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Obama Campaigns in Wisconsin; Religion Weighs On Iowa Race; Obama Ahead, Some Polls Say; Jobs Report Could be Pivotal

Aired November 1, 2012 - 12:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, change is a future where we reduce our deficit in a way that's balanced and responsible. I signed $1 trillion worth of spending cuts. I intend to do more. And I'll work with both parties to streamline agencies and get rid of programs that don't work. But if we're serious about the deficit, we've also got to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the tax rate they paid when Bill Clinton was in office.

Because as long as I'm president, I will never turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire's tax cuts. I will never allow this nation to be plunged into another battle over health care reform just so insurance companies can jump back into the driver's seat. And I will never allow politicians in Washington to control health care choices that women should be making for themselves.

So, Wisconsin, we know what change is. We know what the future requires. We don't need a big government agenda or a small government agenda. We need a middle class agenda that rewards hard work and responsibility. We don't need a partisan agenda. We need a commonsense agenda that says when we educate a poor child, we'll all be better off. That says when we fund the research of a young scientist, her new discovery will benefit every American. We need a vision that says we don't just look out for ourselves, we look out for one another. We look out for future generations. And we meet those obligations by working together. That's the change we believe in. That's what this election's all about.

Now, let's be clear. Achieving this agenda won't be easy. It's never been easy. We always knew that. Back in 2008, when we talked about change, I told I wasn't just talking about changing presidents. I wasn't just talking about changing parties. I was talking about changing our politics. I ran because the voices of the American people, your voices, had been shut out of our democracy for way too long by lobbyists and special interests and politicians who believe that compromise is somehow a dirty word, by folks who would say anything to win office and do anything to stay there.

The protectors of the status quo are a powerful force in Washington. And over the last four years, every time we've tried to make change, they've fought back with everything they got. They spent millions to stop us from reforming health care and Wall Street and student loans. And their strategy from the start was to engineer pure gridlock in Congress, refusing to compromise on ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past.

And what they're counting on now, Wisconsin, is that the American people will be so worn down by all the squabbling, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you'll actually reward obstruction and put people back in charge who advocate the very policy that is got us into this mess. In other words, their bet is on cynicism. But, Wisconsin, my bet is on you. My bet is on the decency and good sense of the American people. Because despite all the resistance, despite all the setbacks, we've won some great fights. And I've never lost sight of the vision we share that you would have a voice, that there would be somebody at the table fighting every single day for middle class Americans who work hard.

Now, sometimes Republicans in Congress have worked with me to meet our goals, to cut taxes for small businesses and families like yours, to open new markets for American goods or finally repeal "don't ask, don't tell." And sometimes we've had big fights. Fights that were worth having, like when we forced the banks to stop overcharging for student loans and make college more affordable for millions, like when we forced Wall Street to abide by the toughest rules since the 1930s, like when we stopped insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions like cancer or diabetes so that nobody in America goes bankrupt just because they get sick.

I didn't fight those fights for any partisan advantage. I have shown my willingness to work with anybody of any party to move this country forward. And if you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you'll vote for leaders whether they are Democrats, Republicans or Independents who feel the same way.

But if the price of peace in Washington to cutting deals that will kick students off of financial aid or get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood or eliminate health care for millions on Medicaid who are poor or elderly or disabled just to give a millionaire a tax cut, I'm not having it. That's not a deal worth having. That's not bipartisanship. That's not change. That's surrenders to the same status quo that has hurt middle class families for way too long.

And I'm not ready to give up on that fight. I hope you aren't either, Wisconsin. I hope you aren't either. See, the folks at the very top in this country don't need another champion in Washington. They'll always have a seat at the table. They'll always have access and influence.

The people who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night. The men and women I meet on the campaign trail every day. The laid-off furniture worker who is retraining at the age of 55 for a career in biotechnology. She needs a champion.

The small restaurant owner who needs a loan to expand after the bank turned him down. He needs a champion. The cooks and the waiters and the cleaning staff working overtime at a Vegas hotel trying to save enough to buy a first home or send their kid to college, they need a champion.

