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Hurricane Patricia Heads Towards Mexico; Donald Trump Polls 2nd Behind Carson in Iowa; Is Poll Wake-Up Call for Trump?; Interview with Lindsey Graham. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 23, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.


We have breaking news. The strongest hurricane in recorded history is getting close to landfall. We got a brand new update on its path. Patricia is a category 5 storm but that barely even describes its strength. We're talking winds of 200 miles per hour.

BOLDUAN: It's headed straight for the Mexican tourist spots, from Puerto Vallarta to Acapulco.

CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers is watching its every move.

Chad, a brand new forecast is just in. What's the very latest here?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The very latest is that it is still 200 miles per hour. The pressure is still 880 millibars. That's the lowest pressure of anything ever called a hurricane. There was a typhoon, Typhoon Tipp, that had the lowest. Typhoons and hurricanes are the same thing, just in different oceans. Typhoon Tipp was way off in the Western Pacific.

What I've noticed here in the past couple of hours is that this storm has begun to turn to the right. It's turned to the right, as forecast. It was never forecast to go to Puerto Vallarta and hit this town of mans nil low. It will be hit with 30 to 40-foot storm surge, 200 miles an hour. Another town farther to the north by 20 miles. This is the area we'll see. Understand, I know this is a huge number, 200 miles per hour but that number is really only about eight or 10 miles across. That's still an F-4, almost F-5. That is eight miles wide and will slam across the coast then it will slow down to 75 miles an hour. That's how deeply this wind is only in the middle of the storm. Hurricane warning, significant, significant storm surge, and I can't imagine what 200-mile-an-hour winds would do to any home anywhere, no matter where it's built. This will be a devastating storm surge, flash flooding event as it rains in the mountains and all of a sudden that rain has to head back down into the same places that just got hit by the storm surge. We could see 18 inches of rainfall easy in some of these spots.

Eventually, some of this will even get into south Texas. Maybe heavy rainfall for Houston over the weekend before it finally dies out. This isn't going to be a hurricane for Houston but it certainly could be an additional rainmaker as some moisture for Patricia finally gets there.

BERMAN: Catastrophic damage that could leave some places inhabitable for months as one forecaster put it.

Chad Myers, thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chad.

Let's turn now to the shakeup in the Republican race for White House. Take a look at the latest numbers out of Iowa. Donald Trump finds himself in foreign territory, second place. A Bloomberg/"Des Moines Register" poll shows Carson with a commanding lead in that state.

BERMAN: Nine points, count them, nine points. "The Des Moines Register" poll, considered the gold standard in polling in Iowa. And the factors behind Carson's lead are, oh, so revealing.

The mad scientist behind these numbers is J. Ann Selzer, one of the most respected pollsters in America. I'm not exaggerating. She joins us live from Iowa.

Ann, great to have you with us.

In Iowa, we always talk about the strength of the evangelical voter and the GOP caucuses. Carson is doing well there, leading among evangelicals. But that only begins to tell the story here.

J. ANN SELZER, POLLSTER: No, that's right. And the evangelical factor is what people associate Iowa with. I think it's important to know, when we do the polling on that group, they turn out to be less than a majority of the people who say they're likely to go to caucus. I took a look at the entrance polls from the last couple of caucuses and they break the majority. They're 50 percent. But there is no candidate, not Mike Huckabee and not Rick Santorum who got the majority of the evangelical vote. It certainly is a big factor. They tend to turn out their people in higher proportionate numbers so it's meaningful that Ben Carson is doing well, better than average with evangelicals but it's not the whole story.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely not the whole story. You've pointed out -- I mean, look at the favorability number for Ben Carson right now, 84 percent?

SELZER: Very strong, very strong. Now, the Democratic side, they have those numbers with their core supporters as well but that's a very strong number. Really, when you look at Carson and say, where is he weak, which is what you might look for. Well, you see that strong favorability number and you go, well, he's widely liked. In fact, very few people dislike him. That's where he's really in a comfort zone. Donald Trump is in a strong second place but there are a lot of people who dislike him. BERMAN: What about all the firestorms about the things that Ben

Carson has said. There was the stuff, you know, about Hitler. There was the stuff about Muslims. You polled this and it turns out, what, that 73 percent of the people you polled, the likely caucus-goers, found his comments that no Muslim, he wouldn't support a Muslim in the White House, 73 percent said mostly or very attractive. They found it a plus.

