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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Pressed By Voters; Waiters Don't Like Masks?; No Answer For MAGA Question; Hurricane Sally Hammering Gulf Coast; U.S.' Image In Tatters. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 15, 2020 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Best time of the night. Bringing in CNN TONIGHT and its big star D. Lemon right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Right on. Right on. How are you?

CUOMO: So, my response to Woodward making plain for everybody once again that this president knew what was going on with the pandemic, knew the risk. And he is playing to his own advantage no matter what that means for the rest of us to set the table on what the reality is in this country with the virus.

LEMON: I don't understand what's in question about that. He said it. I'm not, you know, saying that you're wrong, but he said it himself. He's the one who said it. I have downplayed it on purpose.

CUOMO: But here's the problem.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: He then said he up played it.

LEMON: Yes, right.

CUOMO: Which is, you know, as I said at the top of the show, he can't even make up the excuse to make sense.

LEMON: Well, I want to sell you -- I've a bridge, it's called the Brooklyn Bridge. I own the rights to it. And I want to sell you that bridge, if you believe that.

CUOMO: Why doing this job if you own that?

LEMON: That's the whole point. I don't. But if you believe that someone says something. He said, he said I downplayed it. I knew that it was dangerous and I downplayed it. I knew how deadly and dangerous it was and I downplayed it.

And in the next breath he says I didn't downplay it. I up-played it. So that means what's the common word there?

CUOMO: Played.

LEMON: Played. You're getting played. That's the whole point of it. And I got to move on because I got, listen, I have so much to talk about.

CUOMO: Do you think.

LEMON: Because the president just finished a town hall.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: So, a lot of our viewers are going to be seeing this for the first time. And I want to get to it so that they can hear how they were played or what the president said tonight.

So, I'll see you soon. Love you.

CUOMO: I love you, D. lemon.

LEMON: This CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

So, something just happened tonight in President Trump's town hall with voters. It is really, really important. OK? So, for months while the United States has been consumed by a pandemic, racial division, the president has been living in a bubble that he presides over.

He holds press conferences surrounded by sycophants, leaving hour after hour in a state media echo chamber. OK? A convention full of lies holding unsafe rallies with unmasked supporters. This is fascinating and you have to watch this. Call your friends. Tell them to tune in so we're going to play it all for you. But the -- a lot of it for you, the important parts.

But tonight, he came face to face with American voters who put it right to his face about what it's like to live in Donald Trump's America right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should preexisting conditions which Obamacare brought into -- brought to fruition be removed.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With that -- please stop and let me finished my question, sir. Should that be removed within a 36 to 72-hour period without my medication I will be dead. And I want to know what it is that you're going to do to assure that people like me who work hard, we do everything we're supposed to do can stay insured.

It's not my fault that I was born with this disease. It's not my fault that I'm a black woman in the medical community I'm minimized and not taken seriously. I want to know what you are going to do about that.

TRUMP: So, first of all, I hope you are taken seriously. I hope you are. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And when asked by another voter why he wouldn't wear a mask on the night of the pandemic the death toll in this country is now it passes 195,000 people. The President of the United States says this about one of the only things that we can do to combat this deadly virus wearing a mask. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Now, there is by the way a lot of people don't want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think the masks are not good. And there are a lot of people that as an example --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are those people?

TRUMP: I'll tell you who those people are, waiters. They come over and they serve you and they have a mask. And I saw it the other day where they were serving me. And they're playing with the mask. I'm not blaming them. I'm just saying what happens. They are playing with the mask so the mask is over and they're touching it and then they're touching the plate. That can't be good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:05:06]

LEMON: That's what happens when you are actually in a bubble. And then you get out of the bubble and you see how people really feel. And what they really have to say. And that you have one of the people you serve saying please let me finish my question because he doesn't do that.

Remember, he works for the people in that audience. They don't work for him. And they let him know it tonight. So, do you believe that? The president thinks waiters don't want to wear masks. And for a man who doesn't wear a mask at all, to blame waiters for possibly touching their masks while I don't even know what to say about that.

So, I just want you to listen to the president still after all this time after all these deaths claiming the virus will go away, spinning a ridiculous claim that what he calls herd mentality, whatever that is. That's not a thing. But that's going to happen. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It would go away without the vaccine, George. But it's going to go away a lot faster.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC ANCHOR: It will go away without the vaccine?

