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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Florida Braces for Hurricane Frances; Bill Clinton to Undergo Heart Surgery

Aired September 3, 2004 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening from Melbourne Beach, Florida. I'm Anderson Cooper.
Florida braces for the expected pounding of Hurricane Frances.

360 starts now.

Hurricane Frances inches her way to the coast of Florida. Millions flee for safety. Live reports on the state of emergency.

Bill Clinton hospitalized. The former president to undergo heart bypass surgery. The latest on his condition.

Hundreds feared dead in a bloodbath. Hostages in a school are killed in a battle between terrorists and Russian troops.

The home stretch for both presidential candidates in the race for the White House. We'll bring you the punches and counterpunches on the campaign trail.

And Chappelle unleashed. We go 360 with one of America's funniest and controversial comedians, Dave Chappelle.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: And good evening.

I am in Melbourne Beach, Florida, a town which is in the direct path of Hurricane Frances, the believed path at this point. The town has been largely evacuated. It is under mandatory evacuation as some 16 -- parts of some 16 counties here in Florida are.

The winds are picking up this hour, though the storm is still some 24 hours away. But out there more than 200 miles south- southeast, a monster storm barreling down.

We came here to cover the storm, but there are a number of other developing stories today we will be covering also tonight.

In New York, chest pains and shortness of breath send former president Bill Clinton to a hospital. He faces bypass surgery, perhaps as early as tomorrow. We'll have an update on his condition.

Also, in Russia, a horrifying end to the school hostage crisis in the southern part of that country. More than 200 people are killed, and many of them are children. All of that to cover.

Right now, it is Hurricane Frances, pummeling the Bahamas, uprooting trees, scattering debris everywhere. At least one person has been killed there. Frances is a category three storm. It will hit here in Florida sometime tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: If you're on a barrier island or in a low-lying area, and you haven't left, now's the time to do so.

COOPER (voice-over): As Hurricane Frances battered the Bahamas, Florida braced for the huge storm's arrival sometime on Saturday. Already, winds and waving are picking up along the Florida coast. Governor Jeb Bush worries that Frances could be even more destructive than Hurricane Charley, which did billions of dollars worth of damage just three weeks ago.

GOV. JEB BUSH: The storm, unlike Charley and others in the past, will be with us for a long, long while because of its -- the speed. So as it hits the coast, it will take a long while for it to leave Florida, which means that there's going to be a lot of rain, a lot of sustained winds over the inland areas of our state.

COOPER: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is bringing in three times as many relief workers as it did for Charley, putting out calls for crews from as far away as Seattle. Despite the extensive preparations, FEMA's Michael Brown has this warning.

MICHAEL BROWN, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Be prepared to take care of yourself. Hurricane Frances is so large that in some cases it might be several hours or a couple of days before first responders can get to you.

COOPER: Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect for parts of 16 Florida counties, and voluntary evacuations are in effect for five more. They are the largest evacuations in state history. Officials say about 2.5 million people live in those areas.

The American Red Cross, preparing for its largest natural disaster response ever, opened 82 shelters. Thousands of displaced residents have already moved in. Others were staying with friends or relatives, and still others were hitting the road.

There were long lines at gas stations, and some ran out of fuel. Near Valdosta, Georgia, a few miles north of the Florida state line, Interstate 75 was jammed with vehicles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to head east over to Charleston, South Carolina, wherever, out of storm's path, and so we can go back home and try to get back home and see what's left of our house.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: For the latest forecast, we're going to check in with CNN's meteorologist, Chad Myers, who is with me here in Melbourne Beach. Chad, how big is it, how bad is it?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's still about 115 miles per hour, moving to the northwest at eight miles per hour, Anderson. But the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the news is today that Floridians had an extra day to get ready for this thing. Today, because the storm slowed down over the Bahamas, saved lives. We don't know how many, we won't know how many, but there were people that were not prepared for this yesterday, but today they got their time together, they got their stuff together, and they got away.

COOPER: The fact that it's slowing down, has, is there a chance it could actually pick up steam again, pick up strength, build?

MYERS: Yes, there -- well, we talk about slowing down, and that's, we talk about forward speed. It's actually slowing down in forward speed, only eight miles per hour moving forward. But the spin was 140, and at times over the Bahamas, I bet 145.

So now we're down only into the upper part of a category two or the lower part of a category three. That's 111 miles an hour, is the cutoff. Now we're 115, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: When's it going to hit, do we know?

MYERS: It hits tomorrow (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- well, see, now, that's the good question. The eye makes landfall at 2:00. The outer eyewall makes landfall at 2:00. But we're going to feel hurricane conditions here by 7:00 tomorrow morning. So don't look at that 2:00 and say, Oh, I've got until the afternoon. You don't. You got a category one type wind, even though it's going to be a cat three, the category type one wind is already here...

COOPER: Well, that's what's so...

