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Powerful Hurricane Heading Toward Florida; Discussion on Trump and Immigration Policy; Clinton Fundraising Hits Record Amount; Latest Campaign Happenings; Trump Health Report; Donald Trump Doubles Down on Immigration Rhetoric. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 1, 2016 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Storm surge. Hermine is now a life-threatening hurricane and will slam into Northern Florida just hours from now, pushing up to eight feet of water ashore. There's already flooding. Heavy rain has been pounding the Gulf Coast, and much more is on the way.

Tens of millions of people up the East Coast could be hit by very severe weather over the holiday weekend.

Zero tolerance or not? Donald Trump says there will be no amnesty for undocumented immigrants and no path to citizenship. He says anyone in the country illegally is subject to deportation, beginning with those who have committed crimes. So why is Trump insisting he's softening his position?

Historic haul. Criticized by Donald Trump for not showing up on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton was very busy raising more than $140 million in August, setting a record for her campaign. Can Trump compete with the Democratic war chest?

And explosive failure. A test firing turns into a stunning launchpad blast, destroying a rocket and a high-priced communications satellite. So what went wrong?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news: Florida hasn't seen a hurricane in a decade, but that's about to change very quickly. Packing winds of 75 miles per hour, Hermine is now a category one hurricane and will slam into Northern Florida just hours from now. It will bring potentially deadly storm surging of up to eight feet and much more rain to areas that are already experiencing flooding.

Florida's governor says it's a life-threatening storm. Forecasters say it could also spawn tornadoes. Emergencies have been declared in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, and tens of millions of people could be in harm's way along the East Coast during this holiday weekend.

Despite a very hardline immigration speech, Donald Trump insists his position is softening. That follows his renewed pledge of no amnesty and no path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and his doubling down on vows to build a wall, create a deportation force, and start expelling illegal immigrants as soon as he takes office. Some Latino leaders are giving up on Donald Trump, saying he misled them.

Plus, Hillary Clinton headlined three dozen fundraisers in August, and her campaign just announced it took in a record $143 million last month, the biggest and best cash haul of her campaign. It may ease the sting of a tough month where Clinton, swamped by questions about her e-mail server and the role of the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state.

I'll speak with the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus. And our correspondents, analysts, and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories.

Let's begin right now with the breaking news. As millions brace for the impact of a potentially deadly hurricane, our meteorologists are in the CNN severe weather center and along the Florida coast. Let's go right to CNN's Jennifer Gray. She's on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Jennifer, what are you seeing?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Wolf, this has really deteriorated in the last hour or so. The rain coming down. The winds have increased. One of those rain bands came on shore just in the last hour. You could really tell those winds picking up.

We're on Apalachicola River. And if you can see behind me, the river is going this way. That is upstream. It should be going the opposite direction, and that's what we talk about when we talk about storm surge. The energy and the winds with these storms just pull all of that water in. And this is an extremely vulnerable part of the state, especially that big bend of Florida right on the east side of this storm. And so that's filled with bays and intercostal waterways. And so all of the water from this storm is going to go into those bays and intercostal waterways. That's why we could see five to seven feet of storm surge.

High tide occurred just about a half hour ago, and so it looks like this storm is going to make landfall at low tide, which is the best case scenario.

But I can tell you, Wolf, water is already rising in this area. The streets just behind us are also filled with water, and so flooding a major concern with this. All of the evacuations along those coastal areas, hopefully people heeded those warnings and got out of harm's way. Now is the time that you should have already wrapped up your preparation, and you are in your safe spot. We still have a couple of hours to go before, just on that side of the eye is going to cross over the Apalachicola area in probably the next three to four hours.

[17:05:02] And then from there, this storm is going to push north towards Tallahassee, where we could see more extreme flooding. We could see very damaging winds. A lot of trees in this area, Wolf, so we could see a widespread loss of power. And those power crews are out in full force, getting ready to go if need be. But this is far from over, Wolf. We still have several, several hours to go.

