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CNN NEWSROOM

At Least 29 Dead Following Hurricane Michael; What Issues are Driving You to the Polls for the Midterms? Mystery Polio-Like Illness Spreads across U.S.; Polio-Like Illness Popping across U.S.; New Migrant Caravan Heads to U.S. Despite Trump's Threats. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 17, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


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[10:32:13]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Piece by piece crews just beginning to clean up the devastation left behind by Hurricane Michael especially in Mexico Beach, the town designated ground zero for the deadly storm. And that is for a reason when you look at those pictures.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Bless all these crews that are working night and day to pick up the pieces literally as you look at the devastation. The death toll also has risen to 29. 29 people have died because of Hurricane Michael across four states, includes 19 people in Florida.

Our colleague Martin Savidge is in Mexico Beach this morning. Gosh, you know there is that image of that one house that with stood it, but everything else just flattened. What are people telling you this morning?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, people realize that this community is not going to be the same. You talked about the death toll. I've just hit that up real quick. We have seen a significant spike in the last 24 to 48 hours. The reason for that, officials say, is multiple. Number one, it's the fact that there is more communication. So, as a result of that, areas that have been unable to relay what information they had regarding those that were lost are filling in the blanks.

And then you have got just more people being able to get in. They have not been able to get into because of the massive cleanup ever. I mean, if you look at the debris field. If you look at the damage in this community and it's not just this community. I really need to stress that yes, this is probably the hardest hit. But the area that's been impacted is massive. So that's why now and only now you are starting to see them get to areas where they are making these recoveries.

As for people returning, today is the day for doing that here. And I am I have to say surprised. You do not see many people coming back. We expect to see long lines at the check point this morning. The curfew lifted at day break. We haven't seen it. And I can't tell you why that is not happening other than perhaps people right now are just so impacted and have seen the devastation. Most folks know how their homes are doing either by television or website to see. So, they probably know their individual homes. What they are going to learn is their community. It is pretty much gone. Poppy and Jim?

HARLOW: And we were just talking about, do you rebuild? For those who do rebuild, what will be around them? How much of their community, what they loved about it will actually come back?

SCIUTTO: The aerial pictures are just stunning.

HARLOW: Striking.

SCIUTTO: Stunning. A town wiped off the map.

HARLOW: Martin thanks for being there. Thanks for the reporting on the ground. The hurricane, how it was handled, et cetera, could be a major factor for Florida voters in the midterms. Just 20 days out before the election. We always want to know. We bring you on the show every day. How you're voting? What is driving you to the polls?

SCIUTTO: We have been asking people across the nation to share their individual reasons in a segment we call why I'm voting. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES STORER, VOTER FROM BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA: I want to see increased security with more border patrol agents. I want to see the wall built and I want to see a difference made with illegal immigrants not coming into the country.

[10:35:02] TAYLOR GREEN, VOTER FROM SMYRNA, GEORGIA: Education is the most important issue because I feel like more money should be put into inner city school systems. And right now they are getting neglected.

JUDY PEARSON, VOTER FROM ANTELOPE VALLEY, CALIFORNIA: I believe what the Republican Party and the Conservative Party has done has benefitted our country. And I want to try and keep that, moving forward.

TERRENCE HEWITT, VOTER FROM NEW YORK: I'm really disheartened of like what is going on with the woman's march and black lives matter and all of that stuff. Marching is great. But voting is really where you got to - you know hit the bricks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Hit the bricks as you hear there, a lot of differences of opinion out there. It's a big country. Tell us why you are voting and you can weigh in in the conversation by posting a video to Instagram telling us what is pushing you to the polls. Just use the #whyivotecnn.

HARLOW: All right. Still ahead, parents out there listen up. This is an alarming medical story that pertains mainly to young children, a rare polio-like illness affecting children, spreading across the country. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be with us next with all the details.

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[10:40:40] SCIUTTO: Listen up for this story because this is concerning rare polio-like illness is cropping up across the country. The CDC now says that 62 cases of the disease known as acute flaccid myelitis, shortened as AFM, now confirmed in 22 states. Dozen more suspected cases are also on our investigation.