MYERS: ... at 7:00 tomorrow morning.

COOPER: ... surreal. I mean, that the sun has been shining, the sky is still blue. It, you know, it's a blustery day here, but it doesn't feel like there's a monster storm out there.

MYERS: No, we got beach chairs out on the beach looking at the surf, you know, all day. The high tide came and went. High tide here is about 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. And that's going to be troublesome, because that's when the eyewall's going to make landfall too. The water's going to be up, the air's going to be up, and these waves are going to be over where we're standing.

COOPER: All right, Chad Myers, thanks very much, checking the storm for us. We'll check in with Chad a little bit later on.

Now, the sheer magnitude of Frances has forced millions of Floridians to uproot their daily lives, flee for safety out of the hurricane's path. As we said, some 2.5 million Floridians being urged to leave, the largest evacuation ever in state history.

My colleague John Zarrella is about 100 miles south of here in West Palm Beach with more on emergency preparations under way. John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, same scenario here as you folks up there are feeling. It's been a blustery day. The sun was just out a little while ago. We're in West Palm Beach, and you can see it's very, quiet here, pretty deserted. Look across, that's the Intercoastal. You can see the whitecaps on top of the water there on the Intercoast. And that's Palm Beach across on the other side there.

So but very, very few people out here. Now, at about 3:30 this afternoon, we had the first of those rain bands, a squall line, move through here, and the wind was howling, the rain was pounding. And, in fact, down in Broward County, one of our cameramen reported that one of his trees was actually uprooted, a huge ficus in his front yard.

So all the way up and down the East Coast, terrible, terrible weather beginning to settle in here.

Now, the gas lines that you mentioned here in the West Palm Beach area, every gas station, just about, shut down, completely sold out of fuel. The one or two that are still open running out this afternoon. Folks trying to squeeze the very last ounces of gasoline out of those stations.

Traffic on the highways very, very light. Everybody who was planning to get out has, for the most part, gotten out. A few cars, that's about it, mostly emergency vehicles and police cruisers now on the streets here in West Palm Beach.

A lot of folks have gone to the shelters. We were at Central High School this morning at 5:00 a.m. this morning, and they already had 1,900 people in that shelter, and were pouring in all day this after -- all day today, and they expected quite a few more here. They have a capacity for 47,000 in the Palm Beach, in Palm Beach County, Anderson, so people here certainly have taken this very, very seriously, Anderson.

COOPER: John, thanks very much for that.

Not only is there a run on gas, there's a run on gas canisters, actually things to carry gas, on water coolers, things to hold ice. There's certainly a run on ice, and plywood as well. A lot of things in short supply here, a lot of the big stores have shut down already, the hotels have certainly closed here in this area in Melbourne Beach.

The other big story still seems shocking, though the news is now some hours old. The strapping, always vigorous-seeming, hardly old 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton, is in the hospital this evening, laying in a hospital bed at New York Presbyterian Hospital awaiting surgery for his heart, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

The latest on President Clinton from CNN's Adaora Udoji.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator Hillary Clinton spoke briefly at the state fair in Syracuse before rushing back to Manhattan after her husband was admitted to the hospital.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: He went to our local hospital yesterday complaining of some chest pains and shortness of breath. And the initial testing was normal, so he spent the night at home...

UDOJI: But the 58-year-old former president ended up at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Further tests led doctors to recommend heart bypass surgery. Sources close to him say he's in good spirits, making phone calls and cracking jokes.

CLINTON: He's in excellent hands, and he's at one of the great hospitals in the world.

UDOJI: Good wishes came quickly from President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We send him our best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery.

UDOJI: Also from presidential hopeful John Kerry.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every single one of us wants to extend to him our best wishes, our prayers, and our thoughts...

UDOJI: Clinton has enjoyed good health without any history of heart problems.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A steak burrito, and a large diet Pepsi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UDOJI: His famous love affair with junk food, he says, a memory. He's now dedicated to a low-carb diet and regular exercise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN," CBS)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: The last time I saw you was, I think, a couple of years ago. You look younger, and forgive me for saying this, but I think you've lost some weight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UDOJI: It's been a busy summer promoting his biography and campaigning for Kerry and other Democrats.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

UDOJI: We believe that Senator Clinton is here with their daughter, Chelsea. We also believe they are on the ninth floor in a private wing, a wing called the McKeon (ph) Pavilion. At this point, hospital officials or, oh, well, excuse, I should say neither hospital officials nor Clinton aides are saying exactly when that surgery will happen.

However, we have just been told that Senator Clinton will come out and speak any minute, and of course we're going to be expecting an update, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Adaora, and we will bring that press conference to you live. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton expected to speak about her husband's condition outside the hospital. At a moment, we will bring it to you.

Luckily we have standing by our senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, how bad is this?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I mean, this is one of the most routine operations done, really, in America. About 400,000 people have this done. So it seems like a pretty big deal in terms of, you know, having open-heart surgery, but there's a good chance, very good chance that he'll be fine.