The autoworker who's back on the job, filled with pride and dignity because he's building a great car, he needs a champion. The young teacher doing her best in an overcrowded classroom with outdated textbooks, she needs a champion. All those kids in inner cities and small farm towns in the valleys of Ohio or rolling Virginia hills or right here in Green Bay, kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors, engineers or entrepreneurs, diplomats or even a president, they need a champion in Washington. They need a champion.

They need a champion because the future will never have as many lobbyists as the past, but it's the dreams of those children that will be our saving grace. And that's why I need you, Wisconsin, to make sure their voices are heard, to make sure your voices are heard.

We've come too far to turn back now. We've come too far to let our hearts grow faint. Now is the time to keep pushing forward, to educate all our kids and train all our workers to create new jobs and rebuild our infrastructure, to discover new sources of energy, to broaden opportunity, to grow our middle class, to restore our democracy and to make sure that no matter who you are or where you come from or how you started out, you can work to achieve your American dream.

You know, in the midst of the Great Depression, FDR reminded the country that failure is not an American habit. And in the strength of great hope, we must shoulder our common love. That's the strength we need today. That's the hope I'm asking you to share. That's the future in our sights. That's why I'm asking for your vote. If you're willing to work with me again and knock on some doors with me and make some phone calls for me and turn out for me, we'll win Brown (ph) County again. We'll win Wisconsin again. We'll win this election. And, together, we'll renew those bonds and reaffirm that spirit that makes the United States of America the greatest nation on earth.

Thank you, Wisconsin. Get out there and vote. Thank you. God bless you. God bless America.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama, you hear him -- his voice a little hoarse there as he's working the crowd. This is his first of three stops today. This is out of Green Bay, Wisconsin. And the president there donning a bomber jacket -- leather bomber jacket emblazoned with an Air Force One patch, sounding very confident and moving forward.

He tried to balance the speech a bit with talking about the people, the emergency officials that he's been in touch with regarding Superstorm Sandy. And that he would, in fact, take good care to make sure that people are responding to that natural disaster.

Also, very much sounding like this is a time where they are trying to, the candidates, put partisan politics aside. Here's what he said just moments ago.


OBAMA: Because when disasters strikes, we see America at its best. All the petty differences that consume us in normal times all seem to melt away. There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm. There are just fellow Americans.


MALVEAUX: I want to bring in Briana Keilar. She is with the president in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

So, Briana, I thought that was a really interesting passage there, part of the speech, there are no Democrats, Republicans during a storm. We're all just Americans. Well, some people say, you know what, the storm is over and we are back to politics as usual. How is he balancing these two messages?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was really the segue. Part of the way that he's balancing is by staying in touch, obviously, with officials in affected areas, getting regular updates from Frank Fugate, the head of FEMA, and from his top aides, Suzanne. But I think if we had any doubt, we almost only needed to look at the preview for President Obama. Charles Woodson, the safety from the Green Bay Packers, warming up the crowd here before he got here. I think we should have taken from that, that it is game on because that is certainly the sense that you could get from this speech after President Obama talked about being humbled and inspired by Sandy.

He then moved into what you could say was a lot of his normal stump speech. He was talking a lot about how Mitt Romney was not the candidate of change. He said talking or not really elaborating on policies, not answering questions about policies, not change. He said that making changes to entitlements like Medicare is change, but not the kind of change that Americans want. And he gave really quite his sort of rousing speech that you could say was very much making his argument for why he should be re-elected and why voters should not give Mitt Romney a chance, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Let's talk a little bit about the sprint to the finish here, Brianna, because I imagine you're going to be doing an awful lot of traveling here. The president, he's going to be campaigning today, of course, at Nevada and Colorado following this event. Tomorrow he's in Ohio. So the weekend, unbelievable this schedule here. We are talking about a blitz across seven battleground states. Do we expect that the message is going to change? What is going to be the closing argument we're going hear from this president?

