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CNN NEWSROOM

Gillum: "Monkey" Comment a Page from Trump Playbook; Trump: The Administration "Did a Fantastic Job in Puerto Rico"; WAPO: U.S. Denying Passports to Hispanic Americans in South Texas; Court Controversy; Serena and Venus Win to Set Up Sisters Showdown. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- to say, I'm sorry, that's not what I meant, full stop, move on, game on to November. The reality is, if you do look at his full quote, he was being complimentary of the mayor, he was saying, "you ran a good campaign" and then he also was pointing out the fact that Florida does not need the policies of the mayor that are socialist, tax and spend liberal policies that do not work for Florida.

I do not think he meant it in a negative way. However, that's the way it came out. In my view, he would be much better off if he apologized and put this behind him. Because the reality is, I worked for Rick Scott in the 2010 campaign. He traveled all over Florida. And he said jobs, jobs, jobs. That's what got him into the governor's mansion. And Desantis has the same policies that will continue the economic growth of Governor Scott. He also wants to help with reducing the taxes in that state. He has the right policies that fit for that state. And Mayor Gillum does not. He does have far left wing policies --

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Alice --

STEWART: -- that are not fit for Florida. President Trump won Florida. He has 50 percent approval rating. The wind is at Desantis' back. And if he can put this behind him, he is in a good spot in November.

SANDERS: This is what's so interesting, Erica. The fact of the matter is Desantis is -- he is like a very -- one could argue sometimes he is more Trumpier than Trump. He is not some mainstream conservative. He believes in conspiracy theories. He is willing to use this dog whistle language to attack his opponent because he cannot talk about the issues. The fact of the matter is Mayor Gillum is talking about the issues. That's how he won the Democratic nomination for governor.

He is out there talking about Medicare -- not just Medicare for all but really expanding Medicaid in the state, particularly, of Florida. He is talking about the stand your ground laws. He is talking about addressing gun violence. Something that has you know ravaged not just Florida but the rest of the country. We saw it just recently in Jacksonville. He is talking about jobs. He is talking about the economy. He is talking about innovation and entrepreneurship. These are the things that are resonating with Florida voters. And Desantis came out of the gate with dog whistle, swampy-like tactics because he cannot talk about the issues.

STEWART: No, he is strong on the issues. As I've said, we've had -- Florida is a good state for jobs and his policies will continue in that direction. He is also strong on immigration, which is important for Floridians, as well as healthcare. So, he is strong on the issues.

And that is what he will continue to push as he travels across the state. And not just that, his record and his history with his education and his military service, he connects well with veterans across Florida and certainly on the economic message. So, he has the right issues that connect with the people of Florida. It's a matter of getting -- addressing those and getting past this hiccup.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: A challenge for both of these candidates is going to be connecting with the folks in the middle who increasingly feel left out. And not just in the state of Florida but across this country. If you talk to people -- I'm sure this happens to the both of you. Just in polite conversation with friends, with colleagues, with family members, you hear from a lot of people, why does everything have to be going to the extremes? Why are we pushing further and further to the edges in both parties in terms of the candidates that we're seeing? And what happens to the people left in the middle?

Symone, you know obviously Bernie Sanders was much more progressive for a lot of people. Gillum is much more progressive for a lot of people. But there's this area in the middle that needs to be addressed. Do you think that Gillum can address -- I know you picked up on a couple of things there but this is going to be the challenge moving forward to appeal to more mainstream and independents?

SANDERS: Well look, Erica, I think - for one, I'm from Omaha, Nebraska, right in the middle of MECA, heartland, go big red, husker country. And from where I'm from, folks can talk about -- they want to talk about the economy. They want to talk about healthcare. Folks want to talk about how we can get more money in our pockets so we can put more food on the table to feed our families. They want to know that you are authentic, that you know, you may disagree with them, but they appreciate you and respect you for standing in your truth. And they want to know that you're going to work for them.

I think folks in Omaha, Nebraska and Statler, Nebraska are much like folks in Broward County, but you know the northern part of Florida as well. So, I think that's what the key is here. Many Democrats have been -- this isn't the first time there's been a Democratic nominee for governor in Florida. But the difference is this is the first time not only is the nominee an African-American man, but the nominee is someone that ran on a progressive platform of just being himself and saying, look, I'm here to work for all of Florida, not just a few folks, that is what is the difference.

We cannot continue to run Republican light in places across the country and think that's going to get us elected. I just want to remind people of Jason Kander. Jason Kander, former Secretary of State in Missouri was running for Senate, was running 21 points ahead of Secretary Clinton in general election in 2016. Now he lost but he was running 21 points ahead of her in Missouri. And he was a progressive candidate in Missouri.

