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Hurricane Isaac; Republican National Convention

Aired August 28, 2012 - 19:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a deep awareness of the responsibility conferred by your trust, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is America, a brilliant diversity spread like stars like 1,000 points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call on every American to rise above all the major bias.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had their chance. They have not led. We will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight for what's right --



ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": I'm Anderson Cooper live in New Orleans where all eyes are on the sky waiting for the full force of Hurricane Isaac to hit.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": And I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Tampa. People's eyes are certainly on the Republican National Convention podium behind me, but the storm certainly in the back of everyone's mind.


ANNOUNCER: Isaac lashes the Gulf Coast, a complication for Republicans as they nominate their presidential candidate. This is where Mitt Romney steps in to the arena. This is where he claims his party's prize, a bruising primary battle behind him and the fight of a lifetime ahead.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We're going to stand for America and we're going to win.

ANNOUNCER: In Tampa tonight, Republicans try to reset the stage, sharpen their message, define their candidate and counter the Democrats' attacks.


ROMNEY: He's got no new ideas for getting the economy going.

OBAMA: It's like Robin Hood in reverse.

ROMNEY: This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like.

OBAMA: It's Romney-Hood.

ROMNEY: The president is taking things to a new low.

ANNOUNCER: After four years of Obama, Republicans (INAUDIBLE)


ANNOUNCER: But Romney still has something to prove.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an election about restoring the promise of America.

ANNOUNCER: To skeptics in his own party and independents taking their first hard look at the man, his record and his running mate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm excited for what lies ahead. I'm thrilled to be a part of America's come back team.

ROMNEY: Together we're going to take back this country and keep it the hope of the earth. Thank you so very much. Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: Now CNN turns the spotlight on one of the biggest platforms in American politics in a state where presidential elections (INAUDIBLE).

ROMNEY: Florida, I'm counting you to help me win November.

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Republican National Convention. It's your vote, your future, your country, your choice.

BLITZER: Welcome back to Tampa for the Republican National Convention. You're looking at live pictures of the "Tampa Bay Times" forum. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer along with my CNN colleague Erin Burnett. Erin, lots of excitement here on the floor tonight as they get ready for Mrs. Romney to actually speak.

ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "OUTFRONT": That's right. They're getting ready for that. I just saw the booth where the five Romney boys will be sitting tonight along with the families. They were vacuuming it, picking every piece of lint off the ground. It's going to be a big night and House Speaker John Boehner is beginning things. He had spoken earlier today. He'll be on the podium to issue the call to order for this evening's session when that begins. And later, Ann Romney, Mitt Romney's wife, will be formally addressing the convention. Her speech expected to be one of the high points of the night, sort of the yin and yang. She gives the personal side and then the other high side. The other high point, the keynote address, which is from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Everyone though is aware that Louisiana and the Gulf Coast are going to be feeling the full force of Hurricane Isaac tonight perhaps literally as Ann Romney and Chris Christie are speaking. Not an ideal situation here in Tampa and a terrible situation possibly in New Orleans where Anderson Cooper is -- Anderson.

COOPER: Erin, thanks very much. Wolf, thanks very much. I'm here with CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano. We are just starting to feel an increase in the wind and increase in the rain literally in the last minute or two. I'm going to talk to Rob about what that may mean but I'm understanding that we have a new update on the storm, so for that let's go to severe weather expert Chad Myers at the Weather Center. Chad, what have you learned?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, every two hours now the Hurricane Center will update us. And we've just learned that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico at 279 feet, that's where the little wind vane (ph), is, the anemometer is, just had a wind gust to 106 miles per hour. Now you have to understand that's about the top of a 30th floor building, 30-floor building, and there are 30 floor buildings in New Orleans. There it is right there moving very close to the delta into the southern part.

I would say that's just about where the delta comes together with the Mississippi. Here is the Mississippi River all the way down and then into the Gulf of Mexico right here. Going to fly you around a little bit, Lake Bourne (ph) right here, Lake Pontchartrain right here, our Eddie Lavandera, you're seeing live shots from him, he is right here at Grand Isle (ph), right down on the beach in fact. We've had this shot a couple of times, in fact Ali Velshi was there with Gustav a couple of years ago.

Farther to the north, our Anderson Cooper right along the river. There's the bridge that goes over the river itself, the Mississippi River, and the Port of New Orleans, Anderson Cooper standing right there with our own Rob Marciano. And the place that we're most concerned about so far right here, that right there that is Shell Beach (ph). Now a storm surge already, already Anderson of eight feet.

That water is pouring into Mr. Go (ph), the Mississippi River outlet. And that water is flooding places in here in Plaquemines Parish that have not -- the St. Bernard Parish (ph) that have not had any type of protection. If you're not behind a seawall and levee right now you are getting wet in these areas. And it's just beginning. The height of the water could just go double where we are right now at least -- Anderson.

