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INSIDE POLITICS

Hurricane Survivors Trying to Locate Missing Loved Ones; 2020 Dems Release Climate Plans Ahead of CNN Town Hall; UK Lawmakers Advance Bill to Block No-Deal Brexit. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 4, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


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[12:31:40] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian. I'm Victor Blackwell in Nassau, Bahamas, at the airport here.

This is the first stop for some of those rescued by U.S. Coast Guard from the island of Abacoa -- of Abaco rather who are coming here after the hurricane just ruined that island. We've seen some of the pictures of what's left. Now we know that there are several people who have been picked up nearly 20 at the last count from the U.S. Coast Guard, but there are plenty of people here who are waiting for news of family members.

I have with me Raevyn Bootle and Meghan Bootle who are hoping to get news about your mother, your grandmother, aunt. Tell me.

RAEVYN BOOTLE, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: We haven't had any direct contact with either our mother, our aunt, or grandmothers since the hurricane hit Abaco on Sunday. So we're hoping that they'll be evacuated soon and we can see them when they arrive here.

BLACKWELL: But you do have word from them that they are alive, they are OK?

R. BOOTLE: Yes, we had made contact with those in Treasure Cay so we know that they're alive. We just don't know if they've sustained any injuries or anything of that sort. But they're alive, yes.

BLACKWELL: Tell me about your uncle.

MEGHAN BOOTLE, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: OK. So we have an uncle named Neil Bootle (ph), he has a --

R. BOOTLE: Wife.

M. BOOTLE: -- wife, four young kids. We have not heard from them as yet. He does -- he is from Treasure Cay but the last time we heard from him he was in Marsh Harbour Murphy Town to be specific. We have not heard from him as well as I haven't heard from my other cousin, Sean (INAUDIBLE). She is married. Her husband, we've not seen their two kids at all. Her mother and father at the shelter with our parents. We know that they are OK but we've not heard from them as yet. BLACKWELL: There was one relative that you told me that sent out a message that they need to be rescued from their home. That was the last thing you heard. Who was that?

R. BOOTLE: My godsister who was at my house in Treasure Cay with my mom. Around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, we got -- I got a text message saying help, we need to get out of here, please send someone. And I asked if there was anyone injured and they said no and that was it, nothing else afterward.

BLACKWELL: You set up -- is it a WhatsApp or a Facebook page?

R. BOOTLE: We set up a WhatsApp group chat with the locals from Treasure Cay who weren't on the island of Abaco but who are here in Nassau just because we weren't getting any information from government officials or anything on Facebook. So me and my sister and two of my cousins decided to take it upon ourselves to try and get information and share it with those who needed it.

BLACKWELL: What have you felt about what you've heard from the government here?

M. BOOTLE: OK. So what we do know at the time, last night we got a message relaying that we need to get the government officials to send an evacuation plan to a satellite number directly in Treasure Cay, Abaco. We spoke with government officials. They said that they were aware, the coast guard knew and NEMA was aware. That we do know because evacuations were made for those injured this morning.

As of now, we have no word as of what is going to happen or when evacuations will be made by the government in terms, but we do know -- we have private people that are ready to go. We have many boats, many helicopters. We have planes ready to land. As a matter of fact, we even got contact from Kristoff Aubrey (ph) in Treasure Cay, he has a satellite phone, he was able to contact us and let us know that he -- they cleared the tennis court in Treasure Cay and marked an H on it so people would know where to land next to Carbon Medical Clinic where is -- which is holding most of the people in Treasure Cay at the time.

[12:35:15] BLACKWELL: We talked to a little bit off camera about the frustration of not getting information from the government. Tell me about that.

R. BOOTLE: It just feels as though that right now -- we understand that devastation has been widespread not only in Abaco, the Grand Bahamas as well. But it seems like the only information or medical persons being sent to Marsh Harbour are out of Marsh Harbour. Communities in the north of Abaco not just Treasure Cay but Cooperstown, Crown Haven. Nothing has been said about them.

And it's just frustrating because I'm 18, my sister is 21. Our other cousins are -- two other cousins are only 21 and we were able to establish an avenue of communication with people in Treasure Cay and our government seems like they just -- it's not something that they're equipped to handle or they don't know what they're doing. And it's just frustrating that a group of college kids are able to get contact and send for help and they're doing nothing almost.

BLACKWELL: Well, Raevyn and Meghan Bootle, I hope you get the answers that you're looking for that you hear from your mother, from your grandmother, your aunt, your uncle, and other family members. Thank you for spending a few minutes with me.

John, about an hour ago, I had a conversation with the Bahamian minister of national security, Minister Marvin Dames and he says now that the all-clear has been given for Abaco, this is his first trip to the ground there and they're trying to set up a security system there. He talked about reports that there is violence on the island. He says some of them, they've proven to be false. Some, they expect, will be valid. But they now need to set up a system.

