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Hurricane Ike Approaches Texas Landfall

Aired September 13, 2008 - 00:00   ET


LARRY KING, ANCHOR, LARRY KING LIVE: A weather nightmare smashed into the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Ike barrels ashore, near Houston, with 100-mile-an-hour winds and rain. And it's getting worse by the hour. Is this a Texas-sized catastrophe?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the moment of truth of people of Galveston, Texas.

KING: Residents warned of a massive storm surge on the way. Ike could be a killer. Very latest from the scene right now on an extra edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: Good evening. This is LARRY KING LIVE, PART 2, at 12 Eastern, 9 Pacific. We have all our reporters on the scene doing yeoman-like work. Let's first go quickly for an update with Chad Myers in our CNN Weather Center in Atlanta, Chad, what's happening right now, quickly? Then we'll start making the skirt of all of them.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I will make it quick. I know what it's like standing out there, waiting for my live shot.

This storm is getting very close to Galveston. The western part of the outer eye wall on land right now. It will move over Houston and the winds in Houston will still be 100 miles per hour tonight. It will be a very dark, 315,000 people without power already and a very loud night with things crashing all around those people. And it's not a 15- minute storm. This will blow, Larry, for six solid hours.

KING: Wow. We'll be checking back with Chad throughout the hour. Go to Gary Tuchman our CNN national correspondent in Galveston.

How bad is it there, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, with Rob Marciano, our meteorologist. I can tell you we both experienced some intense winds and rain. Larry, last time we talked to you Rob and I were out outside standing on the beach. It simply just got too dangerous. We couldn't stand anymore and now in a parking structure.

There are some people seeking shelter in the cars. Sounds dangerous but it's actually quite safe. It's a very safe place to be if you haven't evacuated. And that's an important fact. That the National Weather Service warned everyone, get out of here. You can die by being here and there certainly are still some people left in this city of 57,000 people.

KING: Rob, will Galveston bear the brunt of this?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. It looks like we're going to take a direct hit from what Chad is telling me, and what we have been hearing. It looked like it may skip to north and folks here beginning to breathe a sigh of relief, but it hasn't done that. That jog hasn't happen. A direct hit looks imminent. And if anything, the center may be just a hair -- boy, really picking up now - just a hair to the south of us and that would really drive the water up Galveston Bay. So, at this point, aside from it being Category 4 or 5, it likely close to the worst-case scenario, for not only Galveston but for Houston, as well, Larry.

KING: Chad, Rob -- Chad said it's going to go through taking six hours to go through. What's that going to do?

MARCIANO: That's -- you know, we were talking, hey, the eye should be here in a couple of hours and then we'll get the backside, then a few hours after that should be done. Well, that's - to hear Chad say that and I have actually read the similar wording from the National Hurricane Center, it is obviously going to be a long night for us, but more so for the residents.

I can't imagine, Gary, what it would be like to be in a one or two-story home. And we're on the on the third floor, here, of a cinder block reinforced structure.

You rode around. What were some of the structures that you saw people maybe bunkering down in tonight?

TUCHMAN: One thing, Larry, you know this warning from last night. But they warned people, one or two-story structure to get out or "you face certain death". That's the word they used, the adjective, "certain death". And most people were gone when I road around Galveston earlier today. But there were still some people just a couple of blocks away from the beach in one- or two-story homes. It was just unfathomable that they'd stay there. Hopefully they didn't stay there. Maybe after I left, and I said, hey, maybe you should go. Maybe they did leave. But certainly there are some people who wouldn't leave and that's just the way it goes.

KING: Can we assume, Gary, most people left?

TUCHMAN: I think there's no question that most people left because when I was riding up and down the streets today, most of the streets had empty houses. There were no signs of life.

You can hear the wind. I'm going to stick this microphone out for a second, Larry. There's debris flying. I don't recognize what's flying all over the - flying all over here right now. I can tell you, the hotel that we are staying at, it's a 15-story hotel that attached to us -the power's out. They had a generator. That's out. It's totally dark. And windows are now popping out of the hotel. But the hotel is full of news media, police officials and emergency officials. It's the safest place on Galveston Island.

KING: We'll check back with Gary Tuchman and Rob Marciano. They're in the worst spot. Let's go to Houston and Anderson Cooper, host of "AC 360."

It is coming there. What is it like there now, Anderson?

COOPER: It's not too bad at all. Certainly, we know the worst is yet to come and in a big way. They're anticipating, local time around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. those hurricane force winds really hitting here hard. And as Chad Meyers has kept pointing out all night, Larry, it's not just the wind at ground level, where we are, it's several 100 feet up. And that's a big concern for these skyscrapers that are all around us. Obviously, skyscrapers made completely of glass, or the exterior skin of them completely glass. So, you know, authorities are concerned about a lot of glass breaking and people being outside.

