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Tropical Storm Isaac Threatens Gulf Coast; Abbreviated Republican National Convention

Aired August 27, 2012 - 22:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican National Convention is officially open for business, and Mitt Romney arrives here in Tampa on Tuesday.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: But New Orleans is hunkering down. A big storm is heading our way.


NARRATOR: The Gulf Coast on alert for a new hurricane disaster.

Isaac churns towards the shores of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

We all understand how important preparation is.

NARRATOR: Threatening the same spots where Katrina hit exactly seven years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen the results of people thinking that they somehow are stronger than storms.

NARRATOR: In Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican National Convention in session and called to order.

NARRATOR: Republicans officially open their convention, but delay the speakers and festivities for 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The convention stands in recess.

NARRATOR: Even though Tampa dodged the worst of the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The convention made the same division I made. The most important thing we can be doing in the state is keep everybody safe.

NARRATOR: Tonight, CNN is live in New Orleans at the convention site in Tampa. We are tracking Isaac's power and path, preparations in the danger zone and any political fallout.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our thoughts are with the people that are in the storm's path and hope that they're spared any major destruction. NARRATOR: Will this storm overshadow Mitt Romney's crowning moment now that journalists and voters are shifting some of their focus to Isaac?

Plus, the private side of Romney as he prepares for the most important speech of his life. His sons open up to CNN about their dad.

Now our Republican Convention coverage, the players, the issues, the stakes and the storm. The road to the White House leads through Tampa right now.


BLITZER: And welcome to Tampa, Florida, the site of the Republican National Convention.

About 16 hours from now, the thousands of delegates will reconvene to begin the process of making Mitt Romney their nominee for president of the United States. Inside the hall, final preparations are now being made for the first of three star-studded nights.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Tampa, along with CNN's Erin Burnett. We have a lot of politics to cover.


Wolf, the convention of course formally convened today, but really only just for a few moments. Party chairman Reince Priebus was in charge of the gavel. You just saw him there a moment ago bringing it to order and the Republicans started a second national debt clock. They have one up there with the $16 trillion debt of the United States and they have another one now to count how much is racked up just during the GOP convention.

The real action though will start tomorrow. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is going to be delivering the convention's keynote address and all eyes will be on that, whether it is bombastic or calm or some combination of the two. Another highlight of Tuesday night will be the speech by Mitt Romney's wife, Ann.

But while all that is going on, New Orleans of course could be facing the wrath of what will be Hurricane Isaac just at that moment.

Our colleague Anderson Cooper of course was in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

BLITZER: Yes. He is joining right now with the very latest.

They're waiting for Isaac along the entire Gulf Coast, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Wolf and Erin, I am at the 17th Street Canal right now. The water is held back by one of the levees that broke, that failed in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the city. Since then, some $10 billion has been spent on repairing and on strengthening New Orleans' levees. You can see one of the floodgates that is behind me now and this has been complete been rebuilt, and now seven years after Katrina, it looks like they are going to be tested very possibly.

Here's the latest to tell you about. Isaac is getting stronger. Forecasters say it will be a hurricane and a hurricane very soon. New Orleans could begin feeling tropical-storm-force winds tonight. We have already started to feel just a little bit of the wind blowing a little bit more than it was even two hours ago. But the storm is moving very slowly and it's not expected to make landfall until Wednesday.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered along the coast of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana along low-lying areas and thousands of people are heading inland. But a lot more will just be hunkering down here for the storm.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, one of the Republican Party's rising stars, tells reporters that he is staying home and not going to the convention. Watch.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I will not be speaking or attending the Republican Convention in Florida. Certainly, party conventions are interesting, but there's no time for politics here in Louisiana along our coast.



COOPER: Also, Chad, stay with us because I want to bring in Rob Marciano.

New Orleans' mayor, Mitch Landrieu, he has not ordered an evacuation of the city of New Orleans, which is obviously below sea level and protected by a network of levees.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano, he got a bird's-eye view of the levees today. It's a very different system than it was seven years ago.


When you see it up close like this, it's certainly awe-inspiring, but to get a look at the whole project is extremely impressive as well. We want to share that with the viewers. Take a look at what this stuff looks like from high above.


MARCIANO (voice-over): Shortly after taking off in a Coast Guard chopper, immediately in view is the biggest pumping station in the world, spanning across the Intercostal Waterway, part of a $14 billion plan to protect New Orleans from hurricane floodwaters, gates to keep the seawater from coming in and pumps to let the rainwater out. There is another 73 pumping stations across five parishes and some are able to move water at 150,000 gallons per second.

(on camera): On the ground, the floodgates pump impressively. In the air, you really see the enormity of the project. The levee system just seems to go on for miles and miles and miles. The question is will it hold in a big hurricane?

If this storm strengthens to say a Category 2 storm tonight, will you still sleep well?

