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NEW DAY

Hurricane Michael Threatens Coast of Florida; Florida Governor Rick Scott Holds Press Conference on Threat of Hurricane Michael; Interview with Senator Bill Nelson of Florida; Hillary Clinton Calls Kavanaugh's White House Swearing In A "Political Rally". Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 9, 2018 - 8:00   ET

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


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Millions of people are now under evacuation orders in at least 10 counties ahead of this hurricane.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And in 90 minutes, Justice Brett Kavanaugh will sit on the bench of the Supreme Court for the first time. Overnight he took part in a White House ceremony. It was one part ceremonial swearing in, many parts political. And moments ago former secretary of state Hillary Clinton reacted, saying, quote, what was done last night at the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court, she says.

During the event the president claimed that the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh had been disproved. That is not, in fact, the case. The Republican senators, the members of the Senate and also Joe Manchin, decided not to put stock in the various women's stories of sexual assault. The president also painted Kavanaugh as the victim of a political hoax by Democrats, despite calling Christine Blasey Ford credible 10 days earlier.

We'll get to that in just moments. Let's begin, though, with the new forecast, the 8:00 a.m. update on hurricane Michael. Chad Myers in the Weather Center. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John, 100 miles an hour right now and the pressure going down. That's exactly what every single model out there has found over the past 24 hours or so, a deepening in the low pressure and a picking up the wind speed. So this is not unusual. This is exactly what was expected.

Now, the models vary a little bit, 20 miles left or right of where Panama City is. But also every single model taking the wind speed somewhere in the 115 to 135 range, so the National Hurricane Center going with 120 at landfall. Could be plus or minus 10 percent from that. We'll have to see. We'd love to see minus 10 percent from there.

But now we are a category two heading to category three. It is over very warm water. That is the problem. The Gulf of Mexico right now is two degrees where it should be this time of year and we're going to spread that water on land. Probably by 5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, winds are going to be 45 miles per hour all along those beaches and the waves are going to start to pick up as well.

But it's the surge that will come in when the eye moves closer that really has us all concerned. Also, the trees that are going to fall down, the power outages from this map, widespread power outages from Panama City through Tallahassee all the way up almost to Macon, Georgia, because the ground is wet. Trees are going to fall down, bring power lines down. That same problem almost all the way down to Clear Water with some of the winds coming onshore down there. Not widespread, but certainly some power outages all the down to Tampa.

It's the surge you need to get away from. This is the water, your zone, a, b, c, whatever zone you're in you already know it. You need to get out of the way of this water. It is going to be pushing on shore and into those estuaries and on up Apalachicola and the lake. You need to know your elevation and where this water is going to go. It is also going to rain all the way up to Raleigh, and the winds in Raleigh and all the way toward Wilmington in North Carolina will be 45 miles per hour. Those trees are soaking wet. There is just mud there, and those trees are going to fall down as far north as North Carolina in this storm.

Hurricane warnings are posted. It is coming. This is not a drill. This is not a let's hope for something better. No. You need to plan for 120 and maybe even plan from somewhere between 110 and 130, because that's probably where we are right now.

BERMAN: Already a category two over very warm water. Chad Myers, thank you very much.

Millions of residents are now under watches and warnings. This storm heading to the Gulf coast. Let's get the latest from CNN's Dianne Gallagher live in Panama City Beach with the latest on the evacuations. Dianne

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, at this point, we are in the emergency mandatory evacuations where people need to get out of Panama City Beach. The wind has started to pick up a little bit here. And if you take a look, we do have CNN air going on, so you can see above from the sky view here. The water, you can see a little bit of churning happening at this point. The waves do appear to have kicked up some.

The good news is the beaches aren't packed. You do see a few people sprinkled, walking along the beach, taking pictures. For the most part it is camera crews, though, right now out here at Panama City Beach. I spoke to the city manager. Part of the reason why it is so important people get out right now is because this is an island. They have to get off the highways into the mainland area. And you should expect to see a lot of traffic, and they're starting to get short on fuel at the gas stations here.

