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INSIDE POLITICS

Forecast for Hurricane Dorian; Devastation Across the Bahamas; Trump Campaign Sells Markers; August Jobs Report; Desire for Trade Deal with China. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just how it wasn't caught. I mean everyone knows a six day old child is not a quiet child and how they didn't recognize this much sooner than the morning (INAUDIBLE).

Christy (ph), thank you so much. We'll continue to follow this.

And thank you all so much for joining me today. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.

And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

Dorian makes landfall in North Carolina. Flooding and power outages are the biggest toll there. This as the Bahamas scrambles to deal with much more significant damage.

Plus, the economy added 130,000 new jobs in August. That's a solid headline for a report that shows many signs of economic strength, but also tells us some important sectors are stalling.

And, what's for lunch? 2020 contender Pete Buttigieg, not quite up to speed on one option that is out of stock no matter how much you love that chicken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have the Popeye chicken sandwich?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, not in a while.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, the new one.

BUTTIGIEG: No, what is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You haven't seen it?

BUTTIGIEG: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure your team has seen the Popeye chicken sandwich.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, why wasn't I briefed on this?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We begin the hour with damage assessments and desperation in the Bahamas.

Right now, Dorian is blanketing North Carolina with tropical storm- force winds and heavy rain. The National Hurricane Center says the category one storm made landfall over Cape Hatteras in the 8:00 hour this morning. At last count, the storm leaving nearly 400,000 across the Carolinas and Virginia without power. In Ocracoke Island, what officials call catastrophic flooding, homes, campers floating away.

In the Bahamas, rescue missions getting more dire by the minute and hope for the missing quickly fading. The death toll on the islands now has eclipsed 30 with hundreds more unaccounted for.

On Abaco Islands, residents wonder how or if they can rebuild. Others, like this man, Adrian Farington (ph), wrestle with what they lost. Farington watched the hurricane drag his son, Adrian Junior, into the surge. He did not come back up.

Stories like this all too common and why medical officials are bracing for more bodies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CAROLINE BURNETT-GARRAWAY, MEDICAL CHIEF OF STAFF, PRINCESS MARGARET HOSPITAL: They were in water for hours, just exhausted because they were swimming, trying to save themselves. And, of course, emotionally traumatized. Some have seen family members die and friends washed away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Allison Chinchar in the CNN Severe Weather Center.

Allison, update us on where Dorian is and how long she'll be with us.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right. So the majority of the storm is finally starting to exit off into the sea, taking with it the very heavy rain and the very strong winds. But it's not over just yet.

Forward movement right now is northeast at 17 miles per hour, so it has started to pick up speed, which is good. The faster we can get this thing out, the better.

We do still have some pretty strong wind gusts, though, along the coastline, 40, 50, even 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts still being felt at this hour. And the rain bands, they're still there. There is also still the potential for some of these bands as they move onshore to perhaps have some rotation with them, so it's not out of the question to still perhaps have the tornado threat for the next few hours as well. And we had over 20 tornado reports in just the last 48 hours.

Another big threat is still the ongoing flooding. You've got flash flood warnings and flood watches for numerous states because of those heavy rain bands.

The good news is, the majority of -- the bulk of the rain is now finally starting to come to an end. But look at some of the total numbers. Portions of North and South Carolina picking up over 10 inches of rain. Wilmington, North Carolina, picking up over nine inches of rain. Yesterday they actually broke a daily rainfall record.

There is still more on the way, but most areas are likely only expected to pick up about an additional one to two inches. But you just have to tell yourself, it's on top of what they've already had. Because one to two inches alone does not sound that bad.

Here's a look at the forecast track. Notice it does finally take it out over open water, but we do expect some heavy rain bands across portions of the northeast. Cities like New York, Hartford, Portland, Maine, even Boston are still going to look at the potential for some of these outer bands. The good news is, however, it is not expected to be as bad there as it was perhaps in the Carolinas or even Georgia and Florida.

