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CNN TONIGHT

Latest On Hurricane Dorian; Dorian On Track To Hit East Coast On Labor Day Weekend; Interview with Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz On The Situation In Puerto Rico; Don's Take, Where Are We Today, 56 years After Dr. King's I Have A Dream Speech; One On One With Julian Castro On Trump's Comments Against Puerto Ricans; Quinnipiac University Poll Shows Joe Biden at 32 Percent; Hurricane Dorian on its way to Florida. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 28, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: -- it's the law and further and just getting it done. This is not about how you spend, what comes out of this president's mouth. It's about understanding the action that he takes and what he says is leadership you should want. The base is not enough. How many of you either independent, undecided or just open minded? How many of you will see the actions of just this one day as proof of what you want in a president? Thank you for watching.

"CNN Tonight" D. Lemon, right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, last night, at midnight. What did I text you?

CUOMO: That you got yourself a chicken sandwich. Not me.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Actually I did get one for you.

CUOMO: Where is it? In your small intestine.

LEMON: It's in the refrigerator. I totally forgot it, but it's not the same thing unless you get it hot.

CUOMO: I don't believe you got me a sandwich.

LEMON: Put up the picture.

CUOMO: I don't believe you the thought of getting me a sandwich.

LEMON: I got three of them.

CUOMO: I'm not saying you didn't get three sandwiches. I'm saying I don't think you ever thought about getting me a sandwich and I still think the whole thing is a scam. To drive interest in me.

LEMON: That's the first comment. Did you look the first comments says from Christopher C. Cuomo. It says, scam.

(LAUGHTER) CUOMO: Well said.

LEMON: I got to tell you the truth. I got to tell you. That sandwich was good.

CUOMO: D. Lemon, I never argued the tastiness. Who runs out of chicken?

LEMON: Pop eyes.

CUOMO: Who ran out of chicken? They got plenty of chicken. But just this one sandwich you can't get and everybody wants it.

LEMON: That's like McDonalds running out of the big macs or french fries.

CUOMO: All right. I'm just saying. Don't fall for the funk, my friend. Don't fall for the funk.

LEMON: How you doing? That interview was interesting.

CUOMO: Robust, baby. That's what let's get after it is all about. The president threw his proxies, like Kelly, they have to make the case to the American people. That he is the kind of leadership that they want and that they need. The left has to hear it, because it beat them. And the right has to hear it because that is what they are going to tacitly accept.

And I believe there is inherent value in hearing someone who wants to tell you should believe me. Say, the president has never lied to you. That is strong.

LEMON: You know, I'm going to fight with you, but I won't. Because you know how I feel about that.

CUOMO: I get it. We disagree, but it doesn't mean I don't love you.

LEMON: Don't waste my time. Oh my gosh.

CUOMO: It's not a waste of your time. You need know what beat you the last time. A lot of people agree with what is behind what he says and what she was justifying.

LEMON: Am I going to put -- OK. I'm not going to put someone on TV who says smoking doesn't cause cancer. So, why would I put someone on television who is not going to give me a straight answer who says this president doesn't lie, when it's the truth?

CUOMO: It's not always that simple.

LEMON: It's the truth that he lies.

CUOMO: Yes, 100 percent. And she blew that. In my opinion. I know why she can't say anything else. But that is not my problem. You know, the fact that she doesn't want the boss to be mad at her. That's not my problem. That's her choice. But it puts her in a box. However, look, let's take Puerto Rico. You don't think that there are

a lot of people in this country who will believe the president when he says, look, they don't know how to run their money down there? They are corrupt, the nano-republic, they've taken the money I gave them more money than ever and they can't even fix their houses.

A lot of people believe that. Is it a lie? No, not necessarily. They have problems down there. But it's about his actions and it's a real argument. Are you making faces at me right now?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I just -- it doesn't help the rational people. It doesn't help the people who believe in facts and it doesn't help the people of Puerto Rico who probably don't want to hear it. They already know how the president feels about them.

CUOMO: It definitely doesn't help them, but there's a real argument in this country. Do you want to keep people out? Or the people who wanted to get in to this country somehow less than us? People believe that. It's an argument that needs to be made.

People have to be persuade, they have to be reminded of what this country is. It's not just lie or truth. He does lie and further himself his points of persuasion. That is what a demagogue does. But it's not as simple as saying everything that comes out of her mouth is a lie. It's not true. And if you believe that, I believe that they beat you.

LEMON: No, I don't believe everything that comes out of her mouth is a lie. But I just don't think that she serves the American people well by lying on television and not being honest with people.

CUOMO: I agree with you. And that's why it must be exposed.

LEMON: OK.

CUOMO: Expose it. You get to lament it. That's how this works.

LEMON: All right. I'll see if I can find you a sandwich.

CUOMO: No, you won't.

LEMON: You need a sandwich.

CUOMO: You'll never going to get me a sandwich. If you got an extra sandwich, you ate the sandwich and that is the truth.

LEMON: You're (inaudible), you like that snicker commercial. You need a Pop Eye sandwich.

CUOMO: When I eat in it --

(LAUGHTER)

Who would I turn into when I eat it? Who is this, the negative opposite of? Who am I going to be?

LEMON: You would turn into me. A much nicer person.

CUOMO: Wow. I love some upgrade and looks.

LEMON: This is "CNN Tonight," I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for watching. We've got some serious stuff to talk about. And that is hurricane Dorian on the top of the list. Bringing the threat of flash flooding to parts of Puerto Rico. Still reeling from hurricane Maria. Nearly two years ago.

[22:05:02] That is Dorian is expected to strengthen into a powerful hurricane that could hit Florida. It could hit Florida by this weekend. We've got the latest forecast in just a moment to make sure you stay tuned for that. You know, that comes on the anniversary of the day that made history in this country, 56 years ago today.

Today, more than 200,000 people converge on the nation's capital for the march on Washington. 56 years ago today, Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. made one of the most powerful speeches. Really a sermon to America. His I have a dream speech. With these stirring words I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

And where are we today, 56 years later? People won't everyone come on TV and tell you the truth. Are we any closer to Dr. King's dream? We have a president who spent his day attacking more than 3 million American citizens in Puerto Rico. American citizens fearful of hurricane Dorian. Less than two years after the devastation of hurricane Maria. That storm and its aftermath killing nearly 3,000 people.

Some in Puerto Rico still have blue tarps for roofs on their homes. And here we are today. The president insulting them. Tweeting that Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. And hailing himself as the best thing that ever happened to them. Chosen one much? And there's more. The president of the United States sounding like he blames Puerto Rico for the storms. Tweeting that Dorian was headed as usual, it's a quote, as usual to Puerto Rico and slamming the San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz. She gave us good as she got today telling CNN Dana Bash this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN MAYOR: The president has a vanity complex. He thinks everything is about him. He is a liar and a racist. And he continues to try to belittle the people of Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You want to stay tuned to this. Because I'm going to talk to the mayor in just a minute here on CNN. And also I'm going to talk to presidential candidate Julian Castro who said this today about the president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN CASTRO (D-TX), 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is so caught up in his own ego that he can't even do the work of a president to make sure that the federal government is properly responding to protect the people of Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And there is this. This is from candidate Joe Biden. Quote, what kind of leader taunts their own people as they prepare for a natural disaster? And all this comes after the president yesterday repeated his false claim that Congress approved $92 billion in aid for Puerto Rico last year. OK, listen, the facts first here on this show.

CNN facts checker extraordinary Daniel Dale, points out that Congress has not approved $92 billion to Puerto Rico. That is a long term cost estimate that FEMA says that $43 billion has actually been allocated, $13.8 billion has actually been spent. Which is a long way from $92 billion. No matter how many times the president falsely claims that.

And then there's a Trump administration plan to shift $155 million from FEMA's disaster relief fund. Money that could be used for hurricane relief. To its immigration crack down at the border wall. They're shifting money from disaster relief to immigration where the hurricane threatening. That is not a good look. A FEMA spokeswoman says they'll still have enough money, but acknowledge the challenges of responding to Dorian on top of what she called the complex recovery effort from earlier storms.

This is a time when the American people would have every reason to expect their president to standby them. Puerto Ricans are American people. To standby them, to standby them, to be a leader. But this president is consumed by his feuds with anybody he views as an enemy. He's rattled by warning signs on the economy.

And scrambling to come up with something, anything he can, to point to as a campaign promise fulfilled with 2020 on the horizon. So he doubles, triples, quadruples down on his main campaign promise, the border wall. Tweeting that it is his words going up very fast. Despite total obstruction by Democrats in Congress and elsewhere.

[22:10:03] That is not true. The fact is again, facts first, Customs and Border Patrol has told CNN precisely zero, zero. Zero miles of border barriers have been built where none existed before. They have only replaced about 60 miles of dilapidated barrier. Which is not at all what the president is claiming.

And there's more. Two officials tells CNN, the president recently said that he would pardon them if they had to break laws to get his wall built by 2020. "Washington Post" broke the story. The president blasting the story insisting that it is not true. Well, his spokesman claiming that he was kidding. But where have I heard something like that before? What do you know?

Back in April when senior administration officials told CNN the president offered a pardon to then CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. If he were sent to jail for having border agents block asylum seekers from entering the U.S. in defiance of the law.

Maybe he was kidding then too? Maybe not. Maybe not a good idea to kid about that kind of thing. And what maybe the clearest sign of just how rattled this president is about his reelection prospects it seems that he is breaking up with his BFFs over at Fox News channel.

Well, some of them anyway. The ones who aren't telling him exactly what he wants to hear. The ones who aren't being cheer leaders for this president and his administration. The president tweeting this. The new Fox News is letting millions of great people down. We have to start looking for a new news outlet. Fox isn't working for us anymore. Did you hear that? The president saying Fox isn't working for us anymore.

That is pretty clear the president assumed that the network would always be an unquestioning mouthpiece for him and his supporters. No matter what. And now he thinks that they just are not loyal enough anymore. Just listen to what he said last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's something going on at Fox, I tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That is where we are right now. The president of the United States spinning, blaming, distracting. And deflecting with 2020 looming. I mentioned that this is the 56th anniversary of the march on Washington. And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have a dream speech. Could any of the people on the mall that day have imagined where we are right now? And there's another anniversary today. Chris and I talked about it just a few minutes ago. This is the fifth anniversary of what could be called tan suit day. Tan suit gate?

Tan suit. I don't know. Tan suit -- something. Those were the days, right? That was a scandal. The day that President Barack Obama gave a news conference at the White House in all anybody could talk about was his tan suit. The horror. A tan suit. How dare he? How dare you, President Obama? Do what other presidents have done. And wear a tan suit. How un-presidential. That is how some people saw it then. Just five years ago. How things have changed.

Florida bracing for what could be a wild weekend with hurricane Dorian gaining strength and taking aim at the state. We are going to go to the CNN Weather Center for the latest forecast. That is next.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So here's our breaking news tonight. Hurricane Dorian strengthening and expected to be a major category three hurricane that could slam right into the East Coast. Florida's governor declaring a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm. And now it is moving past Puerto Rico where more than 3 million American citizens have been spared a direct hit. Our meteorologist Derek Van Dam is at the CNN Weather Center. He joins us with more. Derek, hello to you. This is a dangerous storm getting stronger. Give us the latest, please.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Don, by all means this is the storm that has defied all odds. Because it missed that direct hit with Puerto Rico. It doesn't get the land interaction to help erode the storm. So it's given itself time to organize and organize it has done. Just look at the radar compared to six hours ago to where it is presently.