KEILAR: You know I think -- and it's -- this is really interesting to me, Suzanne, because this -- to me, this event here is really the kickoff to the final push. Changed a little bit, obviously, because of Storm Sandy. But this became the kickoff to the final push. By my count he's got 17 stops through Monday before Election Day. Who knows? More could be added. That may change.

But this is the first of 17. And when you look at it, more than half of those stops are going to be where? Yes, Ohio, but also here in Wisconsin and Iowa. This kind of Midwest firewall, as some have referred to it. He'll be making his case in this region for the auto bailout, as you heard him make today. He'll be making, obviously, his case for fairness for the middle class. And that's really going to be what we'll be hearing him make through this push. But I just think it's really interesting that you have him going to this region and concentrating a lot of effort here. And it's not just him. Bill Clinton was here last night. He's got an event that should be going off about as we speak. And there's a lot of attention here.


KEILAR: Vice President Biden was here in Wisconsin last week. Paul Ryan was here yesterday. Mitt Romney's going to be here tomorrow. Wisconsin getting an outsized amount of attention, you could say.

MALVEAUX: And another place getting a lot of attention, Virginia. That is where Mitt Romney, earlier today, gave a speech. He's going to be doing at least three different cities and towns in that state. I want you to hear this, Briana. This was his message earlier this morning.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Now, the president's proposal in a setting like this is to continue on the same road. He has a campaign slogan which is "forward." I saw the signs out front -- "forward." I think forewarned is a better word.


MALVEAUX: So, Brianna, obviously Mitt Romney has taken the gloves off. He is now going back on attack mode. Do we expect that that is going to play out the next five days on both sides?

KEILAR: Yes, And I think you already saw that here. You heard President Obama saying that the Romney campaign is betting on cynicism. That people will want to go back to the policies, as he put it, that created the financial collapse. So I think you're almost hearing in a way these kind of mirror images of arguments. But I think, yes, the gloves are off and it is game on here into Election Day, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, game on. Brianna, good to see you, as always. Thank you.

Election officials in New York are extending deadlines for absentee ballots because of all that damage from Superstorm Sandy. Now, the state board of elections have an emergency meeting session. That happened just actually just a bit -- a while ago about the situation. They decided they're going to push back the deadline for voters to apply for absentee ballots by mail or fax. The deadline was Wednesday. It was extended through tomorrow, Friday. Now, voters can apply in person for absentee ballots as late as Monday, the day before Election Day. Now, the deadline for county election boards to receive absentee ballots, that has been extended from November 13th to November 19th.

Now, the impact of Sandy is still just settling in.


RYZON BARNES, SHELTER RESIDENT: I went to the boardwalk, and I seen the rollercoaster in the water. I seen the boardwalk destroyed, and down by CVS on Route 35 I seen a big house in the middle of the street. It was the most devastating thing I ever seen.


MALVEAUX: We're going to have more on the fallout from this historic storm.


MALVEAUX: Just five days till the presidential election and the polls show President Obama with a slight edge in some crucial states.

The NBC-"Wall Street Journal"-Marist poll gives the president a six- point lead over Romney in Iowa. In Wisconsin, the poll shows the president ahead by three points, and in New Hampshire he has just a two-point edge.

Both candidates, they are on the campaign trail today, of course. The president is returning for the first time since Superstorm Sandy hit. He is started the day in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and now it's on to Vegas and Denver.

Romney is in Virginia today. His first stop, Roanoke, next stop Doswell and Virginia Beach.

As you know, no Republican has won the White House without carrying Ohio. A CNN Poll of Polls shows President Obama with a three-point lead over Mitt Romney in the state. The question is, can he maintain it?

Ali Velshi, John Avlon joining us now. They've been talking to folks on the road there, locals at a restaurant. This is in Youngstown, Ohio.

Good to see you, guys. You know, it's been very, very busy, I know.

Ali, I want to start off with you, 2008, President Obama won Ohio by four points. You have been talking to a lot of undecided folks. Does it seem like he is going to get it? Is it leaning his way? What are they telling you?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's tight. It's tight in Ohio. I mean, all of these numbers are within the statistical margins of error.

