MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Bob Menendez
Date: Oct. 31, 2012
Location: Unknown

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SCHULTZ: Joining me tonight, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. He, of
course, was with President Obama and Governor Chris Christie today.
Senator, great to have you with us.
You were right in the middle of all of those discussions today and
getting up close as to what is happening. I understand that you`re going
through some pretty tough times as a resident of New Jersey as well. So
you know first hand what the heck is going on.
But I want to focus, if I can, Senator, on the climate that`s in
Washington, and what we`re seeing play out in your state. Clearly, there
is a difference when it comes to cooperation. How effective is it?

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, it`s been very effective,
Ed. You know, these aren`t Republican communities or Democratic
communities. They`re American communities.

And today, we saw the best of that, in terms of the president, along
with the governor, and other elected officials from the federal government,
myself, Senator Lautenberg, Congressman LoBiondo from that secJtion of the
state.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

MENENDEZ: And all the way down. So the bottom line is this is about taking caring all we were sworn to take care of. The president is every American, the government is every New Jerseyian, and myself representing the state. So that`s what we`re out there doing and I`m thrilled to see the response we`re getting from the federal government here with FEMA, with the Army Corps of Engineers, with National Guard doing some tremendous work in places like Hoboken.

SCHULTZ: How emotional is this for the residents, Senator?

MENENDEZ: You know, Ed, I`ve hugged a lot of people over the last
couple of days. You know, when you lose everything -- I was in
Pleasantville, which is a small community right outside of Atlantic city,
and the mayor there said, I`ve got to show you this one section. I was in
a shelter, and he goes, I`ve got to show you this one section.
And he showed me by the bay a row of homes who had the back of their
hopeless totally ripped out. It looks like a doll house. You can see the
home inside.

And, you know, people who were inside. And, you know, shocked,
obviously, from what they`re going through or, you know? And then you see
people like the mayor of Moonachie, who said to me yesterday, Senator, I
lost my police department, lost most of my fire department, city hall`s
underwater, and about 80 percent of my residents are underwater.
And he`s out there trying to make the best of it.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MENENDEZ: So -- and I`ve also seen some of the great aspects, Ed.
One of the things I want to say, the better angels in people. It`s amazing
how you can see New Jerseyians come together.

A young woman from Hoboken, whose basement apartment is flooded, has
no idea what tomorrow brings. She`s in a shelter helping other people, not
even thinking about what tomorrow is for her. Just one of when example.

SCHULTZ: Senator, what can your residents expect? This is going to
be a long road back, isn`t it?

MENENDEZ: It`s going to be a slog. And just in Hoboken, you`re
pumping 500 million gallons of water out so you can get, you know, the
wires recovered and then, ultimately, hopefully get the electricity back
on.

So this is going to be a slog. You know, we have substations,
generating stations that got flooded. Those, when we get those back
online, something I asked the president, with the Energy Department, to
help us, any resources they have to be able to do that. He talked about
national utility companies, sending people to New Jersey and airlifting
them to C-130s and military transport, that`s all great.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MENENDEZ: Because the sooner we can get those substations going,
we`re going to be able to open up electricity for large numbers of people.
And that begins to improve quality of life, get people back on the street.
You know, into work, get their kids in school, get businesses started up
again.

SCHULTZ: And, finally, Senator, are we going to go through a real
tough fight on how to pay for all of this? It`s upwards of $50 billion
right now. Are we going to have the fight in Washington, about offsets,
when it comes to this?

Is this -- are these victims along the shoreline, hey, you were in the
wrong place at the wrong time? Because when the president says, we`re in
this for the long haul, and we`re going to be there, what does that mean?

MENENDEZ: Well, that means recovery. You showed pictures of Seaside
Heights. That`s just some of the tremendous devastation I`ve seen
throughout the state.

The reality is, this is a long-term recovery. And, you know, at the
end of the day, we need the federal government to be part of that.
And I would just say to any one of my colleagues in the country,
remember, you know, it was Joplin, today it`s New Jersey, tomorrow it could
be you. It could be a tornado. It could be a hurricane of different
proportions.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

MENENDEZ: You know, the country is here to take care of its citizens.
And, you know, they don`t ask about offsets at that time. We can figure
that out later.

SCHULTZ: All right. New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, great to
have you with us tonight on THE ED SHOW. Appreciate it so much, all the
best.

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