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Jamie Dimon Regrets Claim He Could Beat Trump in Election; "Storm of a Lifetime" Roars Toward Carolina Coasts; FEMA's "Waffle House Index", if It's Closed, the Storm is Bad; GOP Leader Says Midterms are Like a Knife Fight in an Alley. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 12, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: ... You've seen the 22 Russian indictments and you see the conversation that is still ongoing about whether the President in fact ought to testify before the special counsel. And our poll also shows that more than 70 percent of the American public believe that the President needs to speak in some way, shape or form to the special counsel. So, I think you know it's a combination of all of these things and don't forgive the special counsel is quiet and Donald Trump is not.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Someone else who wasn't quiet on how he feels about the President, Jamie Dimon. Jamie Dimon, I know you seen this, for everyone who hasn't seen this, J.P. Morgan CEO. So, here's what Jamie Dimon said.

I think I could beat Trump. I can't beat the liberal side of the Democratic party. I'm as tough as he is. I'm smarter than he is. I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants. It wouldn't work with me. I'd fight right back.

And so, he later sort of walked back from some of those comments saying, I shouldn't have said it. I'm not running for President. Proves I make a good politician. He said, I get frustrated because I want all sides to come together to help solve big problems.

You know, nevertheless, it is fascinating always to see mega business leaders like a Jamie Dimon come forward and say this. And I'm also just curious, why do you think he thinks he couldn't beat liberal Democrats?

BORGER: I don't know. Maybe he thinks they'd be tougher and smarter than Donald Trump. I have no idea. I think that Jamie Dimon believes that he is tougher and smarter than Donald Trump. That he's made more money than Donald Trump. And that there are a lot of people on Wall Street who feel the same way. And all of these major drumroll business guys look at Donald Trump and say are you kidding me, he's President of the United States, and I'm not? Why I could do exactly what he's doing except I know much more about the economy and I can do it better.

Now that Donald Trump has kind of broken through that, you may see more business people like a Jamie Dimon. I know he says he's not running, but maybe the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz or other business people saying, you know, what I know more about the way the world operates than Donald Trump. So, I could potentially do a better job. Why he thinks he couldn't do a better job than a liberal Democrat. I mean, you'd have to ask him. I think he probably thinks he could. But I think he is taking his aim right now at Trump. Which is an easy target for him.

BALDWIN: Boy, oh boy, 2020 is going to be fascinating. Isn't it? Gloria, thank you so much.

BORGER: Let's get through 2018, Brooke, OK.

BALDWIN: I know, we're less than two-month. And then we have 2020 talk about. Thank you.

Coming up next here, stunning images of hurricane Florence from space. One astronaut warning people that the storm is a, quote, no kidding nightmare. We'll take you live to the Carolina coast in moments.


BALDWIN: This is Isle of Palms in South Carolina. Firefighters over the loudspeakers clearly telling people in the area to evacuate as of right now, about five hours is how long people along the Carolina coastline have to either pack up and get out or hunker down and ride out what is being called the storm of a lifetime.

This is what is headed their way, Florence, a monster category 3 storm. It is barreling towards the coast as we speak, and officials say its impact will be catastrophic. Meteorologist Bob Van Dillen is live from Carolina Beach, North Carolina. And Bob, we were hearing from firefighters a second ago, I heard you rode along with police in North Carolina earlier. Tell me why.

BOB VAN DILLEN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we did in Carolina Beach. They started around 12 o'clock rolling through the individual streets on a bullhorn saying bullhorn saying mandatory evacuations, be out by 8:00. And I got to do the right along with them about 1 o'clock. I didn't see many people out here, Brooke, which obviously great news for Carolina Beach.

But here's the story, if you're not out by 8 o'clock nobody else can come in after 8 o'clock over the bridge. It's just one bridge that separates this island from the main land, and then once winds get to about 45 Miles per hour sustained. Nobody is getting in or out. So, if you are not out of here, and you are stuck here. No one's going to come into help you. I mean, that's all there is to it.

One thing that was bustling. I got there earlier this morning, the hardware store. Believe it or not, people were still making last minute preparations. The hardware store owner, it was just traffic in and out. Wait until you hear this. We had guy, we had him, we also had the mayor, the mayor of this beach. He came out this morning early, Brooke, and he's a character. He's a surfer. He's the mayor. He was out here early this morning. We were judging the waves how great they were.

That changed pretty quickly when I started to talk to him about what about evacuations? What happens to evacuees if they decide to say. Here's what he had to say about that.


MAYOR JOE BENSON, CAROLINA BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA: Just taking a look at the island, and residents and businesses alike, I venture to say a third of the folks are still left, everybody is boarding up.

[15:40:00] Yes, they're taking this very seriously. They know just how intense this storm is.

VAN DILLEN: So, when you say mandatory evacuation and they don't leave, what does that mean to folks that say?

