Return to Transcripts main page


Update on the Path and Strength of Tropical Storm Hermine; Donald Trump on Immigration; Trump and Clinton's preparations. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired September 2, 2016 - 11:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: State of emergency. A serious threat to a huge swat to the East Coast, Tropical Storm Hermaine powering across Southern Georgia. Millions of residents preparing for the worst. Donald Trump is back to referring to his plan on immigration as a softening.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This, what we do it in a very humane way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's thoroughly, totally, completely uninformed.

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is going to do nothing for the African American worker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a guy born with a silver spoon in his mouth that now he's choking on because his foot is in his mouth along with the spoon.


BERMAN: Hello everyone, I'm John Berman. Kate Bolduan off today. We do have breaking news, a brand new update on the path and strength of Tropical Storm Hermine. Twenty- two million people under watch or warning all along the East Coast, Georgia, South Carolina getting pounded right now. In a moment we're going to check in with CNN's Brian Todd, he's in Charleston, South Carolina, where the wind and waves are kicking up moving our camera all over the place right now. But first, we have brand new information on the forecast from the National Hurricane Center, Chad Myers here with that. Chad, what are you seeing.

CHAD MYERS, NATIONAL HURICANE CENTER: The biggest thing I see is that the forward speed has picked up. That's good news to spread the rain out quicker because if you stall the storm it just rains for days. So we're still seeing winds of 50 miles per hour; that's the latest number 50. Last time it was 60 so we're down 10. Good news. It does go offshore just as expected, very close to Cape Hatteras and then that's the problem. It stops. It's the stopping problem that we're worried about. Now brand new tropical storm watches even for long island and

Connecticut because as this storm sits over the Gulf Stream which is very warm water, John, 85 degrees, it could regain strength. And as it sits there for three solid days, the waves will get insane. The waves may be 15 - 30 feet out here in the ocean and crashing onshore from Atlantic City to Wildwood to Rehoboth and Dewey and Ocean City, Maryland. All the way down even toward the tidewater.

Here's Sunday 1:00. There's the storm on one of the computer models well offshore but blowing waves, blowing wind onshore eroding those beaches that took the pounding in Sandy. Now putting it ahead now another eight hours; it doesn't move. The winds pick up but it doesn't move; it just sits there. Atlantic City gusting to 60; now still not onshore so still not making that turn to the left like Sandy did but if you push water and waves and wind onshore for long enough, you will erode the beaches and you will get a storm surge maybe unlike Sandy's but you'll still get a surge.

And we're still seeing the rainfall forecast at about six inches of rain. That's different than earlier when some of these numbers were pushing two feet and that's because the storm has now really picked up speed, that 18 miles per hour forward speed is a good thing. John.

BERMAN: Chad, it used to be clear now the watches and warnings extended all the way up to New York and Long Island and Connecticut as well. For how many days are you talking about this storm being stalled out there in the ocean and any new sign about where it might head after that?

MYERS: Well we talked to Dr. Knabb, you and me, we talked to him directly and said if this thing hangs out for five days, what does that mean? Dr. Knabb said we hope it only hangs out for five days. We hope it's gone by day six and it just pushes water on shore into the bays, up the Hudson, up into Wilmington, up into the chop tank - The Chesapeake, all of these bays, all of these little areas that could funnel water as the water continues to get pushed there. It's a wind storm surge. It's like when you push - you can get a storm surge on Lake Eerie. If you push the water so long with a same straight wind, the same fetch, you can get a lot of water in Buffalo and not much water in Toledo. Well if you push that water this way for long enough, you're going to pile the water up along the shore and make your own storm surge even without a landfall.

