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CNN TONIGHT

GOP Senators Scramble On Last Ditch Obamacare Repeal; New Forecast For Hurricane Maria; President Trump On United Nation General Assembly; Trump, Iran Nuke Deal An Embarrassment, I Will Always Put America First; Trump Tweet, Smartest People Of Them All Are the Deplorables; Hurricane Maria Has Winds Speeds Of Up To 175 Miles An Hour. Aired 11- Midnight ET

Aired September 19, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: What can you tell us? Is that advisory come in yet?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLIGIST: It has. They've been ahead of schedule with all the activity we've had the last couple weeks. They've really provided some great information and on time. Here's what we know, Don. Unfortunately, year not seeing the changes we would like to see which is a drop in winds, because the last hour I told what you we're really doing is just waiting and watching this unfold. And it's a catastrophic hurricane. We are not seeing a drop in the winds. 175 miles per hour. The winds back in 1928, strongest category 5 you ever hit were 160. We're well above that now. And we're not going to have a time or space to see this lose any strength. It's going to go down in history, Maria that is that is the strongest to ever make landfall in Puerto Rico.

I'm more concerned about St. Croix right now. It's about 30 miles from there right now. We have winds over 72 miles per hour. They're in the heavy band of rainfall now, already lashing Puerto Rico. But what I want to talk about, what we saw in the last couple hours was around the eye you'll see a bright, brighter secondary band. So it was undergoing this eyewall replacement cycle. What that means is sometimes they can lose a little strength. It didn't. But when it does go through the process, the hurricane-force winds fan outward. That is happening. So we're not seeing a drop in the winds. We're just seeing them push outward. The pressure is another indication of how strong these hurricanes are. And right now the pressure is lower in Maria than it was on Irma. We have storm surge threat for the Virgin Islands. We've got 6 to 9 foot storm surges for Puerto Rico, more concern about the wind and rainfall there. The core moves in around 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning. Everything you see in white is 100 mile-per-hour winds. It is all of Puerto Rico.

It will not move away until we get in around the 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. At night. All day long they're going to get the lashing with the strong winds. San Juan is in the wrong position. We'll wait and see what happens in the Turks and Caicos. We think we may miss out on the land fall, too early to say. So let's talk about what we do know. Irma, here it is the path in yellow. Stayed 50 miles off the northern coast and still a million people lost power. They were losing it today when it was still about 200 miles away. So when there is 3.4 million that live there, they're going through a tough economic times right now. They have been in a recession since 2006. Unemployment is 10.1. A lot of them went to the U.S. And you throw this in there this is population density. This is pretty widespread on the coastline. But San Juan, in fact over half of the population losing that eastern third of Puerto Rico. That is exactly where they do not want to be with the trajectory of this path and then making its way staying north of Dominican Republic. So widespread power outages a big concern.

There is a spine of mountains that lift up and raise up to about 4,000 feet. That is pretty high. So the possibility of debris flows, Remember the before and after photos we had just the vegetation strip on the islands of the Lesser Antilles. That could happen here. Now this is new. We just got an update with the model. Much more red, Don, in the last hour. We had more orange. And that is exactly what we do not want to see is widespread power outages. Again, remember, a million lost power on the sixth. The computer models and as we would expect them to fan out more uncertainty later on. We'll put the national hurricane center's track. This is new. They do drop it down to a category 2. It is off the coast, well off the coast of Georgia.

So that is some weakening. But again that, cone of uncertainty is still pretty broad. Expected to be that far out. So as we take a look at what this year has been like, everything in red were hurricanes. Records go back to 1851. You go back to 1851 to last year, 2016, we had zero land falls category 5 in Lesser Antilles and now when he two in just the last couple of weeks. Don?

