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Leading America in Turbulent Times; Death Toll from Hurricane Up to 11: 5 in Virginia; Sen. Bill Nelson Interviewed; Eagles Dominate Last-Place Giants. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 12, 2018 - 10:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome back. In the past few weeks alone, this country has faced devastating hurricanes, a roller coaster stock market, an extremely contentious confirmation for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, just yesterday, don't forget what happened in the Oval Office, Kanye West cursing while sitting on the other side of the resolute desk. If you think these are turbulent times, let's take a step back to history with Pulitzer prize-winning presidential historian and "New York Times" bestselling author Doris Kearns Goodwin. She's out with her new book "Leadership in Turbulent Times." It's already receiving wide spread acclaim.

Good morning and congratulations.


HARLOW: It's a fascinating read on President Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Lyndon Johnson, and you say, Doris, people are coming up to you now and they are saying, are these the worst of times? So, what does history tell us?

GOODWIN: Well, history tells us that these are not the worst of times which I think should be reassuring because we got through worse times before and emerged stronger and more unified than ever. I mean, think about what it was like for Abraham Lincoln. He comes into office and the country is already split apart. 600,000 people would be dead in the civil war. He said if he'd ever known, he could have -- what he was going to through, he wouldn't have thought he could have lived through it.

Teddy Roosevelt comes in when the industrial revolution has shaken up the economy much more than the tech revolution and globalization have done. The working class is really in a mood of rebellion. There are nationwide strikes, there's violence in the streets, and somehow he's able to deal with the square deal for the rich and the poor and channel that populist energy into positive reform.

FDR comes in when the banking system has collapsed. People are taking their money out of the banks. People are out of jobs and it looked like the future of capitalism was at risk.

HARLOW: True. GOODWIN: LBJ comes in with the assassination of JFK and the civil rights movement is stalled in the Senate and the bill. And there's a lot of violence in the streets there. So, each time, there was a leader who was able to deal with the crisis, and the country was citizens who were awakened. The anti-slavery movement, the civil rights movement, the progressive movement is that bond between the leader and the people that makes it work.

HARLOW: But, you know Doris, just taking that example of Teddy Roosevelt for a moment because you dive into that and you write about the point where he didn't have success. And that was early on when he was in the state legislature because he was a hot head, right? Because he was full of himself and he didn't have humility.

GOODWIN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: It was only when he had that that he succeeded in leading the country. A lesson for today?

GOODWIN: I think absolutely, every leader has to grow in office. They have to learn that they're going to make mistakes and acknowledge those mistakes and learn from them. He was just yelling and screaming in the state legislature. He made headlines everywhere in New York and then he couldn't get anything done in the state legislature. He said I rose like a rocket and came down like a rocket.

HARLOW: Right.

GOODWIN: So, he learned from that experience. All my guys, I like to call them my guys, did the same.

HARLOW: You spent a lot of time with them, learning about them, writing about them over and over again. I mean, Lincoln - President Lincoln, had - you know, you talked about these hot letters. He would be so angry, there was no Twitter, I should note, and he would write them and then he would put them in his drawer and sit on them before sending them.

GOODWIN: Such a lesson for people today. Not only leaders of government, but leaders anywhere or people anywhere that when he got angry, he said, he just doesn't want that anger be expressed immediately in some open way. So, if he wrote it all down in a letter and put it aside, he would cool down psychologically and never need to send it. When his papers were opened in the 20th century, you see a raft of these letters, but underneath, a notation, never sent and never signed. Think if we did that now with e-mails that go out all too quickly.

HARLOW: I should do that. We should all do that.

This book is about their lives as young men. And leading up to the presidency, right? And then how they dealt with adversity, how adversity steeled them and made them better leaders. Is there an example of that for President Trump today?

GOODWIN: Well, I think, you know, when he talks about his temperament, he said that the reason he had the very best temperament for anyone who'd ever run for president is that he'd never, ever lost. And the history goes against that. As I say, Earnest Hemingway said everyone is broken by life, but some people are stronger in the broken places. Obviously, he went through bankruptcies before, the early years, the early months of his presidency were difficult.

The real question is can you reflect on that, can you take lessons from that? There's a sense among our current presidents, I think, that they will be weak if they acknowledge mistakes but they'll be strong if they do that.

