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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump's Immigration Policy?; Hurricane Targets Florida. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 1, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:15]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the lead. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin with the breaking news that Hermine is now a hurricane, a hurricane getting stronger and on a collision course with the United States.

Right now, you're looking at live pictures from Panama City Beach. The storm is barrelling toward the Gulf Coast of Mexico with -- Gulf Coast of Florida, rather, with maximum winds of 75 miles per hour.

In just a few hours from now, Hermine could make landfall, which would make it the first hurricane to hit the state of Florida since Wilma more than a decade ago.

Any moment now, we are expecting Rick Scott of Florida to give an update on the state's preparations, how to prevent loss of life. We will bring that to you when it comes.

CNN meteorologist Tom Sater is in our Severe Weather Center right now tracking the hurricane's path, but first let's go to Jennifer Gray. She's out in the Florida Panhandle in Apalachicola.

Jennifer, how are things looking at this hour? How bad are things and when did they start getting bad?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Jake, the storm is still more than 100 miles away. And conditions have already deteriorated quite a bit within the last hour or so.

The winds have really picked up, the rain have really picked up, and you can also tell that the waters are rising a little bit where we are. We're right in front of Apalachicola River. And the water should be flowing that way, but the water is going this way.

It's flowing upstream, because that wind and all the energy from this storm is basically pushing this water in. And that was one of the biggest concerns with this storm is the storm surge. So, in this area, we could see five to seven feet of storm surge.

Keep mind, the storm is not expected to make landfall until between 9:00 to midnight tonight, and we're just in the 4:00 hour. So, we have a long way to go. So, the storm surge is going to be an issue. This is that time frame, this is that window, where people should have wrapped up their preparations and they just get into a safe spot to ride this storm out.

They did a lot of evacuations in the coastal areas. And that was a great idea because of the storm surge. Hopefully the people inland are heeding the warnings as well. Once this storm moves to the north and east, there is still going to be a concern with major flooding, also power outages, a lot of trees in the Panhandle of Florida, as well as in Southern Georgia. That's where this storm is going next.

And so we could see power outages there as well, but, Jake, over the next couple of hours, just expect to see more of the same. We're going to see the winds increase quite a bit. And we're going to see that water continue to rise -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jennifer Gray, stick around. We're going to come back to you throughout the hour. Stay safe, of course.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

[16:05:15]

TAPPER: Joining me now on the phone is the mayor of one of the cities you just mentioned, Tampa, Bob Buckhorn.

Mr. Mayor, thanks for joining us.

Florida is feeling outer bands of the hurricane right now. What message do you most urgently need to tell people in your area right now?

BOB BUCKHORN (D), MAYOR OF TAMPA, FLORIDA: Jake, I would tell them unequivocally use common sense.

If you see standing water, do not drive in it. We have got barricades prepositioned around areas that we know tend to flood. Our police officers are out there now ready to deploy those barricades if necessary.

Folks, just don't drive around the barricades. Don't drive in the standing water. Stay away from downed power lines, and just use common sense and we will get through this.

TAPPER: What should they do if they're driving and there is a barricade on one side, and there's water on the other? Where do you want them to go if they can't get home?

BUCKHORN: Well, back up.

One of the things, when you live in environments like this that are low-lying, you know the areas that tend to flood historically. They are the same areas every time, Jake. So, folks, like water, always find their way. They know where the side streets are. They know where the streets are that tend to flood.

My ask of them -- and they have been pretty responsive -- is to just avoid those areas, wait until the water recedes. We are going to be fine, but just be smart about this. When you go drive into low-lying areas and your car floods out, you put our fire safety and our police officers at risk because they have to come in and get you.

TAPPER: The governor of your state, Rick Scott, is urging residents from your city of Tampa all the way up to the Panhandle to get ready now. As this hurricane moves in, how long are you anticipating problems?

BUCKHORN: Well, I think here in Tampa, given that we're on the backside of that counterclockwise movement, it will probably be most of the night.