CAMEROTA: OK, Dianne, thank you very much for giving us the latest. And just to let our viewers know, we are waiting for a press conference with Florida Governor Rick Scott. Here it is. Everyone waiting for him to come out, which will be momentarily, to talk about the state of emergency and about why he has said that, quote, "We have never seen a storm like this hit this part of our state." So what he wants all residents of Florida to do. We'll bring you that live as soon as we get that.

[08:05:04] BERMAN: He called the storm monstrous, a monstrous storm that is now a category two and getting stronger by the minute. I'm going to be heading down, I should note, to Panama City after the show today. We will have special live coverage of hurricane Michael all day long tomorrow. We're going to start NEW DAY a little early at 5:00 a.m. eastern.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now is the director of the National Hurricane Center Ken Graham. Mr. Graham, we know that you have just put out your latest advisory, so give us an update on the track and timing of hurricane Michael.

KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: We are seeing some strengthening as we were forecasting. You look at that satellite, you start to see that definite shape that is conducive of stronger development. And the forecast is pretty much the same, 100 mile-an- hour winds right now, in the category two range. But look at time. We even expect more strengthening with time, becoming a major hurricane by landfall, 120 miles-an-hour winds.

One thing that we have to watch here, it's not just right along the coast. There is still a tropical storm deep into Georgia. So if you think about it, you have all that rain and that wind. Those power outages, trees down all the way into Georgia, maybe even into South Carolina.

CAMEROTA: So power outages, trees down. What is your biggest worry this morning?

GRAHAM: My worry is this right here, the storm surge. This is a part of the Gulf of Mexico that's incredibly vulnerable to storm surge. Part of it is the shallow waters, but the other part is the shape of the coastline. The water gets trapped. You push all that water in there, it has nowhere to go. So it is not just right there where we could see eight to 12 foot of storm surge. Tampa Bay two to four feet, all the way to Pensacola, two to four feet. And everybody has to really think about this for a second. It's not just on the coast. Look how far this storm surge stretches inland. This is just one example, the Apalachicola River. You could be 10, 12 miles inland along these rivers and still see the storm surge. Those rivers will flow backward as the system gets closer to the coast.

CAMEROTA: Can you explain to us why Governor Rick Scott, who we're waiting for an update from, has said, quote, we have never seen a storm like this hit this part of our state. Those of us that don't live in Florida, we think that Floridians are used to storms like this, even category twos hitting their state. We know that Dennis hit there in 2005. So why does he think this one is so different?

GRAHAM: This one is different. One, it has been a long time since we've had one in this area like this. You start getting into the category three arena, you start looking at the storm surge here. Look how far inland. And I have so many examples I have been looking at this morning at how far it goes inland. I think we have to make sure we realize, I think those evacuations, we always get people right off the coast.

But anybody that is starting to think they are safe along these rivers, this is another example here, going up into this river, you are 15 miles inland. So I think it is just a reminder. You start looking at never seen before. These storm surge values are very large, and they stretch inland, and that's why we have to get the word out. It is not just coastal. You may think you are on a river up here and everything is good because you're not on the coast, but you are still in danger.

CAMEROTA: Yes, for sure. We spent a lot of days trying to get the word out with hurricane Florence, and still 51 people died as a result of that storm and the aftermath. That also was a big storm surge event, as you know. You study these things. Obviously, every single hurricane is unique in your eyes. But you think that this one, it sounds like, could be as catastrophic.

GRAHAM: Yes, it's the water. You look at the data. You go back in history and look at the fatalities in tropical systems. Listen to this, 90 percent of fatalities in tropical systems is water. So when you have a storm like this where you're going to have the heavy rain of the storm surge, that's where we start to see a lot of fatalities. And that's why getting the word out and getting people safe, know your zone, listen to the local officials. They're going to tell you that you are in danger and you have to leave, you have to listen. It's not worth chancing it.

CAMEROTA: That's such a great point. I know you are not the governor or the local official who makes these rules, but right now there are some parts of the panhandle that are mandatory evacuations, some that are voluntary. From what you're saying would you like them at this press conference to say it's all mandatory?

