With a presidential election fast approaching on Tuesday, and the Eastern Seaboard struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy’s massive destruction, it’s busy times for Neil Cavuto.
The senior vice president of business news for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network is still anchor of two daily one-hour news shows, FNC’s “Your World With Neil Cavuto” and FBN’s “Cavuto” (along with Saturday’s half-hour “Cavuto on Business,” on FNC).
“Oh, man,” Cavuto says, calling in to Zap2it on Friday (Nov. 2) from his New York City office, “everything hits the fan at once. I’ll just be happy when it’s resolved. When you hear talk of another storm coming up the East Coast on Election Day, and problems with balloting in certain areas that could delay the outcome, I just keep telling myself, ‘Red Bull, Red Bull, Red Bull.'”
This conversation with Cavuto takes place shortly before NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces — after much hue and cry in the media and on social media — that he is canceling the New York City Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, just hours after confirming it would definitely go on.
Cavuto says, “Mayor Bloomberg made a point of saying that Mayor Giuliani had kept the marathon going after 9/11, but that was two months after 9/11. This is only days after a pretty bad storm that still has a quarter of the New York area without power. A lot of folks don’t have access to water, to heat.
“The resources that are being put out for these runners — and I don’t blame them, it’s just bad timing — it takes away from a city that should be 100 percent focuse4d on getting back to business.
“So I think that, there are other priorities right now, and a marathon isn’t one of them.”
Sandy left a trail of devastation up the coast, obliterating some parts of the Jersey Shore, putting swaths of lower Manhattan under water, flattening large sections of Staten Island and causing widespread power outages across the Northeast, which have contributed to gasoline shortages and long lines in many areas.
Cavuto feels it’s way too soon for anybody to start taking credit for a recovery job well done.
“Before the backslapping,” he says, “we should get buttistas moving here and tend to the rescue at hand, before we start congratulating each other on the great job we’ve done. The jury’s still out on that.
“It’s bad, and it keeps going on. There’s a reason why there are state police at every gas station now, because tempers flare, and people get annoyed. They’re waiting on line, and their gas runs out.
“That’s why, back to the point about rescue officials and government officials at the federal level commending each other for the great job they’re doing — hold that thought until everyone’s rescued, until all the power is back on, until the clean-up is really going full throttle, because we’re nowhere near that.”
It may be a while before the full economic impact of the storm can be measured.
“If you think about it,” Cavuto says, “from the beginning of the storm right through it petering out, it affected 20 states; it affected a quarter of our population. Estimates are, when all is said and done, it’s going to take a half a percentage point, at a minimum, off our GDP.
“We’re barely growing a little north of one percent. You can do the math, it’s obviously going to cut whatever economic growth we’ve had in half.”
In addition, Tuesday, Nov. 6, is Election Day, with the presidency, state and local offices and innumerable ballot proposals on the line. According to an 1845 law, only Congress can change the day of the election — and to date, it never has — meaning it would change for every state in the nation.
But with power outages persisting and damage done to roads and public buildings that could act as polling places, some are calling for the date to be postponed. Also, the fact that the damage path of the storm included New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, home to large numbers of people involved in the national media, has meant an even more intense spotlight.
“We’ve looked at this from all ways,” Cavuto says, “from the legal case … You could make a region, a precinct, even a state case, but to make a federal, sort of sweeping announcement for that, there’s simply no precedent for it.
“We’re looking into this, and one thing I found out, in almost every election, there has been some state — it’s usually Idaho — that’s had a snowstorm that made it difficult for folks to get to the polls. But they closed the same time; they still have to vote by the same deadline. So, there is historic precedent for natural disasters, and people still having to get out and vote regardless.
“So, I think what that tells you is, there is no way this is going to be pushed back.”
But, even if the polls open as usual on Tuesday, the final decision could drag well past Wednesday.
“Now, it will affect areas without power,” says Cavuto, “regarding the counting of ballots, provisional, paper ballots. We could look like Zimbabwe, counting these by hand. But we will count them by by hand, and it will delay the count and mean what’s going to be arguably a late night anyway will be later still.
“There’s also the possibility of legal action. Hundreds of lawyers, they’re set up in places like Ohio and Florida, ready to go. So if there’s any inference of impropriety, on either side, the effect can drag on conceivably for a while.”
Coincidentally, on Nov. 13, FNC and FBN’s News Corp. sibling National Geographic Channel is premiering a new season of “Doomsday Preppers,” a reality series about people who stockpile supplies and make plans for a possible apocalypse.
Somehow, with many Northeast residents short of food, power and fuel in the face of cold November weather, these folks don’t look so crazy after all.
“No, they do not,” says Cavuto. “They do not.”
UPDATE: On “Cavuto” for Friday, Nov. 2, Cavuto addressed the cancellation of the New York City Marathon and interviewed Fox Business producer and journalist Ralph Giordano, who became emotional discussing the havoc wrought on his home borough of Staten Island: