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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Hurricane Matthew Heads for U.S. East Coast; Trump Talks Rigged Elections, Backtracks on Accepting Outcome of Election; Does Trump Support Position Outlined at Debate by Pence on Syrian Civil War? Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 6, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurricane Matthew has strengthened.

RICK SCOTT, (R), FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The storm will kill you. Time is running out. We don't have that much time left.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's really could hit everywhere between Miami and all the way up to Georgia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They really want people to get out of the way.

SCOTT: There will be massive destruction that we haven't seen in years.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can always repair property. You cannot restore a life if it is lost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

"This storm will kill people" -- that's the very blunt message coming from Florida's governor as Hurricane Matthew heads straight towards the U.S. coast. Hurricane Matthew is gaining strength into a category 4 storm and it's also gaining ground on Florida. Just moments ago, the very latest forecast was just put out by the National Hurricane Center. The warnings already are scary enough.

BERMAN: A powerful category 4 storm. More than 26 million people are under watches or warnings, more than two million people being urged to leave their homes in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. This is the largest mandatory evacuation since Superstorm Sandy back in 2012. Already, food and water are in short supply. A lot of people finding empty shelves as well as long gas lines.

A short time ago, Florida's Governor Rick Scott did not mince words on just how dangerous this storm is/ (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: If you need to evacuate, and if you haven't, evacuate. This storm will kill you. Time is running out. We don't have that much time left. If you are on the east coast, you will lose power. You are going to lose power. Do not believe you're not going to loose power. You are going to lose power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Our teams right now up and down Florida' coast watching this situation right now.

Let's first go to Meteorologist Chad Myers in our weather center to get the latest on this update.

An 11:00 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Chad. Where's it headed?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's headed to Florida. Whether it makes landfall with the eye wall or center of the eye is another thing we don't know just yet. It is so close. It's miles offshore, if at all. 140 miles per hour right now. Hurricane hunter aircraft have been flying through it. The pressure is almost the same right now as when this devastated Haiti. It's going to drive itself right up the east coast as a category 4 storm. In fact, it's forecasted to be stronger, forecast to be 145 as it makes its run at Melbourne and New Smyrna Beach all the way up towards Jacksonville.

We'll zoom you in. It's a little farther offshore for West Palm than it was. It could still wiggle or wobble to the left. But the approach from Fort Pierce on up to, say, Cocoa Beach, that's where we believe the eye wall, the most dangerous part -- we don't care about the center of the eye -- the eye wall could make impact at 145 miles per hour.

Something else that doesn't work when the power's out, the charge cards aren't going to work. The ATM isn't going to work. If you need something, it could be days before charge cards work. You might want to get some cash because it really is the king when you need to get some place and the stores are open but they can't use your credit cards because they just can't swipe them.

The storm's offshore by tomorrow afternoon, slight off shore for Jacksonville, but making significant waves, a lot of surge, could be nine feet of water rushing in to the St. John's River into St. Augustine and even up into Charleston as well -- guys?

BOLDUAN: Chad, the governor mentioned just a little while ago that things could change at a moment's notice, but when you look at kind of the range here, I know that's what you look at as you track the storm, is there a range, it seems that it could only get worse.

CHAD: If it goes to the left, I think even Orlando could get some damage. If it stays where it is right now, the damage is right along the coast but still millions of people without power for what would be days. Because very few power lines, even buried ones, because you have up top transformers above, at 140 miles per hour, the power will just go snap, snap, snap. And I believe some of these emergency managers will begin to turn off power proactively to not get the water into the system. You don't want salt water into your electrical system if you don't have to. Let it dry out, then turn -- get the water out, get the electricity back on. So there are certain things that will go on. If the storm does turn left, then we will have more people with wind damage. If it turns right, we are still going to have the same water flooding, storm surge damage but not as much wind, where roofs could be off.

Think about this. 140 mile-per-hour hurricane is the same as an EF-2 tornado, but now if we are talking about an EF-2 tornado that could be 200 miles long. That's the kind of damage you are thinking with all of the coastal communities, all built up. This is not the plains of Nebraska with one house every mile. This is every 60 feet, there's another house.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, Chad, because people are watching this so closely and following this track so closely, you said the 11:00 a.m. guidance that just came in has it maybe a little further off the coast from West Palm at least than it had been before?