BLITZER: Be careful over there, Jennifer Gray, on the scene for us.

States of emergency not only are in effect across Florida right now, but also in Georgia and North Carolina. States further up the East Coast may also be in this storm's path, as well. Meteorologist Tom Sater has the updated forecast on where the hurricane is heading.

We just got this information. What's the latest, Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we've got 51 counties out of 67 in Florida, state of emergency. Another 56 in Georgia. The numbers go on and on.

You can see our well-defined eye. It's not the most intense storm. It's a Category 1. But this one's a little different, Wolf, because we've got a gold front that is coming in from Georgia right now into the Carolinas. As these two systems merge, it's going to enhance the rate of rainfall and the amount of rain. And that is a big concern, as well as the topography. From Apalachicola eastward, this bend is just funneling in these feeder bands. And so we're going to see a greater storm surge from this Category 1 than we would see somewhere else. Maybe a category two.

Now, 25 million Americans are under some sort of watch or warning. And red is a hurricane warning; blue, tropical storm warnings for the Florida coastline; and yellow, it's a watch.

The system will make its way up the Eastern Seaboard. The trend is a westward movement. At first it looked like it moved across northern Florida back out into the ocean.

Well, now, here we go. As we watch it move in on Friday across South Carolina, keep in mind: They went through massive flooding back in October. So they're already thinking, "Oh, here go again."

But if you move on into the future, into the weekend, look at the cone of uncertainty. Do not change any plans. We call it a cone of uncertainty for a reason. It could move back into the northeast. It could slide a little bit further out.

But again, it's the rainfall rates that already Tampa, ten inches, looking at a lot more. Anything you see in orange and red. That's over four, six, seven, eight inches. We could see isolated spots getting 20 inches in Florida, into Georgia. And then enhanced rainfall in the Carolinas, Wolf, as moisture comes in from the Atlantic. There could be easily a foot of rain in many locations.

Here's our storm surge problem. Possibly five feet. To give you an idea of what we're seeing now at this time, in Cedar Key, probably the worst right now. It's at 3.4 feet. Apalachicola at 2 and -- 2.3. St. Petersburg, as well.

Keep in mind, Wolf -- and this is the concern of the governor right now -- the last hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Wilma. That was in 2005, along with Katrina. We went through the entire alphabet that year. It's been 11 years.

BLITZER: Tom Sater at the CNN weather center. All right, Tom. We'll stay in touch with you.

Speaking of the governor, we have the Florida governor, Rick Scott, on the phone with us right now.

Governor, thanks very much for joining us. I know you're incredibly busy, and you've been getting briefings from the National Hurricane Center. What's the latest information they are telling you to share with the people of Florida?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA (VIA PHONE): Yes, Wolf, what I worry about is we know we can rebuild a home, but we can't rebuild a life. So I'm working hard to make sure everybody in our state gets prepared. We've got a couple counties that have nine to 12 feet of storm surge. We're talking about 20 inches, winds up to 75 miles per hour, potential tornadoes. So we have areas where we have mandatory evacuations, evacuate. Voluntary evacuations, you are to evacuate.

We have 20 shelters open. We are prepared, but you have got to take care of yourself. We cannot save somebody during a storm. Water, food, medicine. Make sure you have a battery-powered radio. Charge up your cell phone. You don't know when you're going to lose power.

So we're going to have a lot of downed powerlines. We're going to have a lot of flooding. We're going to have a lot of standing water. Don't drive in it. Don't touch a powerline. I want every citizen of our state to be safe.

BLITZER: What's your biggest concern, Governor, right now with this storm?

SCOTT: Well, my first concern is, you know, the storm surge. So my first concern is evacuation, is that we've got to get people out of these mandatory evacuation areas. Evacuate. You can go to Or 850-921-0217. Find out if you're in an area that has mandatory evacuations and evacuate now. Don't wait. Don't wait till it starts. Evacuate now. In voluntary evacuation areas, you ought to evacuate. That's my first concern.

