The Web    CNN.com      Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
TRANSCRIPTS


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Clinton Hospitalized; Hurricane Frances Approaches Florida

Aired September 3, 2004 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: 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 other games we're playing. He will be having surgery earlier in the week. There will be...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Tonight, former president Bill Clinton hospitalized in New York City complaining of chest pain and told he must undergo heart bypass surgery. The latest on his condition and what bypass surgery could mean for the former chief executive with two of America's top heart specialists, Dr. Wayne Isom, chief of heart surgery in the hospital where Clinton is in New York Presbyterian and Dr. P.K. Shaw of Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Plus, Paul Begala, President Clinton's longtime friend and one-time aide. And Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, also a famed heart surgeon. Then later, millions are fleeing Hurricane Frances with a storm literally as big as Texas is hours away from Florida. When and where will it hit? How devastating will it be? We'll hear from a meteorologist on location in Florida at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It is all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

One quick note. Jerry Lewis was due to be our guest tonight in advance of the Labor Day telethon. That of course with the big breaking news will not occur. We'll have more on that later on.

We have assembled an outstanding panel. Dr. Wayne Isom is in East Hampton, New York. Dr. P.K. Shaw with me here in Los Angeles. Paul Begala is in Mount Jackson, Virginia and Senator Bill Frist is in Washington.

Indeed, Dr. Shaw has brought along a model of a heart and we'll get into this. We know this -- Senator Frist, we'll start with you -- initial testing after he reported mild chest pain and shortness of breath, spent the night at home, additional testing this morning, told he needed a heart operation, they did a catherization, there was a lot of blockage. What does this tell you?

SEN. BILL FRIST (R), TENN., HEART SURGEON: What it says and typically people have symptoms although they don't always have to have symptoms, and we'll probably talk about that, that the president has obstruction and I think with the heart model, we'll see that, that has some obstruction of the blockages of the three main arteries that feed the heart.

When you have an obstruction or a blockage or a narrowing of that artery, you take a piece of vein from the leg or from an artery from around elsewhere in the chest and you jump over it or you bypass that obstruction. With that, the president will have an operation in the near future, probably the early part of next week, be in the hospital for anywhere from five, four to six days, leave the hospital probably on an aspirin, maybe on a beta blocker, maybe on a staton drug and four to six weeks later, will be going just at about 100 percent, full recovery.

KING: The odds are tremendous. Dr. Isom, what is it, a 1 percent chance of fatality in these surgeries?

DR. WAYNE ISOM, CHIEF HEART SURGEON AT N.Y. PRESBYTERIAN: Yes, it is about a 1 percent risk. 99 percent are better of coming through the surgery if it is done electively.

KING: Why don't they do it tomorrow? Why are they waiting until early in the week?

ISOM: Yes, a couple of things. I can't say for sure because he's not my patient. And just to clarify a little bit the -- I'm the chairman of the Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York Presbyterian Hospital. He's in the New York Presbyterian Hospital that is uptown on the upper west side called the Columbia. So we're colleagues but I'm not taking care of him at all and I don't really have a -- know anything about his history other than what I've seen on CNN.

KING: I had the honor of speaking at a commencement address at that hospital, the graduation of this medical school and discussed a lot of my own surgery which occurred in 1987. Dr. Frist -- I'll go to Paul Begala in a minute -- explain what Dr. Frist was telling with us with the model, Dr. Shaw.

DR. P.K. SHAH, CHAIRMN. OF CARDIOLOGY, CEDARS-SINAI MED. CTR. LOS ANGELES: This model you can see the three arteries that feed blood to the heart. One on the front of the heart. One that goes to the side on the left side. And one on the right side of the heart. And then the branches that come off of the main trunks. And blockage can occur in either the main part of the artery, and/or in the branches that come off the main arteries. And the blockage is due to the buildup of fatty cholesterol rich plaque, which grows like rust in a pipe, inside the wall, and eventually narrows the artery. And sometimes the surface of that plaque actually bursts, leading to a blood clot which can bring on symptoms abruptly and trigger a heart attack.

KING: He didn't have a heart attack, though. They're saying that.

SHAH: From what I have heard from the news media, it does not appear that any heart muscle damage.

KING: They did a catheterization which I had done to me. They go in and look, right? SHAH: Correct. You put a tube up the artery from the groin or sometimes the arm and you inject dye and you outline what the condition of the arteries of the heart is.

KING: Paul, I know he's a close friend of yours, you served as a counselor during his administration. I gather you spoke to him today. What can you tell us?

PAUL BEGALA, CLINTON CLOSE FRIEND & FORMER COUNSELOR: I talked to him a of couple of hours ago, Larry. I would have never known he was not feeling well. He sounded great. He did very much want me to thank the hundreds of people who have been calling and e-mailing with their prayers and good wishes. He's been overwhelmed with flowers. He would actually like people to send flowers maybe to other patients, and to senior citizens who sometimes don't get as much attention.