COOPER: And that's why officials here have been telling people living in low lying areas that were not under levee protection to evacuate. I'm here with meteorologist Rob Marciano. I mean it seems like a hallmark of this hurricane is without a doubt going to be the water.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Definitely and the speed of which it's coming in and the angle. I'm sure Chad pointed this out that it's taking a different track than Katrina. We're now on the dirty side, the bad side of the storm, so everything is kind of reversed. We get a different kind of storm surge. We're going to get a ton of water with that as well.

COOPER: So we're going to be hit by the northeastern quadrant --

MARCIANO: Yes -- yes, yes, exactly, so the strongest winds -- the strongest amount of rain and the strongest push from the Gulf of Mexico. And because of that, you know these levee systems that we've been talking about now for two days, for seven years really are going to be put to the test. And the Army Corps today has been busy shutting basically all the floodgates. The pump station and the canal closure we were at yesterday on the 17th Street side near Lake Pontchartrain, they have shut that down. They've turned those pumps on, so the system is going to be brought into full force here in the next few hours --

COOPER: And that was a real critical station seven years ago. That's one of the levees that failed which allowed that water from Lake Pontchartrain to pour into New Orleans.

MARCIANO: Exactly and just really all afternoon with that northeast wind, that end of the shore line has been just getting pounded with wind and rain. So if they didn't have that new structure, we might be (INAUDIBLE) the whole scenario all over again.

COOPER: Is there an update on the speed with which the storm is moving? Because again I'm just really impressed by how slow it is and how long we're going to be under these conditions -- that people are going to be under these conditions here.

MYERS: Yes, you're 100 miles away from the center. The center is moving to the northwest at eight miles per hour. I can do that kind of division --


MYERS: That's still 12 hours, 12 hours from you getting your closest approach, which will probably be honestly will be to the west of you. It will still be going. There's not much there in Louisiana. This is all bayou. You think about oh if it hits land, it is going to slow down. There's not much land here. There's just as much water as there is land. And then it's going to continue very close to Baton Rouge and we may be talking about more damage in Baton Rouge than in New Orleans Proper. Really that hasn't been the focus of anybody, but I -- just the way this track is setting up Baton Rouge, it's not going to slow much down before it gets to you. So you need to be getting ready for this, as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Rob, Chad had been talking about the possibility of 20 inches of rain here in New Orleans. Can the city handle that? MARCIANO: Well frankly, no. Those pumps that they put in, even though they're modern pumps and some of them can pump out in excess of 150,000 gallons per second, they still are only designed to pump out about an inch for the first hour and then a half an inch every hour after that. And these storms, as you know, even a tropical storm will pump out two, three inches of rainfall per hour for several hours. So there's going to be flooding within the sides of levee walls. The question is really how much.

COOPER: How much and (INAUDIBLE) how long it's going to last. We're going to check in with Rob throughout the evening, Chad Myers, as well. Right now let's going to back to Tampa and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Anderson, thanks very much and thanks to all of our correspondents. Be careful out there. We'll get back to you soon. Just a little while ago here in Tampa, we watched Mitt Romney go over the top in the roll call of delegates. Now those same delegates will be hearing some of the Republican Party's biggest stars.

Our own Candy Crowley is on the podium watching what's going on. She can watch the speakers come on and off the stage, talk with some of them. Stand by for that. Our reporters are also here, Jim Acosta, Dana Bash and John Berman, they're down on the floor among the delegates, among the VIPs. We're certainly going to be checking in with all of them throughout the evening as we watch what's going on. Dana Bash is out there right now. What are you seeing, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well we're seeing everybody get ready for the first big speech of the evening. And that speech is going to be from the House Speaker John Boehner. I actually caught up with him earlier today and talked to him a little bit about some comments that he made at a private fund raiser in the last month or so saying that people don't have to necessarily be in love with Mitt Romney. The point he was making was that this election is going to be about opposing Barack Obama. And I asked him just generally what he thought about the fact that Mitt Romney doesn't necessarily connect on that emotional level. Listen to what he said.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well the point I was trying to make with a lady asked the question make me fall in love with Mitt Romney and I said, no, this election is about a referendum on the president's economic policies. And that was the whole point that I was making. This is an election about the economy and jobs. And as a result, I think our team's got a great shot at winning (ph).

BASH: But Mitt Romney if you look at polls and you talk to his advisers, he does have a problem when it comes to the (INAUDIBLE) factor and favorability. Is that a problem for Republicans?

BOEHNER: He -- listen he's a very shy guy. He's a humble guy, doesn't like to talk about himself. It's -- that's just who he is. But I've known Mitt Romney for a long time, decent, honest, hard working guy. And I think Thursday he'll have a chance to what I'll call reintroduce himself to the American people. He never really had that chance. He's been locked in to this Republican primary and then locked into this battle with the president. And as a result, you know people have all different kinds of views of him, so I think Thursday night is clearly an important speech for him and I think he'll have his chance to reintroduce himself to the American people, most of whom are just paying attention now.