Going door-to-door in some of these communities is not an option because there are no doors. There are no streets you can make out from above. So, this is the very early stage of trying to set up a system to get answers for families like the Bootles and across this island who are wondering where are the people who were on that island when Dorian hit over the weekend.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And just remarkable, Victor. The conversation that those two young ladies at a time of crisis, at a time of sadness. How young people especially using technology just to find a way. Just find a way to improvise and find a way to try to keep in touch. That is -- it's heartwarming even as they go through their fear and their worry that they could be so well organized and try to help and try to do something at a time the government, as they say, seems to be overwhelmed.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

KING: That's remarkable. Victor Blackwell, appreciate your hustle as well. Our viewers may not understand how difficult it is for crews to get around and to get on television in such difficult circumstances. We applaud all of our people on the ground trying to bring the story to you.

Before we go to break, just one update. The president of the United States getting a briefing at the Oval Office right now. He says we got lucky when it comes to Florida and says he hopes the United States is lucky again as Dorian now approaches the Carolinas. The president also saying that the Bahamas, the government of the Bahamas has reached out, requesting help and that he will do everything he can to assist.

Our special coverage will continue in just a moment.

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[12:43:03] KING: 2020 Democrats eager today to prove their credentials when it comes to the fight against the climate crisis. Tonight, CNN town hall on that crisis will feature candidates. Nothing like a deadline to motivate. Three of tonight's featured candidates have unveiled their detailed plans to deal with the crisis within the last 24 hours. The Washington Governor Jay Inslee who you might recall centered his brief presidential campaign on the climate issue says he is thrilled to see the urgency even -- and the competition, even highlighted a few of the plans today.

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GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): I had a great meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren a few days ago. It's thrilling to see her put out a plan with such strength. We saw Senator Harris put out a plan involving environmental justice yesterday, and Secretary Castro has a really intriguing idea to help coal communities through this transition.

So we have seen, I think, an arms race now in a good way of candidates competing to have the most effective plans. And I think that's a good thing.

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KING: Democratic voters also clearly are clamoring for this debate. According to a CNN poll earlier this year, 96 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they want aggressive action on the climate.

With me to share their reporting and their insights, Karoun Demirjian with the Washington Post, Jonathan Martin with the New York Times, Tamara Keith with NPR, and Tarini Parti with the Wall Street Journal.

This has become kind of almost a litmus test in this Democratic race at this moment. Is that fair?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's fair to say that Democrats all have to be on the side of doing something about climate change. The question is going to be though what because to date it's been mostly a litmus test. Are you in favor of taking action not what is that action going to be, how are you going to pay for it, and will it actually work? And that's how we're going to actually be seeing the candidates start to get into the nuts and bolts that have been passed over because it's been so long since there's actually been any sort of concerted policy planning and action on that issue in Washington.

KING: It's a great point because how much of this, how many voters out there, and we hope they watch because the policy debates are great.

[12:45:05] But how many voters are saying, you know, I'm not sure whether -- let's just go through one of the issues in these plans. How fast do you want to hit net zero emissions? Elizabeth Warren says I can do it by 2030. 2045 is the target for Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and Kamala Harris. 2049 is Andrew Yang's number. 2050 is what Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg say.

Are their voters out there are going to say, aha, I'm for Warren because she gets there quicker, or is it just you have to have a plan? JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh I think that there are definitely some who are climate voters who will like Warren's plan the best. And if Jay Inslee endorses her it may like her even better. I couldn't help but notice that Inslee, Chuck, and Warren had -- recently had a meeting in Seattle when she was in town. It's a fascinating nugget there for potential future climate czar Jay Inslee in the next Democratic administration.

So I think there are some -- not a ton, I think most Democratic voters are going to look at this the way they have in past primaries with the exception of putting more premium this time on finding someone who can win. And voters just don't go through a kind of white paper test of who is doing what on 15 issues. That's not how they approach these campaigns. But certainly, you got to be for some kind of action on climate at this moment.

KING: And as always, there are two levels to any campaign. These Democrats are competing in a highly contested primary right now. Ten candidates will be at the town hall tonight. There are other candidates who haven't made debate stage yet so therefore they're not included tonight. We'll see if they make it later as we go on.

So you're trying to appeal to Democratic primary voters but then you're also hoping to win a nomination and compete in a general election. We have a president who says there is no climate crisis which just belies the science, belies the facts, belies the obvious evidence, it is irresponsible. However, no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, he is going to say they are big-spending liberal socialists and there are some pretty big price tags here.