We have a perfectly symmetrical eye wall. This is not what we want to see when we talk about strengthening hurricanes. It has become almost perfectly circular and we've also seen some lightning right around the storm which is a good indicator that the hurricane continues to deepen. Dropping pressure and increase the winds.

This is the latest from the National Hurricane Center, 80 miles per hour. We are anxiously awaiting for the 11:00 p.m. update; which of course, we'll pass along to you as soon as we get it. We've got the hurricane hunters flying through the center of the storm as we speak.

They have picked up on winds over 80 miles per hour. So, clearly hurricane force. It is strengthening and it will continue to do so for the next several days. Really the only thing between here and the southeast Coast of U.S. is open ocean warm bath water, Don.

LEMON: So we're talking about the potential of the storm getting really big and we don't know exactly where the storm is going to hit. But there are many states that are under threat right now, Derek.

VAN DAM: At least six. From the Carolinas right through Georgia coastline into Florida certainly and then also even into the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, you need to be on the lookout. This is the projected cone. The time frame here is Sunday evening into Monday morning. With the potential landfall all computer models putting central Florida on its radar scope.

But it really has so many factors. So many different steering currents that will guide this storm over the coming days. We are going to keep making alterations to the path. So, be on alert from Carolinas right through Florida and eventually in the Gulf Coast as well, Don.

[22:20:05] LEMON: All right. Derek Van Dam, we will get back to you. Derek is on a standby for us. He is watching and tracking Dorian.

Joining me now by phone is the San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz. Mayor, thank you, I know it is a very stressful time for you. So we appreciate you joining us. The threat from Dorian has moved past Puerto Rico. Have you heard about any damage in San Juan or elsewhere?

YULIN CRUZ: No. There has been no significant damage in San Juan. Actually we had at a maximum at times today, 45 people in our shelters. We have four shelters that were open in our municipality. And we decided to close two of them this afternoon. Tonight, thankfully, you know, there was no need for people to come to the shelters.

On the eastern side of Puerto Rico there was no major damages. So this was a dress rehearsal. It was a time for us to look at where are weakness were, but certainly in San Juan we are way more prepared than we were two years ago.

LEMON: Mayor, listen I hate to talk about this. But the significant that you were -- you know, you know guys are under threat when this was happening. The president went on attack today when you needed support. As the storm was moving in. And he called you the incompetent mayor of San Juan. He also tweeted that Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken.

Their politicians are either incompetent or corrupt. Congress approved billions of dollars last time, more than any place else has ever gotten and it is sent to crooked polls. No good. Listen, it was not more than any other place. But, there's so much to be said about this -- I just -- just give me your reaction please.

YULIN CRUZ: Well, on the day like today when we are remembering the 56th anniversary of the I have a dream speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Puerto Ricans are still striving for that dream, their dream of being treated with dignity.

But I'm going to use Dr. King's words. Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. And that describes the president's attitude towards Puerto Rico. Towards people of color. Towards Latinos and towards anyone that do not think, look, or feel the way he feels, looks, or speaks.

One of the tweets says that Donald Trump is the best thing that has ever happened to Puerto Rico. That just shows that the president is unhinged. And truly he needs help. And I'm being serious when I say this, 3,000 Puerto Ricans did not open their eyes today, because they were killed in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria because of Donald Trump's inefficiency, bureaucratic behavior, negligence and incompetence.

And the fact that he can just awhile we are expecting this hurricane to hit us during the day, that rather than offering words of comfort. Listen, get the job done. That all he has is the ability to tweet -- you know, this man suffers from tweet incontinence. It is impossible that he would halt and refrain and restrain from doing things that really are not becoming of a president. And do not represent at all the spirit of unity and solidarity.

