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Latest Forecast Just in for Hurricane Matthew; Florida Braces For Direct Hit From Monster Storm; Trump Holding Town Hall Preparing For Next Debate; Sanders Campaigns While Clinton Prepares For Debate; New Polls: Clinton Stronger in Swing States. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 6, 2016 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now. Breaking news: death and destruction. A killer storm with winds of 140 miles an hour bears down on the United States after leaving catastrophe behind in the Caribbean. Millions of Americans are in the path of Hurricane Matthew. Florida is looking at a direct hit.

Storm surge. The hurricane could push a wall of water ashore, reaching as high as 9 feet, and the flooding could extend well inland.

Loss of life. Hurricane Matthew has already claimed more than 100 lives, most of them in Haiti. Florida's governor warns Americans also face a very grave risk saying, quote, "This storm will kill you."

And mandatory evacuations. More than 2 million Americans have been urged to leave their homes ahead of the storm from Florida to Georgia to South Carolina. The order is this: Get out now.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news, a monster hurricane is now heading for a direct hit on the United States after bringing death and destruction to the Caribbean. Matthew is a Category 4 storm with winds of 140 miles an hour. It could make landfall in just a few hours on Florida's East Coast. Tens of millions of people, they are in the path of the storm. Two million have been urged to flee.

Florida's governor warns of catastrophic destruction and says this storm will kill you. Emergencies have been declared in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Highways are clogged with people fleeing the storm. Others are taking a chance on riding it out. But there are long lines for gas, and many stores have run out of food and water.

Following the lead of other Orlando theme parks, Disney World is closing for just the fourth time ever. And cruise lines have canceled sailings.

Take a look at this. You're looking at live radar images of the storm barreling toward the Florida coast. And the newest forecast track has just come out this hour. I'll speak with the deputy director of the National Hurricane Center. The Florida governor, Rick Scott, will also join me. CNN crews have been deployed for hundreds of miles along the path this storm. We're tracking the storm as only CNN can. A new forecast is just in from the National Hurricane Center.

Let's begin with CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray in Melbourne, Florida, which may be the target area for Hurricane Matthew.

Jennifer, what exactly is the latest?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Wolf, the 5 p.m. advisory just came out, and winds with this storm still at 140 miles an hour. Those are sustained winds. And the track really still on target with the East Coast of Florida in its direct path.

And so not much has changed with the forecast from the last advisory, but what it does do is it gives us more confidence. It tells us this is happening. This is imminent. And it's going to happen tonight into tomorrow morning and people in Florida should take this seriously.

We're talking about possible storm surge at record levels across the space coast of Florida. You see that barrier island out there. That's Melbourne Beach. They ordered mandatory evacuations. You can only hope at this point that people have gotten out because conditions will continue to deteriorate over the next couple of hours.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRAY (voice-over): Within hours, forecasters say this or worse is what millions of Americans will be facing. A Category 4 hurricane packing winds up to 145 miles an hour, along with lashing rains, and storm surge up to 10 feet, capable of causing devastating floods.

Tonight, Florida is in the bull's eye of Hurricane Matthew. The storm that wreaked havoc on the Bahamas and killed more than 100 in Haiti is now expected to make landfall in Florida during the overnight hours.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate.

GRAY: With 11 million Floridians under hurricane warning, Governor Rick Scott is calling up 2,500 National Guard members to aid in the hurricane response.

SCOTT: These catastrophic levels can completely wipe out well-built homes and destroy neighborhoods. You're going to lose power if you're on East Coast. Do not go on the beach. This will kill you.

GRAY: With evacuation orders in place for some 2 million people from Florida to North Carolina, roadways are choked with coastal residents heading inland. Some Florida gas stations are running out of gas. And for those choosing to fly, long lines and some canceled flights.

After crashing onshore, Matthew is expected to ride up the coast northward before turning into the Georgia and the Carolinas.

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA (via phone): Wolf, we're looking at a monster. GRAY: Scientists say Matthew is likely the most powerful hurricane to

hit the U.S. in a decade. And tonight officials say they are worried about complacency. The storm will be the worst for Florida's East Coast since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, 24 years ago. And there is concern many here won't heed warnings.