LEMON: All right. Stand by, Tom. I'm going to get new information for us as well. Tom Sater is with the new information from the national hurricane center on Maria, its path and strength. Now I want go to San Juan National Weather Service and joining me in the phone is Roberto Garcia meteorologist in charge. Mr. Garcia, thank you for joining us. We just heard the new advisory from the national hurricane center. What does this mean for Puerto Rico?

ROBERTO GARCIA, METEOROLOGIST, SAN JUAN NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Well, it means that Maria is still on track and going to get closer and closer. According to our radar here in San Juan, the eye of hurricane Maria is passing just to the south of St. Croix. The wall is getting hurricane-force winds right now. But the strongest winds in the inner eyewall, they look like they might remain over water.

[23:05:10] That doesn't mean that, you know, it is really strong waves. In fact, they had a wind gust of 98 miles per hour. That is on a portion of the island. But in terms of Puerto Rico, it's going to move ever so slowly. We're looking at continuously and we're thinking that area of the hurricane winds will be hitting the southeast coast toward the morning on Wednesday affecting not only the southeastern part of the island but also the well-known islands of (inaudible) and then during the day Wednesday we'll see this powerful and dangerous hurricane moving throughout the whole island.

LEMON: What kind of damage are you expecting, Mr. Garcia?

GARCIA: To tell you the truth, we haven't seen anything like this in Puerto Rico in almost I would say 90 years is the last category 5 hurricane was in 1928. So nobody here on this island has witnessed anything like this here. We're thinking with this strong winds it's going to be catastrophic. In terms of the wind in, terms of the rainfall and the island, the big island of Puerto Rico is very mountainous. They go from west to east. And they hold the precipitation. So we're thinking we'll see anywhere between 12 to 18 inches of rain which areas may be getting up to 25 inches of rain. That is a lot of rain for an area that has a lot of mountains and rivers. So in terms of impact, we're going to see impact from this storm. Storm surge 6 to 9 feet. On top of that, we're thinking 25 to 30 foot waves breaking over that. And also like I mentioned the heavy rain and the winds that we have not seen at least any generation alive right now and we had never seen this kind of wind.

LEMON: Where is the best place in Puerto Rico right now, you think?

GARCIA: The whole island is going to get hurricane-force winds. If I were to choose a place that will be less susceptible is the southwest part of the island. Because it will be further away from the eye. And this is assuming that the hurricane will stay on this track. We're not know anything. When hurricanes get this strong, they tend to wobble sometimes. And they tend to zig zag. And we don't know actually how the mountains and the islands will affect the track of the hurricane. So it might move a little bit to the left or a little bit to the right. And that could make a big difference. But the whole metro area will have at least 1.5 million people in the metro area, it could be very, very dangerous.

LEMON: Roberto Gonzalez in the San Juan national weather service, we appreciate that update. Thank you, sir. Be safe. We'll check back.

GARCIA: Thank you.

LEMON: I want to go to CNN Nick Paton Walsh she is in Puerto Rico and he is updated us this hour. Nick, you're right in the path of Maria. What are the conditions like on the ground?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, hi. The wind and rain has picked up in the last ten minutes or so. This is just the beginning, really. I mean we're still ten hours potentially, nine hours away from Maria heading land fall and already it is perilous. The building behind me is the beach of the coast. It is set for land fall tomorrow morning. The real fear here is about flood risk here. We're talking potentially a storm surge of 11 feet. That is nearly quite my height. And -- sorry, possibly 11, even 25 inches worth of rain. That volume of water that people fear at the moment. This is predominantly evacuated from what we can see. Even though there are people taking a walk at the beach to get a view of the oncoming storm. The island as a whole is bracing for this. We've seen shops put their boards up. Hotels too, gas stations and rationing for water supplies as well. And I think the governor made very clear if you're not in a shelter now, you need to get to one as quickly as possible.