But he's doing great, Larry. We had a great conversation. Was around 6:30 probably this evening and I guess it was at dinner time and at one point he called out across the room to Hillary, "hey, honey, I guess a Big Mac and a banana split is out of the question, isn't it?" I could hear her laughing from across the room.

So it was, other than the fact that this news was going on, a very typical conversation. We talked about politics and some new books he's reading and he's actually doing great, Larry.

KING: Paul, in all the time you've known him, has he ever experienced chest pains or anything like this?

BEGALA: No, not that he's ever shared with me. But we talked about that. He said actually the doctors can explain this, I don't know anything about it. But he said it turns out that this is a condition he apparently had for a while and he thought looking back the last few years he had run out of gas when he was running at about three-quarters of a mile and his exercise and his diet has never been better and he just looks terrific. But he feels like he's been getting some tightness in the chest when he's been exercising for a while. And what set it off this time was it happened when he was not exercising and that really concerned him so he reached out to his doctor and then they took it from there.

KING: It starts with the genes. That's what they told me. Because I also smoked. President Clinton smokes cigars, that does not help. I imagine he'll be cutting that out now, too.

We're going to take a break...

BEGALA: Larry, he more chews on them than smokes them. He very famously said he doesn't inhale so...

KING: We'll take a break, come back, check in with Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami and then more on Bill Clinton. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RODHAM CLINTON: 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 a 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. I'm not really familiar with heart surgery. I'm familiar with the National Hurricane Center, having spent 20 years in Miami. And knew very well its famed director Gordon Dunne.

The director now is Max Mayfield. Max is with us at that National Hurricane Center. What is the latest, Max?

MAX MAYFIELD, DIR. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, this is still a powerful hurricane. The good news is that it has weakened down and, you know it was a category 4 hurricane a couple of days ago, then a 3 yesterday and now down to a category 2 hurricane. But it still has some very large wind field.

And these rain bands that you see behind me here, when they come across the peninsula here, we're getting some very strong wind gusts. We had a gust of 70 miles per hour early this afternoon in one of those. And we're going to keep getting that through the night.

One problem is that since it is a slow moving hurricane, Larry, that when it does get closer, you know that core gets closer to us, we'll get pounded for an extended period of time. And then we're going to worry about the rainfall as it moves over Central and Northern Florida throughout the weekend.

KING: What reduced it, Max, from a 5 to a 2?

MAYFIELD: Larry, I wish I could tell you that. We think it encountered some westerly sheer. You can see most of the thunderstorm activity is on the eastern side of this. So, that's likely one thing. There are things we don't understand. Especially there are things that go on in the core of the hurricane that we simply don't understand yet.

KING: Could it increase again?

MAYFIELD: It could. But we really don't think it will. Usually when you get a big, broad circulation center like we have now, you don't see -- certainly don't see any rapid intensification. It could strengthen a little bit more, but the fact that we're already hunkered down already for a category 3 hurricane, we should be in good shape for a category 2.

KING: And do we know where it goes after it hits? MAYFIELD: It should keep moving toward the West, Northwest ever so slowly and move on to the Florida east coast. In the warning area, likely somewhere between Palm Beach and the Cape. But it is a large wind field. It's going to impact a large portion of the East Coast and the peninsula as it moves on inland.

KING: Thank you very much. We'll check back with you in a half hour. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center as we follow around the clock the progress of Hurricane Frances.

Back to our panel. Senator Frist, would you guess in a -- naturally you don't see the party and we thank you for joining us tonight, taking away from political duties to be with us than topic, that high cholesterol is the culprit here?

FRIST: Well, Larry, as you know, about one out of two people listening to us right now are going to die from some kind of blood vessel disease, either coronary artery disease, which we're talking about, or stroke. And so everybody should listen. And there are things you can do in advance in its prevention.

I'd say the number one thing is smoking, stop smoking. If you're addicted to smoking, work on it, just stop smoking. That's No. 1.

Number two, is the cholesterol genes. And that's a big part of it as you said. Cholesterol today can be influenced by diet. And I would basically say cut back on the fatty foods, and cut back as much as you can on sugars today which with this whole low carbohydrate diet people are doing, but cut back on both of those.

And the fourth component is exercise. And as you know, exercise three to four times a week for 30 minutes has been shown to have a demonstrable effect on cutting back on heart disease.

Those are the four things we can work on. We should all be working on big things like hypertension, high blood pressure, we know as a risk factor. So you need to have a physical exam. Hypertension you don't have symptoms from that.

One last thing, a lot of people don't have symptoms. The president actually is quite fortunate in that he had that little bit of chest pain and that little bit of shortness of breath. A lot of people, especially women, don't have any symptoms at all before they have a massive heart attack. And that's why that physical exam is so important when people come and take your blood pressure.