BENSON: Essentially, you are on your own, don't expect a first responder to come to your aid. Because what that does is it puts two of our first responders at risk. At that's really clear. We've been unequivocal about that.


VAN DILLEN: Yes, that's Joe Benson, he has been here a while. And I want to show you this, Brooke, just to let you know what is going on. You can you see the waves beginning to build. Right. Those are big breakers out there. One guy is with the boogie board. I was out there yesterday body surfing and it wasn't as rough at all.

Then also, if you look up, see the clouds right there, those are the high, thin serous clouds, that's the exhaust of hurricane Frances. Essentially the first clouds from hurricane Frances now coming ashore right now well overhead. You're talking thousands of feet up there, not rain makers. But those are high thin serous clouds made out of ice crystals, the exhaust of Florence that's still 480 miles out that way. But it's coming in this direction. That's just an ominous sign. That plus the big waves, that's what they used to look for back in the day to see if a hurricane was coming -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Looks can be deceiving it looks so beautiful. The calm before the storm. Bob Van Dillen, good to see you. Thank you so much.

VAN DILLEN: You go it.

BALDWIN: We'll check back in.

Coming up next here, Waffle House has just activated its storm center ahead of hurricane Florence. We will talk to their spokesperson about how FEMA includes their restaurants all around the south in its storm assessments.


BALDWIN: It is called the Waffle House index. I know. But this is what FEMA uses to determine how quickly an area will rebound from a natural disaster. Waffle House opened 24 hours seven days a week, it is a southern staple. Check out the color-coded index. The store is open and offering a full menu, that's green, opened but serving a limited menu, that's yellow, and if a store is closed that is red. And my next guest says red is rare. Waffle House is so dedicated to keeping their stores open during natural disasters, they have a Waffle House storm center. And Pat Warner is their director PR. He's joining me live from that room. So, Pat, nice to see you, sir, in Norcross, Georgia. You know, here we go, I'm a southern girl. I have been to many a Waffle House. But I had no idea a Waffle House index was even this unofficial metric. Can you just tell me why you think whether or not a Waffle House open is a good indication of how a community rebounds after a storm?

PAT WARNER, SPOKESMAN, WAFFLE HOUSE: You are exactly right. You know, if we were open quickly after a storm, Brooke, that means that the community is coming back and folks are out. You know, we're getting back to that sense of normalcy. And I think that's why the people have looked to us through the last few years about the Waffle House index. We are very fortunate that the former FEMA administrator, Craig Seagate, actually came up with it when he was in Florida back in 2004. And since then the eyes have been kind of on us to see our response. But we just try to get the restaurants opened as quickly as possible after the storm, because, like you said, we are normally open 24/7. So, we want to be there for everybody right after the storm as well.

BALDWIN: But what is this, Pat, about Waffle House? You are right, of course, Greg Fugate said this was the indicator right after those '04 hurricanes. What is it about Waffle House that is indicative of a community rebounding?

WARNER: It's a place people come to throughout the year after football games, after driving in the middle of the night, getting up early in the morning. So, people are relying on us to be there all time. So, I think after a storm, they're really looking to us to be there to help them out. Because they're used to us being there the rest of the year.

BALDWIN: Sure. And I know you say Waffle House doesn't do this more the money, but you tell me, how do you reopen a restaurant? Listen, there's a lot of Waffle Houses in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. You know, if you have a storm blow through and there's maybe gas but no electricity, or a generator, but no ice.

WARNER: We have to think about all of that and we try to save those resources right outside the strike zone. So, we can be there with the generators, with the food, with the fuel, with the people to get the restaurants reopened as quickly as possible. Hurricane Florence, we have about 230 restaurants that could be impacted by the storm. So, we're monitoring those pretty closely. We are right now staging resources so they can roll in right after the storm. It's a big undertaking, and for us, you know, for most businesses it's easy to close. For us, we don't know how to do that. We don't know how to close a restaurant. So that's actually pretty tough for us to close a restaurant down as a storm is coming. So, we have to have a check list on how to close the restaurant and how to reopen it. First thing they do is find the keys to the front door. Because that's usually the first things we have to we have to do to close a restaurant. BALDWIN: Sure, you know it's not a good sign when a Waffle House is

closed. Right. So, can you though think of a storm in more recent past that was a red situation?

WARNER: We had a couple last year with Harvey and Irma. We had a lot of restaurants that we had to shut down before the storm. Especially Irma came straight up Florida into Georgia. At one time we had more restaurants in Atlanta without power than in Florida without power during Irma last year. Harvey was the same thing over in the Houston area. We had a lot of flooding over there. So, we had some restaurants we had to shut down. Mainly because we couldn't get to them. The access issues were there. So, we're kind of monitoring that in Florence. Because we think that's going to be a similar storm where there's going to be a lot of flooding after the storm comes on shore.