There are still folks outside kind of walking around enjoying the breezy wind and the little bit of rain. We are hoping they'll take shelter pretty shortly. Because you can feel this thing is out there. You can feel it's coming. And just -- it's a matter of time before it gets here, Larry.

KING: Anderson, has anybody to your knowledge evacuated Houston?

COOPER: Certainly people evacuated Houston, but it is not the sort of large-scale evacuations we have seen, for instance, with Hurricane Rita, back years ago. What we, in fact, authorities said that people really should shelter in place. They didn't want huge numbers of people out on the road, clogging the roads, getting into accidents on the roads. So people are sheltering in place. They're hunkering down.

We have seen long lines at stores. We have seen long lines at grocery stores and Wal-Mart and Home Depot and gas stations. People stocked up. They wanted to be ready. But at this point, you don't see anyone on the road. And we did not see massive evacuations like we have seen with other storms, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. We'll be checking back with you. Let's go to La Porte, Texas, and Rick Sanchez.

What is the situation there, Rick?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's getting ugly, Larry. It's getting real ugly here.

We heard earlier from Chad that the eye of the storm - whoo! Just lost another transformer and the lights just went out in the entire part of town. We're going through a blackout here now. Apparently transformer just either went out, fell -- I'm not sure. I'm just looking over here just as you asked me the question and everything just got completely dark on the eastern side of this town.

The water is over here on this side. Significant part about this storm is we're going to get a lot of flooding. I think unquestionable. I just talked to some police officers a little while ago and I asked them -- isn't that funny? Lights are coming back on, on this side now.

And he said that the inland flooding that we were expecting from Galveston Bay into La Porte, it's official, Larry. It is already happening. A couple of the roads over here are already inundated. The water apparently came over the bay. And doing exactly what some of the officials say -- there goes another one -- officials say that was going to happen.

Two things I just heard from our friends in Miami, at the National Hurricane Center. A, expect a lot of broken glass in Houston on all those skyscrapers just like Alicia in 1983. In fact, they pointed out. And also, B, expect a lot of flooding coming in through Galveston Bay. That's what we're going to be watching here in La Porte. And some of it, as you can see, is happening already. But it is only going to get much, much worse, Larry.

KING: Rick Sanchez in the dark, never as a reporter, but in the dark literally, in La Porte, Texas. More reporters and more on Ike and the damage he's doing as he comes ashore right after the break.


KING: Let's go back to Ali Velshi, our senior CNN business correspondent. He is in Baytown, Texas.

They're giving us all sorts of warnings of what the damage is going to be like. What do you estimate, Ali? What is it going to be like?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the insured damage estimate -- we are getting updates all day - these are from people who analyze this for the insurance industry, are saying almost $12 billion of physical insured damage. But, Larry, doesn't count the extra money it's costing because these refineries, where I am, are going to be out of line. Now, what we've got - we're in Baytown, Texas. The biggest refinery on the continent is here. ExxonMobil's Baytown refinery, 580,000 barrels a day of oil becoming gasoline. There are 26 refineries in Texas, that's a quarter of all of our refining capacity in the United States. Half of those refineries are shut down, protectively. If they flood, if the power goes out, they won't be working.

Now, we just had a power surge here and a lot of the lights were knocked out. We're expecting more of that to happen shortly.

But, Larry, across the country, we are already seeing surges in gas prices, in Atlanta, $4.95 a gallon; in one part of Florida, $5.49. So the bottom line is, if this lasts for any amount of time and if there is real damage to the refineries, that $12 billion in insured damage is going to be much smaller than everything else we pay, the extra money, Larry.

KING: How can the prices go up before the storm hit mainland?

VELSHI: Good question, Larry. That's why there are a couple of governors in Alabama and Georgia who are saying they have anti-gouging laws and they are going to be looking for people who are gouging people in a tough time. But there are some real shortages of gasoline around here. That's a good question. Why are prices up before the storm?

KING: Susan Candiotti in Clute, Texas. Last time we check it was getting worse?

Is it now getting even more worse?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Larry. We are starting to get the stronger gusts now. And I'm starting the look out for things that might be flying in the night. It's kind of ghostly out here because we lost power at least a couple of hours ago. Yet, behind me, you've got acres and acres and acres of chemical plants owned by, for example, Dow Chemical, BASF. They have copper over there, chlorine gas -- and when you see that burning light, that flame at the top of one of the towers up there -- we were told by the refineries and plants that they're burning off some of their excess fuel and waste, that kind of thing.