(CROSSTALK)

[10:35:03] STEWART: I can assure you --

HILL: Just real quickly, in terms of extremes, you know, there's a lot more conversation we had here and lucky us, we have a number of weeks until the midterms. So we keep talking about it. But one thing when it comes to, as we saw, candidates who do embrace Donald Trump, Donald Trump's version of the Republican Party, do very well in the primaries. The question is -- like I posed to Symone -- how that translates whether we move closer to the actual election. How much concern is there that he needs to look at this big swath of people in the middle and there are a lot of people who don't like those extreme viewpoints?

STEWART: Right. And that's the challenge for any candidate. You always hug the right or left in order to win your primary. And then you go more to the middle as we move to the general election and the trick with Florida is that this primary is late and they have an abbreviated calendar in order to make that case and pledge it to the people.

The reality is, as I said, Donald Trump is at a 50 percent approval rating in Florida. His policies and his issues on reducing taxes, strong on immigration and improving the economy, that's what Floridians want. I have been across that state. I've campaigned in that state and that connects with them.

Gillum's policies of healthcare for all, abolishing ICE and taxes and spend liberal policies, that's not going to work. That is - those are the policies that will hurt the economy of Florida. The key now is for both of them to get on message, move more to the middle, energize not just their base but the independents and undecideds and get them out to vote. I don't care who you are. I want more people to come out and vote because that's what is going to make true change in our country.

HILL: Alice, Symone, always good to talk with both of you. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thanks, Erica.

STEWART: Thanks.

HILL: The president says his administration did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. This as we are learning the death toll has now skyrocketed to nearly 3,000 people.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:33] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we did a fantastic job with Puerto Rico. We're still helping Puerto Rico. The governor is an excellent guy. And he is very happy with the job we have done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: President Trump touting the administration response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. This as we learn the storm's death toll in Puerto Rico skyrocketed to nearly 3,000.

Joining us now to discuss further, a Republican member of Puerto Rico's House of Representatives, Jose Melendez. Sir, good to have you with us this morning.

This morning on CNN en Espanol, such a network you lamented the U.S. reaction in 2010 to Haiti versus what happened in Puerto Rico last year. It was far greater in Haiti. The president yesterday as you just heard called the response fantastic. He noted some of the challenges. It's tougher to get to an island. We know that's a reality. Would you label the response fantastic?

JOSE MELENDEZ, PUERTO RICO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Fantastic is not a word I would choose. But you know, I do agree with the president that the governor is an excellent guy. You know the fact of the matter is that we have to separate emergency response from the recovery and management. You know during the period of emergency response, I got to tell you, it was a complete and total disaster.

As I -- you know, when I was in en Espanol -- I was trying to make the case that in Haiti, you know when the earthquake struck, the Obama administration back then actually deployed at least three aircraft carriers, over 300 helicopters and over 30,000 troops. We never had that kind of amount of resources here. And it's not me saying that. It is -- those are the words of General Jeffrey Buchanan, you know the one person Trump appointed to fulfill the mission in Puerto Rico. So, those were his words.

And he said they didn't have enough resources. But I got to be fair on this one. You know once they realized the magnitude of the catastrophe that Puerto Rico suffered, during the recovery effort, you know they have been -- you know I'm trying to say that the Trump administration have been very, very helpful. You know Congress acted swiftly. They have tasked - they have at least over $50 billion for the recovery of the island. So, they pretty much have been taking necessary steps to ensure that all people receive the aid that they need.

But you know, one of the things that we have been hearing all along is that the money is still not getting to the people. Why is that? Because there's red tape. You know, federal regulations are - you know, the bureaucracies as big as you can imagine and that is hurting our people.

HILL: And that's one of the things we need to work out. We're almost out of time, Sir. I'm sorry. But real quickly, do you believe that there have been not only lessons learned but that they are being actively addressed for the next disaster that could come your way so the response is better and isn't in fact what you need? MELENDEZ: Well, one of the things that we hope is that we all -

[10:45:00] I mean officials from the federal government and the state government would actually learn. I think they learned their lesson. So they need to re-visit protocols -- emergency protocols not only Puerto Rico but all across the United States, because we don't really want what happened here in Puerto Rico where it can happen anywhere else in the United States.

HILL: No one wants to see a repeat of that. That is for sure. Jose Melendez, appreciate you talking the time for us today. Thank you.

MELENDEZ: Thank you.