BASH: Now as for John Boehner, what is he going to say when he speaks just moments from now? He told us that he is going to say what we hear him say all the time on Capitol Hill. He's going to ask the question where are the jobs. He wants to turn the discussion back to where Republicans feel comfortable on the economy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that speech coming up momentarily, John Boehner's speech. Let's go to John Berman right now. John Berman, where are you right now on the floor? I see you have a special guest.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing right next to the South Carolina delegation and I'm standing next to a former South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford who is here tonight. Hi, Governor. How are you?



BERMAN: Speaking tonight, you'll know is the current governor of your state, Nikki Haley (ph).

SANFORD: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Tell me about her. What do you think she's going to talk about tonight?

SANFORD: Well I think she's going to talk about a whole lot of things that are going to appeal to a whole lot of people in this room. You know we've got a delegation that's awfully excited about this honor that I think representing her being on the podium tonight.

BERMAN: And Governor, it's been a few years since you've been in politics. How have things changed since you left?

SANFORD: Well I mean that's probably longer than a 30-second question, but you know I think that what has changed has been the economic situation has deteriorated. The deficit has become a much bigger issue than it was just a couple of years ago. And the result was whether you call it the Ron Paul or the Tea Party faction I think it's moved forward, probably taken a little bit larger step --

BERMAN: We heard them tonight. They were loud.

SANFORD: Yes, yes, so I think you'll continue to see that growing presence as a wing of the party. BERMAN: And Governor, there is some personal news. I want to say congratulations on your engagement.

SANFORD: Well I appreciate it. Thank you.

BERMAN: It's nice you're here tonight. Do you miss it? Do you miss politics?

SANFORD: I think that, you know, if you love the war of ideas, if you want to call it that and you've been engaged in it, certainly you miss that part. So it's a treat just to be down here with the delegation and be a part of what's going to occur tonight.

BERMAN: All right, Governor Sanford, nice to see you.

SANFORD: My pleasure as well.


BLITZER: All right, John, thanks very much. All right, we're only moments away from the start of tonight's session of this Republican National Convention. You're going to hear the House Speaker John Boehner, he's going to step up to the podium, issue the call to order. Stand by, much more of our coverage from here in Tampa, also from the Gulf Coast when we come back.


BLITZER: All right welcome back to the Republican National Convention where there's going to be some major speakers later tonight. Let's go to John King. He's over at the CNN skybox watching what's going on. He has got a special guest -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf that special guest is Neil Newhouse. He's the Romney campaign's pollster. Mitt Romney is now officially the Republican nominee for president. The question is can he defeat President Obama now and win the White House in November. Neil is with me at the "Magic Wall". Neil, this is the map from 2008. You obviously think you can make it different this time. I want to start by looking at this new "Washington Post"/ABC poll and it shows us what we know, that we enter the convention with a national dead heat, Governor Romney at 47, the president at 46 percent that is a tie. I know this is --


NEIL NEWHOUSE, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: What's really interesting about this, this is registered voters, not likely voters.

KING: Right.

NEWHOUSE: I mean that's an advantage and we're going into the convention basically in a dead heat. We're in a great position right now.

KING: You're in a great position. Many would say eight percent unemployment, persistent economic problems, maybe you should be in a better position. But I know this is a number that excites you, 78 percent of those who voted for the president in 2008 say they would vote for him again. The big question is who are these 14 percent of Obama supporters in 2008 who now say they're going to vote for Governor Romney. Who are they?

NEWHOUSE: Well, OK, let's back up for a second. First (INAUDIBLE) the retention rate for Mitt Romney among --

KING: He's getting 91 percent of McCain voters --

NEWHOUSE: And Obama is just getting 78 percent of his own voters. That reflects everything we've seen in our focus groups, our other data. These voters are disillusioned. They're frustrated. For them to -- the hope is gone. You know these voters are frustrated, so you've got 22 percent of Americans, 14 plus the other eight percent who are -- they tend to be women. They tend to be younger, tend to be a little bit lower educated, and they're frustrated with the Obama economy. What's really interesting they've made up their minds on Barack Obama and he is not the one they elected four years ago.

KING: But you say their hope is gone. They're not sold, many of them on the fact that Mitt Romney is the change. In part they say he would do a better job handling the economy, but you've seen these numbers --


KING: -- that he doesn't quite get the middle class. How important -- what does Ann Romney say tonight that starts to open that door --

NEWHOUSE: I mean that's what this convention is all about. This convention is simply all about taking advantage of you know the audience we have and tell the story about Mitt Romney, about who he is as a person, as a father, a husband, a grandfather, his business experience, experience as governor, I mean it's filling the blanks on Mitt Romney and telling voters who he is --

KING: Here's a huge blank she has to help with. He leads -- this is the state of Florida which is a dead heat where we are tonight --

NEWHOUSE: Yes, absolutely.

KING: -- a key battleground state. He leads among men. We see this just about everywhere we go. It's a gender gap in his favor among men, but a deep divide, he needs to change those numbers. Why?