KING: Allison Chinchar in the Weather Center, appreciate that.

Much better news for those along the East Coast of the United States.

The devastation, of course, most severe in the Bahamas.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann live for us from Bevans Town, Bahamas.

Patrick, you've been surveying the damage for days now. Tell us what you're seeing as you get out into the remote areas.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And we are getting closer to where the storm made landfall as a category five hurricane and stalled.

We've actually moved just up the road. We're going town to town. We're now in the town of High Rock (ph). And I'm joined by the local pastor, Joey Saunders.

You've -- the houses are destroyed here. The town is destroyed. What happened to your house? Tell me about what happened to you and your son as you rode out the storm.

[12:05:01]

JOEY SAUNDERS, HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: Early part of the night, about 12:30, about 12:30 we started battling the water through the floor, bottom floor. Then the water started to rise to the second floor. Then I saw it sort of coming to the third floor, you know, this --

OPPMANN: The third floor of your home? SAUNDERS: Third floor of the home. Within minutes this took place. And

I was (INAUDIBLE) confused what to do.

OPPMANN: It was nighttime.

SAUNDERS: Nighttime. About 2:00 a.m. in the morning.

OPPMANN: And what did you do?

SAUNDERS: I remember just praying. The next thing I look -- I was holding a light. My son had a light holding in his hand. I just see him going into this current, hearing him just saying daddy, daddy, daddy.

OPPMANN: The current was carrying your son away?

SAUNDERS: Carrying him, yes.

OPPMANN: How old's your son?

SAUNDERS: He's 25.

And then I had a light. And minutes later I was going. But in the truss, I was trapped in the truss. And I remember just taking off the huge jacket quickly and suddenly just rose me up and I caught under the truss. In minutes I was gone.

OPPMANN: You were -- you were in the water?

SAUNDERS: Yes. And it carried me. We landed about 600 feet into like of a 32-feet pine tree because our ceiling was 32 feet.

OPPMANN: Your ceiling was 32 feet and the water was up there?

SAUNDERS: The water went above that because it was only 32 in the building. And that carried us in different paths. We was separated for about two days. We never saw one (INAUDIBLE) two days later. We actually slept in the pine trees for two days.

OPPMANN: You slept on top of a tree.

SAUNDERS: For two days.

OPPMANN: For two days.

SAUNDERS: Yes. Like about a quarter of a mile away, each one of us apart.

OPPMANN: And how did you find your son?

SAUNDERS: About two days later in the evening, I hear this person calling me.

OPPMANN: And it was your son?

SAUNDERS: Yes, it was him. OPPMANN: What was he saying?

SAUNDERS: He float -- he was saying, daddy, daddy, because he was shocked himself, you know, it was such a -- you know, I don't know how to describe it. It was just horrific, you know.

OPPMANN: And you're the -- you're lucky.

SAUNDERS: Yes. Yes. It's a miracle that we survived. Honest, it's a miracle. Because we -- you know, it happened so fast, you know. I was way under the water. Something just rise me up and I hook on to the truss, the water just carried us away. Because we didn't know where we were going. And to land in the tree, with -- you know, planning that, it only could have been the super natural.

OPPMANN: We are so glad you are here.

SAUNDERS: Yes. It's a pleasure to. And thank God, you know.

OPPMANN: Not everybody was so lucky in this community, John. They've lost a lot of people. There are many more missing. And people are still reeling from what they say was a once-in-a-lifetime storm.

Back to you.

KING: That was a remarkable story, Patrick, and a remarkable contrast, this story of what the gentleman describes as a miracle and then, obviously, the devastation we can see over your shoulder.

Keep up the fine work there. It is helping the world understand the scope of this. Wow.

Patrick Oppmann, thank you very much.