COL. ED FLEMING, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: This is the best system that the greater New Orleans area has ever seen.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Dug deeper, built stronger and standing higher than seven years ago, there now 133 miles of levee wall around the city. New Orleans' most exposed flank is here on the eastern side, this seawall nearly two miles long, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, this barrier to the sea is ready.

Sitting in this rescue aircraft reminds me that if the walls don't hold, like in Katrina, the men providing this view from above may be the same guys potentially saving lives down below.

LT. J.G. MICHAEL YANEK, U.S. COAST GUARD: We are training every day. We train how we fight and we fight how we train. And hopefully we won't have to use those skills, but in this case we're ready, and we have crews ready and available to be ready to respond.


COOPER: During the catastrophe after Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, U.S. Army General Russel Honore was credited with restoring order here in New Orleans and it was a welcome sight when he arrived here. He is retired now. He joins us.

What concerns you most over the next 24 hours?

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: People in flood-prone areas that will try to stick it out and stay home, that is what concerns me the most because parts of this Gulf Coast will flood all outside of the levee system.


HONORE: Look, the high tide is already...


COOPER: The area where we are right now, which is 17th Street Canal, this is outside the levee protection zone.

The levees are over there protecting that side, so this area will likely flood. HONORE: So the lower part of Plaquemines Parish and the lower parishes have a significant amount of villages and towns that will flood.

COOPER: Is New Orleans ready?

HONORE: I think they are ready from the government perspective. I hope the people are ready, mentally prepared and have done the preparation we have been preaching about at home and prepared to live three or four days without electricity, because the storm even though it's a Category 1 has the capacity the lights out in New Orleans. Be prepared to spend some time without electricity.

COOPER: I got to say the leadership at the state and local level is a very different story than it was seven years ago.

HONORE: Different story. Infrastructure is different. The whole levee system is better, but on any given day, Mother Nature can beat us. You know that.

COOPER: It is a very slow-moving storm, so even though people may say this is a Cat 1, maybe a low Cat 2, we are looking at a lot of storm surge and a lot of rain over a 24-hour period.

HONORE: Yes. If you were in this area, right now, New Orleans, St. Bernard parishes, Plaquemines Parish, and you cannot live a few days without electricity meaning air conditioning and all the amenities that go with it, you need to leave.

I know the politicians have tried to paint this, shelter in place, but if you have problem living without electricity, you need to leave.

COOPER: If you have a severe medical condition...


HONORE: Right, need to leave. And if you know anyone with special needs that can't live without the air conditioning, they need to leave and need to leave now.

COOPER: We're going to continue to check in with you throughout this storm. Appreciate you being with us, General. Thank you so much.

A lot to cover here. We will be with you throughout this hour. All five of Mitt and Ann Romney's grown kids stopped by the CNN Grill tonight to talk to Piers Morgan. You will hear part of that conversation in just a minute. Piers tried to get them to reveal a few family secrets.

Take a look.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": I want to find a chink in the armor.

CRAIG ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY: A chink in the armor about my dad?

MORGAN: Yes. Nobody wants Mr. Perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. He does have chinks in the armor, but I'm not going to tell them to you.



BURNETT: I'm here with Piers Morgan.

And Piers had the chance to sit down with all five Romney sons.

MORGAN: It was very exciting.

BURNETT: It was a beautiful sight.


MORGAN: Well, to put them in perspective, this is where they're all going to be. This is the VIP box inside the GOP Convention Center. When Ann Romney speaks tomorrow and Mitt Romney on Thursday, the five boys will be sitting here cheering on mom and dad. It was a fascinating interview.

BURNETT: It was a great interview.

MORGAN: It was full of stuff about their love, their faith, their Mormon faith and about their dad's tax plans. It was all there. But the most important challenge for me, Erin -- you would understand this doing live broadcasting -- was how the hell do you remember five brothers' names when they all look pretty much alike? That was the first test. Watch what follows.


MORGAN: Ben, Craig, Tagg, Josh, Matt.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you do it without the earpiece in?

MORGAN: No, no, no one was giving me any information. I just tried to remember.

Now, we are at the crucial stage of the campaign. Your father is within breathing distance of the White House. Big pressure. How are you guys coping as his sons with all the negativity that begins to pour down on what is your dad's head? What do you think? TAGG ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY: You don't worry about the negativity. It comes with the territory. You knew it was coming before we got in.

And you just kind of roll with it and keep moving and try to get your own message out there, which is a positive vision for what my dad believes America can get back to, trying to get the 23 million people out of work back to work. That's his message. He and Paul Ryan will do everything they can to break through all the negative stuff out there and deliver that message to the American people.

MORGAN: Josh, when you see an attack ad like the Obama super PAC ad that effectively accused your father of being responsible for a woman's death, what do you really feel? Be honest.