BOB HOOG, MAYOR, CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA (via phone): I'm only making a plea to the last residents that have decided to sit and hunker it down over there to leave. This is going to be a devastating storm.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRAY: And Wolf, you have to remember, every single storm is different. This storm will be different than Andrew. It will be different than Wilma. So you can't compare these storms to previous ones.

This is a very powerful storm. It's going to ride up the coast of Florida. So we're talking about miles and miles of coastline that could potentially be devastated.

Storm surge will be above my head in the next 6 to 12 hours, and so we are going to have to move to safety as well in the next few hours. So this is a serious storm that people should take extremely seriously, Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly should. Be careful over there, Jennifer. We'll stay in close touch with you.

I want to go to CNN's Chris Cuomo. He's in Jacksonville, Florida, right now.

Chris, you're in the northern part of the state. But apparently, you're already beginning to feel the storm's effects as it moves up the coast. Is that right?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Obviously, you have the farthest-out bands of this storm as it's starting to approach bringing some light rain. Nothing dangerous at this point.

But the word from the officials here, Wolf, is that complacency is what can kill. The understanding of this storm is that, within the next 24 to 36 hours, places like St. Augustine as you move up the coast and where we are in Jacksonville could see the impact of a Category 4. And we know what that means in terms of the numbers.

In terms of the reality, that is something that destroys homes and takes lives. So the area that we're in and the two surrounding zones of Duval County, where we are, have been mandatorily evacuated.

But whether people heed that order is something else. Coming in, we saw traffic here. I've seen people walking along here saying, "We think we'll be OK." Here's the problem, Wolf. That thought is not based on any prior experience. Nobody has seen anything like what this storm could be in at least the past decade here along the east coast of Florida. So they don't know what to expect. And the problem is, once it gets bad, it is too late to move.

So the authorities here are saying, know that we are expecting winds in excess of 100 miles an hour. The St. James River here, which feeds from the intercostal and the ocean off the East Coast of Florida, they're expecting 6 to 10 feet of surge. That means that we'll be well under water. That means your cars are flooded. That means your home is flooded and that power will be out for hundreds of thousands, maybe for days.

So at that point, Wolf, it's too late to leave. And that's why they're telling people err on the side of caution.

BLITZER: Which is excellent advice. We've been hearing it all day. Stay with me, Chris. The governor of Florida is joining us on the phone right now, Governor Rick Scott.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us. I know you're incredibly busy. You said this storm is going to kill people. What -- what could make it so deadly?

SCOTT (via phone): Well, the proem is you've got 140-mile-an-hour winds, possibly -- it could be strengthening. It's going to go all along the coast. We've got over 10 feet of storm surge. We've got big waves coming in on top of that. The storm surge is taller than any of us. Right? We've got a potential tornado. So we've got all of this, and we've got to make sure people evacuate. There's too many people that are complacent.

So this -- my concern is about people's lives. You know, you can always rebuild things, but I'm worried about your life, your family. And so I've been working for the last -- you know, we've been following this for over a week. Just getting out there -- I was in three places today, just getting the word out, evacuate, evacuate, evacuate. Do not, do not, take a chance. Go to safe ground.

We've got shelters open all across the state. We have hotels. We have -- we have pet shelters, special needs shelters, general population shelters. I called up the largest number of National Guard members ever -- I've ever called up, 3,500 members of our National Guard. We've pre-deployed assets. We are ready, but you have got to take care of yourself during this storm. We cannot send in rescue people during the middle of a storm. So you have got to take care of yourself.

And you're going to lose power, Wolf. We're going to have millions of people without power for some period of time. I've been talking to the utilities. They're prepositioning assets. We're going to see a lot of tree damage, a lot of downed power lines. There are going to be a lot of people without power.

BLITZER: And the clock, Governor, is clearly ticking. There's not much time left. What are you hearing? When could this storm make landfall in Florida?

SCOTT: Well, in the southern part of the state, my biggest concern right now is Palm Beach. It will be the first place that will probably have significant -- so it's going to be later tonight.