[23:10:00] But this is an island that still really dealing with the damage from hurricane Irma. A billion dollars' worth. There are thousands of people still without electricity. The question is, are they braced enough after this? Irma was a glancing blow that just passed to the north of Puerto Rico. Maria is going to go straight through it hitting land fall here and moving up the island and through San Juan, the main city here. A lot of concern for people and four million people here. Are they heeding the warning getting to the shelters and being advised to get to? That is the real fear Don if can you still hear me.

LEMON: yes. We can. And we have the technical difficulty. There is a big hiss with your audio. We'll get back to you but we appreciate Nick Paton Walsh for Delmar we will check back with him for the very latest. Nick, thank you so much. We have much more to come on hurricane Maria and the path of this potentially catastrophic storm. Plus, the GOP taking another shot at repealing Obamacare. We're going to tell what you is in the latest bill and what it could mean for your health care.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So Republican Senators in a down to the wire push to repeal Obamacare before the clock runs out at the end of this month, the latest proposal is from Senator Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. It ends the Medicaid expansion and replaces it with block grants. Waves Obama care pre-existing conditions and eliminates essential health benefits including maternity care and substance abuse services.

[23:15:00] Let's discuss now CNN Political Commentator Margaret Hoover is here, Contributor Salena Zito and Political Commentator Bakari Sellers. So Margaret every time we think that we're done with this conversation, here we go again. And this one, how close do you think this is going to be to passing? This is really down to the wire.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's down to the wire because reconciliation expires in two weeks. If they don't get it down in two weeks, there is the only way can you get the bill passed with 50 votes. They don't get it done in two weeks, it's over. This is, if you're going to analyze the policy a political solution not a policy solution.

LEMON: So is this something Republicans should be getting behind?

HOOVER: Look, if Republicans want to hold the majority, they have to go back to the constituency after eight years after running against Obamacare and saying they would repeal it and reform the affordable care act. They have to deliver something. This is their last chance to do that. However, there are Republican governors like Larry Hogan of Maryland who have said this is not going to work to stabilize the market. This is not a solution for Maryland. What is true about both cases is that this is a political solution not a policy solution. This is going to fix a political problem Republicans have but not solve the larger health care problem.

LEMON: But maybe fix a political problem, Salena and then make that political problem worse down the road? Because here is the question and if the bill passes, insurers would no longer have to cover pre- existing conditions, I mean is that acceptable?

SALENA ZITO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF: The way I understand it because there is a lot of complicated worry it to. They don't have to accept them. But they also have to provide affordable care for them. You know if, they don't accept them as new patients or new clients. You know, government and health care like the genie is out of the bottle, right? As soon as we did it in 2010, it became complicated to undo it. And even though Obama care is not a perfect solution, it is fraught with problems. There are a lot of states that either have no providers on the exchanges or maybe just one. So there's no competition and people are just sort of stuck with whatever is in the bill. The political solution, like Margaret said, it's temporary. But it doesn't mean that it's a great political solution. It could cause all kinds of problems. I think both parties have a problem with this issue. I don't think that anybody is doing their best effort to solve the larger problem of the gaps and the holes and the issues that affect our health. And I don't know that they can.

LEMON: Salena listen, I take your point. But even as you were saying that Obamacare has some major issues, Bakari Sellers who is a staunch Democrat is shaking his head in agreement saying, yes, it does. I think Democrats will admit that it has some huge issues. But as you said, once you start giving people something, especially like health care, it's hard to continue or unwind and undo. What is this solution here? Is the solution this bill or the solution is I forget which Republican said that was shocking a couple weeks ago, I think the solution is going to be fix what is wrong with Obamacare.

BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, I think that is the solution to fix what is wrong with Obamacare in which you've had contrary to Salena's point is you have had Chuck Schumer. You have had Democrats come to the table and try to put together bipartisan fixes to the affordable care act. Even Barack Obama himself said, I guess the chief architect of Obamacare said the affordable care act has problems and we have to work together to bring about solutions. This Cassidy-Graham bill, it's a political fix. It's not a policy fix. And the fact is you have Republicans like Senator Johnson from Wisconsin who are coming out saying that they want to vote on this bill without a CBO score. They want to vote on a bill, conservative Republicans want to vote on a bill without knowing the cost of one sixth of our economy. I mean that is absurd. The reason they want to do it is because they know they have to go home. They have to take something to voters. And what's going to be harmful are that voters that Salena covers every single day, many of this voters who are in full rural America, many of this voters who are on Medicaid are getting the programs cut. If you look back and you want to talk about New Hampshire and you want to talk about Vermont and the other places, there is no money in Grand Cassidy for opioid abuse like it was in the first part. So, I mean from basic things that Democrats talk about like the fact that pre-existing conditions are not covered, we'll have a conversation about what affordable means. The cost of having a baby goes up. The list goes on and on and on. The practical matter is this is not a good solution for America.

LEMON: Everyone wants to weigh in. I have to get this in. It's important to remember the whole Jimmy Kimmel controversy, last time they tried to pass a bill. Here's what he said about this new health care bill just tonight. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:2010] JIMMY KIMMEL, JIMMY KIMMEL SHOW: I don't know what happened to Bill Cassidy but when he was on the publicity tour, he listed demands for a health care bill very clearly. These were his words. He said he wants coverage for all, no discrimination based on pre- existing conditions, lower premiums for middle class families, and no lifetime caps. And guess what? The new bill does none of those things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He went on to say Margaret, that Cassidy lied right to my face. Lied right to my face about not supporting anything that didn't pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. What are your thoughts?

HOOVER: Having not heard it, look, again, they're seeking a political solution. You have to go home to the constituents and say they've done something for the last eight years. I mean this is the most infuriating point for conservatives, for Republicans, for all of us who actually wants a substantive market reform to a health care system that is fundamentally broke. I mean all of us would agree there are problems with it. I mean Bernie Sanders op-ed that Conservatives can agree with, right? There is no transparency in the market place. We don't all agree on the fixes but we all agree that this problem is endemic to our economy, like Bakari said, it needs a comprehensive solution that you cannot pass in two weeks. When you are running up a reconciliation government.

LEMON: And that is a very good point. Listen, Salena, these changes and this bill will affect a lot of Trump voters and not positively. And I think that you think that they're aware of that? Are the lawmakers aware of that?

ZITO: Oh, I think that everybody is aware of that. Look, I mean best solution and this is going to be the hardest thing to do is actually pull both sides together, stick them in the room and say look, everybody sort of take a whack at this and start to make something that is -- I mean there is always going to be a portion of society that is going to feel the pinch more than another part of the society. But try to make something that is much more affordable, a lot less loopholes, a lot less mandates, a lot less taxes and start making, you know, start making changes that help people's health and help people's lives. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be ugly. But if they really want to do it right, that is how you do it.

LEMON: That is what John McCain suggested. Bakari said everybody gets in a room and try to come together. As a matter of fact, this is Steve smith, this is during the 2008 campaign. Voting for something that touches one sixth of the economy and affects every American without knowing the cost is antithetical to conservatives. What is your response?

SELLERS: I mean, I just made that exact same point. I agree with him. I think every Republican now who is pushing forward and trying to vote on that Cassidy-Graham bill while going back in 2010 pulling the quotes and criticizing Nancy Pelosi for the misstatement she made about we'll pass it and then read it later, they owe her a great deal of debt and apology today. But even more importantly, I want to bring up two things. One, Democrats are trying to play ball with a fix for the affordable care act. Democrats will not play ball with repeal and replace. I mean I think we know that and when Democrats came to the table with solutions, what Mitch McConnell did is pick up the gavel and go home. That is first.