Now, they are either are on a different power grid or they have generators going. But that place is lit up like a city unto itself.

And on the other side of the island, here in Clute, of course, everyone is without power. We are facing the east and we're starting to feel those bands coming right into our face now. The rest about, oh, less than 10 miles to the south of where I am, is the beach and the community of Surfside; and there are a lot of homes on stilts there. And there the water was really coming in, even -- we were over there earlier this day. We can't get over there even if we wanted to right now, because the road leading to the bridge that goes over the inter-coastal, is under water at this time.

So now it's a matter of watching and waiting. I can tell you that the sheriff put out the word that no one is going out on the street right now. In fact, we have not seen any traffic at all. Aside from earlier in the night, a couple of cars every now and again. Now, nothing, nada, not a thing. So clearly the conditions are going to get a little bit worse before they get better. We are just getting -- starting to feel it more and more as you see the rain bands coming in, probably lit up by the sky.

I want to show you where the camera is set up for now underneath an overhang of a two-story hotel where we are staying. The managers here actually shut down the place but were nice enough to leave us the key and say, OK, you guys can stay here. So he's up on the upper balcony and shooting me from quite a distance here. I'm out in front of the place.

Now you see a more intense rain band coming through and really hitting us in the face now. These will come and they'll go, but we'll be out here through the duration and visiting with you again -Larry.

KING: Susan, go get some shelter. Let's check back in with Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center.

Chad, we know the strength and how tough it's coming in. How wide is this?

MYERS: The hurricane-force winds are over 100 miles from the center. So that's all the way up into Louisiana. We just had a couple of gusts here. Let me read them to you. Sabine Pass, 63 miles per hour, Rollover Pass, 70; and just on the north side of the Galveston Island, right there on that ship channel there, 87 miles per hour. So now we're well into hurricane strength and the hurricane's not even here yet.

So what's going the happen? We had the first wall and we saw everybody in Galveston kind of get hit with that first outer eyewall and now almost turning into a feeder band. But there's a new wall developing here and it's a smaller wall. And why does this matter? Because a smaller eye will have stronger winds than a bigger eye. I said this before, but I think of an ice skater that's skating around, arms out, legs out, going slowly, bringing the arms in all of a sudden, that momentum gets very strong and she goes much faster. A smaller eye will also go much faster.

This is what the eye looks like now, in three dimension. We can actually take you right down and show you what this thing looks like. It is getting smaller. It is about a 30, maybe 40-mile eyewall now.

Keep spinning around, guys, just keep going. And then tilt a little bit more so you really can begin to see the structure. And if you were flying the hurricane hunter aircraft, this is exactly what you would be seeing. Storm, storm, storm. Nothing. And clear sky above because there is now - there really is a true eye. And this eye really only developed about three or four hours ago. Bad time for the eye to form, Larry, because that means the storm is potentially getting a little bit stronger as it's hitting land.

KING: Chad Meyers, we'll be checking back with you. There might be one storm-related death that this hour. We'll tell you about that. And we'll have a live, on-the-scene update from that deadly train collision near Los Angeles. At least 10 people definitely killed, maybe more. That's next.


KING: Before we get back to Ike, another tragedy tonight. More deaths in that tragedy than tonight so far. Ted Rowlands on the scene in Chatsworth, California.

What happened, Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, you are looking at the wreckage and the remains of a train collision. A Metro Link commuter train collided with a freight train about 4:20 this afternoon, during the Friday evening commute; on board, 225 people. Right now, the death toll estimated to be at about 20. That could rise.

Investigators, you can see, are still combing over what is left of this wreckage looking for victims in this crash. Dozens and dozens of people were also injured as you can imagine. There was a triage set up here. And for the past five hours many of these people have been treated on scene. They actually brought surgeons in to the scene here to treat the injured. The most seriously injured ferried off via helicopter to local hospitals; many of those injuries extremely serious.

There were two trains, the freight train and this commuter train, were sharing -- for some reason -- the same track when they collided head on. Train officials don't know how this happened. Obviously, a very tragic mistake whether it was human or mechanical with the switching device. They just don't know at this point. But a horrible, horrible scene as you can imagine.

Many people wondering about their loved ones have come out here. We are in Chatsworth, which is northwest of Los Angeles. This train started at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. But just a horrific night and it's going to be a long night for rescue workers.

KING: Thanks, Ted, on the scene in Chatsworth. Tragedy begets tragedy.

On the phone with us from Corpus Christi, Texas, is Captain Robert McDonald of the Corpus Christi Police Department. Apparently, two 19-year-old boys were walking along the jetty. A wave swept one of them and knocked him into the rocks.