NEWHOUSE: Yes, this is not unusual, but you are absolutely right. We need to be doing better among women voters. And I think once they get a chance to know Mitt, once they get a chance to be introduced to him on our terms rather than President Obama's terms, I think we're going to make inroads. And it's not just going to be on character, but it's going to be on policy. I think the Obama economy has not -- there's been a war on women, but the war on women has been President Obama's economy. That's what's hurting these women.

KING: In the end this is what it is about.


KING: You are polling for the governor across the country. We have this. I don't think you would dispute this. We have 237 roughly either solid if they're dark blue or light blue leaning the president's way, 191 solid red or light red leaning Governor Romney's way. We're in Florida. Can you can get to 270 without turning this state red?

NEWHOUSE: Yes I mean -- but listen --

KING: Be my guest.


KING: Not too many people get to touch the "Magic Wall". It's yours.

NEWHOUSE: No, listen we're going to win Florida. We're going to win Florida. We're going to win North Carolina. We're going to win Virginia.

KING: That gets you ahead of the president.

NEWHOUSE: All right, Ohio is as usual ground zero in this election. We do well in the suburban areas around Columbus and in the rural areas southern Ohio, we get that vote out, we're going to edge it -- you saw the Columbus dispatch survey that showed out of 1,500 people they interviewed, there's a two person difference in who they're voting for and that's right now. Election Day, that turns red. Then we've got --

KING: Then you only need one more really.

NEWHOUSE: Then the hidden secret is Wisconsin. Nobody will tell I'm sure, but Wisconsin, this is a state that Paul Ryan has put into play and we think we can win Wisconsin.

KING: If you --

NEWHOUSE: Wisconsin could put us -- would put us over the top --


KING: -- next president of the United States, but what happens -- let's have the sake of argument.


KING: Let's say the president keeps Florida. That knocks -- that puts him on the doorstep. How do you block him then? Can you win New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado?

NEWHOUSE: Well let's see. New Hampshire puts us there, Iowa there, and Colorado puts us over -- almost with a tie.

KING: No, no --


KING: -- then we fight it out.

NEWHOUSE: Yes, then we fight --

KING: So you'd have to turn one of these blues probably.

NEWHOUSE: Well the state -- no -- you know what -- Nevada is going to turn. I mean I'm confident that state will go and it just puts more pressure on Pennsylvania and other states. But I'm sorry, we forgot Florida.


KING: I (INAUDIBLE) a scenario in which Florida going blue.


KING: It complicates your -- it makes your math much more difficult.

NEWHOUSE: Yes, but you know what --

KING: That is a very important 29 electoral votes --


KING: Is that why we're here?

NEWHOUSE: No, this is what makes the math difficult for Barack Obama, us winning Wisconsin. That makes his math much more difficult.

KING: And so you're overriding goal at the convention is what, to get a bump in the horse race numbers or to change those underlying numbers where people say he doesn't understand the middle class. He won't fight for me. I call it the empathy gap. Is that fair?

NEWHOUSE: Well it is, but when you look at the numbers right now, we're in a tight race going into this thing. There aren't many undecided voters. There aren't many persuadable voters out there and you have the Democratic Convention right on the heels of our convention. Once you get through these conventions I think we're going to be pretty much where we started in terms of a dead heat, but what we're going to see is we're going to see a different score in Mitt's image. Voters are going to understand more about his character. We're going to see underlying numbers on Mitt improve putting him in a better position to win in the fall.

KING: We'll save this to see if those numbers change during the convention.

NEWHOUSE: All right, John, my pleasure. KING: Neil Newhouse, appreciate your coming by.

NEWHOUSE: Thank you.

KING: Neil is going to get back to his important work at the convention. I'm going to walk over here as we take -- look at the important business undergoing on the floor. The Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus leading the conversations right now, like Paul Ryan he happens to be from the state of Wisconsin. Let's pick up our conversation with David Gergen, Gloria Borger, Alex Castellanos and Donna Brazile. Gloria, I want to start with you, Wisconsin, really, really in play?


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Hasn't been in play for a really long time and they believe that Paul Ryan is sort of their magic bullet there and that Paul Ryan can deliver the state. He's clearly made the polls tighten in the state of Wisconsin, but I still think that's a tough slog (ph) for Republican, but it's clearly -- it's in play.

KING: So when we went through that scenario, plausible the path to 270 Neil Newhouse just laid out or not so much?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well I understand why he said what he said (INAUDIBLE) especially a little bit too self- confident about Florida and about Ohio. Ohio is tough. It's been tough for them. They're running -- Alex put it -- they've been running five points behind --


GERGEN: And you know the auto bailout has really helped them win Ohio, so I don't see how you -- it's a very hard climb for Mitt Romney if loses either Ohio or Florida. I don't think either one of them is anywhere close to --

KING: And he was candid, Donna Brazile, about the fact that the gender gap, how far they're down among women. Republicans are not going to win among women, but when George W. Bush beat John Kerry in 2004 in a relatively close election, he had a 10-point gap among men and he only was minus three among women. Can Mitt Romney get from minus 10 to minus three, is that doable?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Not if women look at the Republican platform and think that there is a future for them in terms of health care access to the full range of (INAUDIBLE) health issues. He talked about the economy. Well women care about equal pay as well. I see a path to victory for President Obama. I just don't see the path that Mitt Romney can take at this time.