I'll be in the -- I just arrived at the emergency operations center -- I've been around the state today -- in Tallahassee. I just got here just now. So we'll be tracking it here. We'll be talking to the emergency management people. I've been doing it all day, last week, talking to people, sheriffs, mayors, everybody. And the -- but it's going to start hitting there. And at some point, you can't evacuate. You've got to have to -- you've got to hunker down.

You have a little bit of time left. Our roads are open. They are -- some are getting clogged. We have sealed -- some of our gas stations are out of fuel, but we have plenty of fuel in the state. We're getting more fuel to gas stations. But you still have some time to evacuate. Don't take a chance. I care about every life in this state. Do not take a chance.

BLITZER: And I know you've eliminated all of the tolls on all the highways in Florida, as well.

So what's your message to Floridians who are living in the path of this monster storm, who haven't yet evacuated yet, who say, you know what? I think I can ride it out? What do you say to them?

SCOTT: Don't be foolish. Don't gamble on your life. You only have one life. Follow the news. I'm glad they're -- if they're listening to us right now, they're listening to you. You know, follow CNN. They're going to keep you informed.

But if you have a chance to evacuate, if you're on a barrier island on the east coast, if you're in a low lying area, if your home or area is subject to into in flooding, get out now. You still have time to get out. The roads are a now a little bit more clogged -- they're a lot more clogged than they were this morning, but go ahead and get out and save your life.

BLITZER: What are you doing to assist the elderly who might need special help evacuating, even at this late moment?

SCOTT: Sure. We have -- we have individuals, we have National Guard members, we've got a lot of people out there helping people. We've been calling, calling, calling our special needs. We've evacuated hospitals along the East Coast. We haven't seen any problems with our evacuations out of hospitals right now.

So we've been evacuating, helping (ph). So call right now. And by the way, you can get on FL511.com. They know where all the roads are. You can -- you can text in Florida -- FLPrepares, one word, all one world, FLPrepares at 888777 to get updates.

So keep getting informed. If you need help, call your local sheriff's office. They will help you. They will find help. There's not much time left.

BLITZER: You activated, as you pointed out, 3,500 National Guard troops. First of all, explain what they're doing, and is that enough? SCOTT: Well, it's -- I've called up over half the ones that I can

call up right now. We'll call up more as we need them. But they're helping make sure -- helping with evacuations. They're helping with sheltering. They are prepositioned to help with search and rescue along with our Fish and Wildlife high-water vehicles.

We've got National Guard high-water vehicles. We've got local law enforcement high-water vehicles. And we've got Fish and Wildlife, all prepositioned to people.

But in the middle of the storm, it will be very difficult to save your life. So they're on top of -- I've prepositioned water, food, all sorts of equipment. I've asked all of our utilities to preposition their assets. Our biggest utility for the power line has brought in 12,000 individuals to help -- additional individuals to help them get power back on.

We're going to -- we're going to lose power. And that's when we also have a risk. When you don't have -- when you don't have power, you have no ability to communicate. You're going to -- keep your cell phones charged. Three days of water, three days of food. Battery- powered radio, batteries. Charge up your cell phones. Do all of these things. But take care of yourself during the middle of this hurricane.

BLITZER: Are you getting all the assistance you need from the federal government, from President Obama, from FEMA? Are there additional steps they should be taking to help Floridians right now?

SCOTT: I've already gotten approval from FEMA for fuel, water and tarps. I've asked the president for additional generators and pumps to help with power outages and flooding once the storm hits. FEMA is in our emergency operations center in Tallahassee. I'll be talking with them tonight.

The National -- the National Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for Lake Okeechobee, the dike. The -- General Turner is in the emergency operations center with me tonight, because we have a significant dike down there. They told me that, based on projections now and the water level of the lake we are -- we can withstand it now. They are concerned next week if it comes back around. But right now they feel comfortable the dike can hold.

But, you know, we're talking to the National Guard with the Army Corps of Engineers to do everything we can to keep everybody safe.

BLITZER: Governor Rick Scott of Florida, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck. Good luck to everyone in Florida and up and down the Eastern Seacoast -- Seaboard of the United States, as well. Governor, thank you very much.