HARLOW: This is why it is so concerning. This is a disease that attacks the child's body's nervous system, weakening or even in some cases paralyzing limbs. Almost all of the cases have been found among young children.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here with us for more because of vaccines, right? We haven't seen a case of polio in this country in what, four decades, four years. And this seems so eerily similar to polio.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA: No question. I mean, what we are looking at is a relatively new childhood disease. It's been around for a while. But it was back in 2014 that we saw this spike of cases. Everyone really started paying attention to it. I think we have a chart showing what has happened over the last four years. In 14 it went up significantly. Not that many cases in '15. 16, it went up significantly. Not that many cases in '17. And of course, we're now in '18 and it is on track to match the years 2014 and 2016.

It's unusual - it's an unusual pattern. Why every two years, why this population, why does it spread like this around the country. In red are the confirmed cases. 62 as you mentioned. There's a lot of suspected case as well. And they are just taking time to confirm those. So, 30 states now, more than half the country has this, again something that we -- even five years ago really weren't paying much attention to at all.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay just as parents listening. I'm a parent. Poppy is a parent. Are there particular symptoms that parents should be concerned about if they see them?

GUPTA: Well you know and I will say I'm a parent, too. So, you know, this is topic number one in our household. First, I just want to emphasize that this is really rare. I'm not trying to scare people here. This is you know less than one in a million chance of developing this.

But I think that what this really characterized by is often times there are some upper respiratory cold like symptoms, congestion, cough, maybe fever. But what is the hallmark of this is a sudden onset of weakness. OK? Usually it is -

HARLOW: OK.

GUPTA: -- weakness. It can be a facial droop as you see there, weakness moving the eye, drooping eyelids. But the most common one is actually a suddenly weak or paralyzed arm or leg. I talked to some of the parents who have children who have gone through this. And it is so sudden that parents often times ignore it. They don't think it can be real because it is not associated with an injury. They may even thing the kid is sort of making it up because these are young children. But that is the hallmark sign of this.

HARLOW: Sanjay, in terms of the ability to vaccinate against this, not currently a vaccine that is given to children in the United States but one does exist around the world.

GUPTA: Yes. They've been working with a vaccine in this because there are other parts of the world where enterovirus which is thought to be the culprit here, not absolutely confirmed but thought to be the culprit is more prevalent in other countries. In Southeast Asia for example, they have been using a vaccine. It is not widespread enough in the United States to recommend that. This is still relatively new. I mean, what we are witnessing is the start of a new childhood disease. But we don't know where it goes from here. Maybe it just peters out. And we don't see cases that much in the future. But they are waiting and watching on that.

HARLOW: OK.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you for bringing us at ahead. I had no idea about it, frankly, until this morning. And we will all be watching for that despite how rare it is. Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Chief Justice John Roberts says there is no place for politics in the courts. Tell that to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who had a very different message.

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[10:48:44] HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. Chief Justice John Roberts is making rare public remarks in his first public appearance in remarks since Brett Kavanaugh's controversial Supreme Court confirmation battle without directly saying Kavanaugh's name. Roberts clearly stressed how important it is that the highest court in the land not be seen as political in any way. Listen to him, last night, speaking in Minnesota.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I will not criticize the political branches. We do that often enough in our opinions.

(LAUGHTER)

But what I would like to do briefly is emphasize how the judicial branch is, how it must be very different.

We do not speak for the people, but we speak for the Constitution. Our role is very clear. We are to interpret the Constitution and laws of the United States and ensure that the political branches act within them. That job obviously requires independence from the political branches. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well it's a very different message from what we heard from the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday. He openly bragged about, in fact, using political means to staff the Supreme Court with conservative justices.

[10:50:03] Let's bring in CNN's Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue. Tell us how McConnell had a different message that the chief justice.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Hi, Jim and Poppy. Two very different messages. Keep in mind, Mitch McConnell. He's the Republican mastermind behind the strategy to block hearings for President Obama's nominee. Merrick Garland and now he is praising the efforts that he has made. White House Counsel Don McGahn's made and Senator Chuck Grassley to push nominees through the court. And it has been significant. They've had two Supreme Court nominees, 29 Circuit judges, and 53 district court judges. Take a listen to Mitch McConnell last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: My decision not to fill the Supreme Court back in the 2016 election was the most consequential decision I have ever made.