HILL: Still to come, a stunning new report says the Trump administration is denying passport renewals for Hispanic Americans who live along the southern border, more on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:50:07] HILL: A report in "The Washington Post" says passports of hundreds Hispanic Americans who live near the U.S.-Mexico border are being revoked. And the reason behind that move, well the State Department is accusing them of using fraudulent birth certificates. Nick Valencia is following the story for us. Nick, when I saw this headline I thought I was misreading it.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's shocking at its face. But evidently this is something that's been happening for years to residents of South Texas, specifically those who were born through midwives. However, what "The Washington Post" is reporting is that under President Trump, under his administration there has been a surge, an uptick that's affecting hundreds, if not, thousands of residents in South Texas.

What we are learning though from two attorneys that we spoke to earlier this morning is that they say there is a surge. That this is happening more and more frequent under President Trump. CNN has been unable to independently verify that. The State Department simply has not provided "The Washington Post" or CNN for that matter with specific raw numbers.

But this is what they are saying about the practice, saying that this policy has not changed. "The policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications, the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud."

And this is what they are saying, Erica. According to the paper that has been nearly impossible to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate birth certificates specifically for those born through midwives between 1950s and 1990s. Their claim is that even in some cases, physicians have provided illegitimate birth certificates to babies that were actually born in Mexico. According to the paper, again, this is nearly impossible but the denials are happening. And it's worth noting at a time when President Trump is lobbying for stricter voter I.D. laws, stricter federal voter I.D. laws. And this would presumably impact many Latino voters, people who have lived in the United States their entire lives, have voted, in some cases, according to the paper, these are individuals who have been Border Patrol Agents who have fought for the country, they're now going to try to get their passport renewed and having that denied. Now this practice is happening at a time, I mentioned, voter I.D. laws, the lobby for that is happening by President Trump and this would affect a sliver of Texas that's heavily Democratic. Erica?

HILL: Nick Valencia, appreciate it. Thank you.

Still to come, double fault. The U.S. Open apologizing after a simple shirt change caused major controversy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:57:05] HILL: The U.S. Open slammed on social media and in plenty of real conversations for sexism and a double standard after a female player was reprimanded for taking her shirt off on the court because oh my God, Andy Scholes, she wore a sports bra and we could see it.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erica. We see male players you know change their shirts on the court all the time.

HILL: No sports bra on them.

SCHOLES: No sports bra on them. Usually they do it while sitting in a chair but you know Novak Djokovic has taken his shirt off on the court, not in his chair, and not received any kind of reprimand or penalty. And that's you know probably one of the reasons why French player Alize Cornet thought she wasn't doing anything wrong.

This "Bleacher Report" is brought to you by Ford going further so you can.

Cornet briefly took her shirt off after realizing she had put it on backwards during a heat break. And that's when the empire gave her a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct. Now the Grand Slam rule book states, women should only change their attire in a break, between set in the nearest available bathroom. And the women's tour came out and said Cornet did nothing wrong. And Cornet, meanwhile, says she received just an outpouring of support over this incident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALIZE CORNET, FRENCH TENNIS PLAYER: I was really scared to get a fine for it. So, all the players were supporting me for that and were telling me that if I get fine, we will all be together. They would say, you know make a revolution and stuff. I was like, wait, calm down. I'm going to get the information first and then we will see if we make revolution or not. It was nice to have the girls' support.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: After all the outrage, the U.S. Tennis Association has clarified the rule saying that women can now also change their shirts in their chair or leave the court briefly without being assessed a bathroom break. USTA also said they regret what happened.

All right, another action of U.S. Open. Serena and Venus both, winning their second round match yesterday. They will meet tomorrow in the third round. The 30th time the sisters have squared off against one another. The last matchup came in the Australian Open last year when the odds were stacked against Venus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VENUS WILLIAMS, AMERICAN TENNIS PLAYER: The last time we played the Australian, it was two against one. So, at least this time --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was when Serena was pregnant but only Venus you were one of the few that knew.

VENUS: So, yes, at least this time it will be fair.

SERENA WILLIAMS, AMERICAN TENNIS PLAYER: Last time we played in a grand slam, I may have had a little bit of an advantage but seeing that I don't have that advantage this time, that's going to be hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: They have been playing against each other their entire lives, Erica. They have been playing professionally against each other since 1998. Just incredible, we should appreciate it while we can because you know this will be the 30th time and who knows when it will be the last time?

HILL: They are amazing and so incredible to watch. Andy, appreciate it. Thank you.

Thanks all of you for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill in for Poppy Harlow. "At This Hour" starts right now.