Then my next concern is we're going to see flooding. I want our citizens to be ready, in case they lose power, but when they start driving again, don't drive in standing water. Don't touch a downed power line. We're going to have a lot of downed power lines. So I'm just worried right now is everybody getting ready.

[17:10:07] BLITZER: I'm also worried, especially about the elderly who may not be able to evacuate. I know you're worried about that, as well. Governor, be safe over there. We'll stay in close touch with you. Good luck to all the people of Florida who are in harm's way right now. Thank you very much for joining us.

SCOTT: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: There are other important news we're following, including some stunning new developments in the presidential campaign. After a lightning-fast visit to Mexico, Donald Trump laid out his immigration policy last night. In a very hard-hitting, very hardline speech, he doubled down on deportation and his border wall. But he's also sending some mixed signals.

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, is there any doubt where Donald Trump stands right now on immigration?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There are doubts, Wolf. Donald Trump is back to referring to his plan on immigration as a softening of his original earlier proposals that we heard during the earlier months of this campaign. But that is not how his message is being received by both his strongest supporters and his toughest critics.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump proved once again today his stance on immigration is a moving target.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We're going to build a wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall. We're going to stop drugs from coming in.

People are being poisoned, and we've got to get it stopped. And we will get it stopped, and we're going to get it stopped quickly if I win.

ACOSTA: At two different events in Ohio the GOP nominee was both talking tough on immigration while toning down his rhetoric on Mexico one day after his historic visit with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, a visit designed to show he can be diplomatic.

TRUMP: I just came back from a wonderful meeting with the president of Mexico, where I expressed my deep respect for the people of his country and for the tremendous contributions of Mexican-Americans in our country. Many are in our armed services.

ACOSTA: Adding to the confusion, a talk radio appearance, where Trump insisted he is softening, suggesting he will prioritize the deportation of undocumented criminals over the removal of law-abiding unauthorized immigrants.

TRUMP: Oh, there's softening. We get a lot of people in this country that you can't have. And those people will get out, and then we're going to make a decision at a later date, once everything is stabilized. I think you're going to see there's really quite a bet of softening.

ACOSTA: The problem is...

TRUMP: There will be no amnesty. You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country.

ACOSTA: ... most of his supporters and critics heard Trump hardening in his immigration speech in Phoenix, warning any undocumented person in the U.S. is subject to deportation. The address sent some of his own Latino surrogates straight for the exits.

JACOB MONTY, FORMER TRUMP HISPANIC ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBER: I've resigned. I know other people have resigned. It -- it's not a good feeling, because the alternative is not much better. But I'm -- I'm unwilling to be part of his propaganda machine.

ACOSTA: The Clinton campaign insists Trump hasn't softened a bit, except when it comes to confronting Mexico's president over who should pay for a wall on the southern U.S. border, a matter Trump claims he didn't discuss with Pena Nieto.

TRUMP: We did discuss the wall. We didn't discuss payment of the wall.

ACOSTA: The Mexican president insists he made his stance clear.

ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): I can say with all clarity and in public, and the candidate Trump knows, that I was emphatic to affirm that Mexico wouldn't pay, by any means, for the wall.

TRUMP: Tim Kaine accused Trump of cracking on the wall.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: That was a choke, and I think it shows that diplomacy is not for amateurs. Donald Trump is an amateur.

ACOSTA: Mike Pence pushed back on that to Wolf.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I can tell you for a fact that both sides fully understood before the meeting that they disagreed on who would pay for the wall.

There was really no need to discuss that at the meeting.