[10:35:03] That's what history shows. People want to believe you're learning and growing. That's the only -- we all have to do that.

HARLOW: You do write about the mistake that many of us make sort of equating humility with weakness. And that it is not. Let me read something that struck me. You write, "Theodore Roosevelt warned the rock on which" -- this is your opinion piece about the book, "the rock on which democracy would founder would be when region, classes, races, and parties regarded one another as the other rather than as citizens marked by fellow feeling banding together for the best interests of the country."

I feel like there's a lot of the other today in what we say and what we do.

GOODWIN: I couldn't agree with you more. That's the worrisome thing. I think there's a sense on the part of people that they don't understand the feelings and thoughts. It's where empathy comes in. Empathy is the most important thing for us as humans and for leaders. And I keep wishing that there were ways to get us around that.

You know, I keep dreaming about a national service program voluntarily for kids coming out of high school. They go to a different region of the country, maybe they even stay in somebody's host home and they learn that other people are still common citizens, we're part of America, and we have to be able to respect each other's points of view. It's a really difficult time right now. We had it in the 1850s. It was much worse than that then, but it ends up in the civil war. It was true at the turn of the 20th century, but Teddy Roosevelt was somehow able to speak to those differences. He went on a train around the country and talked to everybody in all the different regions. And that's what we need now, a leader to expand our sense of self as Americans, not to escalate our divisions.

HARLOW: I would send both of my children on that. I mean, Teach for America is a good example, or the Peace Corps, but you know it's not widespread, and it's not mandated for children. My kids should do that.

Final question, you don't exactly write about modern presidents, but this is a unique presidency. And I wonder, Doris, will your ninth book be about President Trump?

GOODWIN: You know I need letters and diaries. I like to go back to the 19th century because you look over the hand of somebody writing a letter and you can have a document. And today, what are we going to have? Maybe we'll have e-mails. Maybe we'll have Twitter. We'll know a lot more about a current president, how they looked and walked than I knew about Abraham Lincoln but I feel like I can emotionally get at them through the old fashioned letters and diaries. So, unless they start keeping diaries and writing tons of letters, I think I'll leave it to my future generation of historians and I'll go backward.

HARLOW: Doris Kearns Goodwin, it is a pleasure. Congratulations on the book. It's a great read.

GOODWIN: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Ok. Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: I have already ordered that one. It is indeed going to be a great read.

Well, other news we have been following all morning. The death toll from Hurricane Michael jumped this morning, and unfortunately, is expected to climb even higher. We'll go live to the Emerald Coast for the latest on the devastation and the beginning of the road to recovery there.


[10:42:28] SCIUTTO: Five Hurricane Michael related deaths are being reported this morning in Virginia. That brings the death toll from the storm so far to 11. And although the storm may be over, the days and weeks of misery far from over, especially in those coastal cities that were left devastated.

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, he is one of them in Panama City, Florida, and he joins us now on the telephone. Senator Nelson, thank you for taking the time. I know you've got a lot on your plate. As senator, you have seen a lot of hurricanes come through Florida. Tell us what you're seeing there now and how this compares.

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA (via telephone): I'm in a location just outside of downtown. I'm looking at live oak trees that are nothing but sticks. I have seen pine forests that are nothing but snapped in two, pine trunks, debris everywhere. Obviously, this is bad, but this, what I'm looking at, these bare oak trees right now, is on the other side of the worst side of the storm, which was to the east, which I'll be going to later today. The place called Mexico Beach. They got the full brunt of the water and the wind without any barrier island out in front of it protecting it.

SCIUTTO: Yes, we're showing some pictures of Mexico Beach now as we're speaking to you. It really does look like wiped off the map. Is any help getting to those coastal communities right now?

NELSON: There are teams that had to fly in by helicopter in the Mexico Beach because the road, the one road, U.S. 98 was impassable. I think they're getting that open now, so that other than helicopters, people are there. And they are doing the search and rescue stage to try to find people who hunkered down. You all are running interviews, as a matter of fact, today of people that stayed in and survived. But unfortunately, they're starting to find people that did not survive.

SCIUTTO: They are already doing that now, huh?