And second, just to touch on this Jimmy Kimmel aspect, I wholeheartedly agree with him. I agreed with him then and I agree with him now. As we look at what the Republican Party is doing by playing politics with health care, its things like Jimmy Kimmel and Medicare for all which tie and fall right in place with what the Republican Party is trying to do here. What they're saying is that Bernie Sanders and Democrats are trying to move the country so socialism and Jimmy Kimmel is part of this Liberal Elite Hollywood, they don't understand what they are going to. Instead of doing what Salena said which is, sit down and come together with policies, they're playing politics with people's lives. That is very dangerous. And that is not the precedent set by Barack Obama.

LEMON: Did you take issue with that, Margaret?

HOOVER: Yes, Bakari is right in the sense that you can't and we can't, the Republican Party when I say we, Republicans can't change people's lives and expect to see another day. And also which is why John McCain is right. You don't pass bills like this that are this comprehensive when it comes to the American economy and touching people's lives in two weeks. You just don't. You also don't do them in secret in ways they did -- I don't take issue with that. I would just say that it's not only Barack Obama who has demonstrated that kind of legislative bipartisanship. I think there are plenty of Republicans who had demonstrated that and pass as well.

[23:25:07] LEMON: All right. Much more to talk about health care. And also someone went to the U.N. Today. We're going to discuss that. When we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A lot happening today, let us talk about president delivering his first address to the United Nation General Assembly making his position clear to the international audience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As President of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you as the leaders of your countries will always and should always put your countries first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I am back now with Margaret Hoover, Salena Zito and Bakari Sellers. Bakari, in his first speech to the United Nations, President Trump made it clear to the world leaders that he is sticking firmly to the America first policy. He said that U.S. will do its part in dealing with global issues. But the main focus is to look out for its own interests. What do you make of this?

SELLERS: I mean, you just played a clip and what exactly did he say there? Absolutely nothing. The President has the foreign policy depth of a shallow bathtub. Even more difficult in the way you have to analyze his speech is - take, for example his statements about the Iran deal. The question we need to be asking, the question that journalists need to be asking or just those of us in a participatory democracy is why don't you explain the Iran deal, Mr. President? And then articulate what the alternative may be. Donald Trump can't do that. And this is no longer the campaign trail where you can just throw out rhetoric and watch people clamber for it. He needs to have some sound policy ideas. Today's speech was completely absent that. And his language today, I mean, it was elementary at best. And maybe it was edible to those of us watching back home, but that does nothing for our stature on the global stage.

LEMON: Margaret?

HOOVER: I found the remarks to be among most measured Trump has ever delivered. Of course, he delivered at the teleprompter, much thought and preparation what the message would be. There were moments where he said, you know, the United States -- this is one example. He said the United States is gone to the trouble of defending the freedom of multiple countries. And not use our victories to expand our territory or add to our capital of our nation. Which is a very fair point. We should not start contrast to the rhetoric on the campaign trail who says we should take Iraq's oil fields and we were so idiotic to help them set up a democracy.

LEMON: The subtle reference to that, maybe we should --

SELLERS: Don?

LEMON: Did you finish your point?

SEXTON: Yeah. Margaret said he was very measured in his tone. My only push back to Margaret is he literally called a dictator of North Korea rocket man and said we would destroy North Korea. So basically, we're not talking about two kids on the playground. We're not --

LEMON: Now she wants to finish her thought.

HOOVER: Now I remember what I was going to say.

LEMON: Okay. I'm helping you out here.

HOOVER: Thanks so much for reminding me. It was measured. It was obviously sort of thoughtfully delivered. But in a sort of measured tone, none of cuss deny. He did say he was going to wipe out a nation essentially, right? He said we will destroy North Korea which is an extraordinary and also horrific and frankly un-American approach to any sort of confrontation. You don't say you're going to destroy a nation or eliminate their main land.

LEMON: Let's dig deeper in here, because according to CNN, President Trump used the word sovereignty 21 times in the 40-minute speech. Those words send a strong message that President Trump is still strongly committed to nationalists and nationalist's principle that is fueled his political rise. And Salena being out there on the campaign trail and listening to this, do you agree with that?