JOSH ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY: Some of these go too far, clearly. The ones that are untruthful they are hard to watch, we don't like it, it's not fun.

But at the end of the day the reality is that people who know my dad best, the people who have spent their lives with him or worked with him at some point are the people who are supporting him, and the people who know him the least are the ones who have the bad things to say.

And at the end of the day, my brothers and I my mom, we know who he is, we know what he stands for, we know what kind of a person he is. We do let it roll off our back a bit, but, yes, there's some of those ads that take it too far.

MORGAN: Matt, your dad seems -- I have interviewed three times. He seems a very laid-back individual.

What is the biggest anger moment you have seen from him throughout this whole campaign. What is the moment when he's really got upset?

MATT ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY: You say he seems laid back? Is that what you said?


M. ROMNEY: All right. He can be very intense.

And he can also be laid-back when the time is right. We were talking earlier. And he was a CEO and he was a governor. That's really part of who he is, but he's also a grandfather. When we see him on those moments, he really is laid-back and he really is a terrific grandfather.

We have seen him intense as well. Out on the campaign trail, you encounter a lot of scenarios and you encounter hecklers and different things. I think he has handled it all very well. But when he needs to be intense, we have all seen it.

MORGAN: Ben, what is the biggest misconception about your father? What is something you keep reading and you think, you know what, he's just not like that?

BEN ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY: I will not get into the misconceptions of my father. I will just say what I think -- what I think my father is. And he's a great dad and a great grandfather.

I think he's a phenomenal leader. And he's a turnaround guy. He has come into situations time and again and turned around difficult situations. He is caring and he's doing this for the right situation.

MORGAN: He can't be perfect. You are making him out to be some kind of saint. When you are criticizing him, where would you be critical? Come on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just cares too much.

MORGAN: He can't be perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His hair is too perfect.


MORGAN: He cares too much?



MORGAN: My God, you are going to make me cry, seriously.

Craig, you are the youngest. The youngest always tells the truth about their old man. I have got three sons and my youngest, he was doing an interview, he would give it to me straight. Come on. I want to find a chink in the armor.

C. ROMNEY: A chink in the armor about my dad?

MORGAN: Yes. Nobody wants Mr. Perfect.

C. ROMNEY: No. He does have chinks in the armor, but I'm not going to tell them to you.

But he is a role model to all of us, I think. And we have tremendous respect for him. For me, it's a great privilege to be able to travel the country on his behalf and speak to people and hear about the issues that are important to them.

MORGAN: Let's turn to the documentary that Gloria Borger did last night, a fascinating series of interviews. Your mother got very emotional and your father got pretty emotional too actually, two great, pivotal moments in his life, in their lives, but one when he nearly died in a car crash and secondly when your mother became first ill with M.S.

When you watched that, were you surprised by the fact that they were so emotional on camera?

T. ROMNEY: No. That's my mom and dad that we know.

My dad is a very emotional guy. He cares very deeply for his family and for those that he loves around him. And the people that he comes across in his life, he cares very deeply. When he is in front of the camera and on the stage, I think he has his guard up because when he doesn't, I think he gets assailed a little bit for saying the wrong phrase out of turn.

MORGAN: Do you wish sometimes he would just metaphorically ripped his jacket off?

T. ROMNEY: All the time.

MORGAN: You know what? This is what I'm really like.

T. ROMNEY: That's all the time. I think people who see him at work as governor running the Olympics tell you a man that cares deeply and is passionate and will run through brick walls to make things happen.

He's flawed. All of us are flawed.

MORGAN: But what are the flaws? Come on.

T. ROMNEY: Well, the Democrats are doing their best to kind of tell those people, so we are going to try the other side of the story.


MORGAN: Let me give you allegations. One is that he is boring.

T. ROMNEY: I wouldn't say that. He is a pretty interesting guy. I can't imagine anything I would rather sit down with and spend an hour talking to about you name the subject. He's a lot of fun to listen to and talk to and argue with.

MORGAN: Josh, the other allegation, he is a flip-flopper, doesn't stand for anything. One minute, he believes this is and the next minute he believes that. Is he a man of principle?

J. ROMNEY: He is. If you look at his career and what's he done, at least in the public sector, he has the same goals from the beginning and he loves to help people.

If you look at what he did as governor, he was doing things to try and help people. He is running for president. This is not an ego thing for him. He doesn't need this. It's not going to make him feel better about who he is as a person, but he recognizes he's a position to be able to really help people and to help turn the economy around.

The one really steady, consistent thing about my dad in my opinion is his principles, what he stands for and what he wants to do for this country. MORGAN: When you take an issue like abortion, for example, when he has gone from one pretty extreme position to completely opposite, people say that's an illustration where he is not principled. What would you say it is?