BERMAN: All right, this could be a storm surge problem, a flooding problem along a big chunk of the East Coast for a long, long time. Chad Myers, thanks so much. Keep us posted if there are any new updates. Now I want to go where the storm is. Brian Todd is in Charleston, South Carolina. We can see the wind and waves starting to get a little bit dicey thee Brian. What are you seeing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John it is getting a little dicey. We know the brunt of the storm is coming in the next couple of hours but the storm surge here already kicking up along the sea wall here along East Bay Street. Here's one of the problems that city officials have been telling us about all morning. You see some of these people coming out here along the sea wall, people just taking their morning walks and curiosity seekers wanting to be out in this weather.


Not so bad right now but it is going to get very bad in the next couple of hours. We've had some rain bands around here and there are more coming as we know. The storm surge here really starting to kick up along the sea wall. Our photo journalist Khalil Abdallah can pan to my right and your left as we see the white caps coming off the harbor here onto the sea wall and Khalil, if you can take a shot over further to your left, it's a little more intense over in that part of the sea wall over there.

This is a city that's used to this kind of thing. There's a lot of flooding here; they've had swift water rescues here in the last few months when there has been flooding so they do know what they're doing and they've prepared adequately John but they're also warning residents right now you've got to take this storm seriously, do not venture out in the next 24 hours unless you absolutely have to.

There's going to be ponding along some of these roads. There's going to be a lot of gullies and deep ruts in the roads where people think they can pass and they just can't pass. They've handed out about 3,000 sandbags all over town and some of these people here are crossing East Bay Street to kind of come up on the sea wall. Again, people preparing for this but, you know, right now they may not have the best sense of how dangerous this is going to get in the next couple of hours John, so they are warning people, you have got to take this seriously, stay inside.

BERMAN: All right, we will keep our eye on it. Brian Todd, thank you so much in Charleston. They are in for some rain to be sure. Also some wind coming up in a little bit. Thanks Brian.

Speaking of wind and waves, let's move on to politics now. Donald Trump tried to clean up his immigration message. He has lost support of several of his Latino advisors after his immigration speech in Phoenix which reaffirmed many of his stances including a pledge to deny any path to legal status for undocumented immigrants now in the U.S. It does seem though, whether Donald Trump is softening or hardening his stance, depends on who he was talking to and on what day it is.


TRUMP: There certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people. We want people - we have some great people in this country.

I don't think it's a softening. I think it's...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But 11 million people are no longer going to be deported.

TRUMP: It's - I've had people say it's a hardening actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But 11 million who have not committed a crime, there's going to be a path to legalization. Is that right?

TRUMP: You know it's a process. You can't take 11 at one time and just say boom, you're done.

TRUMP: There is softening, look we do it in a very humane way and 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 out and then we're going to make a decision at a later date once everything is stabilized. I think you're going to see there's really quite a bit of softening.


BERMAN: So softening, pardoning, softening. That last softening was from last night so that's our most recent position right now. Let's bring in our panel. Hillary Rosen is a Democratic strategist, a Hillary Clinton Supporter. Edward Espinoza, the Executive Director of Progress Texas, also a Hillary Clinton Supporter. Paris Dennard is Republican Political Commentator and a Donald Trump supporter, and Andre Bauer, former Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, a Donald Trump supporter and a Charleston, South Carolina, native who moments ago was saying that's where my house is in hoping that it doesn't rain too hard there as Tropical Storm Hermine hits.

Paris I want to start with you. Is it a hardening; is it a softening, which is it?

PARIS DENNARD, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what you see is Mr. Trump being consistent on the fundamentals of his immigration plan which is building the wall, ending sanctuary cities and doing all he can to reform, fix this illegal immigration policy. Look, it was a good thing for him to go to Mexico. It showed great diplomacy. It showed he is able to be presidential and it showed great leadership and courage to face people who have been sort of your advisory but make them your friend and colleague.

If he becomes President, this is the type of thing he's going to do and I think his message is resonating with the American people especially those like myself who have lived and are from Arizona who live on that border who understand the particular issues that go on every single day when we do not address this illegal immigration problem. And so if his message and the way he's articulating his plan might be softening or maybe appealing to more people, but the fundamentals of his plan are just as hard and strong. Mr. Trump is going to be strong on fixing this illegal immigration system.