TRUMP: Sure. Over a period of time. Sure. With time it goes away.

(CROSSTALK) STEPHANOPOULOS: And many deaths.

TRUMP: And you'll develop -- you'll develop herd, like a herd mentality. It's going to be -- it's going to be herd developed and that's going to happen. That will all happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. And now there's more. There's the president contradicting his own statement to Bob Woodward when he said he deliberately downplayed the coronavirus because he didn't want to create a panic. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well I didn't downplay it. I actually in many ways I up-played it in terms of action.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did not admit to it, yourself, saying that --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: My action was strong. Yes, because what I did was with China, I put a ban on with Europe I out a ban on. And we would have lost thousands of more people had I not put the ban on. So that was called action. Not with the mouth but in actual fact. We did a very, very good job when we put that ban on, whether you call it talent or luck. It was very important. So, we saved a lot of lives when we did that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. I want to take a moment here for the truth. OK? Because what the president is saying is not the truth. First, he said this himself that he wanted to downplay the virus. Here it is.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, RAGE: Yes, I --

TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: So, he said it, like I downplayed it. Then tells her I didn't. I up-played it. And those bans the president loves to talk about. OK? They weren't really ban at all. U.S. citizens and permanent residents were exempt. Entire European countries were exempt.

So, and remember once the studies came in where did the strain that came into New York, where did it come from? It comes from Europe. Europe wasn't exempt. So, what the president is telling you right there is that is not the

truth. The really shocking thing is, is that he knows, he knows the facts on the virus. He knows about the science. He knows just how deadly it is. Listen -- because you know how we know. This is from sound tonight from his interviews with Bob Woodward, the president talking about a friend of his, Stanley Chera, who died of coronavirus complications. Here it is.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: This thing is a killer. If you're the wrong person, you don't have a chance.

WOODWARD: Yes. Exactly.

TRUMP: Like a friend of mine died, a great real estate developer from Manhattan. He died yesterday.

WOODWARD: Yes, I know. I mean, you know, listen, students of mine I teach in journalism seminar have written me, have had it and one of the women said she had it. They said she was cured. And they kept coming back with the new symptoms. The strange things happened. She had intense headaches.

TRUMP: So, what happened?

WOODWARD: And she is in agony. And they're telling her you're cured now. You're over it. So, this -- I mean, you have said it. This is a monster.

TRUMP: This rips you apart.

WOODWARD: This is a scourge.

TRUMP: It is the plague.

WOODWARD: It is the plague. And the --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And Bob, it's so easily transmissible you wouldn't even believe it.

WOODWARD: I know. It's --

TRUMP: I mean, you can -- you can be in the room -- I was in the White House a couple of days ago, meeting of 10 people in the Oval Office. And a guy sneezed, innocently. Not a horrible, you know, just a sneeze.

WOODWARD: Yes.

TRUMP: The entire room bailed out, OK, including me by the way.

(END VOICE CLIP)

[22:10:03]

LEMON: You heard him right there. He knows how easily this virus can spread from person to person. He knows that. And he knows it's airborne.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: It goes through air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch you don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air. That's how it's passed.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: He knows it's worse than the flu.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: It's also more deadly than your, you know, even your strenuous flus. You know, people don't realize, we lose 25,000, 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right?

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: He knows older people aren't the only ones at risk. He knows kids are too.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: Now it's turning out it's not just old people, Bob. Just today and yesterday some startling facts came out. It's not just older.

WOODWARD: Yes, exactly.

TRUMP: Plenty of young people. It's plenty of young people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He knows all of that. All of it. But I want you to seriously think about this. He knows about that. That it's airborne, that it's worse than the flu, that it's not just old people that kids are getting sick too. He knows all of those things. Yet, he knowingly puts people at risk. You know how we know?

Here's your proof. Like the crowd at the signing ceremony today for the peace deal with Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain. Only about half people, of the people there wearing masks. And a lot of those were members of foreign delegations. Like the crowds at the events that he has been holding indoors. His own supporters packed together, shouting, not wearing masks, not wearing masks.

Again, he knows how easily it's spread. He knows it's airborne, he knows it's worse than the flu, it's not just older people, that it's young people and kids too. Yet he willingly puts people at risk.