That I have been receiving calls from two days ago from people all over the United States from different walks of life. Different states saying, look, Yulin, is there anything that we can do, we are praying for you. And then he takes $155 million out of the FEMA relief fund to put into a wall again. For his racist behavior. And to make sure that he continues to grasp on a narrative that is totally ludicrous and totally has no connection to the truth.

You yourself have said, though it's not myself just saying it right now, no, Mr. Trump, no. We have not been given $92 billion. We have not received $92 billion. We have received of an estimate close to $14 billion. So, why does he -- what have we done to this man? To deserve this treatment. Could it be that he is just that racist, that unhinged, that incompetent and that -- you know what. I should stop right there, because in the face of all of this, we have received so much from the American people.

[22:25:12] And I have to say that today I had a great meeting with the regional Director of FEMA, region three from Philadelphia. And it appears that at least FEMA is striving to learn from their mistakes. It is evident the president has learned nothing.

LEMON: Well, mayor, listen. I appreciate your words. Our viewers do as well. We're thinking about you there. We're glad so far that you missed a direct hit. Please keep us informed and let us know if there's any other damage if you hear about some place needing some help there.

YULIN CRUZ: Thank you for the opportunity.

LEMON: Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. Absolutely. You be safe.

2020 candidates weighing in on the administration's plan to ship millions of dollars in disaster relief and one of them joins me next. Julian Castro is here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Let's bring in now Secretary Julian Castro, a presidential candidate now. Secretary, thank you very much. I appreciate the former housing and urban development secretary under President Barack Obama. Thank you for joining us. We just heard from the mayor of San Juan. What was yours first thought seeing the president attacking Puerto Rico calling it corrupt as they were right in the path of an enormous hurricane?

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My first thought is projection. It's all about projection with Donald Trump. He calls somebody corrupt and nine times out of 10 that's because whatever he's doing is corrupt. The mayor is right. Donald Trump has utterly failed the people of Puerto Rico.

[22:30:00]

And thousands of people there died in part because his administration failed in disaster relief and recovery after Hurricanes Maria and Irma. And now, it looks like they may fail again. You know, we don't know -- I was glad to hear the mayor say that there was no significant damage in San Juan.

But we know that the storm is picking up strength. And that it maybe headed toward Florida. So my hope is that the administration is going to be better prepared than it has been in the past. And this is a president, that in so many different ways, not only has been mean- spirited and, you know, unnecessarily crude and nasty and, you know, embarrassment. But also has been very incompetent.

I hear farmers in Iowa these days talk about losing so much business and losing contracts because of the president's erratic trade war with China, business that may never come back. And so the way I see it, what did folks think was going to happen when you put somebody as erratic and haphazard and self-absorbed as Donald Trump in the White House.

He wrecked the recovery relief in Puerto Rico, and now he's about to wreck the American economy.

LEMON: When you hear the Trump administration is planning to shift at least $155 million from FEMA's disaster relief fund to support its immigration enforcement, what do you think? Should that be happening?

CASTRO: Of course, it shouldn't be. I also find it very ironic, and I think the American people would find it infuriating that the president can snap his fingers and move $155 million or about nine months ago, a year ago, it was $1 billion for a wall. But they can't find enough money so that little kids that are sleeping on floors already can have toothbrushes and soap.

That's the kind of administration that we have under Donald Trump. It's wrong. That money is meant and it's needed for disaster recovery. It should not be moved. And my hope is that, you know, that Senate Republicans will actually step up and be the check on this administration that they should be, because that's the reason he's able to get away with a lot of this stuff, is we should have a Senate like we have a House that does have a spine.

We should have a Senate that has a spine too. But they don't. Mitch McConnell basically lets Donald Trump do what he wants.

LEMON: Well, you said you hope. I mean, good luck with that, because, you know, folks have been hoping for a long time. You know, the president tweeted the...

(CROSSTALK)

CASTRO: The people are the hope. November of 2020 is the hope. And I think that that's going to happen.