Look, we're in a place in Youngstown that has been just destroyed by the economy over decades. This was the second biggest steel town after Pittsburgh. Then they lost steel, then an auto factory.

Lordstown, which nearly got crushed during the recession, it's back. It's got three shifts. It makes the Chevy Cruze and, now, they've got natural gas. They've got fracking and some people say it causes earthquakes. And a lot of locals we've talked to say, so what? Bring the earthquakes. We need the jobs. A lot of Obama supporters here, but I spoke to one who, you know, she is going to support President Obama, but she still has problems with the economy. Here's what she told me.


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


VELSHI: Yeah, so that's kind of the thing that we're hearing a lot of around here. You know, they like Obama where we are, but they really -- jobs are going to be the most important things, what people earn.

And, you know, tomorrow morning, the big jobs report comes out. That's going to be pivotal.

MALVEAUX: Right. Wow, Ali, I mean, when you listen to that young woman, that is really kind of an extraordinary story, but she really brings it home. I mean, she's very frustrated. I imagine there are a lot of folks who are frustrated.

John, I want to ask you this because we see this woman here, but Ohio, what makes it so interesting, is it really is kind of this reflection, this melting pot, if you will, of every group that is represented in across our country.

So, you've got the Reagan Democrats, the suburban moms, Latinos, all these folks here. Is there a split? Is there a split in terms of what they are saying is their priority when they see this president and when they see Mitt Romney?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Suzanne, you know, you do see certainly a split in terms of the cities tend to vote Democrats, the rural counties tend to vote Republican, and it's the swing districts like Stark County, Toledo, where we're going today, those are the swing districts where this election will be decided.

The key thing to understand about Ohio and this is my mother's hometown, Youngstown, so, I know the character of the people here. There's been a great recession going on here for decades.

So, the key is that the Obama campaign's constant focus on manufacturing and the middle class and trying to say that, you know, the policies of the past got us into this mess, those can resonate to folks.

Mitt Romney has a relatability problem to some of those folks that have been beaten down by a economy for a long time, not just over the last four years, but these are folks who are commonsense people. They vote for the person, not the party.

VELSHI: Yeah. AVLON: And it's a Main Street Republican tradition that Mitt Romney should be able to tap into.

VELSHI: I will tell you one thing, Suzanne. Earlier this morning, we had John's grandmother, who was born in Youngstown. She's 97-years old ...


VELSHI: ... came over and they started a restaurant, a diner, but there's a lot of that around here, people who love this place. They love Ohio. They want it to do well.

This -- Ohio has a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country after being decimated. This is big auto country. Mitt Romney's comments about Jeep and how they got government assistance and are leaving the -- you know, sending the job to China. He got smacked down by the auto companies. That's not playing very well here.

AVLON: It's not. And, Suzanne, the other thing is that it is starting to come back. You know, as I said, this is the first time in a long time that Ohio's unemployment rate is lower than the national unemployment rate.

MALVEAUX: Right, right.

AVLON: You're starting to see a silver lining. There's a starting new sense of optimism, and that's a fascinating dynamic here, as well.

MALVEAUX: And, John, we want next time for you to bring your grandmother. We want you to put her on the air for us.

I have a quick question for Ali because you're still wearing your flood jacket there. First of all, excellent coverage that you did out of New Jersey.


MALVEAUX: But what are folks telling you about how the president has handled this disaster and the fact that Mitt Romney campaigned there in the state the very next day.

VELSHI: Yeah. As you know, he got some criticism for doing that. Even though he made it into a food drive, which was really good, but there was some sense that it still had some campaign edge to it. It might have been a little too early, and, of course, all pictures on the news have been Barack Obama and Chris Christie, you know, and there are a lot of people saying -- I heard people say to me, that might look like if Obama wins, that might look like the two guys who are running against -- not two guys, but a president and another guy who is running for president, four years from now.

That has played very well. The bipartisanship or the lack of politics in the disaster relief seems to have played well. Again, I want to underscore we're in Democratic country at the moment. AVLON: We are, but, Suzanne, what's so important about those photos is it does underscore what most swing voters here in Ohio and elsewhere want to see from their government -- people putting politics aside, hyper-partisanship aside, getting it done, practical solutions. That's why those images, I think, will resonate.