SCOTT: Thanks. Thanks, Wolf. Thanks for educating people.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Up next, millions of people are fleeing or digging in as this hurricane, Hurricane Matthew closes in on the Florida coast.

[17:15:08] We have a detailed look at the latest forecast. Our special coverage continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our breaking news, a killer hurricane with winds of 140 miles an hour now lashing the Florida coast could score a direct hit within the next few hours. Millions of people have been urged to flee.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Daytona Beach for us, right in the path of the storm. What are you seeing over there? What are you hearing, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in just the last few seconds, really, the wind has picked up again. There were a few people still left on this beach, but look at it now. No one out here; taking this storm very seriously. We have seen the lifeguards come up and down the beach, picking up debris. They've also just put in some markers that will let us know just how high this water gets.

[17:20:14] They're talking 8 to 10 foot potential -- 8-to-10-foot surge in this water, with waves that could be 20 feet high. I am 5'9". Imagine two or three of me standing on top, and this water is going to come fast, and it's going to come hard if this hurricane goes where it has been predicted to go.

Hurricane at force winds that are about 165, potentially, miles an hour. There are a lot of people who have listened to the governor, who have listened to the police chief here, who have both been very clear. This is a killer storm. Get out now.

But there are a few people we have talked to, Wolf, who are saying, "Look, my business is here. I've worked 25 years, and I'm not leaving." And so they boarded up, and they're going to stay put and watch their property. We warned them, as well. That is a really dangerous thing to do.

And one more thing happening. You know, Orlando is just up the street about an hour's drive away. Disney World, for only the fourth time in its history, is closing. They are evacuating people, making sure that nobody is in the storm's path, if it's up to them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they've got to be safe rather than sorry. All right. Thanks very much, Sara Sidner.

I want to get an update now on where the storm is, where it's headed and how much damage it may do. Our meteorologist, Tom Sater, is over at the CNN Weather Center.

Tom, first of all, what's the latest? I know they just issued a new forecast.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Wolf, unfortunately, we're starting to see an eye develop on an infrared satellite. That means the system is getting stronger on infrared. But also, the millibars have been dropping. So that concurs our worst-case scenario here.

It's getting pretty close to Freeport now. They're going to be in the area of the strongest winds. Nassau, home to 240,000, took a pretty good hit. But here's Freeport. Already, outer bands have been sweeping through with thunderstorms, bands of heavy rainfall. And the surge is really starting to pick up as far as the wave heights.

Now, we might see a tornado watch posted a little bit later on, too, because we can see, obviously, tornadoes spawn where those feeder bands move in. The storm surge in the Bahamas is going to be a little bit higher because of the continental shelf then we'll have on the coast. But easily 7 to 11 meters.

But first and foremost, if you think about waves, 20 to 40 feet high from Miami all the way to Jacksonville, throwing all of that water in toward the sea line. We're going to have water shoved into every inlet, every canal, creating new inlets. The newest track puts it pretty close to Melbourne, which could be the worst-case scenario for Melbourne, because at midnight they're at high tide.

If not there, another model puts landfall around 6 a.m. at Cape Canaveral. If you look at the national hurricane model, Category 3 is still considered a major hurricane. In the history of our records that go back to 1850, there's never been a major hurricane make landfall north of Daytona Beach.

As this system hugs the coast, which could be the worst-case scenario, because as long as it's over water the engine keeps running. If you get a landfall, at least it breaks it down somewhat and your damage is compact in one area. But because it's got to stay offshore, most likely, kicking up north of that eye, where the winds are the strongest in the eye wall, hour after hour after hour of damage. This is not a six- to eight-hour event. This is going to be a 24-hour event.

Then the angle of the curve of the coast concerning for Georgia and South Carolina, because the massive water that has built up underneath Matthew is going to get slammed more so into this coastline area. So that's a big concern, and possibly more in the way of possible tornado outbreaks.