Now compare that to Joe Biden, wearing a mask, staying socially distant -- distanced. He is taking the danger from this virus seriously. You may say I want him out there more. I want to -- but he's taking the danger from this virus seriously. He is taking the climate crisis seriously. He is taking the science seriously.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yesterday in California he said sitting with a group of scientists, I don't think science knows whether or not climate change is real. That's what he said at a time when wildfires are raging across the west destroying homes and communities. And another hurricane threatens our coast. Mr. President, science knows. Science knows.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Science knows. And the president knows too. He just doesn't want you to know. He is still falsely claiming that we have more cases of COVID-19 because we have more testing. He's wrong. We'll explain why. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here. Kaitlan Collins, next.

But I want you to hear more from the town hall tonight. The president confronted by voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've coined the phrase make America great again.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When has America been great for African-Americans in the ghetto of America? Are you aware how tone deaf that comes off to African-American community?

TRUMP: Well, I can say this. We have tremendous African-American support. You've probably seen it in the polls. We're doing extremely well with African-American, Hispanic-American at levels that you've rarely seen a Republican have.

If you talk about make America great, if you look at just prior to, and I'm talking about for the black community. You look just prior to this horrible situation coming in from China, when the virus came in, that was the probably the highest point homeownership for the black community.

Homeownership, lower crime, the best jobs they've ever had, highest income, the best employment numbers they've ever had. If you go back and you want to look over many years you can just go back six or seven months from now. That was the best single moment in the history of the African-American people in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And guess what? He never answered the question. Still hasn't.

[22:15:02]

When was America great for black people? Hasn't answered it. What does that mean? Still hasn't answered it. We're looking. And we're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump contradicting himself tonight on his own handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Now claiming he, quote, up- played the virus despite telling Bob Woodward he downplayed COVID-19.

I want to bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and CNN White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. Good evening to both of you.

Doctor, of course, I need to start with you because President Trump was asked tonight by a voter why he's not calling for national -- a national mask mandate. And why he doesn't wear a mask more often. Part of the answer right now, here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Now, there is by the way a lot of people don't want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think the masks are not good. And there are a lot of people that as an example --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are those people?

TRUMP: I'll tell you who those people are, waiters. They come over and they serve you and they have a mask. And I saw it the other day where they were serving me. And they're playing with the mask. I'm not blaming them. I'm just saying what happens. They are playing with the mask so the mask is over and they're touching it and then they're touching the plate. That can't be good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:20:09]

LEMON: Doctor, what do you even say to that? I mean, we know masks work. But please respond.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm not even sure that it's worth a response, Don. I mean, this is a side show at this point. I mean there are so -- waiters is essentially what he's saying the excuse he's using for not to have some sort of more official sort of mask mandate or at least, you know, model masks better.

Masks save lives. There's models that have come out that said if we got to 95 percent of the country wearing a mask we could save over 100,000 lives, 120,000 lives by the end of the year. But two ear loops our very ears then you could be part of the movement that saves over a 100,000 lives.

I just feel like dignifying any of this other silly sort of side show comments isn't even worth it anymore. I get it. And Dr. Fauci talked about it today. He said must the will of the people matches what the authorities want, it's probably not going to work, right? Because how do you enforce it.

But it's crazy to me that people are still coming up with silly reasons as to not do the right thing here.

LEMON: It's fast -- when he's talking about people not wearing masks. I guess all the people who are out there protesting to not wear a mask, I would -- one would assume that they are waiters or the president because he doesn't want to wear a mask. Is he a waiter? I don't really get the logic behind it.

But listen, the question -- the president also continues to say that we have more cases because this is really important, doctor, because we have more testing. He said that again tonight. That is not true. Is it?

GUPTA: It's not true. And there's two points that I would make. One is that we need more testing in this country because we have more virus. That's the issue. We went for a significant period of time. A month, maybe even, you know, five weeks where this virus essentially spread through this country unchecked.

When you have as contagious a virus as that, that spreads unchecked. It's really reached wide and far across the country. That's why we need so much testing to try and still get eyes on this to still define the scope of the problem.

But the larger point I think, Don, to your question is that if you are testing more, the numbers should come down.

LEMON: Right.

GUPTA: You're identifying people who are infected. You can isolate them. Hopefully you could trace their contacts, they can be quarantined, tested if they need to be. That's how the numbers come down. And you know, there's plenty of real-time examples of that all over the world where they brought the numbers down through the two things you just asked me about.