J. ROMNEY: There is evolutions everybody has in life.

I don't think you can find a person who has not changed their position on any issue in a lifetime. For him to change positions and explain why he changed those positions when circumstances change, I think that's a good thing. I think someone who is able to do that is open to learning new things on different issues.

I think someone who has an open mind and willing to look at things is a good thing in a leader.

MORGAN: Matt, lots of emotive issues around the Republican race this year, especially the nominee race. A lot of the conservative social issues came to the fore. You guys are all Mormons obviously and we all know about that faith.

When you meet young people, they say the problem with the Republican Party today is they don't like the apparent intolerance over gay rights, over abortion, over these kinds of issues. You are young guys. How do you feel? Are you completely wedded and signed up to these positions that the party takes?

M. ROMNEY: Obviously, we are not running for president, so our positions don't really matter. But our dad is.

And one thing I can tell you about him and about us is our faith teaches us to love everybody regardless of what their situation is and what their orientation is. That's really first and foremost. You love everybody.

But as far as policies are concerned, we all believe that family is important. And my dad does as well. That is something worth fighting for. How that exactly shakes out on the issues, that's up to him to decide. But we all believe the same things.

MORGAN: I suppose, Tagg, that what I'm getting at is some of the language used by some of the Republicans -- I'm not leveling this at your father, but some of the language can be very almost bordering on bigoted.

And as you're younger guys, it tends to be a bit generational, that. Do you wish sometimes that the language used by the Republicans was less emotive?

T. ROMNEY: I think my dad has been very compassionate with his views and he believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but he also is very compassionate and understanding that people have other opinions. I think he has been very respectful of both sides in that argument.

But this race I don't think is going to come down to social issues. We have 23 million Americans who are out of work and an economy that is stalling. We have added $5 trillion in debt in the last 3.5 years -- or $7 trillion of debt in the last -- this is going to come down to who can turn the economy around and get things moving again. And people trust my dad on that a lot more than they do Barack Obama.

MORGAN: The Mormon faith, we touched on it earlier. And again in the documentary last night, the family, your parents expanded more on this. We have heard a lot of the negatives about Mormonism. What are the positives? From your point of view, what are the great assets of being a Mormon that you would advocate?

B. ROMNEY: Well, in a few brief sentences, I guess, for me at least it's taught me great values in my life, how to live my life, how to treat other people.

Just like a lot of faiths that are out there, there a lot of great things about Mormonism, how to live your and treat your neighbor and love others.

MORGAN: You don't drink, you don't smoke, you don't take drugs, you don't womanize.

B. ROMNEY: These are all things that...

MORGAN: You are strapping young guys. Do you ever feel like, damn it, wish we hadn't been Mormons?

B. ROMNEY: These are all things that have been great blessings in my life at least. Living by that sort of code has really been -- it's been wonderful for me.

MORGAN: Do you think the ethos of family values is really important?

Craig, let's end with you. Do you think actually it's a great asset?

C. ROMNEY: I hope so. It's something that is very important to us and it's been values we have been taught from a young age. They are core principles of our faith. And obviously we are very proud of that.

MORGAN: Let's take a short break.

We're stay with you, guys. Apparently, so many women are tuning in to watch these five handsome -- well, six handsome guys. We will come back after the break. So we will see you in a moment.




MORGAN: I'm live at the CNN Grill With the Romney five, as I have now dubbed them.

Josh, let's talk taxation. I know you have been champing at the bit to get to this. A lot of people say, come on, the old man should just release more of his financial records to just clear up once and for all how much tax he's paid.

J. ROMNEY: He's paid his taxes, and this is a gimmick by the Obama campaign to take the message off the economy and to my dad's personal taxes.

At the end of the day, we have $16 trillion in debt, 23 million Americans out of work. And Obama continues to talk about my dad's personal taxes.

These are not things that really matter in the grand scheme of things. They want to use the taxes as a gimmick to continue to hit him over the next few weeks just to focus on my dad's taxes. But really the big issue is the economy. The economy is faltering. It's sputtering along. Obama had three-and-a-half years to get it turned around and he hasn't done it. That's the real issue.

MORGAN: Matt, how hard is it to be the son of a guy running for president, with all the scrutiny, and he's stinking rich?

Whichever way you dress it up, you are very, very rich people. How hard is that when you get people attacking him for his success and his wealth?

M. ROMNEY: You know, it's -- as Tagg pointed out earlier, this is kind of -- this is the game of politics. And we are prepared for that.

But it is tough to see. It is tough to see that. We know that he did a great job of making that money. He worked very, very hard to do that. And nothing really -- you know, we don't take anything for granted. A lot of people are struggling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think it's one of the ironies of this election, is that President Obama is trying to make it a disqualifier to be successful. And if you had a successful career in the private sector, well, then that disqualifies you from being able to be a good president. And obviously, President Obama has not had a business career and had not had that opportunity, but wants to point to my dad's success as being somehow disqualifying.