(APPLAUSE)

The thing I'm the proudest of and since I get to set the agenda, we decide in what order to do things, is the project to transform the courts. When they close the books on 115th Congress, I think people will believe correctly that this has been the most consequential year for Congress for conservatives for people who prefer America right of center.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DE VOGUE: And compare that to Roberts last night, right? Roberts rarely speaks up, rarely talks about politics.

HARLOW: Right.

DE VOGUE: And last night he was saying look, the courts are different. They are not a part of the political branch. And he has two reasons. He does not want the public to think that these opinions are political. And he says that in the past when the court has bowed to political pressure it has made mistakes. So on the one hand, you have McConnell praising the political process and on the other hand, you've got the chief saying I'm distancing myself from politics. We are not a part of the political branch. And that was his message.

SCIUTTO: The reality seems closer to one of those points of view based on the results.

HARLOW: Right and notable that McConnell is saying it 20 days out from the midterms. Is it really big voting issue for people?

SCIUTTO: And it's actually not a partisanship, right? You can argue that both parties very much you know have a political motivation - for these judges.

HARLOW: Totally.

SCIUTTO: Ariane de Vogue thank you very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thousands of migrants heading what appears to be right up to the U.S. border from Honduras, the president continuing to warn them against that on Twitter. We'll have the details on this next.

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[10:57:00] SCIUTTO: A new group of migrants is heading from Honduras to the U.S., risking the wrath of President Trump, organizers say that thousands of people make up this group. It is now crossing to Guatemala. It is marching north. Their intention, they say, is to seek asylum in the U.S. as they flee violence in their home country.

HARLOW: Right. But despite that - despite all of the violence they face at home, the president is threatening them, vowing to cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador if any of these enter the country illegally.

Leyla Santiago is with us now. Leyla, I mean you have such a unique perspective on this because you have travelled with groups of migrants for weeks on end making a very similar journey.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. In April I travelled with a caravan, a very large caravan that did make it to seek asylum, many of them still right now in the U.S. waiting for their day in court. Back then even in April, President Trump was tweeting about the then- caravan. Now here comes another caravan and President Trump tweeting again.

In fact, just in the last hour he tweeted, hard to believe that with thousands of people south of the border walking unimpeded towards our country in the form of large caravans that the Democrats won't approve legislation that will allow laws for the protection of our country, great midterm issue for Republicans. He pretty much spells it out right there, the primetime just days before the midterm elections very much as he did in his own campaign.

So, I think it is important to talk about what is this caravan. As I have spoken to organizers and human rights volunteers that are working with them. They tell me that these are women and children, families fleeing violence. Just last week, I was at the border. I spoke to one woman from Honduras who told me gangs threatened to kill her 10-year- old son if f she didn't pay up. She didn't have the money to pay up so she fled and said she couldn't go back to Honduras because anywhere in Honduras, they would track her down and kill her son. That is why she left. That is the level of violence that they are fleeing. And that is why they are hoping to get to the U.S. to seek asylum. A big question will be will Guatemala, El Salvador, will Honduras cooperate with President Trump to stop this? He is threatening aid. Will that be enough to incentivize them?

HARLOW: But just one question, if you cut off aid to these economies, right? Then you make the situation for those people that are fleeing this situation even worse. Wouldn't the logical conclusion be that more may then try to head north and try to head into the United States for more opportunity and security?

DE VOGUE: I have actually talked to a man who runs one of the programs funded by U.S. aid and that was his very concern, Poppy, that if that money is taken away, the violence prevention in place, the poverty prevention in place will encourage more people to head north.

SCIUTTO: Fact checking the president there, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers go to a couple of different immigration bills over the course of the last year. Leyla Santiago thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you and thanks for being with us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: I'm Jim Sciutto. "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.