BERMAN: So it's not - you're taking he is both softer and harder stance. Paris, I just want to clear up one thing because I have been asking people this who say that Donald Trump's trip to Mexico was presidential. What exactly was presidential about it? What's the bar there to appear presidential? Was it just to go and stand next to the Mexican President as some people have said?

DENNARD: The bar is this is what you do when you are the President of the United States. You have to go to rallies, you have to attend different events and you have to go to foreign countries and meet with people who are heads of states. The interesting thing is Secretary of State Clinton, who was Secretary of State for a few years under the Obama Administration, received the same invitation and opted not to go down there. Mr. Trump accepted the invitation, went down there and they knew his immigration plan. They knew his stances on this and he went there and he did what presidents do. They meet with foreign dignitaries, they lay out their plan, and then they go back home and articulate the message and are champions for this country.


So yes, the bar is set, and he's set it strongly.

BERMAN: All right, Andre Bauer, Paris just said that the Mexicans knew Donald Trump's immigration plan. The question is do the American people now know his immigration plan, and Donald Trump seems to suggest maybe they don't.

He did an interview on Fox News last night, he had to go apparently try to clean up at least some of the messaging from the immigration speech. He said a lot of people don't quite understand it, part of the reason they didn't understand it, Eric -- he was talking to Eric Bolling -- is because we had 15,000 people there yesterday and they were going wild.

So that's Donald Trump admitting that maybe people didn't get the message he was trying to send, and that message he said last night was that there is a softening, he claims, in his immigration stance.

ANDRE BAUER, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't question there's a softening. Look, when he was in the primary, he was dug in about where he's at, but I think he's surrounded himself with folks that say look, some of this isn't quite feasible, everything you want to do.

And I think he has evolved into -- look, there are certain things he fundamentally believes in without any question. Building the wall, deporting criminals, drug dealers, people that aren't at least adding to our society in a positive way, people that are definitely detriments that have been a problem there and now they're a problem here.

BERMAN: He had -- he had some of his Latino advisors, part of the advisory panel quit yesterday. Do you agree with Donald Trump that people aren't understanding his message?

BAUER: Well the great thing is the two individuals that I understand, one of them I did a panel with yesterday and he said look, there's absolutely no way I'm voting for Hillary Clinton.

And as we talked back and forth, I said he'll -- I hope he'll get you back in. And he didn't act like he was opposed to that, and so I hope that he'll -- he'll sit down with some of the leadership or sit down with Mr. Trump himself and they'll work out whatever small problems they have because he's clearly more aligned with Mr. Trump than he is with Secretary Clinton. BERMAN: All right, Edward Espinoza, I want to bring you into this

discussion. There -- there was an advisor to Donald Trump, no Marco Gutierrez is the founder of Latinos for Trump who did an interview last night.

He's very supportive of Donald Trump and his immigration positions still, and he essentially said that you need to stop the inflow of illegal immigration into the United States, and this is why he said we should.


MARCO GUTIERREZ, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: We have a problem, and the -- the -- the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few. My culture is a very dominant culture, and it's imposing and it's causing problems.

If you don't do something about it, you're going to have taco trucks every corner.


All right, now to be clear, that's not Donald Trump saying that, that was someone who supports Donald Trump, but Edward, your reaction.

ESPINOZA: Well first of all, I think if you ask America to pick between taco trucks and Starbucks on every corner, that coffee is not going to win. Second of all, I think that the -- the culture of -- the Latino culture and my culture is one of hard work and one of the American dream.

And I think that this particular spokesperson greatly mischaracterized the Latino culture, and I think it's one that is also mischaracterized by the entire Donald Trump campaign. Look this whole week, this whole exercise -- go ahead.

BERMAN: No go ahead, you go ahead Edward.

[11:15:00] EDWARD ESPINOZA: This whole exercise of going to Mexico, it's only presidential if you talk about hard issues, he didn't do that. In fact, when he came back from Mexico, President Nieto actually had words to chastise Trump for the things he said when he got back.