ACOSTA: And the question now is whether Trump's shifting back and forth on immigration will change the equation in battleground states like here in Florida. Trump could lose even more support among Latinos here in South Florida, but Trump clearly energized his base with that speech, which will help in the northern part of that state, Wolf. The next chance to pin down Trump on this issue may come later this month when he and Hillary Clinton finally start squaring off in their debates. Wolf, it is September. We are getting close to November -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The first of three presidential debates coming up. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Up next, has Donald Trump now made it clear on where he stands on immigration? And will that help him or hurt him? I'll ask the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus. He's standing by live. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:19:03] BLITZER: Breaking now, Hurricane Hermine is closing in on Florida with warnings and watches now posted up the U.S. East Coast as far as -- far north as New Jersey, in fact. We're going to continue to monitor the storm, and you're going to be able to see where it's moving in the bottom corner of the screen. Much more on the storm coming up. Millions of people potentially impacted by that.

But there's other news we're following.

Hours after a very tough speech on immigration, in which he doubled down on deportation and a border wall, and vowed no amnesty for undocumented immigrants, Donald Trump insists he is actually softening his stance on immigration.

Joining us now is the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus. Reince, thanks very much for joining us.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, RNC: Hey, thank you very much, Wolf.

BLITZER: Is the policy that Donald Trump laid out last night on immigration what you wanted to hear from the Republican nominee?

PRIEBUS: Well, look, I think that, if you look at the words of the speech, it -- what he's really saying is that he's going to, No. 1, as we know, he's going to build a wall.

[17:20:08] No. 2, he's going to go use the deportation mechanism for people that are here, that are committing crimes, all the bad apples, get them out.

And then what he said in a speech that I think kind of got lost was that then, and only then, are we going to have a humane conversation about what to do about the folks that are here that are left. He said, you know, the disposition of those remaining, was the exact words of the speech. So somehow or another, no one is talking about that piece.

I think people are very much in favor of this plan, which is tough on border security, which we all want, everyone wants; we -- tough on the bad elements of illegal immigration; but then deal with the reality of what are we going to do about the millions that are here, after all of these steps are taken. And what he's indicated is he wants to have a conversation about that. I think that's where he needs to be.

BLITZER: That's what would happen down the road after all these other steps are taken. But he did say that there would be no path to legalization for anyone who came to the United States illegally, unless they first left the country and then got in line with everyone else wanting to come back in; and that anyone who has entered here illegally is still subject to deportation. You heard him say that?

PRIEBUS: I did, but I don't understand what the -- I mean, anyone here today, right now, if you're here illegally, you're subject to deportation. That's what the current law is. It's a statement of fact. If you are here illegally, and you are subject today to deportation. That is not -- that is the current state of affairs.

And so I think what Donald Trump is saying is that he's actually going to enforce that law. And while these things are going on, the wall is being build, which is actually part of the Republican Party platform and has been for many years, and the Congress passed this law in 2006 but never funded it.

So while this is occurring and while border agents are increasing and while this stuff is happening, we're not going to have amnesty during this time. And we're going to go after the bad elements of -- of the illegal immigration problem in this country.

But when this is over, and all of that is said, we're going to evaluate where we're at, and he's saying we're going to have a conversation about what to do next about the people that are remaining. And that's what he said. That's what he's been saying.

So, you know, I think it's probably where most of the country is at. I think it's a 70 percent issue.

BLITZER: But Reince, you did hear several Hispanic surrogates, supporters of Donald Trump, Republicans who had strongly supported him recently, after his speech last night, they came out and said they can no longer support Donald Trump. You heard several of them say that. They obviously are deeply concerned about what they heard.

PRIEBUS: Well, I think there may have been one person that was on one of the committees that -- that may not be -- I don't even know, Wolf, what the status of that is. Look, there's a lot of opinions and a lot of people. But no one wants to do anything but be humane and fair but be tough on current, No. 1, illegal immigration. But also, do something about the bad elements of illegal immigration.

First of all, no one should be coming here illegally. It's all bad. But we do have a problem in this country where you've got, they say, 11 million people and what are we going to do about it? That's something that we need to address.

But one of the things we have to do first is secure the border so you're not bleeding any more, but then find and eradicate the bad elements of illegal immigration as soon as possible, and then finally deal with the folks that still remain after all of those things are done.