Really quick, we have some, just some images to show you of what happens during an operation like this. You see there the blood is flowing through the artery, and then essentially what happens after that is that the artery closes off.

We've seen this before. You and I have talked about that. After that, you get an actual operation, which does involve opening the chest. He'll actually have to open the chest, and then take some vein from the leg, some arteries, some extra arteries from the heart, and actually do the bypass.

And that's what, that's what it's call a CABG, which stands for coronary artery bypass grafting.

He'll be in the ICU probably overnight, back on the floor, general care floor, in a few days, not even a week, probably, in the hospital.

COOPER: But it is, I mean, my dad died having this surgery. I know your father has had this surgery as well. It's extremely serious. I mean, they open up your heart, open up your chest, they stop your heart. Your blood is being pumped by a machine.

GUPTA: Yes, there's no, no, no, no, no way to belittle this operation, it's a serious operation. You have to stop the heart as well. And probably the most dangerous part of this is when you have to sort of restart the heart after you've done the bypass grafting. That can be a dangerous part.

But in President Clinton's case, you know, he's relatively young, 58 years old. He doesn't have history of stroke, diabetes, any of the other risk factors that would make him higher risk for this operation. So I think everyone that I've talked to, talked to a lot of cardiac surgeons about this, they're pretty confident he's going to do well. COOPER: Why so fast, though? I mean, it, I, perhaps he has known about this for a long time, we simply don't know that. But, but, I mean, with all the technology, you know, we've had ultrafast CTs, CAT scans, done of our heart. You can see if there's plaque in your heart. You would think he, someone like him would have known this.

GUPTA: Yes, it's a good point. He's probably had a lot of risk factors. I mean, we know he had an elevated cholesterol, for example, which is a risk factor. The thing is, it's a little controversial. Until someone actually has any symptoms, the question for a lot of doctors is, do you do preventative, prophylactic heart surgery? Most doctors are going to be reluctant to do that, so they sort of wait until someone has any even moderate symptoms.

To be clear, he didn't have a heart attack. He had some chest pain. He went and had it checked out. The lesions are narrow enough where there's no really sense to wait. It's not a dire situation, but there's no sense in waiting. He may as well get it done as soon as possible.

COOPER: All right. I want to talk just briefly about the hurricane. You are down here, actually, to assess the medical to the hurricane here. Are they ready?

GUPTA: I think so. You know, they're actually sort of embedding in these hospitals. These staffers are concerned that they may not be able to get back in the hospital if they leave once this thing starts up. Thirty-six hours' worth of food and supplies and all they got in the hospital. They're just going to sort of hang out there. Hospitals are potentially dangerous structures as well in a hurricane, so they're actually going to move patients from the top floors, they're going to move them inward and downward.

So a lot of patients that are in the hospital, the big trauma center here in this city, will, patients will be in the corridors, they'll sort of be hanging out, sort of riding out the storm. They're ready, but, you know, like anything else, Anderson, once the winds get too powerful, over 55 miles an hour, there's nothing that really rescue personnel can do. They just can't get to people. So their number one piece of advice, as you've talking about all day, evacuate.

COOPER: And there's, of course, danger from flooding, danger from after the hurricane, people getting electrocuted with wires being in the water. There's a lot of dangers people might not know about.

GUPTA: Being this is a slow hurricane, there could be a lot of flooding. Also the power goes out. Elderly people don't have air conditioning. Now, think about things like that as well. Lots of contingencies.

COOPER: All right, let's hope they're ready. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

GUPTA: Thank you. COOPER: Well, 360 next, a hostage standoff ends in gunfire and massive casualties, many of them children. We're going to take you inside the school where it all came to a horrific end.

Plus, bouncing off the convention. Bush and Kerry hit the campaign trail running. Find out who has the big mo.

And funny man on the cutting edge. Dave Chappelle is our special guest. Wait till you see his imitation of Lou Dobbs. It's all about outsourcing, people.

First, let's take a look at your picks, the most popular stories on CNN.com right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You're looking at a live shot of New York Presbyterian Hospital, where former president Bill Clinton is awaiting bypass surgery at this moment. We are expecting his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, to speak to the press at any moment. We'll be monitoring it and bring you that live when it happens.

Fifty-two hours after it began, the siege at a Russian school where scores of adults and children were taken hostage has come to just a horrific end. Soldiers stormed the building today. At least 400 people were rescued, but Interfax says that more than 200 people were killed, including 27 hostage takers and many children, some of the hostage takers foreign born.

Julian Manyon of ITN was there when the gunfire started.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIAN MANYON, ITN (voice-over): It wasn't clear how it began, but by noon, the battle to save the child hostages was under way.

Russian armor moved towards the school, and troops advanced down streets and alleyways. Very soon, the first of the children were free as the sounds of fighting continued to echo around the town.