Masks and testing, they brought the numbers down to containment mode. By the way, you know what containment mode means? About one in a million new -- one per million people new infections per day. So that would be about 350 infections per day in the United States. And we're about, you know, 35,000, 40,000. So, not even close to containment mode.

LEMON: Kaitlan, listen, I think it's really important. My observation -- I have so much to ask you. My observation was that when he is not in that bubble, and he is, you know, up on that stage at the town hall tonight and he's getting it from people who aren't, you know, his core group, it's tough. He had to answer some very tough questions on the virus, on race, on healthcare, his comments about the military, and the generals.

Again, he's using that bubble of adulation but not tonight. And I think it was an important moment. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wes. We rarely see the

president interact in way like that where voters can actually press him on issues. And those voters did such a good job tonight. Picking some really important issues, pushing back, following up with the president, doing a really phenomenal job of getting answers to their questions.

And it is a way that we do not often see the president interact with people. And one thing that is different than when he's taking questions from reporters like us in the briefing room is that he cannot go out and say well, these are reporters who are bias against me or the things that he has often come to say about the media.

These are actual voters. And some in that room voted for him. Some did not vote in the last election. Some voted for Hillary Clinton. And so, it was really a wide array of voters that you do not often see the president interact with people like this who follow up. And he can't really do what he does to us in the briefing room, cut us off, you know, insult us, push back on us because these are voters.

And if you push back on a voter it looks a lot differently and comes off a lot differently to people who are watching than the president in the tactics that he usually tries to use with us.

LEMON: Doctor, you know, the president at the town hall says that he did not downplay the virus. Do you see any evidence that he up-played the virus? That was a quote that he up-played it. You know, we have gotten to the point where his excuse is literally that down is up here.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you know, he's always come back to, you know, the travel restriction, we call it, on China. You know, that he put at the beginning of the year --

(CROSSTALK)

[22:25:01]

LEMON: He says he shut down the country. He didn't the country. But go on. Sorry. I think that's where you're going.

GUPTA: Yes. No, he didn't shut down the country. And he calls it a travel ban. And I think restriction. But the point is that, there was many people who we now know in retrospect came into this country many of whom were likely carrying the virus. May not have had any symptoms as we all know can still be spread as this disease.

I think that's what he's always come back to. Eight months later now. That's the one thing. But the problem was there was really no follow up. Certainly, not for the month of February. And that's that, you know, that lost month that everyone talks about where the virus really was able to spread.

I think the concern is that even in mid-March, you know, there was the pause that went into place. There was the gaiting criteria. Do not open until you meet the criteria. And all that stuff was sort of tossed out the window as soon as it was proposed.

I mean, it was, liberate the states and all that. So, still no masks, still inadequate testing in this country, basic public health measures. Basic things that have worked all over the world we're still not doing.

LEMON: I mean, Kaitlan, I think people would could fall for, you know, that he didn't downplay it that he up-played it. If he wasn't on tape saying I wanted to always downplay to play it down. That's a quote from him. So, go on.

COLLINS: But also, this week the president and his advisers have been defending what he said to Bob Woodward about down playing it. We have been watching him downplay it in real-time this week by holding crowded indoor events where people are not social distancing and they are not wearing masks and they have been not tested beforehand.

He did it in Arizona, he did it in Nevada. He defends this by saying well, I'm not worried about myself getting sick. But of course, the question is the thousands of people who are in the audience. And there were two moments from that town hall that were so striking tonight.

One, the president was asked if there was anything he could have done better on COVID-19. And he could not name a single thing, Don. And of course, that is comes as we are nearing 200,000 deaths here in the United States. And you have to think that even the most prideful president who thinks that they have done a great job would at least be able to say well something clearly went wrong because 200,000 Americas are dead. Yet the president could not name anything.

And when it came to national mask mandate, something that we should note even people like Dr. Fauci have said they do not believe it could technically be feasible. The president blamed Joe Biden for not implementing one.

LEMON: Yes.

COLLINS: Joe Biden is not the president of course.

LEMON: Yes.

COLLINS: So that has been the big question. You know, it's the president, it's up to him. You know, not even just nationally mandating one, requiring one if you don't think that that's constitutional, the president setting an example to wear one.

