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EARLY START

Florida on Heightened Alert For Hurricane Dorian; Caucus Chaos in Iowa; Alex Trebek Back At Work After Cancer Treatment; No. 1 Clemson Dominates Georgia Tech in Opener. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 30, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Be prepared. So if you're anywhere on the east coast of Florida, you know, you want to have food, water, medicine, for up to seven days.

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AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: A state of emergency across Florida. Hurricane Dorian gaining strength overnight. And a new update from the National Hurricane Center moments away.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, the Iowa caucus could be in for radical change. Why it may no longer be the first state to vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX TREBEK, HOST, "JEOPARDY!": I've gone through a lot of chemotherapy and, thankfully, that is now over.

[05:00:05] I'm on the mend, and that's all I can hope for right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: What is remarkable? Alex Trebek healthy and back at work months after a grim diagnosis.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Amara Walker, in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

WALKER: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning to all of you. I'm Dave Briggs. Happy Friday. It's August 30th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Also, in south Florida, that's where we begin with the breaking news this morning. Florida is on heightened alert, bracing for what could be the most powerful hurricane to slam into its East Coast in nearly three decades. Dorian is expected to make landfall as a cat four storm on Monday. Overnight, the hurricane strengthened to category two, wind speeds

increasing to 105 miles per hour.

WALKER: And this will be the fourth year in a row for Florida getting hit by a hurricane. That hasn't happened since the 1940s. At this hour, every county in the state of Florida is under a state of emergency.

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DESANTIS: We can't tell you exactly where this thing is going to go right now. It's been kind of here and there, and it's not been a very, I guess, consistent path in some respects. But nevertheless, be prepared. And so, if you're anywhere on the east coast of Florida, you know, you want to have food, water, medicine, for up to seven days.

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BRIGGS: State of emergency has also been declared in Georgia. The storm packs a lethal combination of open seas and high tide.

Derek Van Dam with a new update from the CNN Center in Atlanta.

Derek, good morning.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Dave.

Largely unchanged with a 5:00 a.m. update, but there have been trends that became clear overnight. That being, Dorian is expected to be a slower-moving hurricane. That has implications I'll explain in a second.

And then, also, a slight shift southward, bringing in much of the southern peninsula of Florida into play now, 105-mile-per-hour winds. That's a category two. Still just north of the Dominican Republic.

Here is the latest track from the National Hurricane Center. You can see it, it brings in a category four, dangerous category four hurricane late Monday into early Tuesday morning, just after the holiday weekend.

What I want you to notice is the large cone of uncertainty at day four and day five. There's still some model variability that we're working with. Will the storm run parallel with the East Coast? Will it move up the central parts of the peninsula? Will it move across the southern peninsula to the warm waters and re-intensify?

All of these variables still at play. But one thing is for sure, the slow forward momentum of this storm, as we reach Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, is going to magnify the threats here from heavy rainfall, costal storm surge and a long duration wind event for the east coast of Florida, again, heading to the second half of the holiday weekend.

Dave, Amara, back to you.

BRIGGS: OK, Derek, thanks so much.

All hands on deck in Florida. Twenty-five hundred National Guard members have been activated, 1,500 more on stand by. The state has 819,000 gallons of water, 1.8 million meals ready for distribution. Another 200,000 gallons of water are on the way.

The University of Miami and the University of Central Florida among the colleges closing for various periods of time today into next week.

WALKER: Many other local school districts are closing early or delaying classes. And the football game between Florida State and Boise State scheduled for Saturday night in Jacksonville will be moved to Tallahassee.

Now, county health departments are busy preparing resources for the elderly and disabled. And businesses that rely on the Labor Day weekend as a major revenue generator now have a very big financial gap to fill.

Leyla Santiago with more from Port Canaveral.

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LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara, Dave, every single person that I have asked, what is your biggest concern, they say, a direct hit. Now, they're quick to say it's still a little bit early, but they are monitoring, keeping a close eye on where Hurricane Dorian is headed.

And that's for a lot of people, you know, it's because they still remember Hurricane Irma and the damage that came with it. So, they are taking this seriously, and they are already taking precautions, getting prepared. The storms stores have started the amount of water that people can buy.

We've seen waste management making the rounds, making sure that they are picking up any debris that could be dangerous, should winds pick up around here. Today, we expect two truckloads of sand to come into Cocoa Beach, so that residents can make their own bags to help protect their property.

Now, the other aspect of this, we're coming up on a long weekend here. So, businesses were depending on more tourists being here. I talked to one hotel manager who told us she's had a bunch of cancellations already.

Here's what else she had to say.

How much will you lose here?

[05:05:04] DEBRA GREEN, GENERAL MANAGER, INTERNATIONAL PALM HOTEL: This hotel, in excess of $120,000.

SANTIAGO: For this hurricane?

GREEN: Yes, for this hurricane. Two days in August, and then September -- 1st of September, Sunday, Monday. It is costly to the whole area.