But what happens after that? Where are we going to go with this? Well, look first: This is a chart of your population on the coast. Hurricane winds near that center extend outward 60 miles. That's well past I-95. That's like having an EF-2 tornado -- which snaps trees, uproots trees, rips roof -- hit every little community and every business along the entire area.

So there are so many assets, Wolf, that are damaging here. First, we had the storm surge. That's going to buckle roads. It's going to wash out roads. It's going to create havoc with piers. Then you have your wind damage. But rain alone is going to be a problem, with 8 to 10, maybe even over a foot of rain. So when the debris falls, it clogs up the sewer drains. We're going to have problems with waters rising and massive flooding in several home and businesses. Worst- case scenario, I think, a good 24 hours plus as it continues to feed on those warm waters.

BLITZER: Looks like a disaster that's unfolding. All right, Tom Sater, we'll get back to you, as well.

We've also just made contact with one of the principle storm chasers out there on the roads in Florida. He's about to join us live from one of the areas that could feel the very worst of this storm.

We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:29:21] BLITZER: Breaking news. A very dangerous killer storm is now lashing Florida, threatening tens of millions up the East Coast. Hurricane Matthew packing winds right now of 140 miles an hour.

CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray is live from Melbourne, Florida. That's an area that's going to be really hard hit. What's the latest there, Jennifer?

GRAY: Well, Wolf, the winds are going to continue to increase. Conditions will continue to deteriorate as we go through the next couple of hours. This storm is not going to weaken before it makes landfall. In fact, it could strengthen a little bit more before so.

Look out there. This is Indian River, and you can see the barrier island. That is Melbourne Beach. And that is where they ordered that mandatory evacuation. Nobody should be on that barrier island right now. Everybody should be inland, because we are expecting anywhere from 7 to 11 feet of storm surge, and that is a lot. Water is going to be well over my head by this time tomorrow morning. We're going to have to move to keep ourselves safe as well, as we get through the overnight hours.

And you see that bridge out there, that's how people get on and off Melbourne Beach, and you're not going to want to drive over that in the coming hours. So hopefully, everybody has gotten inland and gotten to a safe place.

We are expecting not only that storm surge, but as Tom was mentioning a little bit early, 140-mile-per-hour winds, and this storm is not going to make just a single landfall. It is going to ride up the coast of Florida, if you can imagine, and could have devastating consequences for miles and miles of coastline.

This is something like we haven't seen in recent history, in decades even, and so, it is something people should take extremely seriously. We always talk about the winds, and the winds are so important. But you can't underestimate the power of water, and that's what we could see with this storm as record setting storm surge across portions of the space coast with water coming as high as people's first story, if not higher. And so, Wolf, that's why it's so, so important for people to get out of harm's way with this one. This is a big one, and we could see a certain aspects of this storm in the record books, Wolf.

[17:31:28] WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM ANCHOR: Yeah. As the Governor Rick Scott, just told me, "Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate," his three keywords. Standby, I want to get right to the storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski. He's on the road in Jensen Beach, Florida. Jeff, what are you seeing out there on the road?

[17:31:42] JEFF PIOTROWSKI, STORM CHASER: You know, Wolf, this afternoon, I've been up and down from Melbourne all this afternoon, down over Jensen Beach. And one of my concern here, is like the governor has declared, he wanted everybody to evacuate out of barrier island. I'm on out of barrier island, and to my amazement, I came up to a mobile home area here in Jensen Beach. And I found out there's about a dozen elderly people still in their mobile homes that did not leave during this evacuation. I'm very concerned about their safety. The fire department set out numerous times the last couple of days, asking them to leave. They did not leave. And the winds are now a full (INAUDIBLE) of storm force at Jensen Beach, and the hurricane- force winds are just now about 30 to 40 miles off the coast. So by 7:00, 8:00, I expect hurricane-force conditions here at Jensen Beach making its way northward up toward Melbourne, and then eventually possibly, you know, the most intense winds gusting 120, 130, 140 up towards, you know, the Kennedy Space Center as we get toward the midnight hour. And that's where I'd expect the worst of the damage to occur with this hurricane.

BLITZER: So clearly, by the hour, the weather is worsening, right?