As we come back to Washington, the president, this morning, again tweeting his stubborn and false claim that he got the forecast right on Alabama. Check out the maps, the president says, before criticizing the media's coverage of his dead wrong claim that forecasts on Sunday showed Alabama would take a hard hit from Dorian. Part of his defense, including a map, a chart the president held up in the Oval Office using a Sharpie to draw some lines. One senior White House official telling "The Washington Post," yes, it was the president himself who drew that line, altering an official government map.

Here with me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Dana Bash, Alex Thompson with "Politico," CNN's Manu Raju, and Jackie Kucinich with "The Daily Beast."

It is the president continuing this story to the point now his campaign is selling markers trying to make money off this story. The president of the United States repeating false information as a hurricane approaches the United States and now it's an opportunity for a campaign to raise money.

Help me. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Raise money and, I am

told, an attempt to have a little bit of a circuit breaker, a little bit of maybe a chuckle on this as there might have been on the straws that they were selling, which was obviously based -- is based on a very real environmental debate about what to do. That's the goal.

But it doesn't change the fact that this president has been mired in this controversy that he keeps perpetuating. And how similar it is and how much this has all of the components of sort of everything that we've seen go wrong with this presidency from the beginning. First of all, he's -- his instinct was to highlight a red state. That's where this started, no question, Alabama. And then continue to not back down in the face of facts that changed things. And instead not only say that he is right, but force people who have very important jobs, I don't know, like his homeland security advisor, who should be monitoring the very real storm that was coming as he put out the statement, to put out a statement backing up the president.

So this is what we have seen time and time again. The only upside, according to people I'm talking to in Trump world, is that it took away from a really big problem, which was the vice president's trip to a Trump resort in Ireland, which looks like he's getting money off of the taxpayer dollar.

[12:10:01]

KING: Right. Well, we'll come back to that story. The vice president's story and now what Democrats want to learn about it a bit later in the program.

But back to the president's point.

My question when these things happen is why. He's stubborn. He believes -- I believe he believes that if he keeps repeating his lies enough that not only will he believe them but other people will believe them as well. But the why, fixate on this, some people said, well, he was golfing on Saturday when this first started and he wants to prove that he was really being kept up -- up to date information, not winging it, if you will, while on the golf course.

Another issue is, he called the Fox chief White House correspondent, John Roberts, into the Oval Office yesterday because he's mad that Fox is covering this story. Sometimes critically, sometimes not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEPARD SMITH, FOX HOST: Some things in Trump landia (ph) are inexplicable. This week's edition, the president's ongoing claim that Alabama was at risk from Hurricane Dorian. It wasn't. Maybe he got some bad info from somebody. Maybe he made a mistake. Maybe he was confused. We don't know. But he was wrong.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST: Pretty much every newsroom in America screwed this up and lied to you by accusing the president of lying.

What he said about the earlier models about Hurricane Dorian, that it might hit Alabama, is true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Shep is right. Chief meteorologist Hannity is wrong.

But it just shows you that even Fox was saying, look, sorry, Mr. President, you got it wrong, gets under his skin.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and he has Hannity speaking to his base of supporters who are listening to him and blaming the media.

This follows a similar pattern the president has done throughout his presidency. He'll say something that is flatly wrong, contradicted. He'll get pushback and then he'll dig in and he'll continue to dig in and dig in and dig in until the narrative shifts. And the president is not going to say he's sorry, he's going to continue to blame the media for stories that are correct but he'll call it fake news because it works to his -- he believes to his political advantage. But this is not a pattern that's going to change. This is a president who believes this works for him.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, in that "Washington Post" story today about this whole fracas. It said that as long as this is on the news, the president is going to keep talking about it because he can't let it go.

And to Dana's point, the lengths to which he's gone to try to make this reality -- this into some sort of reality, using these levers of government, these public servants, to try to prop up what is clearly not true is really remarkable.

KING: Including getting his Homeland Security advisor, Rear Admiral Peter Brown, to write a memo, we can show you parts of it, just saying that he showed the president maps, yes, at some point that had potential forecast reaching Alabama at some point. The issues is, and this -- this is a public servant being told to do this, obviously. This is your taxpayer money at work. But the issue is when the president did this, that threat was over. He knew -- he should have known anyway that Alabama was no longer in any of the paths.