MALVEAUX: All right. John, Ali, good to see you, guys, and John, again, next time we want to see grandmother. Good to see you.

Here's how one New York resident described Superstorm Sandy in just five words. "Displaced, sad, grateful, shock, and awe."

We're going have more on the historic natural disaster.


MALVEAUX: Superstorm Sandy making life extremely difficult for folks in New York and New Jersey, even those not even directly affected by the storms. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the line for the gas station in Middletown, New Jersey.


MALVEAUX: That is crazy, gas lines stretching for blocks, some a mile long. Look at that.

A lot of people need gas. There's just not enough open gas stations and, if waiting for an hour long in a car isn't bad enough, some had to actually stand in line to fill up gas canisters for their generators and chainsaws.

Another major problem created by this storm, cell phone service. Folks now are scrambling just to call their loved ones. Many of them can't get through.

I want to bring in Alison Kosik from the New York Stock Exchange. Alison, I was talking about this with our team here and it's one of the things I would think is most disconcerting, when you can't communicate either to your family to let them know you're OK ...


MALVEAUX: ... or to your friends or -- and cell phone service. You might even have a phone, you might have a phone charged, but if there's no cell phone service in the area, you can't communicate.

KOSIK: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: Is that what a lot of people are dealing with now?

KOSIK: Yeah, I mean, whether you have a cell phone, whether you're impacted by the storm or not in this area, but, yes, I mean, it's taken some people days, Suzanne, just to get in touch with their loved ones to say, hey, I'm OK, I made it through.

I mean, it's incredible to think about how Sandy actually wiped out a quarter of cell phone service right in her path. Internet and cable service, yep, that's affected, too, and guess what? There's some bad news with this because things are assumed that they're going to be getting worse before they get better.

That's according to the FCC commissioner because what's happening is, these cell phone towers, they've been running on backup battery power. They're fuelled by generators, but the thing is the generators are in flooded locations and people can't get to those generators to fill them up again with more gas. So, once these batteries die, the towers are going to go dark.

Now, all three of the nation's major cell phone carriers, they're working around the clock to get these towers back on-line and get this. In a rare moment of kumbaya collaboration, AT&T and T-Mobile agreed to share their networks, which means customers can use whatever provider can give them the coverage in their area.

Now, this is, of course, happening all behind the scenes, so customers just dial out and never know what service they're using.


KOSIK: Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: That's really extraordinary. I mean, we've been watching these people of people also kind of cooperating and getting together and plugging in at places from homes to stores, whatever they can use that's available.

Do we have an idea about how much all of this is going to cost, the storm?

KOSIK: Yeah, these are insanely huge numbers. Equicat (ph) upped their estimate today, Suzanne, saying Sandy-related damages could go as high as $30 billion to $50 billion.

Compare that to just $10 billion -- just -- for Hurricane Irene last year and it's still going higher because businesses can't open because they don't have power. And then you sort of pile on the water damage that's closed the subways and the tunnels in and around New York and New Jersey.

Now, remember, it is normal for these early estimates to go higher and higher because it does take time to really survey all the damage and really get a handle on these numbers.


MALVEAUX: Let's talk about jobs. We've got a preview, I believe, of the jobs report that's coming out tomorrow and it looks fairly positive. What do we know? What do we expect for tomorrow?

KOSIK: So, ADP came out with this report today saying that private employers added 158,000 jobs in October. That came in better than expected. And, you know, it could be a good indicator of what's to come out tomorrow when the big government jobs report comes out just before the opening bell.

That expectation for that reading which takes both public and private jobs into account is not as rosy. It puts the number anywhere from 105,000 to 130,000 jobs for the month of October.

But you know what? The reality is, Suzanne, even with these gains, we're at this point where we're only adding enough to barely keep up with population growth, much less bring down unemployment in a significant way, but we are going to be watching this because it's the last jobs report before the election and you can bet both sides are going to try to find something in it to talk about to spin in their direction to make them look good.