The child hostages were in a state of shock after more than two days of real nightmare. These children had been held at gunpoint with explosive charges placed among them. Some of them had apparently been used by the rebels as human shields. Now they were saved, but there was still fear in their eyes.

Some were injured and were rushed away in ambulances and civilian cars. Many of them just looked lost and bewildered. One young girl I managed to talk to briefly gave a glimpse of the horror that she had survived.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): In the room where we were held, they had 18 big bombs hanging over us from the ceiling. One woman terrorist blew herself up with a suicide belt right among us, and another one was pushed outside before she could do the same thing. MANYON: Then she was quickly led away.

Some lucky children were immediately reunited with their families.

And as more and more hostages came out, many of them the parents and teachers who had also had been held, there was utter pandemonium.

But while many were saved, the battle of the school went on. The building was soon on fire, and there were reports that part of the roof had fallen in.

As the first bodies came out, the question was, how many of the hostages had lost their lives?

Inside the school courtyard, an extraordinary spectacle, Russian emergency teams trying to work while fighting continued to rage on the other side of the building, where some of the Chechen rebels were still holding out.

At times, gunfire was continuous. Near us, a Russian soldier was hit. His friend helped him away to safety.

Firemen worked to put out the blaze in the school's gym, where many of the hostages had been held and where the roof had collapsed.

Our cameraman, Sascha Lamarkin (ph), managed to get inside. There appeared to be a large number of charred corpses lying in the ruins.

There is unfortunately no doubt that many innocents died in the murderous chaos at the school. Bodies are still are arriving at the town's morgues, and some have been identified. Already there is the sight that will become more frequent in the coming days, of relatives in despair over the loss of loved ones.

It's not yet clear if the fighting broke out by accident, or if there could have been another way. But it is certain that suicidal terrorists have delivered another savage blow to Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Truly sickening.

In response to the school's seizure and the series of terrorist attacks, the state tonight is issuing an alert to all Americans in or traveling to Russia, that the potential for terrorism is high. That from the U.S. State Department.

Coming up next on 360,, bouncing off the convention floor. An early poll and double-digit lead. Find out how Bush and Kerry stack up now.

Also tonight, a Texas-sized storm barreling here toward the Florida coast. We'll take you live to the National Hurricane Center to find out when and where Frances will first hit. And a little later, on the edge in a different way. Dave Chappelle on politics, race, and Lou Dobbs?

360 next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CLINTON: I wanted to report to you that my husband is doing very well. He's in great humor. He's beating all of us at cards and the rest of the games we're playing.

He will be having surgery early in the week. There will be information after surgery from the medical staff. There will not be any further information between now and then.

I also particularly want to thank everyone who has been sending us their best wishes. One of the ways that you can get that information to him is by posting a note to him or a letter of concern on the Web site clintonfoundation.org, because it will get to him, and he's extremely grateful for the outpouring of concern and prayer and support from around our country and indeed around the world.

I'm just so pleased that he's in such good spirits, and obviously we're in one of the great hospitals in the world with superb medical staff. He had excellent care at the Westchester Medical Center with our doctors there. And he's going to be fine, and he will be back in fighting form before, really, very long after the surgery and the period of necessary recovery passes.

So I'm just here to express his, you know, gratitude and real appreciation for all of the incredible expressions of positive feelings and concern that we've already received in the last hours, and to thank all of you for being here, and to give you the weekend off. So enjoy Labor Day weekend. This is not how we expected to be spending our Labor Day weekend, but it will be fine. We know that. We're in very good hands.

And we're delighted we have good health insurance. That makes a big difference, and I hope someday everybody will be able to say the same thing.

Thank you all very much.

COOPER: That was Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, talking about her husband, Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, who is lying in a hospital bed at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, Senator Clinton saying that the former president will undergo some form of bypass surgery early next week, did not specify an exact day or an exact time, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the senator saying that the former president is in good spirits, has been playing cards, has been beating the people he's been playing with, and that he is doing well.

He had complained of chest pains, we are understand, on Thursday, had gone to a hospital in Westchester, had sought the advice of doctors there. Then today he checked himself -- was checked into a hospital, Columbia Presbyterian in New York, where he is now.

We'll continue to monitor the situation, bring you any developments as warranted.

In the world of politics and this President Clinton's stay in the hospital will have repercussions in the world of politics. He had been expected to do a large amount of fund-raising both for Senator John Kerry, campaigning for Senator Kerry, and fund-raising for the Democratic Party. Those events, of course, will probably not take place. He will not go to them. Recovery from this sort of surgery is long, is difficult.

But a new "TIME" magazine poll out today shows that President Bush may have been getting a convention bounce even before the convention was over. "TIME" magazine has Bush leading Kerry now by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent. Ralph Nader picked up 3 percent. The survey likely voters was taken between Tuesday and yesterday. That, of course, is before president's -- President Bush's acceptance speech.

