEMA necessary? Your responses next.


COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question today. Is FEMA necessary?

This from Christopher. "Eliminating FEMA means telling states, 'You were just wiped out. Help yourself.' That's not what this country was founded on."

This from James, "The heavy hand of the Feds not welcome or needed. The states are closer to the issues, and their people than the Feds."

This from Sally. "That should be obvious now. There are many things government is good at. And emergency aid is a great example."

And this Lisa, "No. FEMA should go and the states should take over. Romney is right on this one." Please continue the conversation.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.