I mean, again I think -- I think for some people, I think they have to kind of stop and think this through a little bit, and I think what they would find out is that this is a 70 percent plus issue with the American people.

BLITZER: We do know, Reince, that at least three of -- three members of his Hispanic Outreach Advisory Council have told us that they've stepped down. Others are now considering that, we're told. We don't know how many of them are. But I guess the key question, did his campaign consult with your office of Hispanic outreach ahead of the speech? PRIEBUS: Listen, they communicate all of the time. I mean, I'm not

-- I'm not tracking, Wolf, every communication and e-mail that comes in and out of the building. But we have a good relationship. It's a solid relationship between both our Hispanic engagement operation and Donald Trump.

But look, I mean, look at where Hillary Clinton is at. I know we want to obsess over this, but Donald Trump is where I think 70 percent of America is at, and what I just outlined in that process that I just outlined.

Hillary wants to take whatever Barack Obama is doing and put it on steroids. I mean, she thinks it's inhumane to have a border fence. I mean, who out there, I mean, it is a very small minority of people that believe that we actually ought not have a barrier between our countries that have had a major illegal immigration problem.

[17:25:19] This is not an outlandish thought to actually secure the border of a country. It's not outlandish to say that, if you're here illegally and you're committing crimes, we ought not, you know, pay for your -- your time in prison for the rest of your life or you ought not be able to run around the streets and be part of gangs.

I mean, this, I think, is what sovereign countries do. And it's not -- it's normal behavior. What's not normal is saying we just want to conduct -- we want to have amnesty for everyone here that's illegal, and who cares what the law is? We're just going to -- we're just going to ignore it. We want to take Barack Obama's executive amnesty and put it on steroids? That's Hillary Clinton's plan. No thank you.

BLITZER: Reince Priebus, thanks very much for joining us.

PRIEBUS: You bet, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in Olivia Nuzzi, political reporter for "The Daily Beast"; CNN political director David Chalian; and CNN Politics executive editor Mark Preston.

Guys, actually, stand by for a moment. We're following some breaking news. We're going to resume our conversation right after this.


[17:31:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A life threatening hurricane is about to hit Florida and could bring storm surges up to eight feet high. Millions of people could be in harm's way over this holiday weekend.

A tropical storm watch now has been issued for the Mid-Atlantic States and the New Jersey coast. We're going to keep our eye on the latest radar and you'll see it in the corner of your screen. We'll get back to that shortly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: But I want to bring in our political panel right now. We just heard Mark Preston -- we just heard the chairman of the Republican Party offer his the assessment that Donald Trump is moving from his perspective in the right direction. What's the reaction you've been hearing lately?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Confusion, and in fact last night when he gave that speech, we watched it with several journalists and other commentators and really were very confused about what Donald Trump was saying.


PRESTON: That part of the speech, where he talks about we will then deal with it after we get these other steps put in place didn't come until the end of the speech. And had you missed that you would have thought that Donald Trump was still advocating for trying to send home 11 million undocumented workers.


PRESTON: So if we are confused you have to imagine just how confused the voters are out there. But I was told by somebody close to the campaign that they wanted that wiggle room quite frankly to show that they are softening a little bit, or at least making that appearance. And we heard Donald Trump as you had said earlier make that point today on Laura Ingram's show, that he thought he was softening even though it doesn't much appear that he is doing so.

BLITZER: Because David at one point they were talking about you know Donald Trump and his supporters deporting all of the undocumented immigrants, but now they've moved away from that, deport the criminals, the rapists, the gang members, the drug dealers and then we'll figure out what to do with the rest.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right, we should -- make no mistake about it, he is in a different place now than he was in the nomination season. A year ago, it was about get everyone out, let the good ones back in. Last night, it was about get the criminals out and then we'll see, we'll decide on the disposition of those remaining undocumented that are here.