Not too long after that speech, the president was delivering another one on the campaign trail. Here is senior White House correspondent John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The signs reinforce one message of the president's postconvention push, painting his opponent as on the wrong side of gay marriage and gun control another.

BUSH: If you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which my predecessor signed, you are not the candidate of conservative values. If you consistently vote against the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, as my opponent has, you are not the candidate of conservative values.

KING: Just 60 days left, and cautious postconvention optimism in the Bush campaign. One priority now, especially in small town America, is to paint Democrat John Kerry as a liberal far left of the mainstream.

Mr. Bush promises to simplify the tax code if given a second term, and he mocks a central Kerry promise.

BUSH: Yes, tax the rich, you know what that means. They dodge, you pay...

KING: The new banners are for backup. As Mr. Bush campaigned in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, in Iowa, he cast his opponent as too indecisive to take command of the war on terror.

BUSH: Only four United States senators voted to authorize the use of force and then voted against funding our troops. Two of those senators were my opponent and his running mate. KING: The president sought a silver lining in new economic data that Democrats suggest is a major Bush weakness: a modest addition of just 200,000 jobs the past two months.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: The president says the economy is bouncing back, the national unemployment rate now 5.4 percent, down almost a full point from last summer. And Anderson you mentioned that new "Time" poll. Bush aides are skeptical of that number, but that will be one key test as we assess the polls early next week and look for the convention bounce. Will President Bush, for the first time, pass 50 percent support against Senator Kerry?

Anderson?

COOPER: And a crucial mark that would be.

John King, thanks for that.

As for John Kerry, he is back on the campaign trail, back on the attack. He blasted the Republican National Convention as being, quote, "Bitter and insulting." But he saved his harshest words for President Bush.

CNN's Joe Johns has more from the Kerry campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At his second large rally in Ohio in less than a day, Senator John Kerry was still unloading on Republicans with newer, sharper attack lines for questioning his fitness to serve.

KERRY: I think misleading your nation into war makes you unfit to lead this nation. I think that doing nothing when millions of Americans are losing their jobs over four years and doing nothing makes you unfit to lead this nation.

I think that leaving 45 million Americans without any health insurance at all and allowing 5 million more Americans to lose their health insurance in the last four years makes you unfit to lead this nation.

JOHNS: Kerry also set his sights Friday on the latest unemployment report.

KERRY: My friends, at the rate that this administration is creating jobs, you're not going to have a net-plus one job in the state of Ohio until the year 2011.

JOHNS: He argues the increase was not enough to keep up with population growth.

KERRY: I don't think this is something to celebrate. I think it's something to get to work on. JOHNS: And the campaign was using jobs-stressed residents of battleground Ohio to try to make the point that the quality of the new jobs created is equally as important as the quantity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of the jobs that are out there now, I made more money 25 years ago.

JOHNS (on camera): Since securing the Democratic nomination, John Kerry has spent almost 20 days in the state of Ohio. His running mate, John Edwards, is in Wisconsin. The Democratic ticket is getting off to a quick start for the fall campaign.

Joe Johns, CNN, Newark, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: While politics is the focus around much of the country, of course here, in the state of Florida, the focus is on Hurricane Frances. The winds here in Melbourne Beach are picking up. We anticipate rain in about 45 minutes; the outer band of the storm starting to hit here.

Let's check in now at the National Hurricane Center now in Miami with its director, Max Mayfield, who has been following this storm.

Max, how does it look?

MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, Anderson, the airplane that's out there right now is reporting that the winds have diminished. We're waiting for one more report, and we are considering downgrading this to a category 2 hurricane here on the 8 o'clock advisory. We're not absolutely sure we'll do that, but that would be some good news.

But this is still a large hurricane. It's really battering the northernmost Bahamas right now. The center will actually not get to the coast until tomorrow afternoon, but it's a large system, and these rain bands that you're talking about do have very strong gusts. And in fact, we had one gust here in Palm Beach County up to 70 miles per hour this afternoon.

So, people need to be vigilant, heed the advice of their local officials.

COOPER: Max, the wind is blowing here, so it's a little bit hard to hear you. How fast is the storm moving at this point? How many miles an hour and when do you expect it to reach the coast here in Florida?

MAYFIELD: Well, Anderson, it's moving very slowly, about eight miles per hour towards the Florida coast right now. The thing you need to worry about are these rain bands that are going to be coming on shore later tonight and all through the day tomorrow. This is such a slow moving hurricane that it's going through the state; it's going to take two days or more to get through the peninsula.

COOPER: Max Mayfield, we appreciate you joining us and monitoring the storm.

Thanks very much, Max.

MAYFIELD: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: "360" next: he is in good spirits and playing cards. An update on Bill Clinton and the heart bypass surgery he'll soon undergo. We'll also talk to Dr. Henry Kissinger about his surgery.