BALDWIN: All right, Pat Warner, we wish you well. Thank you so much. The Waffle House index. Appreciate it.

WARNER: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, we will take you back live to the Carolina coastline, where people are preparing for as much as 40 inches of rain from hurricane Florence.

[15:50:00] Which, of course, could cause catastrophic flooding. The brand-new track of the storm, coming up.


BALDWIN: It's like a knife fight in an alley. That is how Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, describes the stakes for the upcoming midterms. We are less than eight weeks away. It is a dog fight for control over the Senate. There are 35 senate seats to fill. To take control, Democrats need a two-seat gain overall, and leader McConnell admits at least nine of the races are a tossup.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: On the senate side, I'll just list you a bunch of races that is are dead even.

[15:55:00] Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia and Florida. All of them, too close to call. And every one of them, like a knife fight in an alley. I mean, just a brawl. In every one of those places. I hope when the smoke clears that we'll still have a majority in the Senate.


BALDWIN: On the House side, the race for Texas' 23rd congressional district is heating up, so much so that former President George W. Bush hit the trail for the first time today at a fund-raiser for the Republican incumbent here, congressman Will Hurd. His opponent is one of the women I spoke to for my season two of my series, "American Women in Politics". I really wanted to shine a light this year on the record number women running for office both on the left and on the right. And I spent the last few months traveling across this country, talking to many of these candidates about why they're running, why there are so many women running, and for what.

So, Gina Ortiz Jones is an Iraq war veteran. She is a first- generation American and a lesbian. And if she wins, she would be America's first Philippina in Congress.


GINA ORTIZ JONES, (D) CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE TEXAS 23RD DISTRICT: Hi, sir, my name is Gina Ortiz Jones. I'm running for Congress.

I'm an air force veteran. I'm also an Iraq veteran. I went to John J. High school.

Ma'am I'm Gina Ortiz Jones, (SPEAKING SPANISH).

I was sitting down with a group of women, and one of the older ladies says, who asked you to run? As in, well, who said it was your turn. No one needed to ask me.

I'm Gina Ortiz Jones, and I'm an American woman. Not only because I was born here, but because I know our American values are enduring.

My mom came to this country 40 years ago. She graduated from the number-one university in the Philippines. But came here actually as a domestic helper.

BALDWIN: As a housekeeper.

JONES: As a housekeeper, right, yes. She knew that even if she came to this country in that capacity, even that capacity, the sky is the limit. Because that's the promise of this country. And frankly, that's what my sister and I remember hearing every single day. You know, work hard, study hard. Anything is possible.

Don't ask, don't tell applied to me as a cadet. Every single day of those four years, I lived in fear that if they found out I was gay, I would lose my scholarship.

BALDWIN: What was it like being in Iraq, serving in Iraq as a woman, as a gay woman?

JONES: Yes, it was stressful. Just because you're in a war zone, and then the added stress of having to serve under don't ask, don't tell. And so, I just really know that it's so important that we never go back to that time. If anybody is ready and willing to die for their country, serve their country, they should be able to do that.

Hey, great. Here's just --


JONES: All right.


BALDWIN: So, then what did you do?

JONES: I worked on strategic path planning within the Defense Intelligence Agency. Look, I wrapped up my career in the executive office of the President, working on economic and national security issues. It was very clear through the early steps of this administration how they were rolling back some of the progress of the LGBT community. How they were going to work to repeal women's access to safe reproductive services. I just did not want to be part of that.

BALDWIN: So, when did you say to yourself, I'm going to do something about it, and I'm going to do something by running for Congress.

JONES: So, as I was watching things and people were being silent or voting lockstep with this President, I wanted to look at who is representing my community? And then I looked at the incumbent's voting record, and I was amazed. I just felt really called to step up and serve in my community. And, you know, I'll always say, you can't be surprised when the people that are the most vulnerable have the most to lose, step up and say, you know what, I've got something to say about that, I'm going to run. [

Hi, I'm Gina. Good to see you.

BALDWIN: Why do you think so many women are running now?

JONES: We are tired of assuming that people who we thought were going to have our back have not done a good enough job, and we've got to do it ourselves. And so, we've got to send folks that are ready to fight and get it done and ready to call out the folks that are being silent.

BALDWIN: And if you don't win, was it all worth it?

JONES: Oh, for sure. For sure. Again, our country is worth fighting for. And at the end of the day, I'll be able to say, I did everything that I could do when my country needs me.


BALDWIN: Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas' 23rd congressional district. Thank you for sitting with me this summer. If you would like to learn more about these various women who could be making history this November -- by the way, up ask down the ballot, right? Local, state, federal levels. Check out my series. It's all online. Go to Again, that's And I'll post some behind the scenes clips on my Instagram @Brooke CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.