No legal status for them, no citizenship, but we'll see what happens with them. That is a different position so that is the softening that he's talking about today. What is -- what is unclear to me about the totality of the messaging yesterday was that going to Mexico City, and having this presidential moment that was understated and statesmanlike, and then feeding off of the crowd at the rally and going real hardline except for this change that gets announced not as a highlight of the event, but sort of just inside. It just seemed like they were sending a mixed message throughout the day.

BLITZER: How is this going to play with Latino voters and the Republicans really need to do well with Hispanic voters if Donald Trump's going to have a chance of being elected President. OLIVIA NUZZI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well I think all

the -- all that we need to know is that the members of his own committee, advising him on Hispanic relations, three of them were reported to have resigned today. I don't think this is going to help him at all.

Like Mark just said, there's a lot of confusion right now about what his policy actually is. But let's remember he's someone who cares a lot more about rhetoric than about policy. So from his perspective, this is probably a huge shift from last September when he said we're going to round them up and get rid of them.

BLITZER: It's a significant shift. Mark Preston, he also said that legal immigrants to the United States are going to have to go through extreme vetting in his words, and they're going to have to show Americans that they share our values and love our people. How does he implement that?

PRESTON: I have no idea. Again, I mean another level of confusion that sounds like a good thing and certainly if you are a supporter of Donald Trump or backer of Donald Trump, you want to hear something like this. But anybody could come into this country and lie, I mean they certainly could. They could tell a story. They might have sympathies -- terroristic sympathies but yet still go through the process.

Now of course there is background checks that are already in place, and perhaps he wants to increase those and make them more stringent. But the fact of the matter is if somebody wants to get into this country, I think they probably could get into this country. And I do think there is an acknowledgment amongst everybody, Republicans and Democrats that there needs to be some kind of more secure ways of preventing terrorists from getting into the country. But to go out and say that you're basically going to give them a test or ask them a bunch of questions that's not going to work.


BLITZER: It's interesting David that Hillary Clinton's campaign now deciding to run commercials, ads in Arizona. That's where Trump delivered his speech last night, a state that usually votes Republican in Presidential contests. Do they see a genuine opening for Arizona?

CHALIAN: They see enough of an opening to try to invite Donald Trump to spend time and money there. I'm not sure they see an opening to full on convert it and win the state, but enough to invest in there to see if they can have the Trump campaign divert some resources to a place that should be, and is, quite frankly, leaning in his direction.

But usually you want to spend money just where you can actually convert over to your side if they get Donald Trump to spend time and money there, that's a win in and of itself.

BLITZER: All right, I want you guys to stay with us. We're following some other breaking news right now.


BLITZER: Hurricane Hermine is threatening Florida and states up the U.S. East coast.

And the Vice President, Joe Biden, he heads out on the campaign trail and he slams Donald Trump.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: Give me a break, this is a guy born with a silver spoon in his mouth that now he's choking because his foot's in his mouth along with the spoon.





BLITZER: Some breaking news, Hurricane Hermine is closing in on Florida right now with warnings and watches now posted up the east coast as far as New Jersey. We're going to continue monitoring the storm; you'll be able to see its path in the corner of your screen. Much more on this story coming up.


BLITZER: But we're also following the breaking news in the race for President.


BLITZER: The Democrats this afternoon announced that Hillary Clinton raised a record setting amount of money in August. Our Senior Washington Correspondent Joe Johns is joining us with details.


BLITZER: Joe, this is a lot higher than the previous monthly record of what $90 million.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, $140 million, huge haul for Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile a signature broadside attack by the Vice President on Donald Trump in Warren, Ohio today as he sought essentially to portray Donald Trump as an enemy of the working class born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

But the biggest news today was that eye popping fundraising haul of the Clinton campaign.


JOHNS: Hillary Clinton's recent flurry of fundraising events is paying dividends. The Democratic nominee announcing today that she raised more than $140 million in August for her campaign and the Democratic Party. Her best month so far.

Clinton today was off the trail but Joe Biden was back on it and taking direct aim at Donald Trump.