KING: Dr. Isom, as a man who does surgery every day, as a man who did surgery on me, David Letterman, Walter Cronkite and so many others, are you surprised? Do you often turn out that the film doesn't match what you see?

ISOM: No, not usually. A good angiogram or good X-ray gives you pretty much 90, 95 percent of what you think you're going to find. You still have -- at the time of surgery, you still have to think well, maybe there could be something else, another 5 percent to 10 percent that didn't show up. But most of the time, it shows up pretty much what you thought it showed.

KING: And now Dr. -- will they prescribe, Dr. Shah, probably a statin like Lipitor or something like that, that he'll have to take pretty much the rest of his life if high cholesterol is the problem?

SHAH: I would hope so, because he should have been on a statin before. I understand that he had had high cholesterol documented several years ago.

KING: So, he might have been on a statin that we don't know about.

SHAH: It's quite possible.

And certainly after a bypass surgery, you don't want to be a frequent flier back to the surgery. You want to have the surgery once and be done with it. So, you want to take all the precautions after surgery, even double up the precautions.

KING: Sometimes, years later it happened to me ten years later, I needed an angioplasty, that's where they put that tube in and then a stint in one of the vessels.

SHAH: Correct. And I think part of the problem is when you use veins to do the bypass surgery, the veins are not used to taking on the function of an artery. So five to ten years after putting them in the heart, in a high pressure system, they also become clogged up.

On the other hand, if you use a mammary artery from inside the chest, or sometimes a piece of the artery from the wrist, those arteries are much better suited as bypass conduits and are less likely to be reblocked.

KING: Now that little string there you're going to show us, what they do when they bypass.

SHAH: If you use vein to do a bypass, you take the vein from the leg and -- basically you imagine this is a piece of the vein and you hook it up to the aorta, which is the big artery that comes from the left side of the heart. And the other end you hook up to the coronary artery, beyond the place where it is blocked. So the blood can reroute and go this way and go beyond the obstructed portion of the artery. That's what's a bypass.

KING: Paul, I know how confident he can be and how optimistic. But speaking firsthand, you're scared to death right before this surgery.

BEGALA: You know, I take your word for it.

KING: He's going to be wary.

BEGALA: I take your word for it. But I have to say, he described the experience so far to him as -- he said it was a real opportunity, an act of grace and a second chance. I think he's profoundly grateful, as Dr. Frist -- Senator Frist pointed out, that they caught it. I think he understands that this is actually a lucky break for him.

He couldn't be more thankful and optimistic and that's, I think, the best way for him to approach it and that's what he's doing.

KING: So, this is a lucky pain for him, right, Senator Frist?

FRIST: That's right, Larry. And again, that's why physical exams are important. In the new Medicare legislation that President Bush signed last year, for the first time ever for seniors we have a welcome to Medicare physical exam.

And that's why that is so important, because if you -- a routine physical exam no symptoms, you have high blood pressure, it needs to be treated and if it is treated, your risk for having heart surgery or angioplasty goes away.

Let me quickly add, this is a common procedure. There are thousands of these done every day across America. 300,000 a year. 98 percent success rate as we just heard. Again, as a patient, as you said you're scared to death because you might be that 1 percent or 2 percent. But in truth, it is a straightforward procedure and I'm confident that things will go well.

He has a tremendous surgical team at a hospital -- New York Presbyterian Hospital, affiliated with Columbia University Medical Center that does more heart transplants than anywhere in the country, has the largest heart, mechanical assist program in the country, outstanding intervention, that is angiogram and stint, new program there today. It's an outstanding facility. The surgeons I know personally, as Wayne does, they're the very best in the business.

KING: You agree with that, Dr. Shah? Your hospital is pretty good too at Cedars.

SHAH: Yes, but I think Columbia Presbyterian is an excellent institution for cardiovascular care.

KING: We'll get a break. We all know that Bill Clinton, who lost 40 pounds recently. In fact Sunday night we'll replay our last interview with him and you'll see how close, how amazing he looks.

We know in the past he didn't take that good care of his eating habits. Here is a little Saturday Night Live spoof.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL HARTMAN, ACTOR: We're sending food to Somalia. But it is not getting to the people who need it, because it is being intercepted by warlords.

It is other countries too. It is like your McNugget is relief from Great Britain to Somalia. Intercepted by warlords.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, there you see a shot of Presbyterian Hospital, the one on the Upper West Side. It's affiliated with Columbia University. If you would like to send a message to President Clinton, you can go on the Web site, Clintonfoundation.org, and they'll tell you to page to send the messages, and he'll be reading -- Bill Clinton will be reading them through the night. Clintonfoundation.org.

Paul Begala, do you know why they're waiting until next week and do you know when next week?