[10:45:00] NELSON: Yes. And what you can imagine in the future, we're going to one of the two main hospitals here. There was just ultimate pandemonium as people were showing up at the hospital. And they can't accommodate everybody, and then now, trying to evacuate. So I just talked to the number two at HHS in Washington, the deputy secretary. He says he has a team of 200 people that are some place as far away as Jacksonville and mobile, but they've got an emergency team that are in at these two hospitals trying to treat the people as they are evacuating. Because the hospitals aren't going to be able to stay open for any appreciable time.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. What does the state of Florida need now most and most quickly? In the wakes of these, you'll always hear, state of emergency declared. Et cetera, but I imagine folks there on the ground, they need help today.

NELSON: Indeed. Well, most of the community, the main thing is to get cell service and to get electricity. But I can tell you with all these downed power lines, that's going to be some time coming. Now, hopefully cell service, I'm speaking to you from one provider that never went down. The other main provider did go down and is still down. But once you get past that, it's going to be a lot of supplies, food and water, and in many cases, shelter.

People are going to have to evacuate from this immediate area and find temporary housing outside of the immediate impacted area because it's just not going to be habitable. Hopefully, as electricity is restored, people are going to be able to clean up enough so they can stay in their own homes. We've got thousands of blue tarps coming in the one blessing is the weather is beautiful because the storm blew through so fast, so you don't have what is typical after a hurricane, hot, humid, and rainy weather. So as long as we can get blue tarps in, people are going to be able to save their homes by getting the tarp on so when the rains do come, that is what is unusual from a typical Florida hurricane.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen and it's often the irony, right? You have several hours of hell and then there are these hours of peace afterwards. Senator Nelson, we wish you, we wish those communities, we wish your state the best. We know it's going to be a tough few weeks.

NELSON: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.


[10:52:21] SCIUTTO: Well, it was tough to watch last night for this Giants fan. The struggling New York Giants fall further behind in the standings after being blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles at home. No less bad night for Giants fans.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's Bleacher Report from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. Yes, our Jake Tapper is probably happy about the Eagles but the Giants, they started 1 and 5 this season, just like last season. So fans are frustrated. Eli Manning is on the struggle bus. Last night, that Eagles defense had his number. He was sacked four times, barely had any time to throw at moments in the game. But then there were moments he was missing open receivers and he didn't throw for any touchdowns in the game.

Odell Beckham Jr., the star has been voicing his frustrations in recent interviews and then he vented those frustrations on the cooling fan, on the sideline. The poor fan - that fan didn't do anything to him, but he was hitting and punching it. Here he was explaining that moment after the game.


ODELL BECKHAM JR., WIDE RECEIVER, NEW YORK GIANTS: I was just trying to get myself fired up. I did that, and it helped me. You know, there was a lot of things going on that had me fired up, and like I said, it helped me bring out the best in me, bring out the energy. I don't know a way around it, but to get myself going.


WIRE: Now, the Eagles were up 24-6 by halftime. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw for three touchdowns in this one. Philly domination. A 34-13 win.

Now, Harvard University awarding Colin Kaepernick with a prestigious W.E.B. Dubois medal yesterday for his contributions to plaque history and culture. Kaepernick requested that his speech at the end of the event not be broadcasted live nor recorded due to his ongoing collusion lawsuit against the NFL. In his speech, Kaepernick encouraged others to protest social injustice, saying, quote, "I feel like it's not only my responsibility, but all our responsibilities as people that are in positions of privilege, in positions of power, to continue to fight for them, empower them, because if we don't, we become complicit in the problem."

Now, Jim, Poppy, I'm at a place here at LSU, it was founded in 1860. It has something that Jim's Yale and Poppy's Columbia and my Stanford certainly doesn't have, one of the greatest stadiums in all of sports. This is the seventh largest stadium in the world. Tiger Stadium is over 102,000 people packed this place on game day, creating an environment that I never saw in any of my nine years in the NFL. In fact, it got so loud one year, there was the famous earthquake game where at the geosciences complex, the noise actually registered as an earthquake. It's going to be loud for number two UGA tomorrow.

[10:55:05] HARLOW: Columbia football was not like that. However, I went to every single game and was a loyal fan. And they're actually really good this year. Thanks, Coy. We appreciate it. Jim, see you back here Monday.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much, Coy. Our special coverage of Hurricane Michael's aftermath begins right after a quick break.