BIDEN: This is a guy born with a silver spoon in his mouth that now he's choking on because his foot's in his mouth along with the spoon.

JOHNS: Campaigning in the battleground state of Ohio, the Vice President charged that Trump doesn't understand the concerns of working class America.

BIDEN: The phrase he's made famous, "you're fired." You ought to come from a household where some people were fired.

JOHNS: Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine joining the chorus of Democratic criticism of Trump jabbing at the GOP nominee's preparedness for the Oval office during a stop in New Hampshire.

TIM KAINE, DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's no time for first timers or people who need training wheels on.

JOHNS: A point Biden seized on today.

BIDEN: I don't believe the guy's a bad guy, I just think he is thoroughly, totally, completely uninformed.

JOHNS: As Biden rallied union workers in northeast Ohio, Trump focused on the southeast part of the state.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to win Ohio. No doubt about that.

JOHNS: The GOP nominee blasted Clinton's the e-mail controversy during an address to the American Legion Conference in Cincinnati.

TRUMP: Government access and favors will no longer be for sale and important e-mail records will no longer be deleted and digitally altered.

JOHNS: The fierce political fight not limited to Ohio today with the Clinton campaign looking to broaden the Electoral College map by going up with a television ad in the typically red state of Arizona.

TRUMP: And you can tell them to go [ bleep ] themselves.

JOHNS: Where she trails Trump by five points.

Clinton though is still holding on to a national lead over Trump. The latest CNN poll of polls gives Clinton a 5 point advantage. She's at 42% compared to 37% for Trump. And libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, both in single digits.

And despite some tightening Clinton also maintains her lead in key battleground state surveys running five points ahead of Trump in Wisconsin and up by three points in Pennsylvania with third party candidates included. Kaine tells CNN the race has narrowed but insists the campaign remains optimistic about November.

KAINE: We feel good about where we are nationally and in the key battleground states. But you're right, it's close. This is not going to be easy.


JOHNS: Vice President Biden at this hour is scheduled at another buck eye state event in Parma with united auto workers where he is expected to reprieve some of the arguments he made earlier today about organized labor, themes becoming more timely as we move into the Labor Day weekend, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Joe, thank you. Joe Johns reporting.

Stand by, we're about to get an update on hurricane Hermine.



BLITZER: Millions of Americans in Florida and up along the east coast are right now in the path of this very dangerous storm.

Also ahead experts are searching for the cause of today's Launchpad disaster at Cape Canaveral, look at that picture. We have the latest coming in from the investigation.




BLITZER: We're standing by for an update on Hurricane Hermine. It's going to be the first hurricane to hit Florida in 11 years then continue up the east coast threatening tens of millions of people over this Labor Day weekend. We'll get much more on that coming up.



BLITZER: Also tonight, rocket experts for the private company, SpaceX are trying to figure out what caused this morning's spectacular Launchpad explosion in Florida. Watch this closely.


BLITZER: You're going to see the explosion start right near the top of the rocket, it takes several seconds for the sound of the blast to reach the observing station. SpaceX officials say the rocket was being fuelled when something happened near the upper stage oxygen tank. Nobody was hurt but the explosion destroyed the entire rocket. Listen to that. Including a communications satellite destined for use by (inaudible).


BLITZER: Awful. Donald Trump's doctor is taking heat for taking just a few minutes to write a brief and unusual letter summing up Donald Trump's health.


BLITZER: Now he's taken a few minutes to talk to CNN's Senior Investigative Correspondent, Drew Griffin.

Drew, the doctor is strongly defending his very brief medical report, right?


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and as you have said Wolf, I wouldn't even call it a medical report. It was just a one page brief letter but the doctor says it's backed up by a 30- year relationship with his very famous patient.


GRIFFIN: Good morning Dr. Bornstein.

We met Donald Trump's doctor entering his Park Avenue office just as he's done for the last 35 years.

How's it going?