[11:05:18] MYERS: I think so. It's hard to know because the plots aren't at the same time. They're every 12 hours, and that was six hours before, and this was six hours now, and that's six hours. So these dots are not in the same spot. The dot here for this time was somewhere in here, and it was closer to land. Now, the lines are straight lines and we never want to follow them. Remember that. But this is a straight line, a straight line, a straight line, a straight line. We know that's not how it's going to happen. It is going to turn something like that. It could be right on the same money. It's just hard to tell when you draw straight lines between dots and like the old days when you were 3 and had your coloring book and you Drew your lines. Always better to draw a circle than a straight line. Made it look more like what it was.

BERMAN: Chad, thanks so much for that.

Again, that forecast has this storm now a category 4, 145 miles an hour, very powerful.

BOLDUAN: Very powerful.

We will continue to bring you the images we are getting not only from Nassau in the Bahamas, which is getting hit so hard right now, but right now, you are looking at the other side of the screen, Daytona Beach, Florida, one of the places in the target.

Forecasters are tracking the storm right now. As Chad has been laying out, the brunt of the storm could be somewhere just north of West Palm Beach, the West Palm Beach area.

That's where Nick Valencia is there right now.

So, Nick, you just started to see -- you were saying, just started to see the first effects of this massive storm. What's happening there now? What are folks saying?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say within the last hour, you have really been able to feel the intensity of this impending hurricane. So much so that the location that we were at, if you remember last hour, we were by the beach. The storm was really intensifying. About 10:30 eastern, we decided for our crew to take the precautionary measure to take shelter in a place that was a little more protected. Where we were at, the winds were really starting to pick up. Here in West Palm Beach, it is a little bit calmer, though there are some ominous signs here. Residents and hotel guest here, where we are, are nervous about what is going to happen.

A mandatory evacuation was in effect. All residents were expected to be out when we were in Palm Beach by 11:00 a.m. Still, adding to the complications for first responders, people were getting in the ocean, gawking, testing their curiosity and courage, getting out in the water. We saw at least three surfers enter the water. Other local residents were saying they were going to ignore the evacuations and wanted to ride it out. The state officials and local officials have been very clear. If you are planning on riding out this storm, staying holed up in your home, you will be on your own until first responders can come get to you, if they can get to you at all. Already we have seen those local officials take the precautions of shutting down one of the three access points to the beach. We expect that to continue in the hours ahead. Tropical storm winds expected to hit here this afternoon with the real heavy stuff coming later this evening -- Kate?

BERMAN: Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

Of course, the impact of this storm will happen for days, over several states, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina.

That's where we find Brian Todd right now.

Brian, we heard from the governor of South Carolina saying people are evacuating but not fast enough. What are you seeing, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, that's right. Governor Nikki Haley a moment ago said it hasn't been enough, not enough people leaving this area. People are starting to get nervous, though. This is an area used to withstanding major hurricanes, used to flooding, and they are boarding up. You see the gentlemen down here climbing some ladders to board up some higher windows over here. These guys here have been boarding up this art gallery.

You talked about what Governor Haley said a moment ago. She said about 175,000 people so far have evacuated this area but she says that is not enough. They expected there to be more people leaving. They've reversed the traffic flow on I-26. You can get out going westbound but cannot use the interstate going eastbound.

We are here with Jennifer Bremmer (ph), the owner of a bistro down here on Broad Street.

Jennifer, as the storm approaches, less than 48 hours away from here, what's your big concern?

JENNIFER BREMMER (ph), BISTRO OWNER: My biggest concern is losing power, of course. We have a lot of food in here that needs to be consumed before we do that so we will stay open and try to stay open for the rest of the week and feed all the locals.

TODD: But you have ridden out some of these storms. You were here for Hugo in 1989, a cat 4, it killed more than 20 people. You want to ride this out. Why?

BREMMER (ph): Yes. We did not have any damage, significant damage to the building during Hugo. We haven't had any damage during any of the other significant storms that we have had in the last year or two, so we will see how it goes.

TODD: Good luck. Good luck with the business.

BREMMER (ph): Thank you.

TODD: Thanks very much.

So, guys, one other thing to think about, especially in the Charleston area, they say that -- I just talked to a state official who said the bridges are a big concern. There are a lot of bridges connecting some of the barrier islands, some of the other areas to this peninsula in Charleston. When the winds get to 60 miles an hour and above, those bridges at 65 feet or higher, the higher-span bridges automatically close. So, not much of a threat from this storm. The winds will be much higher when they hit here. So people who want to evacuate, when the winds get high in some of these areas, once the wind gets to 60 miles per hour, they might be out of luck, they might be stranded on some of the barriers islands if they don't get out right now -- John and Kate?