GRAHAM: I think for us we're really looking at the information. So you look at the evacuations with the mandatory, voluntary. This is what people have to do at home. Am I vulnerable? And that's why I like to show these graphics here because it shows the inward extent. There's places where you may be OK. But here what we need to think about. It's not just the water that will be the danger there. You could be any one of these other areas where you don't get the water.

Think about it, hurricane force winds, heavy rain, power outages, some of those power outages could last 10 to 12 days, even more. So are you ready for that? So that's something else. It is not only getting through the storm. Are you ready for a week plus without power? That's where we have got to really get the word out, especially people that are vulnerable. You have got to have the supplies. You've got to have everything that you need for this, but it is best just to get out.

CAMEROTA: Director Ken Graham, thank you very much for the warning, for sharing your latest update with us. Obviously, we will be checking back for updates as soon as you guys churn them out. Thank you very much. John? BERMAN: I want to tell you about this moment we are waiting to hear from Florida governor Rick Scott. You are looking at live pictures right there from the briefing room.

[08:10:01] While we wait for that, joining us now is the Democratic Senate from the state of Florida, Bill Nelson. Senator Nelson, thanks so much for being with us. We have heard this storm -- actually, senator, if you can hang on one second. Let's listen to Governor Scott.

GOV. RICH SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: Good morning. I just received a briefing on hurricane Michael from federal, state, and local officials at the state emergency management operations center here in Tallahassee. Let me be clear. Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm, and the forecast keeps getting more dangerous. And we are now just 12 hours away from seeing impact.

Again, hurricane Michael is coming to the panhandle. Impacts will start in just 12 hours. The time to prepare is now. Yesterday I formally asked President Trump to issue a pre-landfall disaster declaration that will allow us to draw down more federal resources. One this is approved my office will get that information to you.

I also spoke with the president yesterday. He committed to provide any federal assistance Florida may need. We have declared an emergency in 35 Florida counties. This allows state, federal, and local emergency managers to be able to quickly respond to this disaster. Yesterday, I announced a closure of state offices in the 35 counties currently under our emergency order. I have spoken to FEMA Administrator Brock Long several times and the team from FEMA is here in the state emergency operations center and providing federal assistance. That includes experts from Homeland Security, the EPA, the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

At my direction, the state emergency operations center is fully activated. This means the state emergency response team is on 24-hour response. We are 100 percent focused on preparing for hurricane Michael.

Here is what we know right now. The National Hurricane Center has active hurricane, storm surge, and tropical storm warnings and watches along the gulf coast. A hurricane warning is in effect for the gulf coast of Florida from the Florida-Alabama border to the Suwannee River. A tropical storm warning is in effect and extends from the Suwannee River south to Citrus County. A storm surge warning is in effect for the gulf coast of Florida from the Okaloosa-Walton County line to the Anncloak (ph) River. Hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge watches remain in effect for much of the Gulf coast and Tampa Bay remains both under storm surge and tropical storm watches.

We also now have a tropical storm watch from Ferdinand Beach north to the Georgia border. As the storm approaches, there will be a significant threat of tornadoes. It is critical for you the listen to local news reports. Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the panhandle. Think about the destruction we have seen before with storms like hurricane Irma. Hurricane Michael poses a deadly threat, and as it grows stronger, we can expect it to make landfall as a major category three storm on Wednesday along the gulf coast.

The panhandle and parts of the Big Bend will likely see winds in excess of 110 miles an hour. Think about that, 110 miles an hour. Pensacola could see sustained hurricane force winds of 75 miles per hour or more. Tallahassee could see sustained hurricane force winds of 75 miles per hour or more. Again, hurricane Michael is forecasted to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades.

The storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous. We're expecting four to eight inches of rain and some areas might see 12 inches of rain. The storm will be torrential rain to most of the panhandle and Big Bend, which means flooding will be a major issue. Again, prepare for major flooding from this storm. Hurricane Michael will bring deadly storm surge to many areas, even those outside the path.

BERMAN: You have been listening to Florida Governor Rick Scott briefing reporters, also briefing the public on hurricane Michael, expected to strengthen to a category three storm before it makes landfall some time tomorrow. Winds north of 110 miles an hour, storm surge as much as 12 feet. He calls this is a monstrous storm and is telling people to heed the warnings to evacuate.