MORGAN: Knowing your father as you do, can you guarantee to the American people he has nothing to hide about his finances?

JOSH ROMNEY, MITT'S SON: Yes. I mean, I know my dad. I know what he stands for. I know his value system. He is the most honest guy I know and full -- you know, complete integrity. And so he's got nothing to hide. He just really wants this to be about the economy, to focus on the economy.

Let's not distract ourselves with all these peripheral issues. Let's get down to the issues. You look at his vice-presidential pick. This is the guy who spend his time in Congress really tackling the issues.

Whether or not you agree with him or disagree with him on certain issues, at least he's trying to make a difference. And my dad is doing the same thing. This is -- he really wants to make a difference and talk about the issues.

MORGAN: Were you considered when your dad picked a running mate who lock looks like one of his sons?

TAGG ROMNEY, MITT'S SON: I think Paul Ryan was a brilliant pick. And there were a lot of political reasons to pick other people. And my dad picked the person he thought would do the best job with him to tackle the debt and get the economy moving again. And to pick up the progress of the Republican Party eight years from now, when he's out of office. So he didn't pick Paul Ryan for political reasons, but he was the right person to pick. I think it says a lot about how my dad will govern. I think he'll pay less attention...

MORGAN: What a bold move. I think we were taken aback by the fact that it was quite audacious.

T. ROMNEY: And I think you look at what he'll do in office. He's not going to worry about the day to day, back and forth and what's that person going to think or that person going to think? He's going to do what he thinks will be the right thing to do. And bring the American people along and have them get behind him, and weave forward and fix the problems that we're facing right now.

MORGAN: Your dad has a got a big speech coming up on Thursday. Huge speech. What do you want him to say? When you talk privately, you say, "Dad, just come out and do this."


CRAIG ROMNEY, MITT'S SON: I think it's a great opportunity for people to get to see him in, you know, a very unfiltered way, to get to hear his story and his vision for the country. I think in large parts, he's been defined by the opposition up until this point. And it's a chance for him -- you know, the voters to get to know what sort of candidate he really is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We keep getting e-mailed speeches from friends that want -- this is exactly what he needs to say.

MORGAN: Do you want -- do you want him, collectively, to be a little bit more passionate and emotional than he's been so far? Is it a chance for your father...

T. ROMNEY: But don't you think, listening the last couple of days, since he picked Paul Ryan, especially, I think you've seen a lot of passion.

MORGAN: That's what I mean. We need to see it bubbling (ph) over. In the documentary again, Gloria Borger's documentary, great insight into he's got it there. You can tell. He's been like a bit like a caged lion. You know? I just wonder whether you collectively say, like, "Dad, this is the moment. This speech could win you the election." Do you say that, too?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I trust him. I really do. He's very, very capable. If I had half the intelligence he had, I'd be really thrilled. He is -- and so I really trust him. I mean, you know, he knows what he's doing. He's very capable and he'll give a great speech. I think there are going to be a lot of great ideas, and I think he's going to get down to how to fix the economy. And that's really...

MORGAN: You're a doctor and your mother is making a huge speech tomorrow. She's been through an extraordinary ordeal with her health. And yet, when I've interviewed her, you would never imagine it for a moment. And she brought you five guys up. She's been attacked for it. You know, people assume with all your money, she had all this back up and help or something, and that wasn't true. Right?

BEN ROMNEY, MITT'S SON: No. I mean, she -- she's been really a role model for me in this regard, as well. She -- you know, she faced a really difficult situation and attacked it head on. You know, she said, "OK, what are we going to do about this? How am I going to get better?" And she and my dad really worked together and said, "OK, let's tackle this; we can overcome this."

And she -- she worked really hard to get to where she is right now. And I must -- I just have nothing but pride and admiration for that.

MORGAN: Now I want to end with all of you giving me one word which is a great description for your dad, and if the one who's already gone before you has said it, you can't use the same word. OK?


MORGAN: Frugal.


MORGAN: Qualified.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said integrity on an earlier episode, but I'll say loving, as well. He's very loving.

MORGAN: Loving, as well. A nice way to end.


MORGAN: Father can often be the one thing that is a great moment (ph).

Chaps, it's been a great pleasure to meet you. Josh, Matt, great to see you. Good to see you, Tagg, Craig, Ben. I've got you all right again.

That was a fascinating interview with the Romney sons. Now I'm going to turn back to Wolf and Erin.

BLITZER: You know, it's amazing. Whatever you want to say about Mitt and Ann Romney, I think it's fair to say, they have a great family. Those five boys are really impressive.

BURNETT: Really, really impressive. I like a lot of things about that interview, but at the end, the words to describe, I like how the first word was "frugal." It's one of the things we've heard, very positive stories about Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: They didn't say he's cheap.