We're in the midst of a high tide right now. Some of our low-lying streets are flooded, but no property damage to speak of. What we heard earlier from Tom is exactly right. Because we haven't been hit in a long time, there is hurricane amnesia.

And so even though we stress all the time to have a plan, to be ready, to know where you're going to go, folks get accustomed to these heavy rains and they don't realize the potential damage. So, we're just constantly repeating it, Jake, and telling them to have a plan, avoid low-lying areas, and just use common sense, and stay at home if you possibly can.

TAPPER: All right, Mr. Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, mayor of Tampa, Florida, stay in touch. Let us know if the federal government is not giving you the help that you need. And best of luck to you and the citizens of your city.

BUCKHORN: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Let me go back to Jennifer Gray, who is in Apalachicola.

Jennifer, obviously, one of the big concerns right now is that the storm is expected to hit at night, which obviously poses its own levels of danger. Talk about that, if you could.

GRAY: Yes, the fact that it is hitting at night, storm surge is a major concern.

And so some people may not be able to see the water rising like they would during the day. That's why those coastal evacuations were so important. And hopefully anyone in that evacuation zone did just that.

Of course, with this hitting between 9:00 and midnight, it should be hitting closer to low tide. High tide is happening around 4:30, so that actually will help it a little bit. If it hit during high tide, it would only exasperate all of that.

And, in fact, it will keep the tornado risk down just a tad with it happening at night. So, Jake, I guess it hitting at night has some good points and it has some bad points, of course that storm surge being one of those negatives. And, of course, just being dark, people just can't see what is going on around them.

Hopefully, they will be inside, because a lot of things will be flying around, especially if they didn't secure things in their yard and prune their trees and things like that.

So, yes, it happening at night can definitely be scary. People need to expect to lose power in this area as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jennifer Gray in Apalachicola, Florida, thank you so much.

We're going to continue to track Hurricane Hermine.

Also this big story, one day, two Trumps, from appearing diplomatic in Mexico to giving what Hillary Clinton called his darkest speech yet, Donald Trump going rock-solid on the wall. So, which Trump did we see today?

That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:13:14]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Let's turn to politics now, the politics lead.

Whether Trump is doing something right or Hillary Clinton is doing something wrong, or both or neither, state and national polls show that the presidential race is getting closer as we head into the final two months of the campaign.

The tightening comes even as some prominent Latinos abandon the Trump campaign after his particularly fiery immigration speech last evening.

CNN correspondent Phil Mattingly joins me now live from Wilmington, Ohio, where Mr. Trump spoke this afternoon.

And, Phil, Trump may have given voters some whiplash yesterday with two very different speeches on immigration, one in Mexico, one in Arizona.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jake.

And it continued somewhat today. If you saw him in Cincinnati this morning, you saw the calm, more understated Trump as he spoke to the American Legion. If you saw him here in Wilmington, firing back up that rhetoric, another example of Donald Trump attempting a very careful balancing act. As you note, Jake, those polls are getting closer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Today, Donald Trump campaigns in Ohio with one question trailing him: Which Trump will his supporters see?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't worry, we're going to build the wall. That wall will go up.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTINGLY: Trump, in a detailed 70-minute address in Arizona Wednesday night, striking a hard-line stance on the defining issue of his campaign.

TRUMP: On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MATTINGLY: Just hours after displaying a more conciliatory tone during a surprise visit to Mexico to meet with the country's president, Enrique Pena Nieto.

TRUMP: The bond between our two countries is deep and sincere.

MATTINGLY: A different tone, a different message, and a showing that advisers say prove he can straddle the lines of diplomacy and policy.

Trump in Mexico said the issue of whether Mexico would pay for the border wall wasn't discussed.

TRUMP: We didn't discuss payment of the wall. That will be for a later date.

MATTINGLY: But after Trump's departure, Pena Nieto said he made his position clear to the GOP nominee.

ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I can say with all clarity and in public, and the candidate Trump knows that I was emphatic to affirm that Mexico wouldn't pay, by any means, for the wall.

MATTINGLY: Trump in Arizona made equally clear, there was no shift in his stance.

TRUMP: And Mexico will pay for the wall.

MATTINGLY: Hillary Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine seized on the issue this morning.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is a choke. And I think it shows that diplomacy is not for amateurs. Donald Trump is an amateur.

MATTINGLY: Trump reiterates in his Arizona speech that there will be no pathway to citizenship or little status for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.

TRUMP: For those illegally here today, who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only. To return home and apply for reentry like everybody else.

MATTINGLY: Even as he backed off his early campaign claims of immediate deportation for all 11 million plus estimated to be in the country. Something he described as a, quote, "softening" in a radio interview after the speech.

TRUMP: It is softening, look, we do it in a very humane way. We're going to see with the people that are in the country. Obviously, I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers, I want to get the drug dealers out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And, Jake, Ohio, probably better than any other, state represents the need for that balance here. Here obviously, a lot of supporters, big time Trump country. But outside of Cincinnati, outside of Columbus, those are suburbs, areas where Republicans have been turned off by what they have seen in the last few months. It really just kind of underscoring that Donald Trump is talking to two very different audiences as he tries to shore up his support in states like Ohio -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Phil Mattingly, thank you.

Coming up next, he loved Trump's trip to the border, and then his trip across the border to speak to the president of Mexico, but then Mr. Trump gave his immigration speech and he is un-endorsing Mr. Trump.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:22:10] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Let's stick with our politics lead now. Donald Trump's immigration speech last night was not just about illegal immigration or building that wall. He called for a complete reform of who the United States accepts as its citizens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We'll take anybody, come on in, anybody, just come on in -- not anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: As has been noted, that's quite a contrast from "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: That is the only conversation we should be having at this time, immigration security, cut it off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: One key moment in Trump's speech. One that might have been missed by those that don't know its historical significance was Mr. Trump's invocation of the year 1965, in his proposal to revamp the standards by which the U.S. admits new citizens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We've admitted 59 million immigrants to the United States between 1965 and 2015.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Why measure this starting in 1965? Well, that's the year the United States conducted a major overhaul of the immigration laws. Previous to 1965, the U.S. admitted new immigrants based on a quota system that favored groups already in the United States as of 1910. So, this was a system before 1965 that strongly favored northern Europeans. Those from the U.K., or Ireland or Germany. More so even that those from southern Europe like Italy or Greece. Far fewer slots, of course, were given to immigrants from Asia or Africa or any other non-European country.

Now, by the 1960s, Americans of Polish and Greek and Italian heritage were complaining that immigration laws were simply discriminatory. So, in 1965, Congress passed and LBJ signed a law that eliminated those quotas and offered special visas to immigrants who had special skills or who had relatives already in the U.S. legally.

Now, opponents of that 1965 law said that the U.S. was fundamentally an Anglo Saxon nation and that changing the law would change the face of the nation. And that's true, the law did that. The United States is more diverse. It's less white, less northern European. That was the 1965 reform of whom we let into the country.

Now, Mr. Trump is now proposing a whole new reform in the system. He says this new system would achieve three goals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: To keep immigration levels measured by population share within historical norms. To select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in U.S. society and their ability to be financially self sufficient. We need a system that serves our needs, not the needs of others. Remember, under a Trump administration, it's called America first.

[16:25:06] Remember that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Let's bring in Alfonso Aguilar. He's president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. He had endorsed Donald Trump this summer.

But then after that speech, you are un-endorsing him. Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.

ALFONSO AGUILAR, LATINO PARTNERSHIP FOR CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES PRESIDENT: Thank you so much for having me.

Well, I was critical of Mr. Trump throughout the primary over his proposals on immigration. But after he won the primary, I thought that I should reconsider my position considering that, you know, for me as a conservative, Hillary Clinton is not just an alternative.