BEGALA: It's going to be the beginning of next week. And the president told me that the doctors said that they wanted to wait. And he didn't really explain to me why. Again, I'm sure your physicians might want to tell us why -- why the patient has to have the blood chemistry changed and something -- I don't remember. But he said that the doctors said that they wanted to wait and do it in the beginning of next week.

And so -- you know, he's ready to go with it, though. As you know, he's the ultimate type A guy, Larry, probably like you. I mean, you give somebody like that a challenge, and they want to leap in right away and conquer it.

KING: Except I chickened out. I waited a while. Just -- I thought they would find some magic cure before it was my turn.

All right, do you know if it might be Monday, might they do it on Labor Day, or you don't know, Paul?

BEGALA: I don't know for sure, but I think Monday looks like a real possibility.

KING: Dr. Isom, why wouldn't they do it today?

ISOM: I'm not sure. You know, occasionally in a catheterization, if you think you're going to be able to put a stent in, not operate -- you know, doing an angioplasty or stent is not surgery. It is just sliding the catheter up, in a balloon, and opening up the vessel and putting a little stent in. And sometimes if you think you're going to do that, you'll give him medication that works like a blood thinner, so the blood won't clot.

KING: Right.

ISOM: And if he had that, then you'd want to wait four or five days until that wears off before you do the surgery. Otherwise, you would have problems with bleeding at the time of surgery.

KING: It's probably a good guess.

ISOM: But I don't know that.

KING: Dr. P.K. Shah, how important are these statins, these drugs?

SHAH: Statins are extremely important. They're extremely well tolerated by most people. They reduce cholesterol levels and they reduce the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease, by at least 30 to 40 percent. So in general, unless there is a specific contrary indication, statins are recommended for every patient who is at risk for heart disease or has evidence of heart disease.

KING: Dr. Frist, as you know his personality, should he handle this well?

FRIST: He will handle it well. He is a very optimistic, upbeat individual, as we all know. I think your question about the why not today, I think he just had his angiogram today. And there is no hurry. This isn't urgent. What -- the disease he has today, he had a week ago, a month ago, six months ago, probably a year ago.

KING: Dr. Frist, I'm going to interrupt you, because on the line with us now is President Clinton. We thank you, President, for joining us. We're with Dr. Wayne Isom, Dr. P.K. Shah, your friend Paul Begala and Senator Bill Frist. How are you feeling?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel great. And I've enjoyed this program. And Dr. Isom explained why we are going to delay this surgery for a couple of days. But I feel really blessed, you know, because a lot of people who have a heart attack never get any advance warning, as Dr. Fist said, or Senator Frist said.

I've had some difficulty ever since I got out of the White House in getting my distance up in running. And I just had a feeling a couple of days ago I had to have it checked, when I finally got some tightness in my chest. And I hadn't done any exercise. That's the first time that ever happened to me, and we did this angiogram and found out I had blockage that was too significant to open and put a stent in. We had to do the whole surgery. So I'm trying to get my head in the game.

KING: But you look so great. You lost so much weight. Didn't you think that if you had a problem, it was over?

CLINTON: Well, no. I've also been treating the high cholesterol and then I stopped taking that medicine because I got my cholesterol down low. And I had, in the past, had a little blood pressure problem, which I've treated and then I got it down.

But, you know, some of this is genetic, and I may have done some damage in those years when I was too careless about what I ate. So for whatever reason, I've got a problem, and I've got a chance to deal with it, and I feel that I really got to -- let me just say this, Republicans aren't the only people who want four more years here.

KING: Well, the whole world is watching. We appreciate you giving us this time. But I must ask this question, in all fairness. Are you a little frightened? CLINTON: Well, not as much as I thought I would be. You know, I don't -- I grew up, as you know, in a home where my mother was an anesthetist. I knew doctors. I knew surgeons. I think the first time I ever saw any serious surgery, I was about 12 years old. I know what's involved, and I know what the options are. I mean, I think that -- there is virtually -- my blockage is so substantial, I think if I don't do this, there is virtually 100 percent chance I'll have a heart attack.

And I've been very lucky. I don't have any heart damage now. If I do the procedure, it has been done now for some few decades, and an enormous number of them are done -- you pointed out you've had it, David Letterman has had it, a whole slew of my friends have had it. Without exception, the people I know have good years afterwards. I'm just going to have to be really careful. I've put about 10 pounds of that weight I had lost back on on my book tour, and I've got to take it off, and you know, just do everything I can to try to keep my cholesterol down, keep my blood pressure down.

But I agree with whoever it was that said that we ought to have a lot of these exams, that you got the early warning signs, that you can get your cholesterol and blood pressure down, that's a big thing. And then, at some point, I understand why there is a reluctance to do angiograms here and invasive surgery. But I aced my stress test, four, five years in a row, every year I was in the White House and every year since, so that's more than four or five years.