Do we know what's happened, Captain, down there? Is anybody dead?

CAPT. ROBERT MCDONALD, CORPUS CHRISTI POLICE: Larry, we have not been able to find the 19-year-old young man that fell into the water. The Coast Guard's suspended the search at dark and probably begin the search in the morning. And what we're hoping for is a miracle in this case.

KING: I understand two good samaritans tried to help?

MCDONALD: Yes. We had - there were two 19-year-olds were walking the jetties, when a wave swept one of them into the rocks. The friend was trying to get him out. Two men went to his assistance. They were both knocked into the water. One of those gentleman was seriously injured and we had to Halo flight him to Swan Memorial Medical Center here in Corpus here. And the other person had some minor injuries. But we are really concerned about the 19-year-old that's missing.

People don't understand that, you know, Corpus Christi has not been adversely affected by the weather. However, the Gulf of Mexico has become very, you know, agitated. We're getting real serious high tide, storm surges. The waves are five rows, you know, of eight to 10 feet. And, you know, very dangerous to go in the Gulf of Mexico right now even while the weather around you seems to be really nice.

KING: You are saying, Captain, that the weather can be nice, but the water is bad?

MCDONALD: The weather can be nice and the water is very dangerous. And we're even seeing it tonight, along the hotels, some of the resort hotels, that there are people walking on the beach and walking in the surf and people don't realize that how quickly and how ugly it can turn from the storm surge, even though the hurricane is 200 miles away.

KING: Frankly, can't look very good for this young man, can it? It's going to take a little miracle.

MCDONALD: Its going to take a miracle, Larry. But you know, for the sake - I have met with his father earlier, the family is really distraught. And that's best we can hope for right now, is that this young man has washed in ashore and is walking around lost and, you know --

KING: That would be nice.

MCDONALD: The reality of it is that the friend thought that he was unconscious when he went in the water. So we won't know until we find him.

KING: Thanks, Captain.

MCDONALD: Sure thing.

KING: Captain Robert McDonald, Corpus Christi Police Department.

Let's get in our Galveston twins: Gary Tuchman, our CNN national correspondent, and Rob Marciano, our CNN meteorologist.

When is it supposed to actually, Gary, when is it supposed to hit Galveston?

TUCHMAN: Well, we are hearing different things but the eye of the hurricane is expected to pass over Galveston. When the eye crosses, it's misnomer, because the eyewall that's the greatest winds. And that's what we're experiencing, the beginning of the eyewall right now. I know this is Rob's department but --

MARCIANO: You're doing fine.

TUCHMAN: Thank you. If I make a mistake just let me know.

But the eye's expected to cross here and that's when it will be calm and a there's a possibility you'll even see the moon. So we're expecting that between 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time and 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time, roughly.

But right now what Rob and I are noticing, for the first time, the road that we were standing on, on top of the sea wall that we were on for hours, is now being covered with water. And we can see it in the background. We had to leave from there and go into this parking structure because we literally couldn't stand there anymore.

KING: Rob, having lived through many eyes myself, eyes are eerie, aren't they, because they're so calm. Birds fly away. You can see - it's as clear as a bell, isn't it? MARCIANO: Yeah. It can be a spiritual event in some sorts, but the fact of the matter is a lot of times the backside is worse than the front side, so the best advice is to not wander around too much when you go out there to check out birds flying around, or the stars popping through.

This eye is a little bit different. Chad's probably pointed this out. It has been shrouded in cloud cover for pretty much its entire life span. It has had a hard time getting it's act together. Sounds like it's just doing that now and getting better organized. And we hope it makes landfall before it is too organized to becomes a Category 3 or higher, because that wouldn't bode well for Galveston, or Houston, or even further inland on the map, Larry.

KING: Thanks, guys. We'll be checking back with Gary Tuchman and Rob Marciano We are keeping our eye on the storm but there is other news tonight. Sarah Palin was in the TV hot seat and we are going to talk about that next.


KING: Going to talk some politics now. In Washington is Hilary Rosen, CNN contributor, political director and Washington editor-at- large for In Los Angeles, Reed Dickens, former assistant White House press secretary for President Bush and was national spokesperson for Bush/Cheney 2004. Hillary supports Senator Obama. Reed supports Senator McCain.

Before we talk with both, a quick update from Chad Meyers at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta.

What's the latest, Chad?

MYERS: I think, Larry, we're making landfall with the outer eye wall. This entire thing, as it moves into Houston and Galveston proper, is going to start to -- the winds are going to increase now. We are getting to the middle. But now in the very middle, there's really no wind at all because it's just kind of like a spinning top. Not much motion, at all.