SANTIAGO: And we are at Port Canaveral. Yesterday, they had two cruise ships. Today, they expect three cruise ships here. But already, the port is saying, after that, you're likely to see a bit of an adjustment in the itinerary.

Of course, we are here, as well, tracking the storm, along with the people, waiting to see what decisions will be made as Dorian makes its way to Florida -- Amara, Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: OK. Leyla, thank you.

President Trump cancelling a visit to Poland to monitor Hurricane Dorian. Vice President Mike Pence will go in his place. President Trump sending this message to Floridians from the Rose Garden.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're ready. We have the best people in the world ready, and they're going to help you. We're shipping food. We're shipping water. But it may be that you're going to evacuate.

We're going to see what happens. We're waiting. It does seem almost certain that it is hitting dead center, and that's not good.

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BRIGGS: The president is striking a different tone from the one he used when Dorian was targeting Puerto Rico. One Democratic congressman thinks he knows why.

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REP. DON BEYER (D-VA): Well, part of it is that Florida, it could be a swing state in 2020, and part of it is Florida is not an island full of people of color.

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BRIGGS: No comment from the White House on those remarks from Virginia's Democratic Congressman Don Beyer.

WALKER: Breaking overnight, a move that could radically change the Iowa caucuses. "The Des Moines Register" first to report the Democratic National Committee will reject Iowa's plan to hold virtual caucuses because of the potential for hacking. In February, party officials in the state proposed the idea of virtual voting after years of complaints the process makes it impossible for people who can't show up on caucus night. A February "Des Moines Register" poll suggested the virtual caucuses could expand participation by nearly a third.

BRIGGS: But, now, the future of Iowa's first in the nation status could be in question if Iowa can't come up for the plan for people to vote that is different from a primary. Iowa caucuses are five months ago. The party is facing a shrinking window to adjust strategies.

WALKER: Questions are being raised about a moving but apparently false war story that Joe Biden has been sharing on the campaign trail. Here's the former vice president describing his interaction with the war hero in Afghanistan during a campaign stop last Friday in New Hampshire.

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JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This guy climbed down a ravine, carried this guy on his back under fire, and the general wanted me to pin the Silver Star on him.

He stood at attention, I went to pin him, he said: Sir, I don't want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me, sir, please. Do not do that. He died. He died.

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WALKER: But as "The Washington Post" put it, quote, in the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, location, the heroic act, type of medal, military branch and rank of the recipient, wrong.

Biden spoke to "The Post" last night about the story, pushing back hard but, again, with inconsistencies.

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BIDEN: What is the gaffe when I said there was a young man I tried to pin a medal on, and he said, I don't want it, sir. He died. He died. He died.

It was a young man. My recollection was that, in fact, pulled a colleague of his out of a burning Humvee, and he risked his life doing it, and the young man died, that he tried to save.

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BRIGGS: Biden's running series of gaffes appear to be catching up to him, as he acknowledged in South Carolina last night.

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BIDEN: One school psychologist for every 1,500 to 1,700 children. I don't want to set an exact number because the press will say Biden is losing his mind. He didn't remember.

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BRIGGS: For the record, Army Staff Sergeant Chad Workman tells "The Post" he did tell the vice president he didn't feel he deserved the medal at the time.

Fierce pushback from several states over the proposed multibillion dollar settlement with the makers of a drug that helped fuel the opioid epidemic. "The Wall Street Journal" says attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts don't believe the $12 billion price tag being discussed with Purdue Pharma goes far enough.

Negotiations are still ongoing with the company and its owner, the Sackler family. Two thousand cities, counties, and tribal lands are suing the company, a trial set to begin in October.

WALKER: The opioid crisis has killed nearly 400,000 people since 1999. Purdue is widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis, introducing OxyContin in 1996 with aggressive marketing.

[05:10:06] Well, this week, a judge in Oklahoma ordered pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in that state's opioid crisis.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, two high-profile pro-democracy activists arrested by Hong Kong police, including 2014 Umbrella Revolution leader Joshua Wong. According to the pro-democracy Demosisto Party, Wong was pushed into a private minivan on a street. Former Demosisto legislative candidate Agnes Chow also arrested.

These two detentions coming at a tense time in Hong Kong. Months of pro-democracy protests deteriorates -- deteriorating into battles with police. "Reuters" also now reporting China rejected Hong Kong's plan to appease protesters by pulling the extradition bill that sparked all these demonstrations.

CNN has reached out to Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam for comment.

Ahead, a major American city warning residents about the dangers of vaping.

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[05:15:57] BRIGGS: No single gene determines a person's sexual orientation, but genetics, along with environment, do play a role in shaping sexuality. Researchers conducting a massive new study examined data from more than 470,000 people in the United States and United Kingdom. They were able to isolate five genetic variants associated with same-sex behaviors, but none of them are predictive on their own. Findings of the study were published Thursday in the journal "Science."