Joining us now is Florida Senator Bill Nelson. Senator Nelson, thanks so much for being with us. Thank you for waiting as we listened to governor brief reporters there. We have heard the dangers of this storm. We have heard that the Florida panhandle has never seen a storm like this. What are your major areas of concern this morning?

SEN. BILL NELSON, (D) FLORIDA: The storm surge. It's often the storm surge that really life and property is in danger.

[08:15:01] And in this case, the National Hurricane Center has said on the east side of the eye, and if the eye is projected somewhere around Panama City, everything to the east is going to see a wall of water eight to 12 feet.

Now just think about that. That's -- for a six foot person, that's six feet above that height of that individual. And a lot of those areas that that huge surge is going to hit are low lying areas and they have creeks and rivers that come down into them and flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

As the storm approaches, the water in those creeks and rivers will flow out into the gulf. And then when that surge comes, it comes and fills back up. And you can imagine how many miles inland that kind of wall of water is suddenly going to affect life and property. And when you combine all of that with 110, 120 miles an hour winds as it hits the coast, you've got measured destruction.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we just heard they are expecting hurricane force winds even in Tallahassee. This isn't just going to be a coastal event. As you just noted, the storm surge will be well inland and the hurricane force winds will be well inland as well.

What's your warning to residents? We know there are mandatory and some voluntary evacuation orders. What should Floridians on the coast be doing at this moment?

NELSON: Well, I was in the panhandle and Panama City in Tallahassee yesterday, my warning is the same today. Heed the advice.

Panama City is under a mandatory evacuation order. A lot of those coastal counties have given mandatory evacuations. Don't think that you can ride this out if you are in a low-lying area. Listen to the local law enforcement and heed their warning.

BERMAN: You know, people will note we just have heard from the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, and the Senior Senator Bill Nelson back-to-back. People will notice you are running against each other. He's running against you for your Senate seat. I would imagine you would say this is not a time for politics. You two are probably on the same page here over the next 24 hours.

NELSON: Of course. That's true. And as a matter of fact, as I traveled throughout the panhandle yesterday, this is not the time for politics.

Listen to law enforcement. Help save your life and your property by getting out of the low-lying areas.

BERMAN: We heard our Chad Myers moments ago saying that the temperature of the gulf is two degrees above normal, which is one of the reasons why this storm is strengthening and strengthening so quickly as it approaches the panhandle.

Are we seeing, in your mind, stronger storms as a result of warming temperatures?

NELSON: Yes. The earth is heating up. The hotter water, that extra heat, is absorbed primarily by the oceans. That hotter water serves as a fuel for the counter clockwise winds. And that is the phenomenon that is occurring. So here we are in October, the Gulf of Mexico is hot.

BERMAN: Senator, if I can, I'm like to ask you one question about something happening in Washington, even though I know you are in Florida and your concerns will be there for the next 36 hours. But obviously, Justice Kavanaugh begins his first day on the Supreme Court today. He will sit on the bench for the very first time.

Yesterday, the president called the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh a hoax. Your reaction?

NELSON: Well, I was in the panhandle dealing with evacuation orders, so that's where my focus is.

BERMAN: All right. Senator Bill Nelson, I do appreciate you being with us. We know you are working along with the local authorities to try to get people the warning they need so they can evacuate if they have to. Thanks for your time, sir.

NELSON: Thanks.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John.

New this morning, Hillary Clinton is talking about Brett Kavanaugh and his White House swearing in last night. Why she told Christine Amanpour that the event undermines the Supreme Court. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:23:32] CAMEROTA: OK. Moments ago, Hillary Clinton spoke exclusively to us addressing the ceremonial swearing in of Brett Kavanaugh at the White House last night. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court. And that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.

So I don't know how people are going to react to it. I think given our divides, it will pretty much fall predictably between those who are for and those who are against.

But the president has been true to form. He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign, really for many years leading up to the campaign, and he has continued to do that inside the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. We'll hear more of that momentarily.

Joining us now are Joshua Green, national correspondent at "Bloomberg Businessweek" and a CNN political analyst, and Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent for "The New York Times" and also a CNN political analyst.