ZITO: Well, I think that if you're looking at this through the eyes and ears of the Trump voter, they were very happy with that. I talked to a lot of them today. I touched base with them after the -- after the speech. Look, he is a fighter. That is what they like about him. That is one of the key sort of essence of why they got behind him even if they didn't particularly like him and/or agree with him on everything. They felt that they wanted someone that they felt had the country's back. He demonstrated through as Margaret said measured and also some sort of street language, I still can't get the image of Elton John singing "rocket man" every time I hear that word. But, you know, or hear that phrase. But for the people that supported him, they really enjoyed the speech. As we always say, elections have consequences. This is the kind of thing that voters want.

LEMON: So not to diminish anything you said. Not diminish the Trump voter, but just how much does that matter when you speak to the United Nations? Like --

SELLERS: It doesn't matter at all.

LEMON: Go ahead.

SEXTON: It doesn't matter at all. That is the point. We're not campaigning anymore. We're governing. We want to keep talking about Donald Trump on the campaign trail. The fact is we need to have a higher standard for Donald Trump and he has to begin to talk about policy in a way that is upholding and respectful to our global stature that is first. To say he is measured in one breath and then saying he is trying to walk us into World War III with North Korea in a different breath is difficult to swallow here. When he talk about America fist, do you know one thing he did not talk about in the enter speech? He did not talk about how Russia is trying to dissemble democracies throughout the world that was totally absent from the speech. So while we want to give him credit for being able to read the tell prompter without any fault, Donald Trump was as dangerous and reckless today as he is always been. We have to have a higher standard for him especially on this playing field.

[23:35:26] LEMON: I think Margaret wants to respond to that.

HOOVER: Look, Bakari, I never been a defender of Donald Trump. I think you know that I wasn't saying that Donald Trump was responsible because his tone was moderated.

LEMON: Measured and responsible.

HOOVER: Totally different things. I was first commenting on the tone. But not on -- and then I was able to get to the substance of the material. I think you and I sort of both know that I have not been one to defend Donald Trump's style or substance in any case. I agree with you. The rhetoric was irresponsible. It was put many world leaders on edge. And frankly it was contradictory in many, many places. Because he is drawing on international institutions and almost lotting on international institutions is the same institution like NATO, for example that, spent the rest of the public career undermining and talking and sort of valuing.

LEMON: Let me ask you this. That gets to the core of my question. She said it played right to the base. When you speak to the United Nations and world leaders are looking for assurances, do you need to play for 30some percent of the people who supported or voted you to at this point?

HOOVER: Look, he is trying to do both at the same time. He did -- Salena is right. Election dozen have consequences. He is representing a view in the United States that won by 78,000 votes and wanted the Electoral College. There's a way of explaining what did he without justifying it. Right? And that is I think, that is what many of us are trying to do.

SELLERS: That is fair.

LEMON: So listen Salena tonight the President tweeted this, I was saddened to see how bad the ratings were on the Emmys last night. The worst ever. Smartest people of them all are the deplorables. You say that the Emmys were, you know, were one long ad for the President. Explain that.

ZITO: Well, you know, part of the problem, part of the reason that people have not been able to figure out sort of why the Trump voter is not pulling away from him even with examples of reasons why they should, you know, under any normal circumstances is because the liberals and the liberal institutions and the liberal culture which I would say is Hollywood and the Emmys don't offer any sort of carrot to bring the Trump voter over. They're constantly sort of making fun of him, making fun of them. And, you know, there's nothing -- there's no give and take. And they're not doing anything to be more appealing to the Trump voter. So when you watch the Emmys, it's just like a four hours of making fun of him. And for Trump voter, they're watching that, you're making fun of them as well. And so that to me was a four hour ad for Trump in 2020.

LEMON: Why are they watching? And the question is, why is he tweeting about that when he should be tweeting about, you know, he is tweeting about ratings when there's stuff happening at the U.N. I'm sure he tweeted a bit about that.