Amy Klobuchar's plan is $3 trillion. Joe Biden is $1.7 trillion. Pete Buttigieg somewhere in the ballpark of $1.5 to $2 trillion, $3 trillion for Cory Booker, $3 trillion for Elizabeth Warren. You see the other numbers up on the screen. The Democrats say this is money that has to be spent and that it will create jobs and will start an energy revolution. It'll be money that will be rewarded but the Republicans or at least the deniers are going to say, big-spending liberal socialists.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: And I think what you're seeing in terms of ideology, obviously there's a clear split between Republicans and Democrats. But even if you look at the Democratic field, the candidates who are proposing the biggest spending plans I guess and the, you know, the timelines that have been sped up, for example, Elizabeth Warren saying zero percent carbon emissions by 2030. Those are the type of candidates that are pushing for the big, you know, structural change as Elizabeth Warren says. And then you have, you know, candidates like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg who say that it's more important to have feasible plans rather than, you know, increasing the timeline on these plans.

So, you know, there are clear differences that we're seeing in these plans on climate change but they're also, you know, similarly framed as we've seen in healthcare plans, you know, incremental change versus the big change that some of these candidates are proposing. TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yes. And the question I have about tonight is are these candidates going to be able to differentiate themselves? They all have these plans. If you were to read all of them, your mind might get a little bit numb or you might start mixing up, who wanted this and who wanted that. You know, is Bernie Sanders going to come out and say my plan is the most progressive and Elizabeth Warren's isn't progressive enough?

MARTIN: No.

KEITH: Or is he going to say somebody else's plan is a corporatist (ph) plan and mine isn't?

MARTIN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KING: To that point, let me interrupt you for a second then pick up, his speechwriter David Sirota does this on Twitter. The question is does Bernie Sanders do it tonight. And the candidates would not be on at the same time but do they pick fights with each other through these debates where they just say my plan is better?

Sanders' speechwriter saying his is the only plan that bans fracking. Other candidates were just (INAUDIBLE) that will persecute fossil fuel executives, doesn't rely on Wall Street. So they're trying to say us and only us, the others are, you know, late to the game. The question is will he, himself, make that point?

KEITH: Well -- and Bernie Sanders has a history of his campaign sort of previewing how Bernie might go out on the attack or Bernie might do something. And then he kind of pulls back in debates. No, this isn't technically a debate. He won't be standing side by side with someone. So it's possible that he will try to draw those distinctions but more likely he will talk about the virtues of his plan.

PARTI: He has though repeatedly gone after Joe Biden on climate change. He's said that his approach is a very middle ground and it's not -- it's time for more urgent action on that. So he has, you know, gone after certain candidates not Elizabeth Warren, of course, which is something that we are all going to be on the lookout for.

MARTIN: If he engages anybody it will be Biden because that sort of the safe place for him to go. The answers that CNN viewers deserve tonight, though, to the question of how you can get this plan done is how are you, as president in 2021 with a Senate that is probably going to be divided equally, going to get this bill through?

Like what is your plan to get Mitch McConnell who's at that point, if he's still there, going to be either the majority leader or minority leader, that are going to actually pass this bill with a Senate that includes Joe Manchin and Jon Tester as Democrats?

[12:50:04] So let's say you have 51 votes. You still don't necessarily have necessarily a majority if you got moderate Democratic senators who are not going to want to vote for this. That's the question that they're all going to have a hard time answering.

DEMIRJIAN: Right. And that's what's going to be very interesting to see who they're talking to when they're making these pitches. I mean, somebody like Bernie Sanders who has the most expensive plan out there probably going to make his pitch to the base of the party that's always with him. But others may try to translate this into, you know, are we going to try to talk to the coal belt, are we going to try to talk in ways that say climate change isn't just about climate change but it's about national security policy and all these other economic policies as well?

Because they can actually take that stand given that everybody has a climate change plan. And that kind of passes the lowest bar for the Democrats and the Democratic-leaning independents. Can they try to project a message that will be translatable to everybody else or try to make a pitch beyond just the confines of the party?

KING: And challenge in a primary. Can you have bold, aspirational plans but then be open to the fact that you may have to do small, incremental steps to get there because of the politics at the moment. We will see. It'd be an interesting night for us here on CNN.

A reminder, don't miss it. Unprecedented Democratic presidential town hall event on the climate crisis tonight starting at 5 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN. Worth a pot of coffee.

Up next, boiling tempers in parliament, a loud and messy, very messy fight in the U.K.

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[12:55:41] KING: New this hour, British lawmakers have now given preliminary approval to a bill that would block the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson from carrying out his big campaign promise. That promise being he would exit the European Union at the end of October even if there's not a negotiated plan for that breakup. The bill now moves to the committee stage where members of parliament can debate amendments.

If Prime Minister Johnson loses this vote, he promises to call a new general election in mid-October, a risky move that could cost Johnson his grip on power. It's a fascinating debate. We'll keep an eye on it.

Thanks for joining us today in the INSIDE POLITICS. CNN's special coverage continues with Brianna Keilar after a quick break. Have a good afternoon.

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