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CNN NEWSROOM

Sober Ceremonies Honor Victims; New Poll Numbers Ahead of Midterms; East Coast Prepares for Storm; Honoring the Victims of 9/11. Aired 9:30-10:00a

Aired September 11, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Showing the world what this country is made of, right?

I do think it's important to note that through all of this pain that you have lived and that Lauren's family has lived, you have found love again. You are engaged, right?

JACK GRANDCOLAS, LOST WIFE AND UNBORN CHILD ABOARD FLIGHT 93: I am.

HARLOW: To a woman named Sara, who it touched me so much when you said, you know, how much Lauren would have liked her.

GRANDCOLAS: Well, it's as if Lauren sent an angel. And so, yes, we're very happy. And, you know, I hope to have a great life together. We've been together a while. I'm just, you know, a slow guy.

HARLOW: Well, she will wear, I know, Lauren's wedding ring, and that will mean an incredible amount to her always.

Let me just leave people with this because there is this beautiful memorial of flowers in your hometown in California where people honor Lauren. And one of her friends who was visiting last year, Kimberly, said to a local journalist of Lauren, of your late wife, quote, the spirit, the intelligence, the fun of Lauren was manifest, and she had a clarity about life. It sounds like anyone who got to know her was pretty lucky for that.

GRANDCOLAS: Absolutely. And I felt blessed. I still feel blessed. I feel her every day. She's helped me through a lot of dark times, that's for sure.

HARLOW: Jack, thank you for being here. I know today is a day that you will spend remembering her and going through some of the traditions that you do every year. So, thank you. Thank you very much, Jack.

GRANDCOLAS: You're welcome. Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, let's take a look at live images out of our nation's capital. This is the ceremony about to begin at the Pentagon. We will hear from the vice president, from the defense secretary, James Mattis. You will see the wreath laying ceremony there. And we will watch as we honor all of the Americans taken from us on that day 17 years ago. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:36:20] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please join me in respect for our fallen brothers and sisters in a moment of silence.

And let us now listen to --

HARLOW: A moment of silence at the Pentagon this morning at 9:37 a.m. Eastern Time. Seventeen years ago today, that plain struck the Pentagon, taking 184 lives.

We remember each and every one of them.

Also, to politics this morning. A new CNN poll shows a significant drop in approval for the president. It could portend ominous signs for the Republican Party just 56 days before the midterms.

Look at these numbers. Only 36 percent of Americans approve of the way the president is handling his job. That is a six point decline from just a month ago. Arguably, though, the most important and stunning number in all of this is the decline we have seen amongst independent voters. Only 31 percent of independent voters now approve of the job the president's doing. That is a 16 point drop off since just August.

Also, 61 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the president. It's the worst reading for him since he took office. Only 32 percent see him as honest and trustworthy. Still, though, his economic numbers are very strong. Nearly seven in 10 Americans describe the economy as good. The number of Americans who call it very good is the highest it's been in 18 years.

Let's talk about what these all mean, big picture. With me, former RNC Communications Director Doug Heye, and Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican strategist and pollster.

Good morning to you both.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

HARLOW: Christin, let me say it to you three times, that's how important this is. Independents, independents, independents. What does this say?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, COLUMNIST, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, if you were the Republican Party, these are numbers that are certainly bad news. Throughout the last seven months or so, heading into the August recess, Republicans had been in a slightly better position, that while they weren't great, you know, it's not where you'd want to be, things have been looking better. The president's job approval had been consistently above 40 percent. This really suggests a regression.

HARLOW: Yes.

ANDERSON: And CNN's polling is not the only polling that shows this. And in an election where we have extremely high numbers of voters saying that their vote is going to be about the president, both in support of and opposed to him --

HARLOW: Right.

ANDERSON: That makes presidential job approval an especially important metric for understanding what's going to happen this November. So this last week or so has just been sort of a series of bits of bad news data coming out for the GOP.

HARLOW: You know, it's important, I'm glad you point out, it's not just CNN's poll. I think we have a graphic we can show everyone. Eight different polls. All of these from reputable institutions over the two weeks. Every single one of them, Doug Heye, shows a decline for the president's approval rating. The average decline, if you average all of these eight polls, as our Harry Enten, my esteemed colleague who runs these numbers pointed out to me this morning, is a three point decline for the president, for a president whose approval rating has really just been sticking at the same place through everything, through all of the books, through all of the scandals. But now a drop, according to all of these polls. Why now?

HEYE: Well, we've had a series -- a barrage of bad news and bad headlines for the president. And it reminds me of the immortal Brianna Keilar line for the elections, who --

HARLOW: Polls.