PIOTROWSKI: Absolutely, absolutely. It's gotten -- my winds sustained now at 40 gust to probably 60 here on the coast, on outer barrier islands at Jensen Beach. And this is going to be the beginning of the worst damage. But as you go North up the coast, toward the Kennedy Space Center in Jacksonville, the Mero Beach -- Vero Beach up to the North here, the damage are going to be worse and worse as we go north, because that's where the hurricane will become its closest to the East Coast. And that's going to be happening in 9:00 p.m. to literally through noon tomorrow, that's where the worst we're going to have with East Coast. I'd expect some damage.

BLITZER: And those elderly people in those mobile homes which are right on that barrier island, very, very dangerous. Do they not want to leave, or has no one come to help them?

PIOTROWSKI: No. They just don't want to leave. I've talked to a person that's live here Daren Francis. And he told me the water got up to about four foot here. He spoke with him earlier this afternoon, and he actually told me that most of the people here don't realize the gravity of the situation. They've been told number of times, they just don't want to leave their property. It's unfortunately, but a number of these homes here are mobile homes and he thinks, they're going to -- he thinks there's going to be (INAUDIBLE) here, and think there's going to be rescues later. He said, "Jeff, I've done all I can do. I can't do anymore else." So -- and the fire department has tried six times, he told me, to make - ask the people to leave out of their homes, they wouldn't do it. So, we'll see how this place survives after the next 6 to 12 hours here at Jensen Beach. It could be really bad.

BLITZER: Yeah. It could be awful indeed. That sounds terrible. All right. Jeff Piotrowski, we're going to stay in close touch with you, the storm chaser, Jeff Piotrowski. We're about to speak with the top official of the National Hurricane Center. We're going to ask what the updated forecast says about how widespread the damage could be and how far inland the impact will be felt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[17:38:54] BLITZER: Our "BREAKING NEWS," an extraordinarily dangerous hurricane now lashing Florida, closing in for a direct hit, threatening millions of people in the Southeast. Joining us now, the Deputy Director of the National Hurricane Center, Ed Rappaport. Ed, thanks very much for joining us. Where could this monstrous storm hit hardest in the United States?

[17:39:14] ED RAPPAPORT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: OK. Right now, the center of the hurricane is located about 100 miles offshore from South Florida, but the forecast that we have, takes it up the coast of Florida. To get you oriented, here's the east coast of Florida. This red area is where we have a hurricane warning in effect. And here's the center of the storm forecasted to move right along the coast north of Palm Beach, all the way up through the Georgia coast and South Carolina. And where that center comes ashore is very close to coming ashore. We could have devastating impact, it's Category 4 hurricane, expect storm surge of 7 to 11 feet becoming on shore -- blown ashore by those strong winds.

BLITZER: When do you think this Category 4 storm could make landfall?

RAPPAPORT: At this point, it's closing in on the coast, but it looks like probably tomorrow morning through - again, through Saturday is when the center will ride up right along the coast or perhaps just offshore. So, we could have considerable damage all the way up the coast beginning tomorrow.

BLITZER: Is this storm intensifying, actually, hard to believe, it's a Category 4, 140-miles-an hour winds, is it intensifying as it approaches the United States?

RAPPAPORT: It did intensify today. However, we don't think there'll be any further strengthening before the center comes to the shoreline. And then there'll be some gradual weakening, but even with that, we expect this to remain what we consider a major hurricane, Category 3, Category 4, destructive winds, storm surge, and potentially flooding from rainfall along the coast the inland land.

BLITZER: So, I know people along the cost, the Atlantic coast are going to feel the impact and they're going to suffer very, very badly. But how far inland will this hurricane have an impact?

RAPPAPORT: At this point, the hurricane-force winds extend outward about 50 miles from the center, so if the center goes up along the coast, then basically, the eastern half of the State of Florida and then up in to Georgia, and that mount into South Carolina could have hurricane-force winds and conditions that are associated with that. And then to the west, there's still potential for tropical storm-force winds.

BLITZER: Explain what that storm surge means to people along the coast, because they hear these warnings and some of them say, "You know what, I could - I could ride it up."