[11:10:21] BERMAN: It is such a risk to stay. We heard from that person you just talked to. She's staying but it's such a risk to stay, not just for her but also for the first responders, who may have to react after the fact. Keep that in mind going forward.

Brian Todd, thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: 60 miles per hour is nothing when you are talking of 145 mile-an-hour storm that folks will be looking at, especially in Florida.

Let's get more on the storm from someone who has been inside the storm. Joining us on the phone right now is Ian Sears, a meteorologist and flight director for the NOAA hurricane hunters. He went up in a flight that went directly into the storm to collect more weather data to make this forecast track as accurate as possible.

Ian, thanks for jumping on the phone with us.

What part of the storm did you fly into?

IAN SEARS, METEOROLOGIST & FLIGHT DIRECTOR, NOAA HURRICANE HUNTERS (voice-over): Well, we have penetrated the eye of Hurricane Matthew four times and then also we flew around the storm trying to collect information, the steering flow to help the National Hurricane Center figure out exactly where it's going to go, how strong it's going to be, how big it's going to be when they get there. So you have the center that might make landfall but it's not just where the center is. It's a big storm. It has hurricane-force winds extending many miles away from that center.

BERMAN: We just learned that it is now a strong category 4 storm with wind gusts well over 145 miles an hour at this point. You went through it. What are the characteristics of this storm that people need to know?

SEARS: Well, the biggest concern as always is going to be flooding, the storm surge. That's the thing that really is the most dangerous. Then moving forward as it rains and rains and rains a bunch, you will have the inland flooding. Those are the two biggest concerns with a land-falling hurricane. And obviously the wind damage.

But my message to anybody who is listening is listen to the emergency managers. If they are telling you to get out, get out of harm's way. Make what we are doing up here worthwhile. Listen to the folks that trying to help you.

BOLDUAN: Ian, when you went in there, you have seen a lot of storms, anything surprise you about this storm as you guys were in it and coming out of it?

SEARS: No, nothing that's really surprising, but it is a turbulent ride at times. The eye wall was very dynamic. It was changing rapidly after every pass. As you said, it's a very powerful category 4 hurricane so that's going to -- it's tossing our airplane around a little bit so just imagine what that can Do to the stuff that's on the ground as it's approaching your coast.

BERMAN: Again, we just got word that the wind gusts are actually approaching 165 miles per hour. That's extremely strong and powerful. Any sense of how far out from the eye the hurricane-force winds extend right now?

SEARS: I don't have that information right in front of me. The National Hurricane Center has the best information on that. I landed about three hours ago, so we actually have another airplane that's about ready to take off here in two hours and they will go get some more of that information, try to find out exactly how powerful the winds are, how far they extend, and help the forecasters get a really good understanding of the structure of what it's doing right now, so that in 24, 36 and 48 hours, as it's approaching the u. s. Florida coast there, that we can have a good understanding of how strong it will be and exactly where it's going to be. So we have been working this storm for about the last four or five days now, and I think that's really helped get that forecast nailed down to the east coast of Florida, and now up the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

BOLDUAN: It shows how close you guys really are tracking it. You got off a flight three hours ago and another flight is about to head up to get additional information to try to track. As the Florida governor said, these things can change at a moment's notice. It's you guys in there trying to get the best idea of how it's changing moment to moment.

Ian Sears, thank you very much. Really appreciate all the work you do. Thank you so much.

SEARS: Thanks, John. Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

We will continue to follow this breaking news. A very dangerous category 4 storm heading towards the United States. You see the storm track just scraping along hundreds of miles of U.S. coastline.

Ahead, we are going to talk to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. His state is one of those targets and his state is under evacuation right now.

[11:14:44] BERMAN: And stealing secrets for years. New details about the man who had top-secret national security clearance. The FBI has found thousands of classified documents and dozens of computers at his home. So the big question now is, what was he doing with all that info?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We will get you more information on the latest track of Hurricane Matthew in just a moment.

Some new information just coming in. Florida is preparing for what could be a direct hit, and could be some catastrophic damage. This track is just very, very scary right now. Evacuations under way in Florida, also South Carolina as well.

BOLDUAN: Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, is here with us right now.

Of course, we want to talk politics, but first, we have to talk about this monster storm as the radar plays out behind you.

Senator, the Florida governor said that this is the worst that some communities in Florida have seen comes to storms. What's the message for folks in South Carolina?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Listen to the governor. Follow the direction of the public safety people. Get out of town if they tell you to get out of town. You will regret it if you don't.