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": Well, now you're seeing the National Weather Service, their employee union says that they've been getting calls from even private sector businesses in the area asking them, is there anything you guys can do in order to stop the president from creating at least, at the very least, misinformation and confusion on the ground.

And because he's dug in, this happens over and over, where now his campaign, eventually because of the president's focus on this, is now kicking into gear trying to make the best of a politically fraught situation --

BASH: Yes.

THOMPSON: By making this, as you said, into something of a joke, into a chuckle, into this, again, culture war with the media.

KUCINICH: But there is danger here if you're not -- starting not to believe the actual weather forecasts and you're believing what the president is saying, to your point.

KING: Right. It's important to -- clarity. As much clarity as possible in a difficult, chaotic situation like a hurricane approaching.

Up next, the White House says today's jobs report is a blowout. But, read the numbers closely, some warning signs do persist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:18:19]

KING: Fresh economic numbers today showing some signs of cracking in the strength of the U.S. economy. The August jobs report, a bit of a mixed bag. The politics in a moment.

First, CNN's Christine Romans here to break down the numbers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, 130 net new jobs. That is less than we've seen in the last couple of months. It certainly shows that companies are still hiring, but not as aggressively as they have in the past. And, in fact, 25,000 jobs there are federal hires. They are census jobs. So the private sector would be a little bit less robust in hiring than we've seen at some time. The unemployment rate, 3.7 percent. That matches the generational low we've seen the last few months. And about 575,000 or so people came into the labor market. That is good news.

Where was the hiring? The usual spots, business information services. A lot of computer systems design kind -- type of jobs that are well paid and well sought after. Health care. All kinds of jobs in health care. But it's a tale of two economies here. Manufacturing, stuttering. Only 3 percent -- 3,000 jobs added there.

And look at the trend. Really important here. Over the past 12 months or so of the president's trade war, you have seen hiring in manufacturing start to slow as costs are going up because of tariffs.

John.

KING: Christine Romans, appreciate that.

President Trump weighed in just moments before the report came out, to pin any signs of weakness on the Federal Reserve chairman. The president tweeted this, I agree with Jim Cramer, the Fed should lower rates. They were way too early to raise and way too late to cut. And big dose quantitative tightening didn't exactly help either. Where did I find this guy Jerome, the president went on to say. Oh, well, you can't win them all.

That would be his hand-picked Fed chairman.

A few hours after the report, the president adding this, the economy is great. The only thing adding to the uncertainty is the fake news. He likes that line.

Damian Paletta from "The Washington Post" joins our conversation.

[12:20:03]

The only thing adding to the uncertainty is the uncertainty.

DAMIAN PALETTA, ECONOMICS EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Absolutely.

KING: I'm sorry, Mr. President. I'm sorry, but the numbers. And if you look at this report, there are great signs of strength. Optimism. People coming off the sidelines to come get jobs. Job growth continuing for 100 and what now consecutive months. That's all a big deal.

But Christine made a point about the averages. I just want to show job growth numbers. In 2018, the average monthly gain, over 220,000. 2019, that dropped down to 158. August, 130,000. And as she smartly notes, a big chunk of that census jobs, government jobs. If you're looking at that, you're thinking, OK, we're hanging on, but that suggests we could be slowing down significantly.

PALETTA: Exactly. And what we saw in the GDP data that business investment is actually contracting, if you look at all these data points together, the momentum is the wrong direction for the president. Heading into the election in a year, he wants the momentum and the -- you know, people to feel like things are getting better. Clearly people feel like things are not getting better. A 3.7 percent unemployment rate is still very low, but if people start to get anxious, they tighten up on their consumer spending, then this really snowballs into something ugly and the timing couldn't be worse from the White House.