Great to see both of you.

So, josh, it did feel like a political event. I don't know if it was a political rally. But it felt like a political event.

The president does turn everything political. He did go after the Democrats. He did insult the Democrats.

[08:25:01] This wasn't a sort of high-minded ceremonial swearing in ceremony for Brett Kavanaugh. But the president didn't start that. I mean, think about Brett Kavanaugh's own second hearing where he went full Clinton conspiracy instead of taking responsible for why these accusations were against him. He was so overwrought, he was so angry, he was so defiant. This has felt political for a while now connected to Brett Kavanaugh. JOSHUA GREEN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Yes. I

mean, look, Brett Kavanaugh made a decision in that hearing with Ford that he was going to cast his lot with Trump and with the idea of political polarization, essentially polarizing what has in the past been a largely nonpolitical process or at least from the standpoint of the nominee. They try to avoid politics in a way that Kavanaugh brushed aside and embraced.

So I think this kind of carries through what we have seen and what we may be seeing in the future of Supreme Court nominees is that rather than try to strike a chance with nonpartisan, they cast their lot with one party or the other and push ahead. But, obviously, this is something that caused concern not just among Democrats like Hillary Clinton, but among a strain of Republicans, too, including perhaps Chief Justice John Roberts, who valued the court or what used to be the court's nonpartisan image and ability to rise up and have credibility, you know, beyond just the politics of one party or the other.

BERMAN: And one of the key questions that the Democrats face is how do they respond? How do they deal with this? You have the Republicans, including the president, calling the Democrats and some of the women who have been demonstrating a mob.

I want you to listen. This is more sound we're just getting in from Christiane Amanpour's interview with Hillary Clinton moments ago. This is what the former secretary of state says about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That's why I believe if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength. And you heard how the Republican members led by Mitch McConnell, the president really demeaned the confirmation process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Interesting, J-Mart, there. You cannot be civil. And you of course have been covered very closely --

JOHN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: This is the woke Hillary Clinton, John. She's now going back to her Wellesley days as a student activist, I guess.

Now, look, in all seriousness, politics doesn't really change, right? In 2010, the shoe was on the other foot. It was the right that was saying, well, you can't bargain with these people. They're changing the American health system here with Obamacare. We have no choice but to protest. And, so, it all kind of comes full circle.

I will say having just come back from North Dakota where Hillary Clinton clocked in 27 percent of the vote in 2016, she isn't doing any favors for red state Democrats on the ballot less than a month from now by doing these appearances. I can tell you that she is still a major liability for Democrats in those states.

Kevin Cramer who's facing Senator Heitkamp told me directly last week when I talked to him, he said I will pay for Hillary Clinton, for her to charter a flight and come into this state and campaign for Heidi Heitkamp. They are still using her as a weapon against Democrats.

There is an ad on the air in North Dakota that basically emerges Heitkamp and Hillary Clinton's name, Heidi and Hillary. So obviously she has strong feelings, but politically, if you talk to Democratic strategists and red state Democrats, they do not want to see her between now and the election.

CAMEROTA: Josh, particularly with this message. This message of you cannot be civil to the Republican Party, you know, I think, harkens back to the deplorables and who she was asked who her biggest enemy is or who the biggest enemy is in general. And she said Republicans.

I mean, that turned out not to be a winning message from Hillary Clinton then. And I understand that's how she feels now. But maybe it's not a winning message now.

GREEN: Well, you know, calling Trump a sexist monster didn't work in 2016, leaving aside the fact of whether or not it's true then or now. And I think Clinton now is not so much campaigning for office as simply stating her feelings. I think it is worth noting that what Clinton said and what she described is a feeling shared by a lot of women and men, too.

But I really agree with Jonathan that the idea that she's out there on this sudden media tour four weeks before the election is pretty surprising. You know, I got a leaked Republican National Committee poll about two weeks ago that had some striking internal findings. Republicans are divided on a lot of things. But the one single thing that unites them more than anything else, Republicans from all wings of the party, is their antipathy to Hillary Clinton.

And the poll recommends that Republicans continue to talk about Hillary Clinton because it's the way of energizing their voters in an otherwise lackluster year.