All those times White House officials point to the times that the president has worn a mask and he has said to wear a mask. It seems completely voided by what he said tonight. Saying there's a lot of people who say masks don't work and not citing any medical experts who have said that. That is not giving the best information to people who are listening to you and taking you at your word.

LEMON: I'm glad you brought that up. Because when he said I literally did a triple take at the TV when he said, well, Joe Biden didn't mandate mask wearing. And I kept -- I was wondering, I'm like, but Joe Biden is not the president.

And I think the moderator, I think George Stephanopoulos, it was either the moderator of the questioner -- I think it was moderator -- who said that is done by the governors and Joe Biden has asked the governors to do that. But that is actually done by the state.

But the President of the United States can certainly advise the governors and states to have a national mask mandate. It's within his purview to do that. But he simply did not know how to answer it. It's simply -- and his fall back was the Democrats.

Quickly, Dr. Gupta. I want to give you the last word here on just how you follow the science. You're a medical doctor. You are chief medical correspondent. Just how dangerous right now is what the president is doing. How dangerous is that for the American people?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I have said this before, and I take no joy in saying this. But there's a lot of people who have already died totally preventable deaths and sadly there will still be a lot more. And everyone is sort of banking on the idea of the vaccine which there's optimism around that. It's not going to flip a switch somehow and we still have to do things in this country to save as many lives as we can.

I mean, you know, we keep talking about this as if it were in the past, in the past tense. We're still very much in this. I mean, this could last a while longer. And again, I don't -- I hate to be the one to say it. But it needs to be said. And we still have to be vigilant. I really wish the president would model these good behaviors because they're hard to legislate.

LEMON: Right.

GUPTA: It's hard to legislate behavior.

LEMON: Yes.

GUPTA: But if he set that example, he could be saving a lot of lives.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it, both of you. You're act -- you're absolutely right, Dr. Gupta. And he has to remember that he is the president. This is Donald Trump's America. Not Joe Biden's America right now. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

More breaking news on tonight's -- from tonight's town hall. The president pressed by voters on racial tensions in this country.

[22:29:59]

And the president's response, quote, "well, I hope there's not a race problem."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The president facing a lot of tough questions from voters in ABC's town hall tonight. And one of the toughest was about his catch phrase make America great begins.

I want to discuss now with CNN Political Commentator, David Swerdlick, an assistant editor at the Washington Post. David, thank you.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.

LEMON: It's good to see you. So, I just -- can I -- I want to play this exchange from the president's town hall for you. He was challenged on race. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've coined the phrase make America great again.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When has America been great for African-Americans in the ghetto of America? Are you aware how tone deaf that comes off to African-American community?

[22:34:57]

TRUMP: Well, I can say this. We have tremendous African-American support. You've probably seen it in the polls. We're doing extremely well with African-American, Hispanic-American at levels that you've rarely seen a Republican have.

If you talk about make America great, if you look at just prior to, and I'm talking about for the black community. You look just prior to this horrible situation coming in from China, when the virus came in, that was the probably the highest point homeownership for the black community.

Homeownership, lower crime, the best jobs they've ever had, highest income, the best employment numbers they've ever had. If you go back and you want to look over many years, you can just go back six or seven months from now. That was the best single moment in the history of the African-American people in this country. I think. I would say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean, your statement is, make it great again. So historically, the African-American experience especially in these ghettos that have been red lined. Historically these ghettos that have systemically been set up and treated the way they have been. The conditions of the drugs, the guns and everything else that actually created the symptoms for what we see.

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you profess to be just the Democratic cities than themselves. These things have historically been happening for African-Americans in these ghettos. And we have not been seeing a change. Quite frankly, under your administration, under the Obama administration, under the Bush, under the Clinton, the very same things happen and the very same systems the cycles continue to ensue.

And we need to see -- because you say again. We need to see when was that great. Because that pushes us back to a time in which we cannot identify with such greatness. And I mean, you've said everything else about choking and everything else. But you have yet to address and acknowledge that there's been a race problem in America.

TRUMP: So, if you go -- well, I hope there's not a race problem. I can tell you there's none with me because I have great respect for all races. For everybody. This country is great because of it.

But when you go back six months and you take a look at what was happening you can't even compare that with past administrations. When you look at income levels, and a lot of things because of the jobs situation where they had the lowest income, the best -- the best unemployment numbers they've ever had, the black community, by far. And that was solving a lot of problems. And you know what else it was -- it was bringing people together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: David, there is --

SWERDLICK: That's what President Trump is known for, Don, bringing people together.