Also tonight, 150 miles per hour winds, the size of Texas, the latest on Frances barreling toward Florida.

"360" will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, former President Bill Clinton is spending tonight in a New York City hospital facing heart bypass surgery early next week. His wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, spoke to us a moment ago outside the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I wanted to report to you that my husband is doing very well. He's in great humor. He's beating all of us at cards and the rest of the games we're playing. He will be having surgery early in the week. There will be information after surgery from the medical staff. There will not be any further information between now and then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the former president's diagnosis got us thinking about his famous appetite, of course. As it turns out, back when he was on the Clinton beat, our colleague Wolf Blitzer was paying attention to not only what came out of the president's mouth, but also what went into it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This reporter has spent more than a little time watching Bill Clinton eat and offers these impressions.

On the one hand, the famous fast-food fixation about which so many late night jokes were made may have been something of a bum wrap. Sure, Mr. Clinton was fond of ducking into whatever burger place he might find along his jogging route, but he almost always came out with a cup of decaf coffee. Really. We saw this ourselves.

On the other hand, we also saw this: Bill Clinton approaches a table the way he approaches life: with arms wide. Those who have watched the process, and as we say, we have often, come away impressed by the man's appetite and gusto and clear enjoyment of what's laid out in front him. It is abundantly clear Bill Clinton loves to eat.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Boy, that's great.

BLITZER: There was one famous restaurant meal in Washington with German Chancellor Helmet Kohl, no slouch himself in the appetite department, at which "The Washington Post" later calculated, "The diners must have taken in 4,000 calories each."

B. CLINTON: That's the problem: it all looks good.

BLITZER: So, of course, Mr. Clinton's weight has been up and down, and there have been diets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You look a little thinner.

B. CLINTON: I'm a little thinner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What have you been doing? What's different?

B. CLINTON: I work out a lot and I went on the South Beach Diet for a while. That helped. But the combination, I have a wonderful man who comes in two or three times a week and we work out.

You know, when you get older you got to really watch it. It's harder, the older I get, the harder it is.

BLITZER: And his cholesterol has been going up, from 179 in 1997 to 196 two years later in 1999; to 233 in January of 2001. So, for now, it's too late for diet and exercise, though after the surgery, he will certainly have to worry about both.

It's as we've been saying: Bill Clinton doesn't do anything by halves. We hope that's also true of his recovery.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And we always wish him a speedy recovery, of course.

Joining us now from Cleveland, Ohio to talk about President Clinton's medical condition and the outlook for him is cardiologist Steven Nissen. Thanks very much for being with us, Dr. Nissen.

How serious a surgery is it?

DR. STEVEN NISSEN, CARDIOLOGIST: Well, it's as serious surgery as you can have. Open heart surgery, although it's become safe over recent years, it's a major operation and there certainly are risks.

COOPER: Are you surprised that this -- I mean, it seemed to happen so quickly -- we heard about this just today for the first time and then all of a sudden the surgery is already happening.

NISSEN: This is exactly how this disease tends to work. The plaques build up in the coronary arteries over many years. When the disease finally becomes manifest with symptoms, it often happens very abruptly, and all of the sudden, a patient who thought they were very healthy has a serious problem.

COOPER: I mean, isn't this the kind of thing, that in this day and age, with ultra-fast CT scans of your heart and devices like that, that you can see the plaque developing, you should be able to kind of, predict this sort of thing?

NISSEN: Absolutely not. In one third of patients, the first symptom of coronary heart disease is sudden death. In another third of patients, it's a heart attack. Only about one-third of patients actually present in ways in which you can see the disease developing more slowly.

COOPER: So, you can have heart disease and it not show up, I mean, not show as plaque in your arteries?

NISSEN: Absolutely. In fact, there's no way to see the plaque in the coronary arteries unless you do a catheterization. Often patients will have a treadmill test that's perfectly normal and a few weeks or few months later they'll actually have a heart attack.

The problem here is that a lot of the plaques are building in the wall of the artery, they may not narrow the artery enough to actually cause chest pain until one of them fractures, a blood clot forms, and then the patient has a heart attack.

COOPER: Well, I certainly hope it's something -- I hope it's a wake-up call to a lot of people out there to at least get a check up with their doctors on their heart.

Dr. Steven Nissen, thanks for being with you.

NISSEN: My pleasure.

COOPER: "360" next: Hurricane Frances on the move, headed for Florida. The latest on the massive storm just ahead.

Also a little later, funny man Dave Chappelle. And if you don't know him, he is very funny. We go 360 with him. He talks career, politics, and wait until you see his impression of Lou Dobbs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We will soon be getting the first rains here in Melbourne Beach, Florida, heralding the beginning of Hurricane Frances in Florida. But right now, the hurricane is passing over the Bahamas, right at this hour, spreading havoc and destruction over that island nation.