We are going to spin you around and kind of show you what's going on. This is wind is just blowing into Houston now. Blowing in through and out through Galveston Bay and here's the water that's just getting pushed in to Galveston Bay proper. That's going to be the surge. We're already seeing surges now on Galveston Island. I know we can't show you with the shot that we have in Galveston but that surge now is 11 feet and it's probably going to 20 or so -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Chad. We'll be checking back with you in a little while.

All right. Hilary, we are going to show you a toss from the interview that Senator Palin did with ABC and touting her credentials as a reformer. She repeatedly asserted that she's opposed to earmarks to provide federal money. Charlie Gibson confronted her this way.


CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC HOST: Governor, this year, requested $3.2 million for researching the genetics of harbor seals. Money to study the mating habits of crabs. Isn't that exactly the kind of thing that John McCain is objecting to?

GOV. SARAH PALIN, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those requests through our research division in Fishing Game and our Wildlife Departments and our university, those research requests did come through. That system. But wanting it to be in the light of day. Not behind closed doors with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there under the public radar. That's the abuse that we are going to stop.


KING: Hilary, did that response satisfy you?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it clarified a lot. What it clarified is that her boasting of the last two weeks of killing all the earmarks and, you know, she is an anti-earmark person, was really just bogus. And that, you know, essentially Alaska has been a beneficiary of more earmarks than any other state in the country and you know, I'm hoping now that they acknowledge it and we can move on.

KING: All right.

ROSEN: The issue I think is not just whether you kill the earmarks, it's what are you going to do with the money you save when you killed the earmarks. John McCain said he's going to give it away to the wealthy for tax cuts and to oil companies for subsidies.

KING: Reed, on "The View" today, McCain insisted that Sarah Palin had never taken earmarks when she was governor.

REED DICKENS, FMR. ASST. PRESS SECY., PRES. G.W. BUSH: Well, first of all, I have no idea what McCain was doing on "The View." I mean, that's the snake pit of seething liberals. I have no idea why he walked in that door. It had to be a wrong door. You know what? I think that what they've been emphasizing is that they want to do things in the light of day. Not, exactly what Governor Palin said.

I want to point out a few important things here. Governor Palin accomplished her mission tonight. That was don't fumble and affirm the human connection she has going with people right now. About two years ago a candidate burst on to the national scene named Barack Obama, and people are like, well he has a resume, public restroom, you know, toilet paper has more substance than his resume and people were like, yes, but he connects with people on a human level.

Well, now two years later, a candidate's bursting on to the national scene and she's connecting with people on the public level but the - there's a hypocrisy in the elite media and Matt Damon, of course, saying you can't like this lady, she is not qualified which is kind of comical as there's an absurd double standard. People like her. I've been traveling in the country, people like her a lot. KING: Are you saying though that both McCain - both Obama and Palin are not qualified?

DICKENS: I think they both have their light in their resume and emphasizing the fact that they connect with people on a human level and they have good judgment. That's what they're both emphasizing but the difference is he's running for president.

KING: OK. Back to the videos. This one is Palin questioned about a number of social issues including abortion, watch.


GIBSON: Roe v. Wade, you think it should be reversed?

PALIN: I think it should and I think that states should be able to decide that issue. I am pro-life. I do respect other peoples' opinion on this, also. And I think that a culture of life is best for America. What I want to do when elected vice president with John McCain, hopefully, we'll be able to reach out and work with those who are on the other side of this issue because I know that we can all agree on the need for and the desire for fewer abortions in America, and greater support for adoption, for other alternatives that women can and should be empowered to embrace to allow that culture of life. That's my personal opinion on this, Charlie.


KING: How do you react to that, Hilary?

ROSEN: Well, you know, she's - she seems nice and she seems charming and she answered it honestly but, you know, her view is outside the mainstream. A significant majority of all Americans believe that the right to choose is a personal decision and not one that the government should be involved with. John McCain and she have committed to appointing judges that would take away that right. So, you know, I think she can be as charming as she wants. What we have to do is kind of get back to the issues in this campaign.

KING: Reed, isn't that an issue that could hurt her since the polls show that most Americans favor choice?

DICKENS: Well, here's what I think is important. We all know that Democrats will lay down in front of a bus to save a whale or a dog but when it comes to babies, be it very legalistic and politically correct. Her base and the conservative base which needed to be energized and now is energized, it loves what they are hearing right now. Now, she's not supposed to be -

KING: But that maybe a minority thought in America.