LEMON: I mean, he said the man asked him make America great.

SWERDLICK: Yes.

LEMON: It was when he came down --

SWERDLICK: Right.

LEMON: -- in 2015, down that escalator it was make America great again.

SWERDLICK: Yes.

LEMON: But he says for the last six months. He did not answer the question. When was it great -- when was the greater time for African- Americans? He keeps saying well, this is before the pandemic. That's not the question. That's not the question. He keeps saying they. But anyway. And is there a race problem? I hope there's not a race problem. My gosh. Go on.

SWERDLICK: Yes. No, look, Don. There are going to be black voters who support Trump this time around. I say that the over under is the 8 percent that he got in 2016.

LEMON: Yes.

SWERDLICK: But he did not answer the question to your point, because he could not answer the question. Trump has been able -- the president has been able to skate by for almost four years whenever he is asked about race by throwing out the African-American unemployment rate.

But he couldn't answer the question about make America great again. Because that slogan, which is an insult either means, in my view, that America was somehow un-great under his predecessor, the first black president.

Or, alternatively, that he wants to take the country back to a point in time far enough back where at the same time black citizens in this country, citizens of color in general, women, et cetera, were not equal to white men. That is a euphemism but that is ultimately, at least in my view, what the take away has been for so many people particularly for African-Americans.

And when he tried to slip the answer by again with unemployment numbers, he had two problems. One is the gentleman who was questioning him who was so on point. He should be in the White House briefing room. I'm sorry I don't have his name. The gentleman had the immediate follow up stressing again, what does that word again means to you, Mr. President.

And the answer, and the second problem that President Trump tried it again and again, Don, to go back to well, six months ago, before COVID, things were rosy. But here's the reality of the numbers.

The black unemployment rate in January of this year was 6 percent. That was a one and a half percentage point drop from when he took office, which is good. But it doesn't compare to the over 5 percentage point drop over President Obama's, his predecessor's eight years in office.

[22:40:04]

Trump may improve on that in the future. But right now, he -- it's puffery when he says things were the best before COVID for black people in America.

LEMON: David Swerdlick, thank you. Listen, I hope there's not a race problem.

SWERDLICK: Yes. Me, too. Me, too.

LEMON: Yes. We all hope. But I mean, that's another thing. Thank you, sir.

Make sure you tune in. Joe Biden takes questions in a special CNN presidential town hall. That's going to be live from Pennsylvania, Thursday night at 8 p.m. It's going to be only here on CNN. Make sure you tune in.

In the meantime, hurricane Sally already wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast. There's heavy rain, there's wind, it's causing flooding, power outages, and damage. Look at that. And the forecast says that things will likely get worse. We're going to go live to the storm zone, next.

[22:45:00]

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LEMON: Let's talk about hurricane Sally, continuing its slow drenching crawl towards the Gulf Coast with its outer bands soaking parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. The Florida Panhandle, I should say.

For much of the day, Sally was moving at just two miles per hour. That's slower than most people even walk, potentially bringing several months' worth of rain to the Gulf Coast in less than two days. Officials are warning residents to expect flash flooding and a massive storm surge anywhere from six to nine feet along coast of Mississippi and Alabama.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is in Pensacola Beach for us this evening. Hello to you, Gary. Pensacola is getting absolutely hammered with powerful wind and rain. Talk to us.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN REPORTER: Don, when you live on the Gulf Coast or when you vacation on the Gulf Coast, or when you live or vacation in a barrier island like the one we're on right now, Santa Rosa Island and Pensacola Beach, you hope for the best during hurricane season.

This tonight is not the best. We've had a drenching torrential rain now for about seven hours. And the center of the hurricane, the eye of the hurricane is still well south of us. It's crawling so slowly.

Much of this island population about 5,000 year-round residents is under water right now. And the worst hasn't come yet. Many people have evacuated. But the others who have decided to stay. There is no mandatory evacuation in effect. There's a couple reasons for that.

One, this is not the wind event that we had two and a half weeks ago in Lake Charles in Louisiana where I was where we had 140- mile per hour winds. The maximum winds are expected to be 80 miles per hour. But we're going to get far more rain. They're talking about the possibility of up to 25 inches of rain over the next 24 hours.