So about 10 percent of the people, for whatever reason, are in good enough health that they just do fine on the stress test and they still have a problem. And I was one of them. So I think if people have a family history there, and high cholesterol and high blood pressure, they ought to consider the angiogram, even if they don't have the symptoms I had. There is some chance of damage there, but it's like one in 1,000. And I really think it probably saved my life.

And I'm very grateful to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Dr. Bard (ph), all the great people at Westchester County who did that, and then these people at Columbia Presbyterian. I just feel just grateful. I guess I'm a little scared, but not much. I'm looking forward to it. I want to get back -- I want to see what it's like to run five miles again.

KING: Thank you for giving us this time. You're in the prayers of people all around the world. I know President Bush has called and Senator Frist, the political opponent, that doesn't mean anything, we're all in this world together, joining hands. We wish you nothing but the best. We'll check in when it's over. And stay well.

CLINTON: Thank you, Larry. Take care now.

KING: You too. Well, that was interesting. You were right, Senator Frist. That's what he has, right? Optimism.

FRIST: Yeah. He is. And he'll do fine. Again, this is a procedure that's done 1,000 times every day in this country. He's going to do great. To the individual, that optimistic outlook, which clearly President Clinton has always had, goes a long way to make sure that post-operative course is smooth.

KING: We'll do a follow-up show on this on Monday night. I want to thank all of our guests. Paul Begala, thank you so much. Your friend came right through. Boy, he sounds great. I got to admit that.

BEGALA: Yeah, thank you.

KING: No matter what he faces, he faces it well.

Dr. Wayne Isom, thank you so much. We'll see you again Monday. Dr. P.K. Shah as well. And we thank President Clinton for spending some moments with us in advance of his heart surgery.

I'm Larry King. Back with an update on Frances after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we're out here, we just received news that President Clinton has been hospitalized in New York. He is in our thoughts and prayers. We send him our best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every single one of us, every single one of us wants to extend to him our best wishes, our prayers and our thoughts. And I want you all to let a cheer out and clap that he can hear all the way to New York, all the way to New York!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE as we get an update and stay with you on Frances, we'll be doing this around the clock at the ABC -- I already -- at the ABC studios in New York, Sam Champion, weatherman for WABC.

In new Smyrna Beach, Florida, Tony Perkins, the weatherman for ABC's "Good Morning America." A very familiar face.

The weekend edition of GMA launches tomorrow. And he was on this program just last month discussing Charley.

And in Atlanta is Rob Marciano, CNN's weather anchor and meteorologist.

And many in Melbourne, Florida, our great roving reporter and host of his own show, Anderson Cooper.

We'll start with Anderson. What is going on there in Central Florida?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, I'm in Melbourne Beach, which is a barrier island off Melbourne. And the first band of what they call the outer band of this hurricane is just starting to hit here. The winds have picked up in the last 20 minutes or so. We got our first dose of rain.

But this whole area has been evacuated. There are like 15 or 16 counties parts of 16 countries that have been evacuated under mandatory evacuation, parts of five others here, volunteer evacuation. There are no people, hotels are shut down no restaurants. They were told to get inland, seek safety and that's what most people around here have done.

We're just waiting for the storm at this point. And at this point we don't know when it's going to come. We're told it slowed down, but most people here, just like us, are waiting, Larry.

KING: Now Melbourne, I was getting ready to say Central Florida, it's right in the center part of the state on the coast. You're right on the Atlantic Ocean, right?

COOPER: That's right. And we had anticipated the storm heading right toward us. There may now be some movement toward the south of us. But we continue to wait here to see what happens, Larry.

KING: Hurricanes are finicky. What can you tell us, Tony Perkins, from New Smyrna Beach?

TONY PERKINS, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: Well, this has been finicky as well, Larry. As a matter of fact, as you know just yesterday this was a category 4 storm, and it was looking like this was going to be a major event. Now it is still going to be a major event, it is a strong category 2. That means we'll still see a storm surge of four to five feet or so, there will be flooding, there will be major amounts of rain.

Perhaps the big story so far with the storm has what it's done to the Bahamas, because it has just been lingering there since yesterday. We have seen wind gusts of 115 miles per hour over some of those islands. Hopefully, we won't see that type of wind activity here in Florida. But folks are bracing for it.

And folks are really, I have to say from the people we talked to here in Florida, they're kind of tired of this. It is the second big storm in three weeks. They're prepared for it, they're ready for it, but the evacuations, doing it again, they're a little sick of all that and would like for these storms to just disappear and go away.

KING: Rob Marciano, is it too early to compare it to Charley?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Oh, not at all. There is a big difference, Larry, between this storm and Charley. The main difference, not so much the strength, but the size of this storm. It is much, much larger than Charley was. Hurricane force winds with this thing extend about almost three times as far out as did Charley.