KING: We're going to listen to the chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus for a moment as you look at Senator Rick Santorum and his wife down on the floor.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: -- chart a better course, but if Barack Obama gets four more years, it might be too late. We're not just spending borrowed money. We're living on borrowed time. Look at the record of the outgoing administration, 23 million Americans struggling for work, 42 months of unemployment above eight percent, the worst jobs record since the great depression. It's time to elect Mitt Romney so we can get moving on the great America comeback!


PRIEBUS: Now the Obama apologists --

BLITZER: All right, we're listening to Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party. He's speaking here. We're getting ready later tonight to hear from Ann Romney and Chris Christie. He'll deliver the keynote address.

Our own Piers Morgan is here in Tampa as well. He spoke with the former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who had some specific advice about what Mitt Romney might want to say during his acceptance speech Thursday night. Stand by. Piers Morgan is joining us with Jeb Bush.


BLITZER: Look at these pictures. These are live pictures coming in from Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. This hurricane Isaac is really, really beginning to whip things up and it's still of the coast. Ari Fleischer is with us, Roland Martin is with us. We're watching the Republican convention, Ari and Roland.

First to Ari here in Tampa. And, Ari, you heard you on a conference call earlier today. You have some pretty strong views on you how these Republicans who have gathered here in Tampa needs to deal with this whole issue of a hurricane hitting Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, even as the speaking continues here in Tampa.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Wolf, I look at this on two levels. One is the government's responsibility of the way to help people out of harm and it being looks like that's going very well and I think everybody is praying for good results and help for the people in the storm's path.

From the political point of view here in Florida, our system is built around certain fundamental events. The conventions for each party, debate, Election Day.

And whenever there's some type of natural disaster like this, so long as it's not so terribly severe that so many lives are lost, we have an obligation to democracy. We wouldn't cancel presidential debates if there was a hurricane coming through a different city, and I look that this convention at the same way. It's important that it proceeds, it's important for the Democratic convention next week to proceed, and then we'll get on to the next political events.

That's how elections work, that's how democracy functions. And so, I'm just not a part of the group that says it should be canceled, this should be paired back, this should be toned down. It's part of Americana. It's part of politics.

BLITZER: Roland, you feel the same way.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I would say it's a part of the democracy. But the problem is this here, when you have such a major event, and you have speakers who are operating from the Republican, criticizing the president, his party, and his policies while you don't know what's happening on the ground, that's part of the problem.

One of the (INAUDIBLE) yesterday, that we have Republican governors in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, Jindal's not here. The governors of Mississippi and Alabama, same thing.

And so when you are dealing with folks who might be losing their life, might be displaced from their home. So, you have two different pictures that are going on.

So I don't believe that you cancel it, Ari, but I do think as a party, you have to recognize that you're having an event going on while you have a portion of the country that is being devastated and so it's hard to say one thing on the podium when you don't know what's happening on the ground. If it comes to shore, then you see what happens tomorrow. Even a better sense of what the damage was, how severe it was. That dictates certain things.

BLITZER: All right.

FLEISCHER: But these people are adept, they're able to just talk about what's happening on the ground there. They'll address it.

But that's -- my point is if it happened right before a presidential debate, the debate should go on. Convention should go on.

MARTIN: And as Senator Obama said in 2008, things go on, you have to do more than one thing when you're president. Same thing I think --

BLITZER: All right, guys. We're going to go on right here. Don't go too far away, though.

Piers Morgan is standing by. He's joining us right now.

Piers, you had a special guest you spoke to a little while ago.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: I did. Yes, I sat down with the two time governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. A man who's in a unique position really to tell Mitt Romney what it takes to be president. His brother and father were both presidents of the United States. And he, of course, was governor in a state that's going to be crucial to Mitt Romney's chances of winning election in November.

So I sat down with Jeb Bush and he was very revealing. Take a look at this.


MORGAN: Governor, nobody probably on God's Earth has a better idea of what Mitt Romney should do to win this election. You've been governor twice. You won two terms in Florida, which is going to be one of the key battlegrounds for the election. Your brother and your father were both president. As Mitt Romney prepares for what could be a crucial speech on Thursday, what advice do you give him from your unique perspective?

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Well, Piers, it's great to have you in Tampa, for starters.

MORGAN: Pleasure to be here.

BUSH: I would say two things. One, to layout a compelling alternative to the mess we're in. It's one thing to say, "Mr. President you failed." I think that's fair game. That's part of politics. But I think people know that. I mean, we're in tough economic times. And I think the -- we need to kind of -- he needs to restate his economic message to give people hope that there's a better chance for a better life going forward.