MALVEAUX: Not surprising. Thank you very much, Alison. Appreciate it.

Our own Kat Kinsman who lives in New York asked New Yorkers to share their feelings about Sandy in just five words on Facebook and Twitter. So check out what folks actually wrote.

Kate Gold tweeted, "Displaced, sad, grateful, shock & awe." Pableaux Johnson tweeted, "Clean those fridges, y'all." Josie J writes, "Still have two beers left." And Camp Broadway tweets, "The show must go on."

We hope the show goes on. New Yorkers trying to get their normal lives back as fast as they can.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, everybody's trying to get in and get back to the normal things.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Do you normally walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to go to work?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't, but this morning, I thought that was my best bet.


MALVEAUX: We're going to have more on the damage and the recovery.


MALVEAUX: I bet that people don't even realize that Superstorm Sandy is not yet gone. Chad Myers track it from the CNN Weather Center and, Chad, just an extraordinary job, first of all, all week on this horrific storm.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, thank you. From everybody on the team here.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, truly a team effort here, but where is the storm? Is it still actually churning or brewing somewhere? What do you know about it?

MYERS: It truly has been absorbed into a different storm and that's kind of what happened to Sandy in the first place. It got absorbed into the cold air mass. That's why we got so much snow with it. Thirty-six inches was the biggest number I've seen. In some spots it's actually still snowing, but it really has moved up into Canada and it's going to be long gone.

There are two more storms on the horizon, not hurricanes, but maybe coastal nor'easters that maybe even bring more snow. And there's another thing I want worry about here. I want you to think about this because it's going to get cold and, when it gets colder, you are going to try to stay warm and I need you to do it safely.

You can't just turn on your oven, a gas oven and open up the door and think that there's no carbon monoxide coming in your house because there is and it's going to be dangerous out there. We don't want to lose more people after the storm than we lost during the storm. That's always the potential.

I want to take you right down to the ground. There's some disturbing pictures that just came out of NOAA. This is what the beach looks like. This isn't that far from Seaside Heights.

Let's go back -- just go back and forth, Jud. You can see where there was a boardwalk. You can see where there were homes. I mean, literally, one, two, three, four, homes, and then go back again to the after. This is the "before" when everything's peaceful. Look, the houses are moved. They're gone. Foundations aren't even there.

Go up the beach a little bit. I think we have a marina here on the other side. This is still around Seaside Heights. There's the boats. I mean, there's the water that came right across the shore.

And then one more spot, a little bit farther north up near Chadwick Beach. Here's the roads to Chadwick Beach and a little bit farther to the south, Highway 35, and literally that road isn't there anymore. There's one little house right there in the middle of an island. Just disturbing. We just hope that people weren't there.

These are all obviously mandatory evacuation areas, but, boy, that's tough.

Let me show you some animation now. We have some "before" and "after." We can go back down to Seaside Beach, a fun town, as well. It's -- you know, I don't think anybody really knows until we get on the ground.

We can show you aerials and show you that things are missing and aren't there anymore, but the issue is that these are people's lives. These are people's livelihoods. These are people's homes, lifetime homes, homes that have been passed down for literally generations and, many of them now, those beaches are gone.

Going to be -- it's going to be a very long cleanup. You just can't take that sand now that's everywhere and move it back onto the beach. You just can't throw it back on the beach because there's nails and there's shrapnel in that stuff. You don't want that being part of your beach in the future.

So, boy, a lot, a lot of time and money to get this put back together.

MALVEAUX: And those pictures really do portray that.

Chad, thank you so much. We really appreciate it,

MYERS: You're welcome.

MALVEAUX: Again, it is going to be tough going for a lot of people, a lot of folks in this clean-up effort trying to get their lives back together and want to support them in that effort.

All week iReporters have been capturing remarkable images of the storm's destruction. This video here, a viewer took of a subway station that was inundated with water.

Now, crews are still trying to get the water out of these stations across lower Manhattan. It is a very big job.

This is what it looked like when the storm slammed into New York. This is Monday night, water pouring in, turning streets into rivers. We're just getting new pictures of this all the time.