[09:40:03] HEYE: The polls, all of them. And that's what's troubling, I think, for this White House -0-

HARLOW: Right.

HEYE: For the congressional campaign committees. And I can tell you, I've heard this a lot on the ground, too. Over the past month I've been in New Jersey, Missouri, Washington state and just last weekend in Tennessee. All have top tier races. And what we see is the math is expanding for Democrats, for the seats that they can pick up and contracting for Republicans. And what I've heard more and more, Republicans who were pessimistic, people who were going to go to the polls and vote Republican expect to lose and independents who are more and more unhappy.

And I would say, Poppy, by way of comparison, when I was at the Republican National Committee in 2010, our magic number for Barack Obama was 46 percent. We felt if he was below that, and he was ultimately at 45 on election day, that we'd take back the House. It's not exactly apples to apples in this case, but it sure is a troubling number for the White House and for Republican candidates.

HARLOW: Right, and he was and you did.

Guys, listen to Republican Congressman Ryan Costello, a Republican congressman of Pennsylvania, and his warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RYAN COSTELLO (R), PENNSYLVANIA: As the party continues to be more and more defined by Trump, especially when he wades into primaries and the Trump backed candidate wins, that is not a recipe for long-term success as a political party. It's just simply not. And in the suburbs, you are seeing the real acceleration of independence move to Democrats, either voting or in party registration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Kristen, that's a Republican from the key state of Pennsylvania talking about the suburbs and independents. I don't know how much more important you can get when it comes to what matters in the midterms and what matters for this president in 2020.

ANDERSON: Well, and part of the environment that he's describing there is why members like Congressman Costello, an awful lot of them, have decided not to run for re-election this time. There are a lot of folks in very challenging districts who are seeing the writing on the wall and they're seeing that they have been able to put together coalitions in the past that included a lot of sort of suburban, college educated voters, the types of folks that have not been big fans of the Trump era.

Now, bear in mind, this is talking about the House map, which is I think the scarier of the two big federal pieces for the GOP.

HARLOW: Sure.

ANDERSON: On the Senate side, Trump is still I think an asset in many races. You have a lot of Democrats who are up for re-elections in states that Donald Trump won by wide margins where he's still fairly popular. So the politics of Trump and how he helps or harms Republican candidates I think does matter what type of district or type of state you're talking about.

HARLOW: Right. For example, Texas, right, Doug Heye? I mean Cruz's team really wants him there because they see the -- even in -- you know, even in Texas, even in red state Texas, what Beto O'Rourke has done and what could happen here and the money that is just pouring into this race on both sides in Texas.

But, Doug, economy, it's the economy, stupid, right, or isn't it?

HEYE: Well, it should be.

HARLOW: I mean I don't -- this is just anathema to me to see the economy doing this well, the economic poll numbers here and the president here.

HEYE: It should be the economy. But what we see on the first Friday of every month when we get great job numbers, great economic numbers is that we spend more time focusing on Donald Trump tweeting things that aren't about the economy, that he can claim a lot of credit for. And so he steps in his own message.

The other thing I would say, Poppy, is, this isn't just about elections and politics. The number that is really jarring to me, and obviously it's because it's September 11th, is only 30 percent of the respondents in the CNN poll said that Donald Trump can unite the country. And whether -- whether we're talking about a day like today or hurricane response, being from North Carolina, that's particularly important to me, the president's inability to unite the country is going to be troubling, not just for electoral matters, but when there's a real crisis moving forward.

And by comparison, I point out that today at Georgetown University, college Republicans and college Democrats, and nobody likes to fight with each other more than college Republicans and college Democrats, were together planting flags on campus. That's what we need more of, instead of starting 9/11 reading about Donald Trump's tweets going after the Department of Justice yet again.

HARLOW: Kristen, to you, as we wrap up here, you know, you have to think something that has changed in the last two weeks for the president when all this polling has been done is the Bob Woodward book. This is not like another Omarosa book. This is Bob Woodward, the, you know, acclaimed journalist. And it -- it reminds us this morning all the denials and push back from the White House of Bren Bradlee, former executive editor of "The Washington Post," when he was writing about Bob Woodward and Watergate. And here's what he writes in his autobiography, "A Good Life." Quote, many people warned then and even now so many years later how "The Post" dare ride over the constant denials of the president of the United States and the attorney general and the top presidential aids and stand by the guns of Woodward, Bernstein and Deep Throat. The answer isn't that complicated. Little by little, week by week, we knew our information was right when we heard it, right when we checked it once and right when we checked it again. All these statesmen, he goes on to say, were lying.

[09:45:06] Any relevance today?