Charley was a category 2 storm before it strengthened real quick to a category 4 storm before it made landfall. So as far as the strength of Charley and Frances about the same, at about this time before landfall. Here it is. There is Free Port. It's 90 miles East, Southeast of Free Port. We have winds now of 105 miles an hour, Larry. That's a strong category 2. So, we have dropped it two categories since this time yesterday.

I think the main difference between this one and Charley, if this one does not strengthen any further, it will be a weaker storm than Charley was. But it will be a wider storm with winds that go out further, it will affect more people and it is a slower moving storm, Larry. We're talking about rains that could exceed 12, 15 and some cases 20 inches. This thing just lumbers across the State of Florida.

So if it doesn't strengthen anymore, I think the main effect with this thing will be rain, possibly some flooding rain throughout much of the state. And there are flood watch is out for the southern two- thirds of the state at this time.

KING: Sam Champion in New York, why are weathermen, meteorologists so fascinated with hurricanes?

SAM CHAMPION, WABC-TV, N.Y. WEATHERMAN: Well first of all, you got to look at them, Larry. They're beautiful things to look at from when you see them from our perspective. They're something -- a big part of the weather we don't understand all of them yet. And talking with Max Mayfield from the Hurricane Center, this thing has dropped two categories in 24 hours just for the fact that some steering currents changed and there's some drier air that's cutting in from the west of that storm that's over the state of Florida now weaken that storm quite a bit.

And we don't exactly understand what is going on with the eye wall or how this storm can drop so quickly and how it can jump up so quickly like it did with Charley and with Andrew.

One of the things I want to add about this storm, though, is it going to be a weaker storm, but it is not a smaller storm. And Floridians should be prepared for steady winds that could last almost all day of 70 to 100 mile an hour.

So, what is worse, getting blasted with a quick shot of 160 mile per hour winds, or sitting all day with 75 to 100 mile per hour winds? I'm not quite sure which one is worse. And we're still dealing with the up to, anywhere from 6 to 20 inches of rain expected from this storm that will go right through the central part of Florida.

It is wobbling. And we don't know where it's going to make landfall, but the impact of this storm, we deal with the center of the storm when we're talking about making landfall. The impact of this storm is going to be all over the state of Florida starting tomorrow.

KING: Speaking about that, Anderson, could we pinpoint a little more? Do we know about when tomorrow this will be at its height?

COOPER: You know, we don't know at this point. We have been told it would be in the afternoon, some people saying 2:00 in the afternoon, 3:00. But now the storm, as Sam has mentioned, others mentioned, it has slowed down dramatically. It is now still hovering over the Bahamas. At this point, as far as I can tell, it is anyone's guess exactly when it is going make landfall.

Sam mentioned that water, though. We are anticipating a lot of rain here. And as you know, Larry that is one of the biggest dangers with a hurricane. Most of the deaths that occur in a hurricane, occur from flooding. People actually drown, because of this huge tide of water that often comes in, floods these areas -- again most drowning deaths.

Also, you get a lot of deaths, people after the hurricane coming out of their homes, walking around to survey the damage, getting electrocuted from downed power lines in these pools of water.

So, there is still a lot of danger, even if the storm itself is not as big as some have not have anticipated, there's still a lot of danger for residents here and they have to be very, very careful, Larry.

KING: Tony in New Smyrna Beach, have many evacuated?

PERKINS: Most have evacuated. This town has a full time population of 20,000 people. There is nobody here. We're at a condominium, the Moon Tide, where all the residents have left. They left it open, some of them kindly for some of the media here. That is good for us.

But most of the town is gone, they have evacuated, moved further inland as part of the massive evacuation that took part earlier this week.

I just want to mention one thing really quick. A couple of the folks here, Sam, and Anderson, have made a very good point, if you characterize Hurricane Charley as a wind event, there was a lot of rain, but very strong winds. This is a mainly a rain event. And as Anderson said, a big problem there, very dangerous.

KING: But a different kind of problem in terms of what might be damaged, right?

PERKINS; That's right. And it is because of the massive flooding. It is because the storm is moving so slowly, and we're seeing -- we're beginning to see what it has done in the Bahamas. And I think we'll see more of that during the coming days. But if this storm continues to move very slowly across Florida, it is going to drop massive amounts of rain over areas that have already seen massive amounts of rain during last several weeks and that's going to lead to extensive flooding for much of the state, possibly up to portions of Georgia and Alabama and places like that.

KING: More on Hurricane Frances when we come back on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be live again tomorrow night, Saturday night, with another edition dealing with Frances, an update on the president, repeat of the interview with President Clinton done about a month and a half ago in New York and then more coverage on Monday night, Labor Day night. If you joined us late, we have heard from President Clinton, spoke with him for a couple of minutes. He is in fine fettle, saying he's doing very well. The surgery will be early in the week because they did an angiograph today and they used medication in that that would counterindicate surgery. So it will probably be Monday or the latest Tuesday. We'll be following it for you. But as you heard if you did hear it, he is in extraordinarily good spirits. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with our Sam Champion, Tony Perkins, Rob Marciano and Anderson Cooper. Rob, they stopped the -- they used to be just named for women, right?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEREOLOGIST: Yes and that upset women, I suppose. But now they go every other. Every other storm is a man, a woman. And typically they're either English, French or Spanish, at least in the Atlantic basin because those are the countries and the islands where these storms are affected. Before they named them women they didn't even name them.