And the second thing he has to do is to share the Mitt Romney story. It's amazing that we live in a time where people see their candidates a lot but they don't really get a chance to know them. And I think Mitt Romney's a reserved man.

MORGAN: OK. Because of his track word, there are questions how about whether he's the right good. Is he the guy who can relate to the ordinary Americans in the street?

BUSH: There's two factors to this. One is that he's been reluctant to share what's in his heart and who he is. And the second is the guy's had the bark scraped off of him by an opponent who wants to change the conversation as quick as possible, away from his economic policy. So if you watch TV ads in Florida, we're -- I don't know if you know we're a battleground state.

MORGAN: Oh, yes.

BUSH: So we get a lot of TV ads. You would think Mitt Romney is everything, you know, should be in prison for first degree something. I mean --

MORGAN: He did all this -- I mean, I was following the trail of the Republican nominee race. And to be fair to Barack Obama and the Democrats, Mitt Romney was beating up all this opponents with equal vigor on the nominee race, wasn't it?

I mean, they've both been at each other.

BUSH: That's right. But I'm saying that you're -- to answer your question about why it is that people may not relate to Mitt Romney, they're seeing TV ads that make him into the devil incarnate, and he's not then as comfortable with showing what's in his heart ands who he is. And that is what it is.

MORGAN: Should he have revealed more of his taxes? It's one the problems, transparency here, that people know he's very rich and there are ongoing concerns about exactly why he got to be so rich?

BUSH: I happened -- again, I may be an aberration, but I think his wealth was earned. He earned it. His success should be celebrated, not be demonized.

But we're living in a world where every single aspect of every single little thing is scrutinized in unfair ways. So I'm not sure what the motivation was to do what he did, but he did the same thing John McCain did and there wasn't a big outcry. I mean, let's be fair about that.

Two years of tax returns, you get a pretty good sense ever how he's made his money and where he's paid his taxes and tithing he does which is again pretty remarkable.

MORGAN: On taxation, many Republicans are resolutely opposed to any new taxes. You've been suggesting that that maybe shouldn't be quite such a rigid position.

BUSH: Yes. I mean --

MORGAN: There's going to be a way getting this deficit down and, surely, some kind of revenue not an alien concept.

BUSH: If you get into very orthodox doctrinaire kind of positions where something that may not be a tax increase is considered one by some third party and therefore you can't abide by it. I mean, in order to get entitlement reform done, which if you look at our fiscal structural deficits and they're huge, 80 percent of it is spending -- 80 percent of it needs to be fixed with spending.

In order to get that done, you have to find through tax reform in all likelihood raising eligibility limits for Medicare. I mean, there's a lot of things that could be done that someone might view as a tax increase. It may be an ending of an exemption of some kind.

We have to -- we have to start solving problems.

MORGAN: Is it possible to get this deficit significantly reduced from $16 trillion without some tax increase?

BUSH: It's possible, sure. You can begin to see a reduction in the deficit. You're not going to reduce the debt because the debt will grow $1 trillion next year and $1 trillion after that and $10 trillion in 10 years and maybe more if we can't grow the economy.

So the job number one is to grow the economy. If you grew it 3.5 percent to 4 percent a year, you would require substantial changes in policy, but it could be done, you would garner more than enough revenue to be able to deal with that 20 percent for sure. It would change the whole debate even though higher income people now, we have the highest progressivity of any country in the developed world. We already pay 1 percent of the people get 20 percent of the income and pay 30 percent of the taxes. At what point do you say, OK, you've given enough?

We need to grow the economy and then deal with these out-year spending costs that are just unacceptable and unsustainable. And tax reform provides the catalyst I think for common ground to make this happen in a divided country.

Look, I just -- you know, I love my country and I see decline in the future unless we begin to solve these problems. If we can't solve it by having 60 Republican senators and a majority in the Congress and a Republican president with a clear agenda, good that doesn't happy in this election, then there has to be some compromise.

Ronald Reagan did it. He compromised. And he's now an icon among conservatives as he should be.

MORGAN: Governor, it's been a pleasure seeing you.

BUSH: Good to see you.

MORGAN: Good luck with your speech.


MORGAN: Jeb Bush there.

Gloria and David, I mean, I always -- whenever I've interviewed him, twice now, I think, wow, I'm amazed he never ran. He's like the voice of reason on almost every issue.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALST: I was just thinking that. He also talks about the big tent of the Republican Party. We have Neal Newhouse on earlier saying, OK, we might win Nevada. Well, that's a big question with Hispanic voters for the Republican Party. Jeb Bush talks about that constantly, particularly in terms of his own state of Florida.

But, look, he's talking about tax reform, he's talking about big tent, he's talking about compromise.


BORGER: Which is something you don't matter from a lot of Republicans, that maybe the reason he decided not reason.