[11:05:22] SELZER: You know, one of the things we wanted to do in this poll is unpack the support behind Carson and kind of find anyplace where there's -- where the sands could shift a little bit. What we found is some of those very strong statements, very vivid statements he's made, it's not that he's popular in spite of them. He's popular because of them. There's an alignment with Republican caucus-goers in Iowa on those issues. And I think that, perhaps, was a little bit of a surprise. The one thing where he has to -- two areas where he needs to -- he has a little bit of a weak spot. One is in foreign policy. Needing to show he's got what it takes to negotiate on that territory. And then people were more concerned than not about pastor search he did as a neurosurgeon, doing research on fetal tissue. As you can imagine, that's a built of a hot point with Republican caucus-goers. So, that's sort. Lone thing we found in this poll that was much of a weakness.

BOLDUAN: With your vast experience with Republican caucus-goers, when it comes to the calendar we're still looking at here before the Iowa caucuses, is there time, is there space for Donald Trump to get his mojo back or is it time for other candidates, room for him to grow now?

SELZER: Well, there's potential for Ted Cruz to grow, indeed. We take a look at evangelicals and who is their second choice after Carson. It's a very specific kind of analysis. In fact, Ted Cruz does well with that group. Maybe he's being overshadowed by Ben Carson. We'll sort of see how he decides to play out that hand.

BOLDUAN: Ann Selzer, great to see you. Thank you so much.

SELZER: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

What can Trump do -- he's in second place -- to take back this poll? Should it be a wake-up call for Donald Trump campaign?

Let's ask his national campaign co-chair and policy adviser, Sam Clovis, joining us from Sioux City.

Sam, thank you for joining us. We really appreciate it.

You take a look at these two polls in 24 hours putting Trump down now in second place. Some say that's a trend. What does it tell you?

SAM CLOVIS, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN NATIONAL CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR & POLICY ADVISOR: Well, I think if you take a look at the fact we've been leading for more days than there are days to go to the caucus, we've had -- we've came in second in three polls so far in that entire time in the state of Iowa. And I've got to commend Dr. Carson's super PAC for all the work they've done on the ground out here. They mounted a very good ground game. They've been at it for two years. This is probably bearing the fruits of that labor. One of the things, in all due respect to Ms. Selzer and her polls, and she does a marvelous job, is that there's still some thought that -- take a look at the sample size. The other thing is, all the people that come to our rallies and the people we're going to turn out for the caucuses are not really polled in that because we're talking to likely Republican caucus-goers. We've been talking a lot of the old Reagan Democrats and a lot of independents. They don't get included in these polls very often. I think there may be a surprise or two on caucus night. And you know, I could throw out all the cliches. You know, we're in my favorite time of the year when we're getting ready for the World Series and I could throw out all the cliches but I think what we ought to say is it 101 days to the caucus and we'll see how things play out.

BERMAN: Sam, you know, are you -- you're an old Iowa hand and you did a lot of campaigns there and you know what works and doesn't work. You're a strategist.

CLOVIS: Right.

BERMAN: Do you wish Donald Trump put some advertising on TV? Is it time for him to spend some of his $10 billion? It's nothing. It's pocket change. Put up a few ads. Would that help him come back against Ben Carson?

CLOVIS: We have not done -- clearly, you are all commenting on it. We haven't run a conventional campaign. We've inserted the pyramid. We've taken a lot of the things that people would do, you know, traditionally, moving to the end, we did those up front. We have a very methodical, very deliberate process in place right now that's playing out on whipping boats and getting people to their precincts to vote that night. And I think you're going to see more from us as we go forward here. I'm not going to tip my hand, I mean, that's not my way to do things. We certainly don't want to do the fact we have -- our volunteers, all the people we have are doing the methodic all, day-to-day, blocking and tackling of identifying caucus- goers, reaching out to them, getting them to register, get them to the doors and make sure they're all inside at 7:00 p.m., get people to talk to them at the caucus locations. I think we're in good shape.


[11:10:28] BOLDUAN: As you know, better than anybody, organization is key in Iowa.

I have to ask you, Sam, before we let you go, when it comes to Iowans, one thing you don't want to question is corn and one thing you don't want to question is their mental capacity, if you're trying to win their vote. About this tweet from the official verified account that was retweeted from Donald Trump, he said he blamed it on an intern and he apologized. But in that retweet, it essentially questioned -- said maybe Iowans were brain-damaged because of these poll numbers coming out. Is that a problem for you guys or what -- what do you think when you see that kind of a controversy pop up when you're trying to get the organization out, like you say?