My role here is to tell the governor, what you need from us, call me, I will go home. I'm leaving here to go back to Greenville. There will be some Upstate, where I live, where people who are leaving the low country and can't find hotel rooms. I want to thank the Red Cross and all those people.

But just hunker down and listen to folks and get out of town. BERMAN: The governor says get out, get out, full stop.

GRAHAM: Get out of town. If you don't, you will regret it and have nobody to blame but yourself.

BERMAN: Let's sees into politics a little bit.

GRAHAM: OK.

BERMAN: "Politico" is reporting --

GRAHAM: Speaking of hurricanes.

BERMAN: CNN talking about it, too. It's about the storm. There's word the Clinton campaign has actually bought advertising on the Weather Channel for the next several days. You think that's appropriate?

[11:20:14] GRAHAM: There will be a lot of people watching the Weather Channel but I don't know if they want to see a politician talking about politics. Know about their family and friends and loved ones. I don't know if that's smart. But I lost, so who am I to tell her what to do?

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Senator, Donald Trump has been talking a lot -- after the last debate, he started picking up again and talking about the concern he has about the election being rigged.

GRAHAM: Right.

BOLDUAN: He was asked about if he'll accept the outcome of this election in that debate. Here's what he said. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESTER HOLT, DEBATE MODERATOR: Will you accept the outcome of the election?

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here's the story. I want to make America great again. I'm going to be able to do it. I don't believe Hillary will. The answer is, if she wins, I will absolutely support her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: "I will absolutely support her." But after that, he did an interview with "The New York Times," and in that interview, he was a little squishy about it, saying, "We will have to see, we will have to see what happens, we are going to have to see."

Why does that bother you?

GRAHAM: It bothers me. I think his first answer was the right answer. I think those running for president -- we are down to two real choices here, I suppose -- I don't think it's good for democracy to have a major candidate for president doubt the outcome. Now, could the election be compromised from hacking and all kind of nefarious activities? Yeah, that's possible. But being rigged means it's rigged against you. I think Mr. Trump's fate is in his own hands. The system's not rigged against him, as far as I can tell. And when you suggest it might be, then that's a message to your supporters and to the country as a whole that you can't trust the outcome of an American election. I don't want to go down that road. We got enough problems here at home without making people believe we are not going to honestly elect the next president.

BERMAN: You think he's playing with fire? Has an impact beyond this election?

GRAHAM: Look at Al Gore. He walked away from the white house based on 500 votes difference in Florida and that was probably one of his finer moments. I'm an institutional guy. I believe that the country will survive long after I'm gone but the country really is a process, and the election process, I think we need to respect it rather than create doubt about it. Americans have enough to worry about already. Let's don't suggest the election's rigged.

BOLDUAN: Senator, I remember back in that primary, back in the republican primary, you and all the guys and gals running, signed a loyalty pledge, and it was from the Republican Party. Donald Trump since has really hit you afterward for not keeping with the pledge, not supporting the nominee. Is this the same thing?

GRAHAM: Well, all I can say is that he said, well, I'll support the pledge if the system's fair. And I guess what I'm saying is -- I have come to the point now that I can't go where he's taking the party or the country. And he's getting better. I hope that he will continue to get better. The debate--

BOLDUAN: Where is he getting better?

GRAHAM: Well, he has been more disciplined up until the debate, quite frankly. The idea that maybe we'll use force to stop the destruction of Aleppo, a safe zone in a Trump administration is somewhat encouraging.

BERMAN: That wasn't his idea. That's Governor Mike Pence's idea.

GRAHAM: I'm assuming it's Donald Trump's idea. I don't think --

BERMAN: Why?

GRAHAM: Well, he said that's what they were going to do. If they are going to do that, that is a good idea. But as to me, South Carolina will go for Trump. There's no doubt about that. And I regret that I'm not able to embrace the republican nominee, but I really can't go -- there's a million reasons why I can't vote for Hillary Clinton but that doesn't hurt me at all. The fact that I can't go where Donald Trump takes the party and I think the country is just something I regret, and I am where I am on this. BERMAN: So you brought up Aleppo. There were other examples in the

vice presidential debate with Mike Pence and Tim Kaine where Mike Pence seemed to take a different position or at least a new position from what Donald Trump had. You mentioned Aleppo.

Let's talk about Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin is someone Donald Trump has called a strong leader. Mike Pence called him small and bullying.