DICKENS: Well, she is not supposed to be a policy clone to McCain. I think what you saw tonight is exactly how she feels and I think people in the Republican party responding well to it and I think in the last two weeks independents for the first time in six months split one way and they started splitting towards McCain so I don't see a problem as much as everyone else seems to.

KING: Do you still see a very close race?

DICKENS: I do, very close. Our electoral map and our system lends itself to a very tight race.

KING: It could be up late in November.

DICKENS: Very late.

KING: We'll be right back with more with Hilary Rosen and Reed Dickens. Don't go away.


KING: You are looking at Hurricane Ike and the work he's doing, if that can be termed correctly - work. In southern Texas. And we'll get back to more of the hurricane in a little while.

By the way, we have just learned that Barack Obama has canceled his appearance on "Saturday Night Live" scheduled for tomorrow night because of the hurricane. Hillary Rosen and Reed Dickens are with us. One more clip from the interview and we'll ask both to comment. Sarah Palin talked about Barack Obama's decision not to pick Hillary. Watch.


GIBSON: I saw you quoted somewhere speaking admiringly of Mrs. Clinton, Senator Clinton during the primary campaign. You think Obama should have picked her?

PALIN: I think he is regretting not picking her now, I do. What determination? In grit and - even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way.


KING: Hillary, what do you make of the sudden praise by both McCain and his running mate for Hillary?

ROSEN: Well, I think it's cynical and I think, you know, I thought she was mostly likable in the whole interview and that was the one piece that I found quite distasteful. I thought, you know, what is she saying? Oh well, you know, John McCain's got himself a woman. I bet Barack Obama wishes he had one, too.

So it's just - it sort of smack some hubris that I though was unattractive. I think - I'm kind of pooped out on the personality of Sarah Palin. I hope that over the next couple of weeks this campaign gets back to some issues where Governor Palin has views but, you know, Senator Obama and Senator McCain are running for president. You know, I think that it's time we focus on that. I think the undecided 10 percent of the voters really are interested in that. And I'm guessing that that's where this campaign is going to edge to.

KING: Reed, do you think they will? Will this going to be - when are we getting to issues?

DICKENS: I think there's a couple of nights we get down to issues and those are the presidential debates. They're forced to stand up like adults, 10, 15 feet apart, that's negotiated like 12 1/2 feet apart and discuss issues. And I think - I can't believe she just said with a straight face about personality. I mean, the Democrats are a cult of personality, from Howard Dean to Barack Obama. It is a personality-driven party. I think our system is conducive to these sound bite wars.

I think Hillary Clinton - Barack Obama was in a lose-lose situation. Let's just be totally honest here. If he chose Hillary Clinton, we are going to spend a long time talking about everyone of Bill Clinton's shady business dealings and if he didn't choose Hillary Clinton and lose, he's going to be second guessed from here to eternity. So he was in a tough spot.

ROSEN: You know, Reed's bee eating his Wheaties tonight. Hillary Clinton's out on the campaign trail for Barack Obama. You know, folks are enthusiastic about this ticket and as a practical matter, it is the Democrats that want to talk about jobs, that want to talk about the economy, that want to talk about our unfinished business in Iraq and Afghanistan and it is John McCain and Sarah Palin who don't want to go anywhere apart and are unwilling to submit to real interviews.

So, you know, I thought Charlie Gibson did a good job this week. We'll see if they stay on the issues over the next couple of weeks but the notion that Democrats are about symbols this election, huh-uh. It is republicans diverting that message, no question.

DICKENS: I think it's hilarious that chattering classes decide you have to go on "Meet the Press" to run for president. I mean, we're going to see a national debate between Senator Biden and Governor Palin and we're going to see national debates between McCain and Obama and they're going to be very substantive and people are going to make a decision which lens they see the world through.

KING: Do you think those debates will decide the election?

DICKENS: I think they will be very decisive.

KING: It's that close.


KING: Thank you both very much. We'll have you on a lot. Hilary Rosen and Reed Dickens, always good seeing you. We're sticking with the storm. We'll check in with our reporters in Texas next.


KING: Back with our hurricane coverage and let's go back to Gary Tuchman and Rob Marciano. Gary is our CNN national correspondent and Rob is our meteorologist. They are both in the Galveston, Texas, which will get hit the worse when it hits. I understand the wind's come down a little bit, Gary.

TUCHMAN: Sorry, Larry. I think you were asking what the winds have been doing. We were just remarking during the break that maybe 30 seconds the wind's died down and almost like a living, breathing monster, the storm said, no way, no how and then all of a sudden it's back up again.

What we're seeing, Larry, is water covering the road that is along the beach. The road, Rob and I were standing on the road for hours today. We sought shelter in a three or four-story parking garage. That's where we're standing right now.