So that's why we're having the flooding that we're having. A short time ago we were on the beach before the sun went down. Allegedly the sun went down. We never saw it. And the beach reminded me, Don, of being on a ski slope. Going to the top of the mountain and getting a snow squall where you had white out conditions. You couldn't see anything.

That's what it felt like in the beaches as the rain just continued to pour. So right now, we're very worried about where this water is going to go. I mean, it hasn't stopped raining for seven hours. And we're expected by this time tomorrow night for to possibly still be raining.

LEMON: Yes.

TUCHMAN: And we are certainly hoping for the best, Don.

LEMON: You know, flooding is expected to be a huge issue as we said. But the storm surge because it's moving so slowly. Is that starting already?

TUCHMAN: Yes, it's -- that's a big problem. The good news was we had this hurricane yesterday at 100 miles per hour with the expectation that we get to 110 and possibly reach category three status, which is over 110 miles per hour. It's now 80 miles per hour. That's the good news. This could be worse.

And to be honest with you we probably wouldn't be on the barrier island if it was that high at this point. But the fact that it's moving so slowly and we've seen that with other hurricanes. That is a very big problem because you're going to have an immense storm surge, immense flooding. And we won't know until maybe tomorrow night at this time just how bad it is.

LEMON: I know exactly where you are because we -- my family vacation there a lot even recently. But I want to ask you, are people taking it seriously. I think, what is it, like 5,000 residents or so there. Are people prepared?

TUCHMAN: Yes. And there's also a lot of vacationers here because this is a great time, as you know, Don, and your family, this is a great time to go on vacation after Labor Day at the Florida Panhandle.

Yes, people are taking it very seriously. There's a voluntary evacuation order in effect. The reason it's not mandatory, and one of the reasons is, frankly, a lot of people don't want to go into shelters during this COVID pandemic. So, they are telling people and they are savvy, the people who live here. And the people who live here told the people who vacation here stay in your house, be careful, don't take any measure that are dangerous.

So, for example, we were on the beach today. We just saw a couple people walking around. When we've been driving down the streets, we've seen nobody driving around. People are taking it seriously even if they haven't evacuated.

LEMON: Gary Tuchman, as always, just a fantastic reporting. Gary, you be safe. We'll check back in with you later. I appreciate it.

Bill Gates calling for the president's handling of the coronavirus shock -- he's calling it shocking and mismanaged. And it turns out the world largely agrees with him. What polls across the world have to say, that's next.

[22:50:00]

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LEMON: So, take this, a new Pew report finds that the United States' reputation around the world is sinking lower and lower. The U.K., Japan, Germany, and our neighbors to the north in Canada all showing the lowest favorable opinions of the United States in two decades.

The Pew survey across 13 countries finds abysmal ratings for the U.S. coronavirus response. Even our best marks are basically an F. Only 20 percent of Spaniards say the United States has done a good job with the pandemic, in Australia just 14 percent, in South Korea a mere 6 percent.

Pew also finds that attitudes abroad about President Trump, in their words, have consistently been much more negative than those toward his predecessors, like in Germany, Germans' confidence in President Barack Obama during his tenure, really were around 71 percent.

Well, right now, only 10 percent of Germans have confidence in President Trump. And you know it's President Trump who loves to make a big deal over how the U.S. and its president are perceived abroad.

Here he is, this is him in 2012 on video fake firing a fake President Obama. The reason behind the firing, the world was laughing at us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:54:56]

TRUMP: The bottom line is, we want results. China and virtually every other country throughout the world is laughing at us. They take advantage of us. They think we're run by a bunch of fools.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He campaigned in 2016 on that same premise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: What's happening is a disgrace and our country is a laughingstock all over the world.

And the world is laughing at us. They're laughing at the stupidity of our president.

And believe me, folks, the world is laughing at us. They can't believe what's happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, no one is laughing now, but it's a disgrace, nonetheless. The U.S. has the most coronavirus deaths of any country in the world, almost 200,000 dead. The United States failed in its coronavirus response. The president failed to lead. People around the world recognize that. And no one here or anywhere else is laughing about that.

Next, the president making all kinds of claims like the virus will just disappear, some people say masks are bad, and he hopes there's not a race problem in the U.S., all just minutes ago. Stay with us.

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