RAPPAPORT: Right. What we're showing you here now is a prototype graphic of National Weather Service will issue officially next year, and it shows whether there's the potential for life threatening storm surge for Matthew. This area along the coast extending just a bit inland, in fact, even in the St. John's River. And the reason for that is, if we have the center here, the flow around the storm is going to drive the ocean across the shoreline. And the risk in this case is for a 7 to 11 foot storm surge along the coast. And on top of that, there'll be significant waves. So, we're very concerned about along the coast here, in particular because most of the lives lost in hurricanes are to storm surge.

BLITZER: Yeah, that's an excellent point, Ed Rappaport, Deputy Director of the National Hurricane Center. Thanks so much for updating our viewers. We continue getting updates also from our crews up and down the Florida coast. We're standing by to speak with the director of the National Weather Service as this hurricane, this monster -- this monstrous storm, Matthew's deadly winds near the U.S. coastline.

We're also following some very important political news. Donald Trump is getting serious about preparing for his upcoming Presidential Debate with Hillary Clinton. But are his plans too little, too late? We'll update you on that as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[17:47:04] BLITZER: We continue to monitor the "BREAKING NEWS," Hurricane Matthew and its 140-mile-an-hour sustained winds, approaching the Miami area right now. The latest forecast calls for the storm to move up the Florida coast, bringing the threat of a deadly - of deadly flooding and devastating winds. Because of the storm, Hillary Clinton's campaign is asking Florida officials to extend next week's deadline for voter registration. Both Clinton and Trump are keeping their eyes on the storm as they prepare for this weekend's crucial debate right here on CNN. Our Sara Murray is in New Hampshire for us, right now. That's where Trump is holding a town hall later tonight. Sara, what else is Donald Trump doing to prepare for this next very critical debate with .Hillary Clinton?

[17:47:48] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Wolf, Donald Trump is doing debate prep behind closed doors, but tonight, it'll be a slightly more public version as he holds a town hall here in New Hampshire. And it's almost like a flash back to the primaries. These are the kinds of events that other Republicans held throughout the State of New Hampshire, but not Donald Trump. That's why tonight his advisers are trying to get him a little bit more practicing.

Tonight, Donald Trump is holding a dry run for the debate stage in front of the cameras, convening a town hall in New Hampshire, just days ahead of Sunday's town-hall style debate, as he aims to sharpen his skills for his next face-off against Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton has been there for 30 years, and she hasn't done a thing. All she does is talk.

MURRAY: After his running mate's polished performance ...

TRUMP: Didn't Mike Pence do a great job? Great. He's our guy. What a great guy he is, too.

MURRAY: Trump may be taking some cues on how to pivot to the issues he wants to focus on. And his allies insists, despite the jitters of some in the GOP, Trump will be primed for the next debate.

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: One of the things, when you've never run for office before, the idea of getting hit and pounded and kind of acting like, "Oh, no, problem with that. I'm going to ignore that. I'm going to talk about something else," that's a very difficult thing to do. But I think that he's done a great job, and I think he'll do better.

TRUMP: I don't mind releasing -

MURRAY: Trump is even looking back at video of his first debate and indicating he's open to adjustments. His aides clearing Friday's schedule to make more time for debate prep, knowing Trump needs to deliver a solid performance on stage to end the turbulent streak. Meantime, Trump continues to make his pitch to voters on the campaign trail, trying to bring some local flavor to a crowd yesterday in Reno, even as he botched his pronunciation while trying to brag about it.

TRUMP: -- In Nevada. Nevada. And you know what I said? You know what I said? I said, when I came out here, I said, "Nobody says it the other way. It has to be Nevada," right? And if you don't say it correctly, and it didn't happen to me, but it happen to a friend of mine, and he was killed.

MURRAY: The GOP nominee also hedging his bets with this sunny news spot on the airwaves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does electing Donald Trump President mean for you? Families making 60,000 a year? You get a 20 percent tax rate reduction. Working moms? You get paid maternity leave, and an average $5,000 child care tax reduction.