MORGAN: And maybe something we haven't seen a lot from the Republicans. He was invoking the name of Reagan there and doing it quite deliberately I thought.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: He was. I mean, it's one of the perks of American history. That in 1994, the two Bush brothers ran for governor on the same day. Family thought Jeb would win, George W. would lose and that Jeb would go on to be the presidential candidate.

And instead, it flipped that day. George won, Jeb lost, and the rest was history. George became the president.

I think there's still a Jeb out there in the future. But he's got Paul Ryan to deal with now. Things have changed. But he offers an adult conversation.

MORGAN: John, I mean, that's what I thought. I feel like on almost everything I talked to him about, he was a reasonable man.

BORGER: Right.

MORGAN: And a lot of interviews I do are very divisive, people come from implacable extreme positions. He doesn't do that.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's a principled but pragmatic conservative. You heard there, a governing conservatism, that if you don't have all the votes, you have to cut a deal. That's the only way to get things done. It's also the way not to win this nomination.

So Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts had to deal with Democrats. He was a pragmatic, governing conservative. If he wins the election, would he be that or would he stick to the more ideological doctrinaire conservatism he had to preach to win the nomination in the year after the Tea Party? Who is Mitt Romney? You know what, a lot of these delegates ask that question.

He's going to present himself as the next Ronald Reagan, but they don't want him to cut the deals Reagan cut. And guess what? A lot of these delegates think he's George H.W. Bush again.


MORGAN: Could you imagine a situation if Mitt Romney were to lose this election where Jeb Bush was running for the nomination?

BORGER: I could, but this is a party in transition. Will it transition more to the right or will it transition to somebody like a Jeb Bush or like a Chris Christie. That's the big question for the Republican Party right now.

GERGEN: If Romney goes down, Jeb Bush will automatically be one of the front runners a day after the election.

MORGAN: I certainly agree.

Anyway, thanks for now, guys. Back to Wolf -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Piers, thanks very much.

I want to go to the podium right now. Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs in Utah, congressional candidate. She's speaking. I want to listen in briefly.


MAYOR MIA LOVE (R), UTAH CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Mr. President, I'm here to tell you, the American people are awake and we're not buying what you're selling in 2012.


LOVE: The American dream isn't just my story, isn't just your story, it's our story. It's a story of human struggles standing up and striving for more. Our story has been told for over 200 years with small steps and giant leaps. From a woman on a bus to a man with a dream, from the bravery of the greatest generation to the innovators and entrepreneurs of today, this is our story. This is our America. This is the America we know because we built it.



LOVE: Thank you. Yes, we did.

With Paul Ryan -- with Mitt Romney as president and Paul Ryan as vice president, we can restore and revive the American story we know and love. The world will know it. Our children will tell it and our grandchildren will possess it for years to come.

God bless America! This is our time. We are truly the best last hope on earth! Thank you.


BLITZER: Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs in Utah, clearly a rising star, firing up this crowd here at the Republican National Convention.

Erin, you and I will have a chance later in the 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour to speak with her life. I'm looking forward to that.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Her story is amazing. If she's elected, she's running for Congress, she'd be the first black female Republican congresswoman. So --

BLITZER: From Utah.

BURNETT: From Utah. And her story is really amazing. I'm looking forward talking to her.

BLITZER: We're going to get that story. We're going to talk to her. That's coming up.

We're also going to be going back to Anderson Cooper and our crews there in New Orleans, along the Gulf, the hurricane -- hurricane Isaac is moving closer and closer toward them -- the wind and the rain already seeing flooding caused by the storm surges. We'll have much more on that part of the story when we come back.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, welcome back. I'm coming to you live from New Orleans here with CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano. Also going to be joined by Chad Myers. We're also going to check in with Soledad O'Brien in just moment, who's in Jackson Square.

But it's really interesting, about five minutes ago, there was no rain. It seemed like everything kind of dissipated and then we saw a squall come through and now it's dissipated again.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's how it's been all day and the frequency of the breaks has certainly shortened and that will be the way it goes for the next few hours.

You know, just before we went on broadcast, we took a look at the computer and there's a buoy just at the mouth of the Mississippi, where the winds were gusting 60, 70 miles per hour and all of a sudden it went calm. So that's where the eye of this thing is. It's just about to make its way. And as we're totally in different path than Katrina, we're on the right side, the worst side of the storm, so we'll be peppered with the rain and wind squalls throughout the night.

COOPER: I want to bring in Chad Myers. Chad, when is the worst of this storm supposed to hit in the New Orleans area?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I would probably say somewhere a little bit after midnight, that would be when the closest approach to the eye wall that you're going to get. But that's going to continue to be bad all the way to 8:00 a.m.

So you'll have eight hours of just pounding, pounding weather. Let's zoom in to what Rob was talking about, which is basically the center of circulation, the eye now, forming the eye still. Try to form a smaller eye which would have had much higher winds. That eye, again, fell apart. This has been the real story with this storm.