LEMON: Let's talk more about this wall and about facts, right? Because the president, you know, he tweeted that the wall is going up very fast. But the facts are, according to the Customs and Border Protection Agency, zero new miles of border barriers have been built, about 60 miles of dilapidated barrier, which has already been there.

They're just repairing. They have been replaced. CNN is reporting that Trump is rattled over the potential of an economic downturn. Is this why he's going back to the wall -- that's the wall the go to?

CASTRO: It absolutely has been. This is his standard go to. This is what he knows is absolute red meat to his base. It's what gets them riled up and keeps them distracted from the fact that more and more economists are telling us that we maybe headed into a recession. Putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office is -- may well wreck the American economy.

You know, these trade wars that he's engaging in with China are costing people jobs in Iowa and other places. So yeah, I mean, this is his old standby. And unfortunately, while he's doing that, he's also treating little children and families with cruelty. And on top of that, on this signature issue, if you wanted any evidence that this guy is incompetent on the signature issue that he promised to the American people on building a little bit of wall, he actually hasn't built anything.

LEMON: Yeah.

CASTRO: I mean, how much more incompetent can you be?

LEMON: So you're still in it. But I've got to ask you about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand dropping out of the 2020 race ahead of the September Democratic debate. The stage is likely set with 10 candidates. Again, you're on it. Give us your strategy? What's your strategy going to be?

CASTRO: Well, you know, we're going to start getting ready in a couple days for the debate on September 12. I mean, my basic strategy has been consistent, which is I just want to get stronger and stronger and stronger in this race. And now that we have 10 candidates that the American people I believe are mostly going to be focused on. It's an opportunity.

[22:35:00] It's a new phase of the campaign, really. And I have been saying the whole time that what we need in the country is not go to -- anything again, not to go backward. We need to go forward. And that forward looks like becoming smarter, healthier, fairer, and more prosperous. And I'm going to lay out for the American people how we can there. I'm really focused on what we can do to make sure that every family can prosper.

You know, we talk about Donald Trump, and I'm glad to contrast my record with Donald Trump's record. But I have been focused in this campaign on what families need to prosper. And that's what I'm going to do on the debate night.

LEMON: Well, that debate stage is tough. I have been up there with you. You get to do it again. I am not in this one. My name is -- I ain't in this mess. Thank you.

CASTRO: It will come back around to you, Don. It will come back around to you.

LEMON: Thank you, Secretary Castro. Appreciate your time.

CASTRO: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Quinnipiac University releasing a new poll today, showing the former Vice President Joe Biden on top of the Democratic field, 32 percent. Senator Elizabeth Warren, 19 percent. Bernie Sanders, 15 percent. No other candidate breaking into double-digits among registered Democrats and Democratic independent voters. Let's bring in Larry Sabato, the Author of the Kennedy Half Century. Good to see you, sir. Thank you very much. Here we go again.

I am sure we'll be seeing you a lot over the coming political season. The Vice President -- former Vice President Joe Biden on top. Pretty commanding lead, you have to admit. The Quinnipiac numbers track pretty closely to CNN's latest polling. But it's a significant change from -- remember that Monday, the Monmouth poll that came out on Monday, the Monmouth University poll.

I mean, the polling director acknowledged the poll was an outlier. Do you think the Biden campaign should be breathing a sigh of relief right now or no?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS DIRECTOR: I don't think anybody can breathe a sigh of relief when you are this far out from the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. But clearly, they were worried that potentially the Monmouth poll would be confirmed by one of the two polls released today, and in fact, both of those polls confirmed the CNN poll and other polls that have been taken in the last month or so.

So not that much has changed, and by the way, that's not terribly unusual during a summer. You know, people who are normal, not like us, Don, the people who are normal don't focus on politics during the summer. Some of them never focus on politics. But you see what I am saying.