And I thought, along with other conservative leaders that we could help Mr. Trump towards the center. And, frankly, the campaign was kind of open. For the past two months, we'd be in conversations, talking to different advisors, and Mr. Trump himself until last week talked about softening his position. He said the publicly.

Yesterday morning, if you think about it, Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, was talking about this -- treating undocumented immigrants in a compassionate and humane way. While we heard the speech, there's nothing compassionate or human in the speech. I think if anything, not only he doubled down on this initial proposals, I think they're even worse. I mean, what he is saying to undocumented immigrants is you have to leave the country, self deport, or we will remove you. He was saying before leave and you can come back weekly, that is off the table right now.

TAPPER: So, a tougher speech than you had hoped for.

AGUILAR: Absolutely.

TAPPER: I want to ask you specifically. When Mr. Trump called for, quote, "immigration levels measured by population share within historical norms," that probably doesn't mean much to people who don't follow the immigration issue very closely, but what does it mean to you?

AGUILAR: It means that the speech was drafted by the main anti- immigration groups, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Center for Immigration Studies and Numbers USA. And one of their arguments and it's not a conservative argument, is that the U.S. is overpopulated, that we shouldn't allow more immigrants.

It is true. In '65, when we have the big immigration reform, we opened the doors, because we had kind of a moratorium in immigration from 1924, when that national origins quota system was put in place that you were talking about until 1965. We opened the doors and in came a lot of people. That is true, but they're coming in right now because we need them.

I mean, our country -- our population is barely growing. It's growing because of immigration actually and there are industries that cannot find American workers. So, if an American company cannot find an American worker, they should be able to bring in the foreign workers. But they oppose that because they see immigrants as toxic, as, you know, growing the population. But that's not a conservative argument. When did conservatives become concern about overpopulation? I mean, that's something more tied to the liberals.

TAPPER: Let me just ask you because there are Latino critics out there who say that this speech sounded like the kind of speech written by someone who didn't like what happened after 1965, and thought that the Northern European heritage of the country, white heritage needs to be preserved.

I'm not saying that's what Mr. Trump is saying, but some of this language --

AGUILAR: Right. In terms of Trump, I honestly don't think that that's what he was thinking. I think that's what some of his supporters who perhaps had a role in drafting the speech. Ann Coulter, who, is a big Trump supporter, believes that.

So, it was a nationalist nativist speech, the kind of speech we would hear 100 years ago when restrictionist groups were complaining about Italian immigrants or Greek immigrants. So, it was a very scary speech.

And, again, we thought he was going to move to the center, and in a way, we felt a little bit misled. We were not naive. We knew what his positions were. We knew it was going to be a long shot to move him to the center, but I think we had a real possibility.

So, you know, he gave the impression going to Mexico that he was going to come out and support legalization and he comes out and gives a very angry speech, very anti-immigrant speech. So, many of us are saying we can't support him. My colleagues who serve in his advisory board on Hispanic issues have actually withdrawn from that advisory board and withdrawn his support.

TAPPER: Alfonso Aguilar, thank you so much for being here today.

AGUILAR: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Really appreciate it.

While Donald Trump was on the campaign trail and visiting Mexico City, Hillary Clinton has been focused on fundraising. New polls, of course, show her lead over Trump shrinking. Is she in trouble?

But first --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I accept your nomination!

TRUMP: For the presidency of the United States.

ANNOUNCER: "The Essential Hillary Clinton."

CLINTON: We are stronger together, in charting a course toward the future.

ANNOUNCER: "The Essential Donald Trump."

TRUMP: I love you and we will make America great again.

ANNOUNCER: All on one blockbuster night.

Clinton has been called the most famous person no one knows.

CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF HILLARY CLINTON: I never understand that, it is so clear to me who my mother is. She never forgets who she is fighting for and she's fighting first and foremost for children and for family.