Remarkably a safe place to be because the conditions we're seeing out there actually horrifying and all we can think about are people who made the decision not to evacuate. What they're going through right now in the dark and that's an important fact to point out that when it's dark it's much more treacherous because during the daylight, if someone is in extreme trouble, heroic measures are often taken by authorities to rescue those people but in the dark they just can't do stuff like that.

KING: Rob.

MARCIANO: And when did Katrina come in? Katrina came in during the daylight hours. And that may very well be why, you know, why some people were able to survive, being able to swim during the day is a lot easier than looking for safety at night.

KING: I don't mean to sound stupid but if the lights are out everywhere, how am I able to see you?

TUCHMAN: That's a great question because my wife asked me the same question earlier. And I will tell you that what we do is we have our lights on battery power. And it allows us to use our TV lights so you can see us nice and bright but I will tell you, this is the brightest spot around this part of Galveston because everywhere else is complete darkness.

KING: But Rob, don't batteries run down?

MARCIANO: Well, we got batteries. We also have a - we have the TV speakers and we have one generator. When that runs out of fuel, then we'll be done. The batteries don't last that long. We have a backup generator. Looks like TV operation is up and running right now. All our satellite trucks had to come down because they can't take the wind and this corner of the parking lot is - it's quite frankly the safest and could very well be the safest spot in Galveston right now.

KING: Let's check in with Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center, our CNN meteorologist - that was funny.

Houston, when it gets to Houston, the buildings will slow it down, won't it?

MYERS: The buildings are going to take a beating, Larry because what -

KING: Don't they slow it down.

MYERS: Maybe for a mile. I mean, just in the wake of that building. There's so much energy here. I mean, you can drop atom bombs in this thing right now and not do anything except make it radioactive. It would not destroy it whatsoever. And if a bomb couldn't take it out, a building certainly won't. Well, I've noticed one thing. And this is maybe something really good for Houston.

I believe, Larry, that this storm has tried to make a little northward jog just in the past hour. That northward jog would put Houston on the downward side. Rather than on the right side, this is where the wind added together with the forward motion. That's bad news for Beaumont but it may be some good news for Houston.

Houston, you are still going to get winds to 90 but they may not be 100 to 105. I still think we're going to lose some windows in all those downtown buildings but this is kind of a faster motion here. I believe it was coming in like this for a long time. It seems just for the last couple of frames that it's jogged to the north, just a wiggle but that wiggle may make five miles per hour difference. And that may save some windows, that may save some people. Larry.

KING: Rick Sanchez in La Porte, as we've said earlier, we both lived through a lot of these in Florida. The power of this is immense. More power than in A-bombs, right?

SANCHEZ: Oh, there's no question. I'm feeling some of that power right now. As a matter of fact, almost as if on cue and it's so intermittent. I mean there's times that you're not feeling the bands or the winds coming through and then suddenly just like now, pardon me, Larry, for giving you my back, and then suddenly, just like now, bang, you know, you are in the thick of things.

Chad Myers, I wonder if you still have your ears up while I'm sitting here talking to Larry.

MYERS: Certainly.

SANCHEZ: Interrupt me whenever you want. But I'm just wondering - are you there, Chad?

MYERS: Sure, absolutely.

SANCHEZ: I'm wondering - you said earlier when I was on the air that you thought that where I am, La Porte, is actually going to have the eye go over it. But now, I'm hearing you and I just read a discussion from the National Hurricane Center, they were talking about a wobble. Are we still in it or it is going to go to side of us or what's going to happen here?

MYERS: You're going to be on the west side of the eye, the downward side of the eye. So not the eye - not the middle. You are still going to be in the eye wall so your winds are never going to go down but they're going to be just gusty all night long. For the next six hours, your winds are going to strong to hurricane strength.

They may go up until about 4:00 in the morning and then start to slacken off a little bit and appears like over here across the bay from Galveston, they will now get the center of the eye. That maybe Baytown where our other reporters - but to you, I believe, for you, Rick, that you are going to be in wind all night long and not get that break that is the eye.

SANCHEZ: A little bit less of a - go ahead, Larry.

KING: I'm sorry.

I was going to ask you Rick, what do you do during breaks? Like, during that seven or eight minutes when you're not on. Do you let the rain just fall or do you seek shelter? What do you do?

SANCHEZ: No, we got an area over here that we found that gives us a pretty good cushion. It's sheltered by a building so we kind of cluster in a corner over there and try to drink a little coffee and get away from this thing for a while. Which allows us to get that break. The thing that we're worried about out here now really is the inundation, the water levels going over - I'm about a block and a half, maybe two blocks from Galveston Bay and I'm worried about that push of water coming into the area and eventually inundating this where we are now.