LEMON: I know. They're not even paying attention. Look, a lot of the times I go out and I talk to people, and they're like they have no idea of some of the things that we talk about here on the news, because they are just not engaged as much. When it comes time -- when it gets closer to the election, they'll engage more. Well, let's talk a little bit more about the polls. A firm up September's debate line up.

It looks like it's going to be everyone on stage at once on one night. We're going to match ups now in the top candidates, of the top candidates. How much of a difference do you think that -- it's going to make to the voters to see them all together?

SABATO: Well, it's very useful. Because standing side by side, they all have an equal opportunity to attack one another. And before, you had two nights of debating and it's nobody's fault. There are so candidates. But you couldn't get the one on one interaction you really wanted, say Elizabeth Warren versus Joe Biden. Now, we'll have everybody together and they can say what they wish.

Having said that, look at the pattern not just this year but in other years, often there's a little bump, sometimes a bigger bump after a debate for one or two candidates. And then you give it a few weeks and it disappears. So again, I think -- we always think the most important thing that has ever happened, happened today. But in fact, it didn't happen that way.

LEMON: Larry, always a pleasure. We'll talk more as we continue here. Thank you so much.

SABATO: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Joe Biden campaigning today in South Carolina and saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D-DE) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have systemic racism in the United States of the America. It exists today. And it's a white man's problem. White men are responsible for it. Not black men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, the former Vice President quoting the African-American vote, and so far it look it is working. Here's a new Quinnipiac poll. It was released today. It shows Joe Biden with a double-digit lead over the rest of the Democratic nominees, and crucially with 46 percent support among black voters. Let's discuss now. Astead Herndon is here. Astead is in the New York Times, and former Florida governor nominee, Andrew Gillum.

Gentlemen, good evening, Astead, you were among a handful of reporters that sat down -- black reporters that sat down with Joe Biden at a round table discussion. Look, it is clear that he sees black voters as his key to -- at least one of them, maybe the main one becoming president of the United States. He's leaning into this, into that relationship, right?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. He's talking about it more and more. I think that's for a couple reasons. One, he wants fend off that reputation of his candidacy as being one that is only geared to white working class. You know, the electability notions that we've talked about with Biden before have often been about can he peel back some of those Democrats who left for President Trump.

He knows that. He courts that. But he wants to round out that message by saying I can also win working class voters across races and key places like Milwaukee and key places like Detroit, and other kind of vitally important states. But he's also looking at the rest of the field, as this increasingly looks like a three person race at the top, with Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, as his closest rivals.

He is saying my coalition is more diverse than yours. And the Democratic nominee needs to be someone who can build a diverse coalition. He's trying to paint those closest rivals as candidates who can only court white elite support, more educated support. And he says that doesn't look like what the Democrat electorate looks like.

LEMON: Interesting, Andrew Gillum, because Biden argues that he is the most electable because of his experience and his character, and he's counting on the loyalty of the black community. I mean, at 46 percent in this Quinnipiac poll, I mean, that looks -- he looks pretty solid.

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean there's no mistaking it. Vice President Biden has a long relationship with the African- American community, really all across this country. It did not hurt being selected as the first African-American president of the United States as vice president. The country got to know them as a dynamic duo.

[22:50:01] And now, obviously, he's out there, you know, putting forth his own credentials on his own and will be measured by that. But none of us can deny that it is coming with a swell of good will, particularly with older black voters who are a mainstay when it comes to participating in these early primary contests. I guess if there was a cautionary note is that ultimately, in a general election, you know, all of these attributes, all of these candidates have to be measured with simple arithmetic.

Does your candidacy add more to the potential for a Democrat or does it balance it out or does it subtract? And what I mean by that is maybe you bring older black voters along with you in the general election, but were those voters going to be there anyway. What about millennials? What about younger voters? What Gen Xers who may have a different kind of relationship, a different kind of experience, and a different expectation.