BURNETT: Well, there is the flip side of frugal is cheap. But...

BLITZER: He's frugal, and in the show that Gloria Borger did, they go to -- they go to Costco, and he buys Kirkland shirts, three for $15 or whatever.

BURNETT: Kirkland, they're good -- good shirts. Yes.

BLITZER: Did you hear that? Whatever it costs.

BURNETT: That's right. All right. Well, come up, we have the very latest on Tropical Storm Isaac as we're tracking it.

BLITZER: And we're only moments away from an updated projection on the powerful storm's path. Stay with us.


COOPER: Hey, I'm Anderson Cooper in New Orleans. Here's the latest on Isaac. Forecasters in the National Hurricane Center now expect it to be a hurricane very soon and could have 100 mile-an-hour sustained winds by the time it makes landfall on Wednesday.

Now, the storm is moving around 10 miles an hour right now. Forecasters expect a slight decrease in its forward speed during the next day or so. The slow movement could produce long-lasting rainfall. Fifteen to 20 inches are possible in Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the extreme western Florida Panhandle.

Also, forecasters are warning the combination of a storm surge and high tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded. Again, the major threat from Isaac will not be wind, but flooding. That's the most important thing to remember. Now, let's check in with severe weather expert Chad Myers, who has the latest on the storm check -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You about summed it up right there, Anderson. Not much more to say than that. We had some rainfall across parts of Florida today; some spots 13 inches of rain. The storm now continuing to try to increase, trying to find a new center, a new eye. Seventy miles per hour is the latest update that we found from Hurricane Hunter. Still forecasts that go right near New Orleans, 100 miles per hour, as you said, and it's going to continue to move on up here and then into New Orleans and into Louisiana, and it's going to stop. Literally, it's going to stop. Fifteen, 20 inches of rainfall. So I know we have all these levies and barriers to keep the seawater out of New Orleans. We just have to hope that 20 inches of rainfall can be pumped out of the city when it gets rained in there. So we have rain coming in, rain coming out and a whole bunch of other stuff in between. Wind speeds are going to be going up tonight, and we'll have updates for you as the 11 p.m. advisory comes in on my Tweet Deck -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Chad, if it's moving at 10 miles an hour, and when it goes over land moving even slower than that, how long are folks in this area going to be feeling the major effects of this storm?

MYERS: We could have 45- to 55-mile-per-hour winds for no less than 48 hours in New Orleans. That will shut down airports. Obviously, that will put some power lines down, and people without power, sometimes these pumps are going to have a very hard time keeping up with the rainfall rates that we're going to have with this storm.

COOPER: All right. We'll continue to check in with you, Chad. Appreciate that. Let's go back to Wolf in Tampa -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very, very much. You know, when -- I'm worried about those power shortages, especially...


BLITZER: ... the elderly people and hospitals. If they lose power, that could be a big deal.

BURNETT: Yes. Talk a lot about what happened last time with Katrina, with the elderly in New Orleans.

Well, tomorrow on Tuesday, Mitt Romney is going to be arriving in Tampa. And as you saw, his five sons are already here, but his wife is going to be here. The convention speeches are getting under way during the afternoon. There's going to be a lot of them, because it's a day short. So they start early.

BLITZER: It's going to be the roll call, as well. It includes the wife, obviously, of the nominee, Ann Romney. She's speaking tomorrow night, Tuesday night. Candy Crowley is over near the podium, where she'll be speaking.

Candy, what can you tell us about tomorrow?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Well, two big speakers, actually, tomorrow night. First of all, Ann Romney, who will kick off at least the high-profile speeches to try to refrain, if you will, the Mitt Romney that some voters have gotten to know through various ads that they have seen them on the air, as well as some mistakes that Romney has made along the way. So she will play what has become a traditional wife role or spouse role, if you will, not in the sense of sitting by and not saying anything, but in the sense that wives can not only humanize their husbands, but it is -- wives are something that a lot of folks can relate to.

And she's, Ann Romney, a very likeable person and certainly comes across that way, plays the camera well, and the fact is that they are banking on people warming up to Ann Romney. And so you do that, well, gee, she's married to him; therefore, he must be a good guy kind of connection.

A really interesting kind of contrast in that 10 p.m. Eastern hour. And that's that you will also hear from the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, who's delivering the keynote speech. And as you know, this is a guy that doesn't pull many punches. So it will be a really exciting 10 p.m. Eastern hour tomorrow night, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm looking forward to her speech. She does have an inspiring story, after all. I'm sure it's going to be a terrific speech.

Thanks, Candy.