WALKER: Former FBI Director James Comey violated agency policies when he retained and leaked a series of memos documenting interactions with President Trump. The inspector general at the Justice Department accuses Comey of setting, quote, a dangerous example for agency employees. The watchdog found no evidence Comey released any classified information.

Now, CNN has reported DOJ prosecutors do not believe there was evidence to show Comey intended to violate laws and have no plans to charge him. The memos became a catalyst for the special counsel investigation. Comey responding to the report saying: I don't need a public apology

from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a "sorry, we lied about you" would be nice.

BRIGGS: Stop vaping immediately. That warning from the city of Milwaukee after 16 people were hospitalized this month with chemical pneumonia. All of them reported vaping or inhaling potent marijuana products. Health officials are advising people to stop using vapes, e-cigarettes, and liquid THC products. Officials are aware of 32 cases of lung disease, 89 percent reported using e-cigarettes or other vaping devices.

Major news. We all need to pay attention to it and learn more about it.

Ahead, we'll talk sports. Defending national champion Clemson looking strong in their season opener. There goes Travis Etienne.

Andy Scholes has the story in the "Bleacher Report".

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[05:22:53] WALKER: "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek is back at work five months after being diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. In a video message promoting the show's 36th season, Trebek says he's completed his cancer treatment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREBEK: I've gone through a lot of chemotherapy and, thankfully, that is now over. I'm on the mend, and that's all I can hope for right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: The new season of "Jeopardy" premieres September 9th.

BRIGGS: Match for the ages on deck at the U.S. open tomorrow. Fifteen-year-old Coco Gauff will take on the defending champion Naomi Osaka.

Andy Scholes is here with the "Bleacher Report".

And, last night, Andy, the chants for "Coco, Coco" after another incredible performance.

Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is very exciting. Good morning, Dave.

You know, the future of women's tennis, it's here. This is the match up that everyone is hoping would happen when the draw came out. Fifteen-year-old Coco Gauff versus 21-year-old defending champion Naomi Osaka.

They've never faced each other. You combine their ages, and they're still one year younger than Serena Williams.

Now, Coco needing a three-set thriller last night to beat Timea Babos. She's now the youngest to reach the round of 32 at the U.S. Open since 1996. And there really is little doubt who the fan favorite is at Flushing Meadows.

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CROWD: Coco, Coco, Coco, Coco!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

COCO GAUFF, PRO-TENNIS PLAYER: I mean, it gets me super pumped, and I'm like wow, like I'm really so grateful I'm playing in front of all after you guys and you actually believe in me. And like this is just the beginning, I promise. I promise to always fight for you guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now, Osaka, meanwhile, taking care of business, beating Magda Linette 6-2, 6-4. The world number one player had some star power in her box. Kobe Bryant and Colin Kaepernick watching Osaka win.

When it comes to tomorrow's mega matchup, the odds are stacked heavily against Coco. No woman making their debut in a grand slam like Coco is has ever beaten a defending champion, that is also the one seed.

[05:25:05] Those players are 0-67.

All right. The reigning national champions kicking off their season last night in Death Valley. Clemson rolling Georgia Tech in this one. Running back Travis Etienne's Heisman campaign is off to a great start, three touchdowns and a school record 90 yarder.

Clemson wins big on this one, 52-14. Big test next week as Texas A&M comes to town.

All right. Florida State announcing they are moving their season opener against Boise State from Jacksonville to Tallahassee due to Hurricane Dorian. Kickoff is also moved up to noon tomorrow.

All right. The U.S. Women's National Team playing a friendly against Portugal in front of a record crowd of more than 49,000 in Philadelphia last night. Carli Lloyd scoring in the second half of this one, and after celebrating with her teammates, Lloyd giving the sign for making a field goal, also doing the fly, Eagles, fly.

Lloyd saying, of course, earlier this week, she's serious about trying to make it to the NFL as a kicker next season.

Finally, ever wonder how roomy the smart cars are? Get this, Shaq not only fits in one, he owns one, Dave, and drives it around New York City. Why he decides to do this, I don't know. I think he'd be a little more comfortable in a big suburban of some kind. But I think it is great that Shaq does this. BRIGGS: Yes, I was wondering why he did that, if it was just a stunt

in New York City. I didn't realize that was actually his car. Kind of like Mr. Incredible from the "Incredibles," trying to fit in the tiny car.

SCHOLES: Can you imagine if that pulls up and parks, and Shaq gets out of it? I mean, it's like a cartoon.

BRIGGS: He is always entertaining.

Andy, thanks. Have a good weekend.

SCHOLES: All right.

BRIGGS: Amara, what's coming up?

WALKER: He's probably driving with his knees, huh?

BRIGGS: Yes. Dorian intensifying again overnight. Hurricane watch is now issued in the Bahamas with open seas and high tide. Ahead, danger is growing for the state of Florida.

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