ANDERSON: Well, you know, with all due respect to Bob Woodward, I do think that a lot of the things we are learning as a result of his book are things that are priced into the president's job numbers. People have said on Election Day that they were voting for him despite thinking that he maybe wasn't a great guy or maybe wasn't always the most truthful.

I think what's really changed over the last few weeks is not necessarily the Woodward book so much as members all went back home for recess, they went back to their districts, the add barrage has really begun on TV and you've seen Democrats now hitting a message on health care, which I think is an issue Republicans were not really prepared to push back again with a message. So I actually think that it's issues like health care more so and the distraction away from the economy more so than the Woodward book itself that I think is driving these lower numbers.

HARLOW: This coming from a Republican strategist and a pollster who knows her numbers.

Thank you very much to both of you.

ANDERSON: Thank you. HARLOW: Doug Heye, Kristen Soltis Anderson, nice to have you with me.

Still to come, we are keeping a very close eye this morning and all week on Hurricane Florence as she makes her way toward the East Coast. We'll have a live report ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:50:45] HARLOW: All right, we are continuing to stay on this breaking news of Hurricane Florence. The storm, you see the path right there, it is on track to be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the Carolinas in decades. As you can tell from empty store shelves that you see there on the bottom of your screen, people are grabbing as many supplies as they can.

Let's go to my colleague Marty Savidge. He joins me in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

And, I mean, when we see the shop behind you and we see the blue skies and we see the beautiful beach, it doesn't tell the story of what is coming and the mandatory evacuations that are in place.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it doesn't, Poppy.

There are about a million people that are said be either be moving or soon to be on the move as a result of Hurricane Florence, trying to get at least out of the worst of it. North Carolina here is bracing, according to the governor, for what they think will be a hard hit, could be a very hard hit, still depends on the tracking. And as you point out, the emergency -- the mandatory evacuations in many of the coastal communities have already started. They started in this community at 7:00 a.m. this morning. Only traffic is heading off of the island. They would like everyone to get off this barrier island by 8:00 tomorrow night. That's when they anticipate the first of the tropical storm force winds.

Where we're standing, this platform, is about maybe 13 feet above sea level. They anticipate here that there's going to be over wash. In other words, it's going to flow over the sea barrier on this barrier island. That means much of this island is going to be underwater in some cases. In the town itself, it could be as much as nine feet or more.

People are boarding up. A lot of people are taking this very, very seriously. And the law enforcement has said, if you're here after 8:00 tomorrow night, you are absolutely on your own. You can call 911. They'll pick up, but they will not come out because it will just be too dangerous. They'll have to wait until after the storm. And there they're talking it could be days because the flood waters, the sand, the debris that blocks the roads. And then electricity, they anticipate if it goes out, it will be out for more than a week. So it would be very dire circumstances even after the hurricane winds have subsided and the flooding is the biggest fear of all.

So the National Guard has been called out, not just here, but across North Carolina and South Carolina. And they are bracing for that flooding, bringing in the high-water rescue vehicles, bringing in the swift water rescue teams. They'll be working in the northern or actually the western part of this state where they're fearing flash flooding coming down from the mountains.

This will be a state-wide event in all of North Carolina. And depending on how bad maybe the last time they saw something like this was 1954. If it gets up to category five, in this area, they've never seen anything like that, at least in modern recorded time.

HARLOW: Wow. Marty, thank you for being there, for reporting all of that, and everyone needs to heed those evacuation warnings. We're going to have the mayor of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, joining us in a little bit to talk about that.

Still ahead, a moment of silence as we continue this morning to honor the lives lost, the nearly 3,000 lives lost on 9/11, 17 years ago this morning. A moment of silence is ahead. Stay with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:58:22] HARLOW: All right, the ceremony continues this morning at Ground Zero as we all remember and we all honor the lives lost on September 11th. In just minutes, there will be another moment of silence for the fall of the South Tower.

Let's go to my friend and colleague, Miguel Marquez, who is there.

And every year, Miguel, it feels like -- like that crisp September morning was just yesterday.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Gosh, no matter how much the city grows, the World Trade Center is back, the memorial attracts millions of people a year, so much has happened between the time 17 years ago when that horrible, awful, confusing day and today, and yet the emotions and the memory are just as stark and in our minds. And certainly the memorial here at the World Trade Center sort of tracks that.

The fourth moment of silence coming. Six in total. Each of those moments that were critical during that day that was watched not only here but around the world. The fourth one now, there will be the ringing of four bells shortly. They will stop reading the names. They will ring the bell four times. And then they will observe that fourth moment of silence for when the South Tower fell after being struck by United Airlines Flight 175.

[09:59:44] And here it is.

(MOMENT OF SILENCE)