So we go back to probably the worst storm in American history was the Galveston Storm of 1900 and that's what we called it. The Galveston Storm of 1900. The Labor Day storm of 1936. The Florida/Okeechobee Storm of 1928. They didn't really categorize them. But now that we have satellites and we can track so many at one time, we really have to start at least numbering them and they do that, and when they get strong enough to become a tropical storm, we lay names on them. By the way, there is another tropical storm out there, after this one. It's Ivan. We're watching that, too.

KING: What is the name of it?

MARCIANO: Ivan with an "I".

KING: What happened to "G" and "H"?

MARCIANO: Well, they're both long gone. Gaston came by last weekend and Ermine was about a half a day storm...

KING: I miss Gaston.

Sam Champion, what is the difference between this and a typhoon?

CHAMPION: It is just positioning, Larry. We usually use typhoon for southern storms south of the equator. They're basically cousins and they're just as powerful. Typhoons can oftentimes be even more powerful. You hear about the devastating effects of typhoons in areas like Japan and just like we hear the devastating effects of areas like Florida.

We also number these things, though. We give them Saffir-Simpson Scales. Interesting thing about that is Saffir was an engineer and Simpson was the head of the National Hurricane Center when they came up with this category 1, category 2, category 3, category 4, category 5 listing and they decided they needed to tell people what kind of damage to expect from the storms as they were making landfall.

So they got together and came up with this Saffir-Simpson Scale so we name them and number we them.

KING: Anderson, the people's attitude towards them, do they get just used to it after a while?

COOPER: You know, I think anyone who lives around here is used to it yet you don't want to get too used to it. They still take these things very, very seriously. As I was driving in here early this morning, you could still see a lot of people on the roads leaving. I flew in last night around 3:00 a.m. in the morning and the entire highway, 95, the interstate, was just lit up with lights, bumper to bumper traffic, people just getting out of here.

Luckily, they have taken it very seriously this time. Finding any supplies right around now is really difficult. All the stores have shut down. They're all boarded up with plywood. One of the big like -- Home Depot, Lowe's kind of stores, they closed today at noon. There were long lines. I went to one Lowe's store, there was a line around the block, people standing in line waiting to get plywood.

I was searching for a gas canister because I was afraid we'd run out of gas. I wanted to stock up. You couldn't find those. You couldn't even buy water coolers to put ice in. All of those have been bought up too, Larry.

KING: All right. We'll be back with our group. We'll also check in with Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center and more coming ahead and we'll take care of all of that right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's check now with the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Get an update with Max Mayfield, the director of that center. Max, what could you tell us now, a half hour later?

MAYFIELD: Larry, no big changes here. We're expecting aircraft report to come back in here within an hour or so. It is building very, very slowly. We don't have the same hurricane we had out there last night. It is breaking down to a category 2. But still a formidable hurricane and it is going to take a long time, it's going to take all weekend for this system to move across the Florida Peninsula.

KING: Max, do planes keep flying into the center?

MAYFIELD: Not over land. The turbulence is usually too bad. So they'll fly right out to the coastline, which may be tomorrow night, the way it is moving right now, and then we'll have enough surface data over land to determine where it is, and of course the radar too helps us.

KING: So in other words, the turbulence is affected by being over land? MAYFIELD: Right. And they really don't like to do that over land at all. Every now and then, they chafe (ph) a little bit, but it is really not that safe to do it over land. Plus, you know, now we do have the radar coverage, and with all the surface observation we have on land, we're not going to lose this one.

KING: Max, could it go straight up the coast? Could this conceivably hit Washington, New York, Baltimore?

MAYFIELD: Oh, I don't think it is going straight up the coast. I think it will likely go inland, and very slowly move over the Florida Peninsula, and then turn up more towards the north, and you know, Alabama, and in five days' time be up probably in Tennessee somewhere. And then it may go racing off to the northeast, but it will be a much, much weaker, you know, likely a tropical depression by that time.

KING: What weakens it?

MAYFIELD: Well, land, for one thing. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a hurricane is a heat engine. And you remove that heat, it is like boiling water on your stove. You turn the heat off, the water stops boiling. To move a hurricane over land or over cold water, it just removes that source energy, and it will start to dissipate.

KING: Max, we'll be checking with you around the clock. They do noble work there at the National Hurricane Center.

MAYFIELD: Thank you.

KING: You're still in Coral Gables?

MAYFIELD: We moved out to Florida International University out in West Miami-Dade County now, Larry.