Let's just do a couple of things here. I'll see if we can get a wind gust out there. That's 70 -- I saw 77 miles per hour there, 60 miles per hour here. And where Eddie Lavandera is, we got about 48, 49 miles per hour for him.

So this is really going. This storm is now taking shape. It's moving everywhere we thought it would. It's now beginning to push water into places that we knew what would happen. Especially Shell Beach now, 9.3 feet of storm surge already. Not even close to having the center.

There's the oil platform here at the bottom of the Mississippi River, 106-mile-per-hour gusts about a half hour ago. There's Grand Isle, 60-mile-per-hour winds. Our Eddie Lavandera is broadcasting live from there.

You guys are right there, under that bridge. You're going to have a minor wind gust, another band, in about 10 minutes, and a bigger one in about one hour. Here's the port of New Orleans.

Now, let's take you over to Shell Beach, MRGO, and what's going on here in the Lower Ninth Ward. The water's pouring in from Lake Borgne here. We're now 9.3 feet above where we should be. That water is pouring into MRGO. Back in Katrina, with this kind of wind and this kind of water, we would have piled up water here and poured it into the Lower Ninth Ward. That's exactly how it happened. But with this hurricane, they have built a big wall to stop that. Let's hope all these things work because there's a lot of moving parts -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, well, a lot of eyes are going to be on that levee system, $10 billion worth of levee protection and floodgates built over last seven years. More still to be built.

Let's check in with Ed Lavandera who is in Grand Isle.

Ed, you've been seeing the brunt of this storm so far. What does it look like?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're getting another one of those bands and squalls that are starting to push through again and intensify the situation here in Grand Isle. And as we sit here and talk to you, Anderson, the rain is coming out of the north, as it swirls around the island here. In a matter of seconds, those cones on the north side of the island will become very difficult to see.

What we've been trying to show you a little bit of is the surge that is coming out of the bay waters on to this island. Making its way well on to the island as well, covering up some of the back roads on this north side of island. We've seen that slowly, slowly start making its way toward where we are. We anticipate that we'll continue to see that.

You won't se that dissipate until the wind shifts again and blows everything back into the bay area. So we'll continue to monitor that.

We've seen some light damage just over our shoulder here, some pieces of the roof. Metal roof were starting to swirl off, dancing around like a piece of string, and was ripped off of that. And we know back over in this direction, this is the way out of the island. There are power lines that are down.

As we try to make our way back over here to show you the north side of the island, Anderson, this is the area where we'll continue to monitor as well. You can see a lot of the water starting to fill up this space close to where we are. And we're expecting the storm surge, which had been forecasted to reach perhaps about seven feet here on Grand Isle, to fill up this area. And the main road that cuts through the island is just beyond those homes right over there.

We're on a ridge that is on the highest point the island. At some point, all of this will be covered in water as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: We'll also want to check in with Soledad O'Brien, who is in Jackson Square in the French Quarter. An area more protected with buildings. What's the rain, the wind been like down there, Soledad?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, same thing. We're getting strong bands with heavy rain at times. And it sort of dissipates. Right now, it seems calmer than it was, say 30 seconds ago, or even a minute ago.

And, then, you know, this as you know, Anderson, is sort of tourist central right here in Jackson Square. But most of the people are gone. Got a couple of people hanging out. They've got rain slickers on. Even though Mayor Landrieu said he would prefer people stay indoors and don't risk going outside.

That's not the same as in Plaquemines Parish which we spent a little time earlier today, where they actually have mandatory evacuations. We talked to the parish president earlier and he was hoping that everybody would get out of the parish. They've got some 300 people who are in shelters there.

One of the problems is with the gates, like a levee gate that failed, wouldn't close, so they had to take these HESCO baskets, they're calling them, these big giant mesh baskets, they fill them with sand, lay them down, then build a road over those baskets so they could get emergency gear in and out if they had to, at the same time kind of creating a mini levee. They did it over about seven hours. That was a big problem in Plaquemines Parish.

Big worry, of course, is the storm surge. That's what the people here are concerned about as they hunker down and wait for the bigger part of the storm to come through -- Anderson.

COOPER: And as you heard from Chad Myers -- Chad is saying about an hour where we expect to see another strong band of that storm hitting this area. We're, of course, going to bring that to you live. Big night ahead, though, for the folks here in New Orleans, from 12:00 to 8:00 a.m. Chad Myers saying pounding rain all evening long. We'll of course bring all of that to you.

And a big night in Tampa for the Republican convention, Ann Romney, Chris Christie, stars of the Republican Party and the Romney family. Our coverage continues in just a moment.



RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: With a deep awareness of the responsibility inferred by your trust, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This is America. A brilliant diversity, spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.

BOB DOLE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I call on every American to rise above all that may divide us.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They had their chance. They have not led. We will.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight for what's right for our country. ANNOUNCER: This is CNN.


BLITZER: Here in Tampa, we've watched Mitt Romney go over the top in the roll call of delegates.

BURNETT: And now they are getting ready tonight to hear from his wife, Ann.