Our other Florida correspondents have been gathering more information about all the action tomorrow. Jim Acosta, Dana Bash, they'll be on duty for us, of course. Let's begin with Dana, who has some details now on the keynote speaker. Dana, what are you hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's actually interesting. Candy was just talking about the fact that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie doesn't pull any punches. That is definitely true, we know, in public.

But our understanding from sources who know pretty well that -- is that he is the same in private with Governor Mitt Romney. The two of them met officially when the governor came to New Jersey to personally ask for his endorsement, which he got pretty early on in the primary season.

And the two of them became close enough, we are told, that Governor Christie can call Mitt Romney on the phone, can e-mail him and say to him in private the things that our understanding is, a lot of other people say to Mitt Romney. And that is something that has really established a bond between the two.

Unclear if that's one of the reasons why he's been picked to give this keynote address. The other is likely, as Candy was talking about, the fact that he does not pull any punches. He is very direct. He's a very good communicator. And our understanding is that he is going to talk positively about the Republican Party and his vision for it.

And I want to push it over to Jim Acosta, who's going to talk about what he's hearing from Romney about what they think is going to happen tomorrow. JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dana. And one thing we should point out is that the Republican convention officials have put out some new guidance. And that is that they will be having another briefing tomorrow morning. Republican officials have been saying here that they're going to be doing this quite often.

Because, quite frankly, they have to stay on top of the storm, and they may have to change what happens here at this convention in light of what happens with that storm. And obviously, they want to avoid anything that's going to step on what is the big priority here in Tampa, and that is telling the story of Mitt Romney.

And I had a chance to catch up with Ron Kauffman, who's a longtime friend and advisor to Mitt Romney about why this is for the Republican contender, why do they have to tell this story about Mitt Romney? Why don't the American people already know who he is? And he drew an interesting parallel with another Republican candidate who had to do with a sales job of his own back in 1980: Ronald Reagan. Here's what he had to say.


RON KAUFFMAN, ADVISOR, MITT ROMNEY: It's kind of like 1980 when people were tired of Carter and his policies. Still liked him, but you know, there's this old guy, Ronald Reagan from California. They weren't sure about him. They took the convention in a couple days, oh, that's who Ronald Reagan is. And I think it's the exact same situation.


ACOSTA: And earlier today, I had a chance to catch up with the GOP chairman, Reince Priebus. We talked about this earlier today Wolf. He said here in Tampa, they're going to have to be nimble. Wolf, I've already heard around Tampa that Reince has already earned the nickname Reince B. Nimble -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, he's got a tough job. I don't envy him at all. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Erin and I will take a quick break. Some of those Louisiana convention delegates are suffering about a deja vu just like in 2008. They're at a party convention just as a big storm is headed toward their home state, and we're going to hear from some of them. And that's coming up next.


BURNETT: Our Dana Bash is with two Louisiana delegates now, and she's actually been spending the day talking to concerned members of the delegation about Isaac. Send it down to you, Dana.

BASH: Well, Erin, these two delegates were kind enough to come here at this late hour to talk about what's going on, what's going through your head at what's going on with the delegation. First of all, this is Lynn Skidmore. This has got to be tough. You're from New Orleans. You lived through Katrina.

LYNN SKIDMORE, CONVENTION DELEGATE: We did live through Katrina, and we're hoping that the city fares a little bit better than it did during Katrina. Katrina, of course, devastated the city of New Orleans with the levee breakage. We're expecting -- from the last I heard before I arrived here -- that there will be 20 to 30 hours of rain in the city of New Orleans. So it doesn't -- it's a serious situation for us.

BASH: And this is Michael Bayham. We talked earlier. You said that, despite what's going on back home, the show must go on here.

MICHAEL BAYHAM, CONVENTION DELEGATE: It's important. Delegates have a job to do here. The Republicans have to get their message out. We have an election coming up in November. It's a very important decision on where America's going to go. Republicans need this opportunity to make their case to the American public.

BASH: But for both of you, it must be incredibly difficult. We talked earlier. It's fair to say you got pretty emotional, you know, sitting here, doing what you believe is your important business, knowing what's happening back home.

SKIDMORE: I guess if we could do something about it, it would be great. But there's nothing to do about it. The hurricane will go in where it chooses to go in. It's just -- it's hideous that it's coming on the anniversary of Katrina, with New Orleans. It just was seven years ago with Katrina.

BASH: And neither of you considered going back home. You're sticking it out.

BAYHAM: We would have had to evacuate it anyway. And we're just hoping that the levees are strong and people in St. Bernard Parish say that they're very confident in the levees. And hopefully, these levees will hold.

BASH: And what about the tone and tenor? We're don't know what's going to happen. Hopefully, everything will be OK. But do we hope that the organizers here, your fellow Republicans tone things down?

SKIDMORE: No, and I think the idea is, is that we're here to do the business of his country and to elect Mitt Romney. New Orleans is part of this country, of this great country, but it's a part of it. Everyone is very concerned, but we need to go on with our convention. That's what's important.