Here's a look at the scene from Long Beach, New Jersey, furniture, debris littering the streets there.

More and more people putting in -- giving us their video and sending in those iReports to get a much fuller picture of what took place on the ground there and just the impact that this storm had on so many people's lives.

Seven-hundred patients evacuated out of a hospital with no elevators, no power, and it's just one more amazing story from this unprecedented disaster.


MALVEAUX: Back now to the storm recovery in the Northeast and much of New York City is still without electricity or working plumbing.

Those are not the conditions to run a major hospital, of course, so staff at Bellevue decided they had to get everybody out. We're talking about more than 700 patients.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta was there.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're outside here at Bellevue Hospital and I can tell you that an amazing process has unfolded over the last 24 hours, the evacuation of some 700 patients now nearly complete if not complete, just an amazing thing to see unfold.

To move 700 patients without power, no elevators, none of the 32 elevators working, you might imagine very challenging. Sometimes these patients had to be carried. They were continuously getting air through these (INAUDIBLE) bags being squeezed throughout the entire process. I.V. lines, people had to man these things.

At the same time as the patients were coming down, they had to get fuel up. There's a generator up on the 13th floor, but the fuel pump to that generator malfunctioned, did not work as a result of the flooding, so they literally created this bucket brigade to get fuel up to that generator and kept it going as long as they could.

And when they realized the fuel pumps simply were not going to fixable, that's when the official evacuation was ordered.

A lot of people asking, I mean, how could this happen with all that we know about storms and even from the 2003 blackout? We posed that question to the head of the hospital corporation. Here's how he answered.

ALAN AVILES, NYC HEALTH & HOSPITALS CORPORATION: Well, this was an unprecedented event. We weathered Hurricane Irene, 14 or 15 months ago, with the same emergency preparations and it didn't come close to endangering the hospital.

This hospital sits 20 feet above sea level. We're actually 15 feet higher than NYU Hospital next door because the terrain just rises slightly here, so it was obviously not anticipated that we would get a storm surge of this magnitude.

GUPTA: Now, one thing I should point out is that this is a hospital that sees some 125,000 patients in the e.r. every year. It's not going to be open for the next two-to-three weeks, according to hospital officials, so where do the sick patients go?

That's where officials are starting to direct a lot of their attention now.

Back to you.


MALVEAUX: Thank you, Sanjay.

There are many ways you can help victims of the superstorm. We've listed a few of them in our Impact Your World website. Go to if you would like to help.

Every vote, every voting bloc counts. We've talked about women, African-Americans, Latinos, but who are evangelicals getting behind this election? We're going to go live to the Heartland to find out.


MALVEAUX: The presidential race coming down to just a handful of critical states like Iowa and a dwindling number of uncommitted voters still. In Iowa, issues of personal faith could be a deciding factor. There's a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Maris poll showing President Obama with a six point lead over Mitt Romney in the state. Our Poppy Harlow, she talked with folks from two key groups in Iowa about their choice for president, Catholics and Evangelical Christians.


POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): In the heart of Des Moines, Evangelical Christians flock to Grace Church to talk faith, family, and the presidential election.

RACHEL BRADSHAW, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Honestly, what it all boils down to is, what does the Bible say and which candidate is going to follow the closest.

HARLOW: For Bob and Rachel Bradshaw, that candidate is Mitt Romney.

BOB BRADSHAW, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: I don't know how in his right mind the president could be for abortion the way he is and support same-sex marriage. It just -- it's hard for me that somebody that claims to be a Christian, you know, makes statements to support things like that.

WASI MWAMBA (ph), EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: It's not been an easy choice to make either way.

HARLOW: Dawn and Wasi Mwamba have wrestled with their vote.

DAWN MWAMBA, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: My religious beliefs, in all honesty, don't align with either one. If anything, it's probably going to end up being Mitt Romney.

HARLOW: Fifty-seven percent of voters in the Republican Iowa caucuses identified themselves as Evangelicals. They supported Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney. Many uneasy over Romney's moderate past on issues like abortion and his Mormon faith.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it concerns anybody who considers themselves an Evangelical Christian.