CLOVIS: I think it has more to do with the celebrity of the candidate. You guys are sorting through all the wheat to pick out the things that make news, to become controversial, to push things out. That's a typical news cycle. I've run for office in the state. I know exactly how that works. You have someone catches you going out the door, you make an offhand remark and the next thing you know, it's on the national news. I think this whole issue and you'll find Mr. Trump will be addressing this probably this afternoon down in Florida. If you talk about where we are with biotechnology and all those other factors, you'll find out where we stand on this, this afternoon. But I think it's more of a media and celebrity issue more than anything else. I think that's what everybody wants. Everybody wants to find something to go after Mr. Trump on.

I think now that you have Dr. Carson in the lead in Iowa on these two polls, I think Dr. Carson is probably going to start to get the scrutiny that Donald Trump has enjoyed most of his life. So maybe Dr. Carson will get the scrutiny we've seen reflected on Mr. Trump for most of his life.

BOLDUAN: We'll wait to see what Mr. Trump has to say in Florida on this issue. When you choose to pick fights on Twitter, you need to be careful what you do put out on Twitter. That's where Mr. Trump has taken on a lot of folks.

CLOVIS: I think you need to be careful who you have that has access to that. I think that's probably one thing that we are very careful about. If you have any idea about how we're structured in our campaign, you know, this will be dealt with and it will be dealt with correctly and swiftly.

BOLDUAN: Sam Clovis, thanks. We appreciate it, Sam.

CLOVIS: Thanks, guys. We'll see you.

BOLDUAN: We'll see you.

BERMAN: He said wheat, but it's about corn in Iowa. Just to fact-check.

BOLDUAN: Do not fact check Sam Clovis.

BERMAN: Different kind of farming.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Sam.

Coming up, one Republican presidential candidate says Carson's rise is proof that, in his words, everybody else thinks we suck. Senator Lindsey Graham is joining us next.

BERMAN: Plus, Hillary Clinton. Why is this woman smiling? What a week. The question is, is there baggage from the Benghazi hearing that might haunt her in 2016? And we now know the name of the American soldier killed in combat

face-to-face with ISIS terrorists in a daring mission to rescue hostages. New details about this man and about that mission ahead.


[11:18:02] BOLDUAN: It was tense, there were fireworks, and it was definitely a marathon. Throughout the 11-hour hearing before the House Benghazi Committee, Hillary Clinton was disciplined and pretty much remained calm. The Republicans on the panel took many swings at the former secretary of state, but did they land any punches?

BERMAN: The Democrats pretty much took no swings at Hillary Clinton. They didn't really ask all that many real questions either. They focused their ire on the Republicans running the committee and, initially, on the presidential candidates that they say are trying to politicize Benghazi.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D), MARYLAND: Carly Fiorina said that Secretary Clinton has blood on her hands. Mike Huckabee accused her of ignoring the warning calls. And Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, "Where the hell were you on the night of the Benghazi attack?" Everyone on this panel knows these accusations are baseless.


BERMAN: One of the men name-checked right there, Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate. He joins us now.

Senator, thank you for being with us.


BERMAN: This morning, some of the conservative reaction to the hearing yesterday is pretty mixed. Erick Erickson said, "The hearings were a waste of time." Byron York wrote, "They were very, very good for Hillary Clinton." Matt Lewis says, "Hillary Clinton got her groove back." Your reaction?

GRAHAM: I couldn't disagree more. What did we learn? 600 requests for additional security all denied. She says she had no idea that the people in Libya were requesting additional security. Given the deteriorating environment inside Libya, I find that hard to believe. The most damning of all is now that we found all her e-mails on September 12th, she e-mailed her family and said to her family, the Libyan government and the Egyptian government, there was no protest caused by video, this was an al Qaeda attack on the consulate. That's the 12th of September. On the 14th of September, she was at Andrews Air Force Base as the bodies came home. She looked every family member in the eye and said, we're going to get the man who made that video. In my view, she's unqualified to be president of the United

States. She told the families a complete lie for political purposes. And the day after, on the 15th of September, Susan Rice, on your network, and every other network, said there was no coordinated terrorist attacks. This was a protest caused by video. I think she's complicit in misleading the American people eight weeks before an election to help a president get re-elected.

[11:20:48] BOLDUAN: When it comes to the Benghazi hearing, when it comes to the issue of her e-mails and how this has all come out through this investigation, a lot of folks generally agree it's a Rorschach test. You see in it what you want to see. What you learn from it is what you want to learn from it. You put a lot of faith in Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the committee. Here's what he said last night from what he learned.