BASH: OK. Thank you both very much for coming in and joining us. And obviously, everybody wishes you all the best in your family back home.

SKIDMORE: Thanks very much.

BASH: Thank you. Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much.

Let's talk a little bit about Isaac, the politics of this storm. We've got an excellent panel with Gloria. Let me start with you first of all. This is an awkward moment for this convention if this -- if it's likely to be a hurricane by tomorrow night at this time, and they're still speaking, that raises a lot of problems.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. And I think there's a lot of grousing that it wasn't a convention today, and -- but it's always easy to make that call in hindsight. I think what the delegates feel like they need is a really good speech from Mitt Romney and a good speech from Ann Romney, maybe from Chris Christie. And if they need to truncate events, they will do it.

BLITZER: Does Romney have it, Mitt Romney, David Gergen, in him to deliver that kind of powerful speech that can give them a boost out of this convention?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think so. Frankly, a lot of his speeches have fallen short of what they might have been, and President Obama is obviously a better speaker.

But he showed a lot of -- I saw a lot of growth during the primaries. I think the big issue coming back tomorrow night, though, is there is a tunnel issue. If this storm is -- is approaching in a very serious way, and there's a sense that New Orleans or the Gulf Coast is going to be under siege, it's just hard to see how Chris Christie can give a barn-burner of speech. It's hard to see how you go on the attack.

BLITZER: Yes. How do they do that tomorrow night? How awkward would that be?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm not sure it's that awkward. I mean, one -- we have a lot of people watching, all right, maybe more than we would otherwise. So I think Republicans will benefit from that.

But two, this is not just something to serve Republicans. This is an event for the people of the United States. We're picking a nominee. This is a responsibility that Republicans have this week and Democrats have next week to pick a nominee and introduce him to the American people. So this is not some self-serving thing that Republicans do for their own benefit, just like next week won't be for the Democrats. They need to meet that responsibility, but they can change the tone. They can be respectful.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You have Republican governors of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas. You have Mitt Romney, former governor, Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. And so, you see, in moments like this when you have an opportunity for leadership.

Remember 2008. Senator John McCain suspends his campaign. Then Senator Obama does not. What did Senator Obama say then? When you become president, guess what? Things change. Things happen. And so I think how they handle it is saying that this is simply a microcosm of what's going to happen when you become president. You have to handle natural disasters, handle things changing, and you have to change course.

BLITZER: How do you get the full benefit of a convention as a result of what's happening with Isaac?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know the answer to that question, although I think the likely guess tonight is no, to get the full benefit of convention. To Alex's point, they do think that more people will be watching during the daytime and so they'll see more of Gloria's documentary, pieces from that, as we discuss that. More of some of the daytime proceedings, because people will tune in to watch this storm developments.

However, the biggest frustration behind this case is they don't know if they have to tell Governor Christie, "You can't say this" when they go through his speech tomorrow night. "You can't do this part. You can't do a full frontal assault on the president. They don't know if they're going to have to -- you know, what do they do with Wednesday and Thursday if there is a crisis.

So they have to be prepared to be incredibly nimble. It's one of the reasons Governor Romney is coming in tomorrow. He's going to try to get a little bit more advantage on the front end as the questions about the back end.

BLITZER: Hold on a second. We're just getting a new update in on Isaac right now. Let's take a quick break, and we'll go and update you on what's going on right after this.


COOPER: We just got a new advisory in regarding Tropical Storm Isaac. Let's check in with CNN's Chad Myers. Chad, what have we learned?

MYERS: Yes. Still reading it, actually, Anderson. Not really much has changed. Hurricane hunters haven't really found any significant wind increase, although the pressure has been going down. Now down to 979 milibars, and that is significant when you talk about the pressure getting lower. That means the storm is technically getting stronger.

But no, a Category 1 is the forecast. Not a Category 2 anymore. A 90-mile-per-hour storm as it rolls up the Mississippi River very close to New Orleans.

Notice now the cone is getting smaller. Because as the storm gets closer, the storm's error is smaller. So the cone and the error difference is getting smaller, as well.

This will be a rainmaker. This will be a flood maker. I have some maps earlier today that I showed you, that we could get 20 inches of rainfall from the storm right in New Orleans proper. Right in the city. And because New Orleans is lower than the ocean, lower than the ocean level, all that water has to get pumped out. I know they put new pumps in. Let's hope it all goes flawlessly -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. We'll continue to watch it. We'll continue to check in with Chad Myers throughout the evening on Twitter. Also tomorrow throughout the day, stay with CNN for the latest on the storm and the Republican convention.

I'm Anderson Cooper in New Orleans for Wolf Blitzer, as well. Coming up next, "Romney Revealed" with CNN's Gloria Borger. Take a look.