MURRAY: While Mike Pence tried to walk back one of Trump's most controversial policy proposals. A ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. MIKE PENCE, REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our position is we're going to suspend immigration from countries compromised by terrorism.

MURRAY: Telling CNN the original proposal ...

TRUMP: Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

MURRAY: Which Pence wants to ride it, and which Trump himself still hasn't disavowed, is no longer the GOP nominee's position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you not condemn them now?

PENCE: Because it's not Donald Trump's position now.

MURRY: Now, people are already lining up outside here. Waiting for the town hall to begin. It is invitation only, but Donald Trump will show up here tonight feeling much better about his odds in New Hampshire, that's after a new Suffolk University/Boston Globe Poll shows him trailing Hillary Clinton by just two points. Has a much tighter race another recent polls have shown. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Sara, thank you. Sara Murray in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton also is preparing for Sunday's very, very big debate, but she's also getting plenty of help out there on the campaign trail. Our Jeff Zeleny is in Michigan, where the winner of last spring's Democratic presidential primary is brainstorming on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Jeff, tell us more.

[17:51:44] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Bernie Sanders is that winner, and today, he was playing the role of cheerleader for Hillary Clinton and conciliator to some of his old supporters who are not yet on board. He talked so much today about that revolution. His been speaking about it throughout his campaign, but he said it only starts if Hillary Clinton is elected.

As Hillary Clinton hit's the books for her second debate, her one-time rival Bernie Sanders is hitting yet another state for her.

BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR: This campaign, and let me be as clear as I can be, is not about Hillary Clinton. It is not about Donald Trump. It is about you.

ZELENY: He's trying to convert any old supporters who aren't yet sold on Clinton by bluntly saying, "That's OK."

SANDERS: I understand that neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are particularly popular. I get that. But forget about that for a moment. Take a hard look at the agendas of the campaign. What these candidates stand for.

ZELENY: Four stops across Michigan today, making the case to millennials and factory workers, two groups Clinton is still trying to win over. Off the campaign trail until her Sunday Showdown with Donald Trump, Clinton is making time to raise money at a Washington fund-raiser, the debate clearly on her mind.

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just as in that first debate, I feel it's my responsibility not to defend myself against his attacks, because really, been there, done that. I think it's my responsibility to defend everybody else against his attacks.

ZELENY: As her fight with Trump intensifies, the Clinton campaign is adding a softer touch in this new television ad.

CLINTON: We face big challenges, but we can solve them the same way families do, working together.

ZELENY: Tonight, two new polls are giving Democrats comfort. President Obama's approval rating, at a second-term high of 55 percent, and signs for firewall in states like Michigan is holding. She's up 11 points over Trump. On CNN's NEW DAY, Tim Kaine is still talking about his debate and raising the stakes for Trump.

TIM KAINE, DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His own running mate sort of threw him under the bus, and that puts some extra pressure on him getting ready for Sunday.

ZELENY: There's pressure for Clinton, too, trying to keep momentum alive and reassuring less than enthusiastic voters. And that's where Sanders comes in.

SANDERS: On November 8th, our job is to elect Hillary Clinton as our next president. On November 9th, our job is to build a movement to transform America. Thank you all, very much.

ZELENY: But the voters we've talked to today here in Michigan, still are conflicted. One man who works in a Dearborn Truck Plant said that he will support Hillary Clinton. He believes it's the only option to stop Donald Trump. But a woman we've talked to here in Ann Arbor, still wearing her Bernie Sanders shirt, said she is entirely undecided. And Wolf, she said this, "If I knew that Hillary Clinton would take Michigan, I would definitely not vote for her." Of course, she doesn't know that, so she is still keeping an open mind. And Hillary Clinton, back here in Michigan, on Monday. Wolf?

WOLF: All right. Jeff, thank you. Jeff Zeleny reporting. Coming up, the "BREAKING NEWS," a killer storm with winds of 140 miles an hour, bearing down on the United States right now, after leaving catastrophe behind in the Caribbean. Millions of Americans are in the path of hurricane Matthew. Florida is facing a direct hit.

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[18:00:09] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, historic hurricane. The Southeastern U.S. bracing for -