KING: Right. You mentioned the timing. And, again, there's a lot that -- just that number, 3.7 percent. If you're a politician, that's your number, you're happy, you run on that. But she noted manufacturing, the president promised he'd bring back manufacturing.

It has gone up some, but it has plateaued right now. Mining and logging jobs, the president said he would bring back coal. Look here, he has a pretty good story to tell. Since his presidency, more than 100,000 jobs. However, look at the last couple of months, and this last month it went down a little bit.

And the other thing is consumer confidence, which drives the American economy. This is the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index, up, up, up, boom, and then look -- just look at that drop. You don't need to even -- just -- just need to see the far right of that screen. That tells you American consumers are getting worried, if they pull back their money, there's a domino effect.

BASH: And this -- what you just showed, all of those charts and all of those numbers, based on today's job report, is actually very much related to the last segment that we did, which is about the president's erratic behavior. He has been lashing out even more -- Susan Glasser wrote a great piece in "The New Yorker" using the numbers -- than he has before in the month of August. And I'm told, one, probably not all of the reasons, but one of the big reasons is the economy. It's because he knows full well how much re-election is riding on the economy and how much he has been, from the perspective of his campaign, not talking enough, but as much as he has, talked about it as the reason to re-elect him. And the numbers are showing very big warning signs.

Having said that, the irony is that the more he talks about Sharpies and Alabama, the less he talks about all the positives on the economy and allows his opponents to talk more about the (INAUDIBLE).

KING: And --

RAJU: Actually the Democrats today actually jumped on the jobs numbers to attack the president. You have not seen Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, the Democratic leaders in the House, use -- go after the president the way they did today. They clearly are seeing the signs of weakness that they believe could help them in the coming election, something that you'll see in the coming weeks --

KING: A lower number gave them that political opening. It's dangerous to go month to month. You have to watch this thing. But I think your point about collecting the several warning signs and the trajectory is this way.

The one thing in the president's control that he could do that would change this, he essentially bought himself a month in the markets by saying we're going to negotiate with China again starting next month. That has been the biggest source of anxiety.

This is his chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, saying, yes, we want to make a deal, but --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: All the topics will be on the table. I mean we would prefer that we go back to May where we were maybe 90 percent home on a deal.

We think they need a deal. President Trump thinks they need a deal. President Trump has said recently, every day recently, he's -- he would make a deal as long as it's a good deal for the United States.

KING: The president's definition of good deal, we know what it has been. The question is, what will it be next month if he continues to worry about the track heading into the election year.

KUCINICH: Well, and there are -- I mean Christine Romans said this at the end of her piece there, that tariffs are hurting the economy. And for people hanging on, hoping that this president can make a deal, a month is a long time. So what this -- what this deal, what the (INAUDIBLE) ends up being, we don't know yet, but there are people who can't wait.

KING: Is that his only lever, the president's lever? You have the Fed debate, obviously, they may cut rates again. PALETTA: Right. I mean I think a lot of Americans don't believe that

the Fed is the boogie man like the president has been saying. Cutting a deal with China is not like buying a car, OK, it's incredibly complicated. Two huge economies. So if the president really wants to do that, he's going to have to back down from a lot of his demands and we'll have to see if the economy is still -- still give -- keeps getting weaker, than maybe he's going to have to do that.

KING: Excellent point.

All right, next for us, the Democrats add Vice President Pence's foreign trip to the list of things they want to investigate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:29:30]

KING: House Democrats today serving notice they will investigate an issue we already know has caused some tension in the West Wing, that being the vice president's decision to stay at a Trump-owned golf resort while in Ireland this past week. The vice president's chief of staff told reporters earlier in the week it was President Trump who suggested the VP should stay at what he called, quote, my place.

Later, the vice president's office backtracked and said the president had nothing to do with the choice.

Today, the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees say they will broaden their already sweeping investigations to include the vice president's trip and other episodes where they say Trump potentially profited from government business.

[12:30:05]

Manu, you've been doing some of the reporting on this. This is a quote you have from Democratic Congressman Jamie.