"I've never seen Marines anywhere before, let alone over here in the projects. It's a great, cool thing. We need the big guns after what happened here. I've seen the National Guard, but the Marines are a whole different thing."
Critics have complained that the National Guard's talents are being wasted. Instead of providing security against looters and directing traffic, they say, it's been ordered to do little more than give out food and blankets.
Sources said the Guard's role has been a source of contention between Mayor Bloomberg, who believes police have the situation under control, and Gov. Cuomo, who wants to blanket the area with the citizen soldiers.
"This thing goes back to the beginning of the storm," said a source working with city and state officials.
"The mayor downplayed it, and so he needs to keep maintaining the optics that it's not as bad by downplaying it. Bringing in the National Guard says that it's a major disaster because it is. It's bad. It's really bad. And Cuomo knows it."