That is not presidential. Donald Trump is not consistent, he's not authentic, and he's not disciplined on these messages. And his messages aren't softening, they're just catering to certain audiences when he speaks to him.

But whatever his message was yesterday is different than it is today, it's probably going to be different than what it is tomorrow.

BERMAN: Hillary Rosen, there is going to be a calendar release, the Associated Press which has been trying to get to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's calendar, her schedule while she was secretary, they're going to get it and it's going to be before the election day. There will also be e-mails that will be released before Election Day

we know. We will also get the transcript or we'll get the notes the FBI agents took in their interview with her.

That's a lot, again the phrase people use is the drip, drip, drip. That's a lot of new information coming out that various people have tried not to make public, I mean the State Department initially wanted to delay it past the election.

Is this the type of thing that could get in the way of the Clinton campaign getting its message out?

ROSEN: Look the fact is this that Hillary Clinton has been a successful Secretary of State. Yesterday her campaign said please release all of the schedules, we want everything out there so people can see this in context.

She was an -- an accomplished diplomat, unlike Donald Trump who went to Mexico, said one thing to the president, came back and said another thing to his red meat loving crowd in Arizona.

Hillary Clinton knows that you cannot do that when you're commander in chief, when you are a successful diplomat. They've called for as much transparency as possible, and I think that -- that we're going to find when we see Hillary Clinton's schedule as Secretary of State, she was hard working, she met with a lot of people, and she accomplished the -- the diplomatic reputation restoration that President Obama asked her to do.

BERMAN: Edward, I got time for one last question. Next week, Hillary Clinton starts to travel with the press in a plane, I'm not sure this matters as much to the American people as it does to us, it's an important thing for the press to be able to, you know, travel with the presidential candidates, be near them, get the access at all time.

Once she starts traveling with the press and the plane, doesn't that seem like a good time maybe to hold a news conference? It's been an awfully long time since she's done that.


ESPINOZA: It has been a long time and I think with the advent of social media that she's able to communicate directly with her audience as much as possible and as clearly as possible as opposed to Donald Trump, who's always re-explaining herself -- himself --


BERMAN: -- the press isn't asking for her to communicate with us on social media, we want her to ask -- answer questions in person.

ESPINOZA: I -- I understand, I'm getting to that, and I think that -- that would be a good chance and I think that there will be opportunities as we get in the home stretch of the campaign.

So I think that the -- the press will have a good relationship with Clinton as we go into the home stretch here, and that we can expect to see better conversations down the road.

BERMAN: You can do the news conference on the plane as soon as Monday. Hillary Rosen, Edward Espinoza, Paris Dennard and Andre Bauer, thanks so much for being with us. Andre, hope your house does OK.

All right, this just in, the debate moderators have been revealed. Will the campaigns be happy? Plus a little bit of a kerfuffle here after a -- a -- a carefully scripted interview leaks someone who's going to interview Donald Trump this weekend sent questions to the campaign, the campaign came up with answers, we've seen both sides.

What do you make of it? Plus Collin Kaepernick with a new twist in his national anthem protest, this time he's not alone. Some players, even some veterans are supporting the quarterback who is not standing anymore during the national anthem.

We're going to speak to a veteran who supports Kaepernick, that's next.


BERMAN: New this morning with the presidential debates just a little over three weeks away, we just learned the moderators. CNN's Anderson Cooper, NBC's Lester Holt, ABC's Martha Raddatz, and Chris Wallace from Fox News, they will handle the three presidential faceoffs and CBS Elaine Quijano will moderate the vice presidential debate.


Now the first debate is on September 26th, it's long - Long Island, New York. Lester Holt is the moderator there. The second debate, October 9th, that's in St. Louis. That's Town Hall style - that will be Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz. Chris Wallace will do the third and final presidential debate, that's October 19th, that one in Las Vegas, Nevada.