CNN's Karl Penhaul is in Freeport to tell us what he's been seeing all day long.

Karl?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. The hurricane is now churning overhead here over the head of Freeport and over Grand Bahama. We've been talking to island authorities who have set up an incident room here, and they tell us that in Freeport, in the main town on the island, electricity is now out. We're fortunate in this area, there is a private generator, that's come into effect now.

We've seen roads flooded on the island. Tide is rising, there could be a tidal surge of 14 or 18 feet; so flooding is likely to widespread.

On the other islands that have been battered by this hurricane for the best part of the last 24 or 36 hours, roofs have been ripped off; power pylons have been pulled down, telephone systems have been wrecked, and on this same island as Nassau, on the island of New Providence, island authorities tell us that one young man died. He was electrocuted as he was trying to fix a generator. But no other reports of death, Anderson.

COOPER: Karl, how long has the storm been over where you are?

PENHAUL: The storm rolled in here, Anderson, about six hours ago now. We began to feel the edge of that storm around 2 or 3 o'clock this afternoon, but the winds all the time are picking up, and meteorologists tell us that the eye of the storm will probably be overhead about midnight tonight, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Karl Penhaul in Freeport. Thanks very much, Karl.

I want to take you back to the world of politics for a moment.

Did you find yourself getting really hungry as you watched the convention coverage all this week? Maybe it was all the talk about red meat, but for the media, it's less about food for substance, than food for thought, which this week, gave us a case of overkill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: With all the free food handed out at this year's political conventions, you wonder why the pundits spend so much time searching for...

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... more red meat...

CAMPBELL BROWN, "TODAY SHOW" REPORTER: ... plenty of red meat...

TIM RUSSERT, "MEET THE PRESS": ... it's a red meat line...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: ... it's a red meat speech...

COOPER: But there isn't always agreement on exactly what red meat means.

Do you find the red meat of a speech in the issues?

STU ROTHENBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST: This is red meat for the Democrats and John Kerry.

COOPER: Or, in the attack? GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, POLITICAL ANALYST, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Zell Miller was on a tirade. I mean he was red-faced, red meat for the red states.

COOPER: Both candidates have been criticized for being a little lean in their convention comments. Criticism that came mostly in the form of the question, "Where's the beef?"

So, is there red meat to be found at this year's conventions in Boston and the one here in Madison Square Garden?

UNIDENTIFIED POLITICAL ANALYST: Red meat or tofu? That's what I'm looking for.

COOPER: Even the print press played with the meat metaphors. The "New York Times" called these, "The Atkins conventions, stuffed with the red meat of partisan combat."

And the "Washington Post" quoted senior Republicans critical of democratic Senator Zell Miller's speech saying, "Red meat that tasted delicious in the convention hall, did not looking appetizing to independent voters watching on television."

Voters we talked to weren't biting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven't done anything except throw red meat around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I guess that they're being sort of cannibalistic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Red meat, blue meat; you know, meat is meat.

COOPER: Maybe the media should take a hint from a public hungry for little steak with their sizzle. All this political red meat is overdone and overkill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: All right. No more red meat for us.

Today's buzz is this: who gave the most inspiring speech at this year's Republican convention? Rudy Giuliani, Zell Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger or President George W. Bush.

Logon to cnn.com/360, cast your votes. Results at the end of the program.

And "360" next: Dave Chappelle knows how to tell a joke. Hear from the man who some call the funniest man in TV. A wide-ranging interview that we hope will make you laugh going into the weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So, when you're getting paid $50 million to be on basic cable, you must be doing something right, for two years that is.

Dave Chappelle is clearly, doing something right. He may be the funniest guy on the planet, or at least basic cable right now. That's obvious for anyone who watches his show on Comedy Central. You can also catch his brilliant standup routines on a Showtime special tomorrow night.

Recently I spoke with him and he surprised me by saying he's never voted before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Why do you think it is that people don't vote, that someone like yourself didn't feel part of the process? Did it seem like a foregone conclusion?

DAVID CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: No, because no candidate really speaks directly to my needs. Like if candidates were TV shows, it's all "Falcon Crest" and "Dynasty" and I'm trying to watch "Good Times." You know what I mean?

I'm trying see somebody -- nobody's really checking for me. So, for the most part, I don't think that I'm the vote that's really being courted. Now that I've got money, people are courting my vote. They're saying things like, "tax break."

COOPER: And -- I hate to dwell on this, but you suddenly got a lot of money -- I read you signed a new deal with Comedy Central for two years for like $50 million. I didn't know -- I work in basic cable -- I didn't know basic cable can pay that much money.

CHAPPELLE: I didn't know it either, and for the record, I haven't got the check yet. I mean, I really kicked around. Before this, I think I only did 11 television pilots. I'm only 31, man, that's a lot of rejection for one guy to take. You know what I mean? That's a lot.