And so in the grand scheme of things, it may be more subtracted than additive. I am not suggesting that's the case here. But I do think -- I wouldn't take any of this for granted at this point. You've got to keep working it at all level, not just with super-voters.

LEMON: Well, listen, Astead. You talked about the kind of voters. The governor there -- the mayor, excuse me. Mayor, I am promoting you.

GILLUM: I will take it. I will take it.

LEMON: The mayor there said, you know, mentioned it as well. But he took a veiled swipe at some of the more liberal competitors, OK? Saying -- this is his -- I would never, ever, ever in my entire life had a circumstance where I felt uncomfortable in the black community. There are assumptions made about the black community that I don't think are accurate. That's partly because they haven't spent much time in the black community.

Is he talking about Sanders? Is he talking about Warren? Is it a fair criticism? Because he's saying, and you mentioned it earlier, he's saying the sort of middle of the road, if you will, the more moderate Democrats, the older Democrats are the ones who show up and that's the ones that he relates to more. HERNDON: Exactly. I think the mayor's point is great about kind of

looking towards the general election. How would you create a coalition of support that certainly a Democrat would need? Vice President Biden is taking this step by step. He's looking just at this primary and saying who are going to be the most likely black voters to come out to those polls in South Carolina and those southern states where we know hold so many of the delegates for the Democratic nominee.

He's saying, all right. Maybe the liberals can get the younger progressives. Maybe they can get the millennials. But what he is counting on is that church crowd, that urban league crowd, that NAACP crowd, who see him as a known quantity from the Obama era, but also just as a familiar face, someone who can "steady the ship" after a rocky Trump administration. And he said something before that.

He said, you know, I think they know me, warts and all. And so as he continues to have these kinds of gaffes, as he has these misstatements, he saying that he thinks that it's not registering with kind of base level black voters, because they're already coming to this primary with the sense that I know who Joe Biden is. I know who cares about me.

And even in those kinds of moments when folks are hitting him maybe on the Crime Bill, on segregation, the other things that have come up in this primary, he doesn't think that's (Inaudible).

LEMON: He does have that sort of Teflon quality that Donald Trump -- his supporters Donald Trump like can do no wrong in certain things. It's the same thing -- it appears to be with Joe Biden for some Democratic voters. I mean, he is right. They know me. And so you may be counting every word or syllable that I get wrong, but it doesn't really matter to them.

HERNDON: The risk, of course, is Iowa.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Go ahead, Mayor.

GILLUM: I would just argue that the point on that which is, one, I agree. But also, don't mistake the practicality of black voters really at all levels, that more than anything, and I think this is true for Democrats, period. But particularly announced for African- American voters is we want to win. And so to some extent, this belief that Joe Biden may be the best position to help us win is kind of taken over.

And I think helping to carry him in the way that he's being carried by African-American voters. The caution here -- and again, just coming off of a race, having had these kinds of experiences, it feels so ripe at this moment, is that that was true also for the Clinton campaign in 2007 and in 2008. And so long as Hillary Clinton -- I am sorry, so long as senator -- excuse me, Senator Harris and Senator Booker remain potentials in this race. I realize that it looks like it's a narrowing field. But there is

still time to go. If one of them happens to clinch one of those three earlier states that comes before South Carolina or comes very close to potentially winning one of those states, if not winning it outright. I think it starts to shift the game up completely. Because I think that question of inevitability starts to be a little less certain.

[22:55:03] LEMON: Yeah. Well, I forgive you because I called you governor. And there are a lot of names in this race. It hasn't winnowed down...

(CROSSTALK)

HERNDON: I called Kamala Warren. I don't know if I can get away with that.

LEMON: It happens. It happens. It happens. Thank you both. I appreciate your time.

HERNDON: I love them both.

GILLUM: Thank you. All right, take care.

LEMON: Hurricane Dorian heading towards Florida. We're going to tell you where it's going and how hard it could hit.

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