ZITO: Right.

LEMON: There is a hurricane happening with Mexico.

ZITO: Yeah. I mean, in the past few days he has tweeted about the U.N. consistently. He has been tweeting about the hurricane. He tweeted about Mexico and the earthquake and, you know, how he felt compassion for what was happening there. And, yeah, you know, look, he is going to throw one of those out there that is just -- that is just who he is.

LEMON: He can't help himself. ZITO: Right. This is never going to change. It's not going to

change.

LEMON: I know. And people can -- and question discuss it and people can criticize it. Go on Bakari.

SELLERS: Let me be the first one to say that I just completely don't understand this voter. I don't. And I'm a liberal. I'm not a Hollywood liberal.

ZITO: Come out with me and we'll go out for a ride.

SELLERS: This is my point. I owe $113,000 in student loans and trying to make ends meet. I get all of that, right, but I think that many of the things that we find deplorable, many of the things that are distasteful at best are the fact that the Donald Trump voters are not xenophobic or racist or bigoted. However, they do stand by someone who has displayed the characteristics over and over again. And so --

ZITO: Nobody is offering them anything better.

SELLERS: I'm not offering anything better?

ZITO: Not you.

[23:40:00] SELLERS: I'm not offering anything better than Charlottesville?

ZITO: Charlottesville and Antifa are not reflections of this country. They are a small minority of people.

SELLERS: That is not true. That is not true. That is not true at all. In fact, the -- no. I mean, you just had somebody today who was an all American kid shoot two black people and try to shoot up a family. And to keep trying to say that these things are not indicative of the country, those people in Charlottesville, they just doesn't live in basements and come out to go to Lowe's and buy tiki torches. Those people are real life people that have careers and part of this country. There's a direct correlation between the Muslim bans, between Charlottesville, between the pardoning Sherriff Joe Arpaio, between the elimination of DACA, all of those things have a direct correlation, so listen, I want everyone to come out and vote for the candidate that I want. But there is something going on in this country that we're painting as economic anxiety. It's not, it is cultural anxiety and there are people in this country that feel as if their place is being taken away.

ZITO: I am sorry, but I respectfully disagree with you. Our country, I've been to 49 states in the past year. Our country is much more reflective than what we saw in the days after Harvey than what we see either at Berkeley or at Charlottesville. Our country is what you see the compassion that you saw after that.

LEMON: I can just say something. You point is taken. That is when people are forced to take action. When people have to voluntarily take action because there's no catastrophic event, because there is something, what do they then do? Do they prioritize racism? Do they prioritize bigotry or reaching across the aisle or trying to get someone who does not look like them, does not come from their background, do they prioritize those issues or do they just continue to live as many people do on the left or on the right in their own bubbles? I'm speaking to both sides. Yes, when people are forced to help other people, Americans can come together, but when it's part of their daily lives where it's not a forced issue where you --

SELLERS: We have a lot of work to do.

LEMON: A lot of work to do. I see it all the time. I respectfully disagree with that. That yes, we are great. We can be great if we do it voluntarily. We want to do it when there is nothing forcing us to do it. I got to run. Up next, Hurricane Maria, potentially catastrophic storm headed straight for Puerto Rico. We have the latest on the monster storm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:46:20] LEMON: Hurricane Maria potentially catastrophic storm slamming the Caribbean tonight and heading straight for Puerto Rico. CNN Michael Holmes is live in Antigua. We know the storm has hit hard where you are. What can you tell us about the damage there and the surrounding islands?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The thing is, Don, the damage has been including the communications system, and the first place that really got hit and it was in a direct line of sight was the island of Dominique, this is a place of 70,000 people. It was hit by this category 5 storm. They thought they might get a category 3. They got a 5. The Prime Minister, the first word from him was that there was utter devastation of his island. His own residence was damaged. He was evacuated by the police. Now the problem is that a lot of the communication system is down. We've been trying all day using every means we can to get word out of Dominique. There had been some over flights and no word coming out on the casualty.