COOPER: I want to show a clip from this new show on Showtime, which I'm looking forward to, I just want to show a short clip from it.

CHAPPELLE: People only see the surface. They see the division in our foods. Just because I eat chicken and watermelon, they think there's something wrong with me. Let me tell you something, if you don't like chicken or watermelon, something is wrong with you, (bleep). There's something wrong with you.

COOPER: Is there anything you won't? Do people get uncomfortable when you talk about race?

CHAPPELLE: Not really. I think I'm not malicious about it.

I think, in general, people get weird about talking about race, but I think there's something refreshing about talking about it. It's so interwoven into the fabric of what our society is, but it's just like this unspoken thing, where someone would desperately trying to get past. But then, how do you get past it if nobody wants to talk about it?

COOPER: Right.

I want to show another clip from the Showtime program.

CHAPPELLE: I spoke at my old high school and told them kids straight up, "If you guys are serious about making it out of this ghetto, you have to focus, you got to stop blaming white people for your problems, and you've got to learn how to rap or play basketball or something (bleep).

You are trapped. You are trapped. Either do that or sell crack. That's your only options, that's the only way I've ever seen it work.

CHAPPELLE: That was actually my response to Bill Cosby controversy.

COOPER: Did you like what Bill Cosby had to say?

CHAPPELLE: I didn't necessarily agree with him. I felt like they beat him up real hard for saying it. I'm sure it was one of these events where he'd been drinking all night, he was the last speaker.

COOPER: You think he was drunk?

CHAPPELLE: Yes. I just think it was a tirade gone wrong. And I read the transcript of it, and you know, this is bad. Some of that stuff actually made me laugh.

I don't know if he was trying to be funny, but it read funny on paper. Especially when he was like, "Black people need to stop killing one another for pound cake and Coca-Cola." I was like, "What the, we haven't killed over sneakers since '87. What are you talking about? The depression? Killed over pound cake and Coca-Cola."

COOPER: But do you find fame a hard thing to deal with?

CHAPPELLE: In some ways, yeah, because it happens fast, when all of a sudden you're dubbed "famous." Sorry about doing the quotes.

COOPER: I know, we banned those from the program. But I'll let you do them. You get dispensation.

CHAPPELLE: I understand and that's the thing, and when I see celebrities -- when I saw you in the hallway -- I went, "Oh, Anderson Cooper, what's up?"

COOPER: If you were a CNN anchor, who would you be? I know you're a news junkie.

CHAPPELLE: Let's see. That's a good choice. Maybe I'd be you, Anderson, because you have your own show, but it's hip and cool.

COOPER: I see you more as Lou Dobbs.

CHAPPELLE: Lou Dobbs, that's right.

"Today's outsourcing of America, we're going to talk about a bunch of companies; we're going to snitch on everybody. Did you know they're sending all their jobs to China? Did you know that? Well, now you do."

Thank you, Lou Dobbs.

You guys have got so many.

COOPER: Yes. Well, we appreciate you...

CHAPPELLE: That Rudi Bakhtiar's not bad, either.

COOPER: Yes, she's on international.

CHAPPELLE: I wouldn't want to be...

COOPER: Wow, you do watch a lot.

CHAPPELLE: Oh, I watch some CNN, brother. I even read the ticker tape. I know it all.

COOPER: Good luck with the program. I really enjoy your show.

CHAPPELLE: Hey man, likewise Anderson. Keep up the good work.

COOPER: Very cool. Thanks.

CHAPPELLE: Fight the power! Fight the power! I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: "360" next: the wrath of a hurricane's winds. We're going to take that "The Nth Degree."

First, today's buzz: who gave the most inspiring speech at this year's Republican convention: Rudy Giuliani, Zell Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger or George Bush? Logon to cnn.com/360. Cast your vote now. Results when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for the "Buzz." Earlier we asked you: who gave you the most inspiring speech at the Republican convention? It's practically a split vote, but President Bush comes out on top, 28 percent; Arnold Schwarzenegger a close second. Certainly not a scientific poll, but it is your buzz. We appreciate you voting.

Tonight, taking wind to "The Nth Degree," because that after all, is exactly what a hurricane is: wind raised to the ultimate power. A thing otherwise good and mild, turned very bad indeed by wild exaggeration.

What is it but moving air. A blessing on a hot day in zephyr form, something to lift birds and kites and make sailboats cut beautifully through the water. Only moving air, but turn the dial up, as nature's doing just now, up and up and up some more, from breeze to fresh blow, to wild whipping wind and that very same moving air becomes a menace, an unstoppable force, an assault.

To think that it's all a matter of degree. Wind is a comfort on most days, but some days it is a fearful threat indeed.

I'll be back throughout the evening with updates on the hurricane and all weekend long.

For now, we go to Paula Zahn in New York, for more continuing coverage of this story and many others.

Thanks for watching. See you later.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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