REP. TREY GOWDY, (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI: In terms of her testimony, I don't know that she testified that much differently today than she has the previous times she's testified.


BOLDUAN: He says -- basically, he says he didn't learn anything knew from her testimony, so was it worth it? A lot of folks say she won.

GRAHAM: All I can tell you is if you're OK with the following scenario, I'm not. The secretary of state in an e-mail we finally discovered after three years tells her own family, the Libyan government, the Egyptian government, there was no protest caused by video, this was an al Qaeda attack. On the 14th of September, two days later, the same person told the families, we're going to get the guy who made the video. And she sat on the sidelines as Susan Rice told the exact opposite story, on 15 September, it was a protest caused by video. Now, this is eight weeks before an election. The president said al Qaeda is decimated. Lied instead. If the truth had come out that this was a terrorist attack and al Qaeda was roaming large in Libya, it would hurt the president. It matters to me. It may not matter to anybody else. But I don't think you should be president of the United States if you can look a family member in the eye of the fallen and tell them a lie about what happened to their family members. That's exactly what she did. That's what Susan Rice did. At the end of the day, Susan Rice needs to come before this committee and account for her story.

BERMAN: Senator Graham, a little political news today. A big poll out of the first caucus state of Iowa. That poll has Ben Carson on top, Donald Trump in second. There's also a number in there that is pretty interesting that you may not like quite as much. The people were asked which candidate should drop out of the race. You were not leading. Donald Trump leading that poll, 25 percent.


BERMAN: Number two, George W. Bush, 22 percent.



BERMAN: Senator Graham, coming in third in Iowa.

GRAHAM: There you go.

BERMAN: Are you celebrating being double digits in a poll or are you --


BOLDUAN: Stop it. Stop.

GRAHAM: No, no. There's 22 percent of the people out there that don't like me and Bush.


The bottom line is I'm not going to make a decision about my candidacy about a poll in October. I think I'm best qualified to be commander-in-chief of anybody running. I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan 35 times. 30 years in the Air Force. I understand this war. What President Obama is doing against ISIL is not going to work. His plan is not working. Donald Trump's plan is even worse than that of Obama. He's going to let the Russians destroy ISIL. ISIL wants to attack our homeland. Donald Trump is going to let Russians defend America. Other than that, I think Trump's --


GRAHAM: -- is own his way to winning.


BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about that. Donald Trump in this latest poll, he's now in second. This is the second poll in 24 hours to say he's second in Iowa. After all the back and forth and some of the comments you've said to me about Donald Trump, do you get any personal satisfaction seeing him drop in the polls like that?

GRAHAM: No, it's not personal. I'm just glad people in Iowa are waking up to the fact that Donald Trump has no clue about what he's talking about when it comes to being commander-in-chief. ISIL wants to do three things, purify the faith, destroy Israel, get us here at home. The head of ISIL, al Baghdadi, told the American colonel when he was turned over to the Iraqis by the Americans, that I'll see you in New York. Donald Trump's solution is leave Syria alone, let Russians fight ISIL even though they're a direct threat to our homeland. At the end of the day, he's been on one side of the issue and the other side of the issue with Afghanistan. What's satisfying is that the more questions people like you ask Mr. Trump, the worse he does. I don't think he's prepared to be commander-in-chief. Over time, I think I will do better. But the people of Iowa, I don't think you're dumb at all. I think you're very smart. Some of you don't like me. I can accept that.


BERMAN: Senator Graham, thank you --


BOLDUAN: And only the way Senator Graham can end an interview.


Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

[11:25:12] BERMAN: And a smile with Trump falling a little bit, too.



BERMAN: Senator, take care.

Be sure to join me this weekend, Sunday morning, 8:30 a.m., doing "Inside Politics." We'll have great discussions about the political state of the country. Then at 9:00, watch "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper. He has Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders. A lot going on starting Sunday morning, 8:30 a.m.

BOLDUAN: Who's anchoring "Inside Politics"?

BERMAN: That would be me.


BERMAN: That would be me.

BOLDUAN: Just making sure we got that.

Coming up, more on the breaking news, the biggest hurricane in recorded history, getting close to landfall. An entire coast on alert for a category 5 storm that's expected to cause catastrophic damage. We'll speak with someone who just flew through that monster storm.


[11:50:11] BERMAN: The breaking news this morning, the strongest hurricane on record. One --