HARLOW: But that was then.

HARLOW (on camera): You've previously said that the Romney campaign snubbed social conservatives.

STEVE SCHEFFLER, IOWA FAITH AND FREEDOM COALITION: I think he's proved himself that he has tried to make that outreach to social conservatives, as well as economic conservatives. He's done a good job here in Iowa.

HARLOW: While Iowan's Evangelical voters seem to be moving into Mitt Romney's camp, here in traditionally Democratic Dubuque, the president may face more of a challenge. The Catholic voters we spoke with here are split over issues like abortion, funding for contraception, and the government's role in providing for the poor.

DAWN LUEKIN, CATHOLIC ROMNEY SUPPORTER: The life issues, which many Catholics, most Catholics, hold dear and central to their faith, but then there's this belief that remains that the Democratic Party somehow cares for the poor better. I think it comes down to that tension.

HARLOW: How big a role does your Catholic religion play in your vote?

KATHY KRUIGER, FORMER NUN: I think it's big. I'm an ex-nun. And I -- the group of nuns that I'm associated with to this day are pushing for Obama.

HARLOW: Is the pro-choice stance difficult for you to reconcile?

KRUIGER: It was very difficult. It bothered me for a long, long time.

HARLOW (voice-over): As did the same-sex marriage issue. Both of which she ultimately looked past. But for Catholics like Ellen Markum (ph) and her daughter, Dawn, some issues are nonnegotiable.

LUEKIN: For me, it's the life issues. I'm very pro-life. And I want an administration that supports that view.

ELLEN MARKUM, CATHOLIC VOTER (ph): And I would say sanctity of life and sanctity of marriage.


MALVEAUX: Poppy Harlow, she's joining us from Waterloo, Iowa.

And, Poppy, latest polls showing that the president is in the lead there. Could it be Evangelical Christian voters who actually tip in Romney's favor and be the secret weapon?

HARLOW: It absolutely could be. And, you know, it's interesting because we have seen this shift in terms of whether they will back Romney or not because they really didn't in the caucuses here. But the group that I spoke with certainly is shifting.

I will tell you, though, as you heard through the piece, some of them say, look, I am supporting Mitt Romney, but it's sort of the lesser of two evils. There is one woman that we also spoke with at Grace Church, an Evangelical, who said she is going to vote for Mitt Romney, but she does not believe he's a Christian. That said, she thinks his beliefs align more with hers than do President Obama's.

Interestingly, there was one Evangelical voter that we met with, Mike Pike (ph) is his name, and he said that he is not going to vote for either candidate for the first time in his life because the two big issues to him are abortion and the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, and he thinks both candidates have failed on that front, and that harks back to Romney's past being pretty moderate socially. Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Poppy Harlow. Thank you very much, Poppy.

From playing guitar for Bruce Springsteen, to playing the right-hand man for Tony Soprano, Steven Van Zandt is a true son of New Jersey. We're going to hear what he thinks about the devastation left there by Sandy. That is coming up in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.


MALVEAUX: Jerry Sandusky may be sitting in a prison cell, but the Penn State child sex abuse case far from over. New today, former Penn State University President Graham Spanier, formerly charged now with perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children. He joins the former athletic director and the former vice president of business and finance at the university all facing those same charges.

In New York, they have been performing without an audience for days. Now the stars of late night comedy, they're back reacting to the storm. We're going to hear what New Jersey native Jon Stewart thinks about the disaster.


MALVEAUX: Superstorm Sandy knocked comedian Jon Stewart off the air for two days, but "The Daily Show" back on Wednesday. Stewart gave his audience plenty of Sandy-related punch lines. Also shared a few sobering takes on the disaster. Take a look.


JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Wow. You ever have one of those days where everything you ever loved as a child was under water? Obviously, absolutely insane situation unfolded here in the New Jersey, New York, Tri-State, Eastern Seaboard. For those fortunate enough to make it through, still dealing with the after effects, millions tonight still without power and water, thousands displaced from their homes