GRAHAM: Yeah. Well, I think Mike Pence is right. What Trump does, he talks about wanting to work with Russia. Great. I would love to work with Russia. But I don't see that as being a real possibility right now. Their interest in Syria, not ours, they want to prop Assad up at the expense of the region and the United States and really the world at large. They want to destroy the people we are training to take back their country from Assad. At the end of the day, what I think Pence is trying to do is show that he sees Putin as a bad guy, not a good guy. And Trump has got confusing messages. He says that he's a strong leader, a guy I could do business with. That's sort of inconsistent with being a bully and a thug.

BOLDUAN: But again, you like what you're hearing from Mike Pence. You do not like what you heard, and you never liked what you have heard from Donald Trump. So are you supporting Mike Pence more for president?

[11:25:10] GRAHAM: Well, I think Mike Pence would be a good president. Here's the problem. What does Donald Trump believe about Putin? Would he --

BOLDUAN: Do you have a clear idea of what he believes on Putin?

GRAHAM: I heard this morning from Mike Pence that it would be position of Trump and Pence to have a safe zone in Syria where people could go without being raped, murdered and killed, and we would use military force if necessary to protect that safe zone. If that is, in fact, their policy, that is a giant step forward. If he understands that Putin is more like what Pence describes, than our friend, a guy we can do business with, that would be a giant step forward.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: So you need to ask him that.

BOLDUAN: In a hypothetical primary between Mike Pence and Donald Trump --

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: I would vote for Mike Pence.

(LAUGHTER)

I would be enthusiastically supportive. I would support Mike Pence for president of the United States if he were the nominee of the party. BOLDUAN: A lot of folks were saying after the vice presidential

debate that because of how Mike Pence performed, he did not really stand up to defend some of Donald Trump's positions. When presented with them, he deflected and talked about other things.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: That's what I would have done if I were him.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: I would talk about other things.

BOLDUAN: He was in a tough position. Do you think, do you see as some folks have that that debate was the kickoff of Mike Pence's 2020 --

GRAHAM: No, not really. I see Mike Pence as being very well prepared, turning a problem into going on offense but --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: How much impact does Mike Pence have on Donald Trump, though, do you believe?

GRAHAM: Well, he said he was his first hire. Donald Trump believes if something happened to him, Mike Pence would be a good president. I hope that he will listen to Mike Pence because Mike has really good judgment.

BERMAN: Your friend, Senator Ayotte, in New Hampshire, got into some trouble --

GRAHAM: Yeah.

BERMAN: -- during a debate when she was asked if Donald Trump would be a good role model for kids. And she said yes. Afterwards, she said no, cleaned it up. Do you think Donald Trump is a good role model for kids?

GRAHAM: I don't think either one of these people are very good role models in the terms of how they've conducted themselves, Clinton or Trump. At the end of the day, we are where we are. He could actually still win this race. I mean, he had a pretty bad first debate. If he could get his act together, prepare and prosecute the case against Hillary Clinton, like Mike Pence did. Obamacare is blowing up a lot of house holds. Aleppo and Syria is a nightmare. North Korea is marching toward a missile that could hit the United States. The Iranians are taking the money from this nuclear deal to wreak havoc throughout the Mideast. Russia's on the march. China is trying to take over land based on force not arbitration. The world is not in a good spot. If he could explain to the country that I will take it in a new direction, sort of like Mike Pence did, he could actually win this thing.

BERMAN: Think he will? GRAHAM: I don't know. This is why -- I hope Anderson Cooper will ask

would ask one question --

BOLDUAN: What?

GRAHAM: -- to both of them. Would you use military force, if you had to, to stop North Korea from developing a missile that could carry a nuclear weapon to hit the United States.

BERMAN: We will pass it on.

GRAHAM: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Senator, great to see you. Thank you so much.

GRAHAM: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Quite a statement of the state of the Republican Party that Senator Ayotte had to wind herself up in a pretzel over that question.

GRAHAM: She's a great Senator. I hope she wins. She is a great Senator.

BERMAN: We are thinking about the people in your state, Senator. Thanks for being with us.

GRAHAM: Thank you. We appreciate that.

BOLDUAN: Thanks you, Senator

BERMAN: About that storm, the Florida governor says it will kill you. Time is running out. Really, for a lot of people time has already run out. You need to get out of the areas that that storm is heading for right now. We will give you the latest forecast next.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, we will talk to the mayor of a county right in the path of this monster storm. Schools are closed there, bridges are locked down. What residents there need to know as the area is preparing for the worst. We will take you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)