The Prime Minister thought there could be casualties, deaths even. And widespread damage. The national hurricane center quoted radio reporting major structural damage. That was Dominique. It also hit Guadalupe. They have damage, there a lot of it. They had one death and two people are missing as well. And here in Antigua, we had howling winds and rain all day long. The funny thing Don, is when we thought about it, we were 100 miles away from the eye of Maria. And we were getting hammered. It really made you think about, you know, what it must have been like on Dominique in the eye of that 160 mile an hour winds. It must have been terrifying. And now relatives and friends of people who live there are just anxiously waiting to hear what their fate has been, Don?

LEMON: And have people reaching on social media asking how people are doing in certain areas and you mention the communication. It took some of the communication, all of the communication away. How long, Michael, will it take authorities to find out just how widespread this is? HOLMES: Well, it will take a couple days at least. They're going to

be sending planes over. It's only just in the last couple hours, Don that, we have been able to walk around easily without having to grab on to something. So it's going to be in the morning. They're going to get up there and have a look from the air, have a closer look. Helicopters are planning to go into Dominique as well and have a look there. We're on an island called Anguilla which is about a 15 hour sail from here. And they got hit really hard by Irma. The thing with a lot of these islands is that they got hit by Irma.

They got a lot of the debris out of the roads. Piled it up and ready for being taken away. So now that debris has been hit by Maria and has become projectiles and being thrown around again. Any building that was affected by Irma but not taken down has now been slammed by Maria. So just sort of exacerbates the damage, not just the damage but the stress on people. We've been talking to people on Anguilla. They told us you need a new category when it came to Irma. They said category 5 just didn't cut it. They said they didn't like it and then they followed up less than two weeks late we are another cat 5. I mean, you know, it's hard for people to endure and recover from.

One thing that is interesting in these islands, they are a very strong building codes. And where we are in Antigua, we got hit pretty hard today. Not a lot of structural damage because they have really tight building codes. It's not the same on some of these older islands that have not had new construction, Dominica is one of them. Barbuda that got wiped out by Irma that was another one. That was a place absolutely decimated. There's not a single person living on that island because it's inhabitable. They are working out how to rebuild it. That is the story right around the region, Don.

[23:50:24] LEMON: Michael Holmes thank you Sir, we appreciate you reporting. When we come back, I'm going to talk to some of the people riding out the storm tonight live from the hurricane zone.

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LEMON: Hurricane Maria battering the Virgin Islands tonight as a powerful category 5 storm. On the phone now is Cindy Clearwater. She lives in St. Croix. Cindy it is good to have you on, hope everything is OK. Hurricane Maria headed to St. Croix. You're on the island riding out the storm tonight. Why'd you decide to stay?

CINDY CLEARWATER, ST. CROIX RESIDENT: Well, I don't know if it was a decision really. You know, evacuating 150,000 people from an island is not an easy thing to do. So I wasn't really given a choice. If I had been given a choice, I would have stayed. This is my community. I have been working since hurricane Irma on efforts -- relief efforts for St. John in particular, and I just felt I could do much more good here on the ground.

[23:55:15] LEMON: And you're staying in the bunker in the island. What's that like? Are there more supplies?

CLEARWATER: I do. We had a little bit of warning. We already had a lot of supplies aside from Irma. Some I had sent over St. John, but my friends and I all grabbed what we could. I'm at a friend's house, and the room that I'm in is really like a cement bunker. The home is really sturdy. And we've got hurricane shutters up. Where I am right now is on the lee side of the winds. That is going to change soon, so it's going to get louder.

LEMON: Well, Cindy, we wish you guys the best and you stay safe. We're going to check back with you again. This category five storm, Maria. We are going to keep close eye on it. That is it for us tonight. Thank you so much for watching our live coverage continues now with Michael Holmes in Antigua.

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