KING: Used to be Coral Gables. Did they name it after Gordon Dunne? They ought to.

MAYFIELD: No, sir, they didn't, but that was a good idea. He was a wonderful man.

KING: Thank you, Max.

MAYFIELD: You bet.

KING: Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.

We're going to thank our panel, Sam and Tony and Rob and Anderson for being with us, because we made a decision, since a lot of people may have tuned in later, or may have missed it, to repeat the earlier interview on the phone with President Clinton from his hospital bed at Columbia Presbyterian in New York. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: On the line with us now is President Clinton. We thank you, President, for joining us. We're with Dr. Wayne Isom, Dr. P.K. Shah, your friend Paul Begala and Senator Bill Frist. How are you feeling?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel great. And I've enjoyed this program. And Dr. Isom explained why we are going to delay this surgery for a couple of days. But I feel really blessed, you know, because a lot of people who have a heart attack never get any advance warning, as Dr. Fist said, or Senator Frist said.

I've had some difficulty ever since I got out of the White House in getting my distance up in running. And I just had a feeling a couple of days ago I had to have it checked, when I finally got some tightness in my chest. And I hadn't done any exercise. That's the first time that ever happened to me, and we did this angiogram and found out I had blockage that was too significant to open and put a stent in. We had to do the whole surgery. So I'm trying to get my head in the game.

KING: But you look so great. You lost so much weight. Didn't you think that if you had a problem, it was over?

CLINTON: Well, no. I've also been treating the high cholesterol and then I stopped taking that medicine because I got my cholesterol down low. And I had, in the past, had a little blood pressure problem, which I've treated and then I got it down.

But, you know, some of this is genetic, and I may have done some damage in those years when I was too careless about what I ate. So for whatever reason, I've got a problem, and I've got a chance to deal with it, and I feel that I really got to -- let me just say this, Republicans aren't the only people who want four more years here.

KING: Well, the whole world is watching. We appreciate you giving us this time. But I must ask this question, in all fairness. Are you a little frightened?

CLINTON: Well, not as much as I thought I would be. You know, I don't -- I grew up, as you know, in a home where my mother was an anesthetist. I knew doctors. I knew surgeons. I think the first time I ever saw any serious surgery, I was about 12 years old. I know what's involved, and I know what the options are. I mean, I think that -- there is virtually -- my blockage is so substantial, I think if I don't do this, there is virtually 100 percent chance I'll have a heart attack.

And I've been very lucky. I don't have any heart damage now. If I do the procedure, it has been done now for some few decades, and an enormous number of them are done -- you pointed out you've had it, David Letterman has had it, a whole slew of my friends have had it. Without exception, the people I know have good years afterwards. I'm just going to have to be really careful. I've put about 10 pounds of that weight I had lost back on on my book tour, and I've got to take it off, and you know, just do everything I can to try to keep my cholesterol down, keep my blood pressure down. But I agree with whoever it was that said that we ought to have a lot of these exams, that you got the early warning signs, that you can get your cholesterol and blood pressure down, that's a big thing. And then, at some point, I understand why there is a reluctance to do angiograms here and invasive surgery. But I aced my stress test, four, five years in a row, every year I was in the White House and every year since, so that's more than four or five years.

So about 10 percent of the people, for whatever reason, are in good enough health that they just do fine on the stress test and they still have a problem. And I was one of them. So I think if people have a family history there, and high cholesterol and high blood pressure, they ought to consider the angiogram, even if they don't have the symptoms I had. There is some chance of damage there, but it's like one in 1,000. And I really think it probably saved my life.

And I'm very grateful to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Dr. Bard (ph), all the great people at Westchester County who did that, and then these people at Columbia Presbyterian. I just feel just grateful. I guess I'm a little scared, but not much. I'm looking forward to it. I want to get back -- I want to see what it's like to run five miles again.

KING: Thank you for giving us this time. You're in the prayers of people all around the world. I know President Bush has called and Senator Frist, the political opponent, that doesn't mean anything, we're all in this world together, joining hands. We wish you nothing but the best. We'll check in when it's over. And stay well.

CLINTON: Thank you, Larry. Take care now.

KING: You too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Bill Clinton. That was earlier, about a half hour ago. And we repeated it in case you missed it.

It's that time again. The 2004 Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It starts this Sunday. It will go for 21 1/2 hours. Indeed, I will host two hours of it, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, 8:00 until 10:00 a.m. on Labor Day morning. It is dedicated this year to Matty Stepanek, who died in late June -- oh, dear Matty -- at age 13.

In addition to being a best-selling poet, an inspiring peacemaker and a great friend of the show, Matty was the national goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

I'll be back in a couple of minutes. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night, more on the condition of Frances and the condition of President Clinton. Right now, it's time for "NEWSNIGHT." Aaron Brown stands by in New York.

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


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.