But what does this mean for the campaigns? I'm joined now by the preeminent Republican debate coach on Earth, Brett O'Donnell, president of O'Donnell & Associates. Brett, thanks so much for being with us. How much do the moderators matter?

BRETT O'DONNELL, DEBATE COACH: They matter tremendously because moderators will have the job of trying to appear impartial while at the same time trying to push the candidates and get them to answer questions rather than stick to pre-scripted talking points, so moderators are tremendously important in presidential debates.

BERMAN: How much do they - in debate prep, Brett, how much do you prepare for the specific moderator?

O'DONNELL: A tremendous amount. We will do research on everything that moderator has said, written, anything that they've done. In fact, we had found material that Gwenn Ifill had written about President Obama headed into the vice presidential debate with Sarah Palin and had used that to try and make sure that we push the moderators to be fair and impartial in the debates.

BERMAN: Well, I have every reason to believe these moderators, and I know most of them, they will be fair and impartial. They are good and they will press as they are supposed to do. Let's talk about a little bit of news, Brett, because you have been in the papers.

Right? The Washington Post did a story where it talked Donald Trump's debate prep, or in some cases, lack of prep. The campaign - Paul Manafort when he was still running it, came to you to ask for help. Are you currently advising the Trump campaign on debate prep?

O'DONNELL: I am not. No, they had reached out -

BERMAN: What would you -

O'DONNELL: -- but - but I am not advising them right now.

BERMAN: Do you think they need help.

O'DONNELL: Well, I think that they need to be doing the preparation necessary to get ready for a formidable challenger. I mean, Hillary Clinton is doing formal debate prep and I think that, you know, I don't have any inside information but they should be doing practice debates.

They should be going through various scenarios that he can encounter in the debates in order to prepare him for every eventuality that he could encounter in the debates.

[11:25:00] BERMAN: Some of the press reports say that he is loathe to do mock debates. And I'm not sure if I believe that because I think they may be trying to set the bar low.


BERMAN: But if it is in fact true, would that be campaign malpractice, not doing mock debates heading up into a presidential debate?

O'DONNELL: Well, I believe so because, you know, it's - it's a kin to a quarterback sitting around and talking about the plays they want to run rather than actual practicing running those plays before a game. You - you can talk about them but until you actually stand on your feet and practice them it's very, very, very different.

BERMAN: Now the flipside is the Clinton campaign and what they're doing right now. There's a story on Politico just this morning where the headline is essentially "Hillary's Plan is to Destroy Trump and Rehabilitate Her Image." Is that setting the bar too high? I mean, the Clinton campaign is going in saying we're going to do all these things.

O'DONNELL: I think that's an extremely high bar for her. Her image is badly damaged and I'm not sure that its repairable at this point. I mean I think most people think what they're going to think about Hillary Clinton and they're not going to be able to really move that very much.

I think they - they have to get on offense about - with Donald Trump. But trying to both of those things is very difficult because when you're on offense, you drive up your own negatives as well because you usually come off looking a little mean and aggressive. And so I think they have to be very, very careful in how they execute that strategy.

BERMAN: You now, Brett, you get the sense that the Clinton team wants a few good men moment. You know, "you can't handle the truth," do you think that's risky for them to go to some kind of knockout? O'DONNELL: I do, actually, because I think that, you know, when you lead with your jaw so much then you can get hit pretty hard. So you open yourself up to counterpunches and so I think that, you know, both of them have the challenge of appearing to be presidential and trying to improve their image some.

But both of them really have to prove that the other person is less acceptable. That's - that should be their main strategy.

BERMAN: All right, Brett O'Donnell. I will take your advice when I next do a presidential debate. Thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

O'DONNELL: Good to be with you.

BERMAN: All right, a loud chorus of boos as Colin Kaepernick really takes a new stance on his ongoing protest, but some team mates, even veterans are showing their support for the quarterback. We're going to speak to a veteran next.