GRIFFIN: Harold Bornstein is a 69-year-old gastroenterologist who took over this practice from his father and suddenly finds his lifetime of serving patients being turned upside down because of one letter.

GRIFFIN: Hey, can I ask you just a couple of questions? Did you really write that letter?

BORNSTEIN: Did I really write that letter? Yes.

GRIFFIN: It is a letter Donald Trump produced last December to prove he is healthy. A note, that has been ripped apart by other doctors because of what they say is strange wording, medically incorrect terms and its unprofessional conclusions.

Trump's test results were astonishingly excellent he writes. And if elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency. Combined with his somewhat unconventional looks and unconventional patient Bornstein has been made out in the aggressive election coverage to be somewhat eccentric.

So, can we just ask you a few questions?

The soft spoken doctor finally agreed if we weren't intrusive or insulting to take a few questions on the bench outside his office, warning his wife would not be so hospitable.

BORNSTEIN: Right here is fine. My wife will come back, she'll get angry --

GRIFFIN: -- she'll get mad. The press has kind of tried to make you into be some kind of a lunatic or something.

BORNSTEIN: Well, a lunatic doesn't have my credentials. The only thing I wanted to do in my life is practice with my father, which I managed to do for 35 years until his death in this office.

GRIFFIN: And we've looked, believe me sir, we've looked at your record, we've looked for any signs of trouble, you've had a couple of medical malpractice suits that were settled.

BORNSTEIN: Well that's -- but that's normal.

GRIFFIN: The fact is that is normal for a long practicing doctor. A few malpractice suits from decades ago settled. He's never lost his license, has never faced any criminal allegations whatsoever and experts CNN have talked with believe whatever his looks or his clients, Dr. Bornstein seems like a fully competent medical professional.

Are there any regrets you have getting involved in this crazy election?

BORNSTEIN: No. He's just one of my patients, and I take care of them the right way.

GRIFFIN: And you fully, whatever you wrote in that letter, you fully believe Mr. Trump is capable of being President physically?

BORNSTEIN: Oh, absolutely. There's no question about it.

GRIFFIN: Why did you write that letter? Was it a joke? The words you chose, the way you wrote it?

BORNSTEIN: I was just rushed for time. I had people to see.

GRIFFIN: There was no Trump limo waiting outside, he says. He just wrote the letter for a patient that he's been seeing for the last 30 years, a patient his mother found.

What do you make of being interjected into this election?

BORNSTEIN: I make the interjection that I grew up in Jamaica, New York. There's my wife. I grew up in Jamaica, New York, they lived across the street. My mother found him as a patient from a member of his golf club, and he stayed for 30 years.

GRIFFIN: And then, as he warned, his wife arrived.

MRS. BORNSTEIN: You're done. You're done. You're done. You're on private property. I'm going to call the police. We've going to call the police. I'm going to call the police. (CROSS-TALK)

GRIFFIN: Thank you. I appreciate it doctor.

MRS. BORNSTEIN: I'm going to call the police -- I'm going to call the police right now. You're in -- they're in private property.

GRIFFIN: Thank you, doctor. Thank you very much.


GRIFFIN: Wolf, not exactly a Marcus Welby ending moment there but as the doctor said he's known Donald Trump for 30 years, he's been treating him for 30 years. Eccentric or not, who better to tell us whether or not Donald Trump is physically fit.

BLITZER: All right, Drew Griffin, good reporting. Thanks very much. Coming up, our breaking news.



BLITZER: A life threatening hurricane is about to hit Florida and could bring storm surges up to eight-feet high. Millions, millions of Americans could be in harm's way over this holiday weekend.

And Donald Trump says there will be no amnesty for undocumented immigrations. He's doubling down on his deportation force. So why is Trump insisting he's actually softening his immigration position?




BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, a life threatening storm. Florida is bracing for a direct hit by a hurricane for the first time in more than a decade. Tens of millions of people are at risk along the Gulf Coast and the east coast of the United States. Tonight, a new forecast of where the disaster may strike in the hours ahead.