The water around me now is just mostly from the rain but the real concern here that everybody has, not just me but the people who live here is that the water is going to go over the edge of Galveston Bay, which partly it already has and then actually going into the downtown area. That's the big concern.

KING: Thanks, Rick. We'll be back with some more moments.


KING: By the way, all night coverage will continue. So stick with us all night. Don't go away.


KING: As we come back, this is extraordinary. You are seeing shots taken from the International Space Station. Of the hurricane. Modern technology. That is the International Space Station, way up and that's its photographs that it's taking now of Hurricane Ike.

Ali Velshi - oh, electronics and the amazing advance we are making that we can see it that far from space. You are seeing it from Baytown, Texas. What is the situation there?

VELSHI: Well, it's picked up appreciably here in Baytown. We are in the sort of American headquarters for oil refining. Making the oil into gasoline and we are waiting here to see how bad this situation is. I'm just a little distance away from the Baytown Refinery, the Exxon Mobil Baytown Refiner where they turn 590,000 barrels of oil a day into gasoline. In fact, we spent most of the day there. We have pulled back now to our hotel to get a little bit of shelter but it's really whipping out here and I just heard Chad saying that this thing is maybe, could be tilting a little closer to us.

We are across the bay from where Rick Sanchez is. We are about 35 miles east and just a little south of Houston and we're due north of Galveston. We are right on Galveston Bay as it gets into the Houston shipping channel. So we're definitely expecting flooding and bad weather. But the bottom line is the damage that is done in Baytown and to the 13 refineries that have shut down in Texas, the reverberations of that will be felt across the country in terms of higher gas prices if there's real damage done down here, Larry.

KING: I will be Ali Velshi, never signed on for this when he signed on as senior business correspondent.

VELSHI: Larry, they told me that I wouldn't have to work nights and weekends. That's why I became a business guy.

KING: Now, this lady though, she knows trouble. She's been in lots of hotspots. She's Susan Candiotti, our CNN national correspondent. We got a little over a - a couple of minutes, Susan.

What is the wind-up of your report for "Larry King Live"? You are in Clute, Texas. How bad is it?

CANDIOTTI: It's getting some gusts that are moving me around a bit. I want to show you again, thanks to Mike Miller and Steve Hamlin, we got Kenny Stafford and Patrick (INAUDIBLE) keeping us on the air tonight. The balcony from which we are shooting maybe you can get a better eye view of some of the rain bands that are coming through here.

And my big worry tonight is how a man by the name of Rory Wilkinson is doing. This is who is described to be by the police chief of being a man in his 60s who just outright refused to leave his house on wooden stilts there over there on the surfside, which is on the other side of the intercoasts, just a few miles away from here. Cut off on the other side of the bridge because the water has just prevented anyone from going over there, including us. That's why we're all booted out of there and with good reason. No strong structures over there where you can take shelter.

So we're over here in this two-story hotel. It got behind me, those big chemical plants and they tell me, Larry, they have gone through all kinds of disaster drills and they're locked up tight. You see some of the - you can see the flame out there still glowing as they're blowing off some waste they tell us. And we hope that those plants stay strong as the night goes on and as the winds pick up. They compared, they worry about flooding here to 1983 Hurricane Alicia. But they built a series of levees and they hope those levees will hold. Some of them 17 feet high around here. I just talked to the police chief a few minutes ago and he said, all is calm for now. We hope it stays that way, Larry.

KING: Thank you, Susan. I'm always amazed at these reporters and the work they do. The Gary Tuchmans and Rob Marcianos and Anderson Coopers and Rick Sanchez's and Ali Velshi's and Susan Candiotti's to go out in the face of this and pelted and wrecked around by rain and tremendous winds and continue to report as they will throughout the night. I think they're extraordinary. They deserve a lot more credit than they get. I know the network appreciates them. I sure hope the public does.

Before we go, I want to tell you about our web extra. It's a tribute to one of our "Larry King Live" producer David Theall. David was one of the heroes on 9/11 during the attack on the Pentagon. If you go to, you'll see my interview with David about that day. He is quite a guy. You could also check out Reese Witherspoon's guest commentary while you're on our web site. And download our latest pod cast, Michael Moore. That's

And don't forget about "Seven weeks to go," Roland Martin looking at the candidates and where they stand on the issues most important to viewers. That's going to air Saturday and Sunday night at 8:00 right here on CNN.

And when we come back, Monday night, John McCain's daughter Meghan will be our special guest. Time right now for Anderson Cooper live from Houston. Anderson.