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Hurricane Watch Issued from South Carolina to North Carolina- Virginia Border; CNN Poll: Trump's Approval Rating Down Across the Board. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florence is getting stronger and stronger.

[05:59:31] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have already ordered mandatory evacuation of all people in all evacuation zones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are not taking this storm seriously, you're making a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is in panic mode. He's far too worried about a book.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: A number of people have come out and said that Woodward never even reached out to corroborate statements.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR": We'd better wake up. This is not partisan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, September 11, obviously a date filled with sadness for so many of us, and we will remember that dark day 17 years ago later in the program.

It is 6 a.m. here in New York, and we begin with breaking news. A hurricane watch has just been issued from South Carolina to the North Carolina border as Hurricane Florence barrels towards the U.S. coast. This is a Category 4 storm at the moment. It is packing winds of 140 miles per hour. It is on track to be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades. Florence could still intensify into a Category 5 storm by the time it makes landfall, which is predicted around Thursday night or Friday morning somewhere along the Carolina coastline.

So let's check out this video of Hurricane Florence from space. The International Space Station got a shot of it churning in the Atlantic. Look at how huge that is.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That is a very big storm. People need to pay attention this morning. More than 1 million people now under mandatory evacuation orders in coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia. That includes the entire South Carolina coast as of noon today.

In North Carolina parts of six coastal counties and Hatteras also being evacuated. President Trump is urging people to heed these warnings. You can already see signs that folks are paying attention. We've seen boarded up homes, long lines at gas stations, people running out of fuel already. Those gas stations and shelves, of course, left bare at hardware stores and super markets.

Again, we have a new update from the National Hurricane Center just a short time ago. So let's begin our coverage with CNN meteorologist Chad Myers with the latest forecast track.

Chad, what are we looking at?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're looking at the storm still making some impact at North Carolina. I don't want to say, Charleston, that you're out of it, but you're close. There's maybe a 10 percent chance of it going that far to the left as we would call it. We're North Carolina anywhere from Wilmington right on up to Cape Hatteras, that is the bull's-eye right now from the latest Hurricane Center forecast at 5 a.m.

It is 140 mile-per-hour storm in the Atlantic Ocean going to the northwest. And somewhere between these two goal posts here is landfall. So Charleston you're still in that goal post, but you're so far to the left I think we're OK for right now. You don't need to panic and leave at this point in time. Stay where you are, because the people up here may need to evacuate.

In fact, there are many coastal counties already going with evacuations starting at 8 a.m. this morning or noon this afternoon. It's going to be a rough day for many people getting ready, panicking, getting out of here. You just need to take a deep breath. We still have some time. Listen to your local managers, listen to what they tell you.

We're going to have rip currents, strong winds, beach erosion. The surf will go over some of the islands. Don't know which one yet. Is it Carolina beach? Is it all the way up toward Morehead City? I don't know just yet, because here's what happened in the overnight hours. And here's the update.

This is the European model heading straight for, really, Wilmington. That's the middle of that, but that's not what the GFS says. This is the American model. The American model says, "Hey, wait, not so fast. This thing is going to start to turn before we know it. Now it's going to turn it back left again, but what happens then?

Then all of a sudden, the storm stops; and it rains, and it rains for days. This has gone through rapid intensification over the overnight hours. No dry air in train. There's no dry air out there.

It all got together in one big eye, and that eye was breathing like hurricanes do. And that's how we got to where we are right now. There's 25 percent more people living between Charleston and Morehead City all the way up to Virginia Beach than there were sometime during the time that Hugo was making landfall.

Many of the people here have never seen a storm like this, never seen a storm this strong. And they have no idea what overwash of an island will do to a home, what the wind could do to your home, and what to do to your home to make it safer after you evacuate -- John.

CAMEROTA: All right. I'll take it, Chad. It is so helpful to get your historical context there and all of your cautionary words. We'll check back, obviously, many times throughout the program.

So coastal evacuations begin today for residents along that Carolina coastline. For more than one million people the order to leave is mandatory.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung is live in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, with more. What are you seeing, Kaylee?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn, by 8 p.m. tomorrow night, officials hope to have Carolina Beach here evacuated. That's when the tropical-storm-force winds will be in the area.

Now, over the past couple of days, we've seen beautiful weather here, making it difficult for people to wrap their minds around what's ahead. But the best indication that something is amiss, these waves you can start to see behind me. I'm told swells could be four to five feet high today. That is not typical.

I'm told by the National Weather Service's local office that 10- to 15-foot waves will be crashing on the surf at its worst. The first advisory out this morning warning that that could be as high as 15 to 20 feet.

[06:05:11] And so barrier islands like this one among the first to be evacuated, those you can imagine. We have come across those folks who say they will ride out this storm. Local officials saying if you do, you will be on your own here.

Six counties in North Carolina under mandatory evacuation, like I said, starting with those barrier islands. Eight counties in South Carolina. The entire coastline, as John mentioned, and then a focus on those low-lying coastal areas in Virginia.

Now, more than a million people expected to evacuate, airlines offering travel waivers to help people get out of this storm's way. This concern not just for the coast, also inland. We have seen store shelves emptying.

I spoke with an official from Lowe's Home Improvement Store. They say those shelves will be restocked as quickly as they can. They have already sent out 550 truckloads as of last night to help that restocking process, and that will continue, John.

BERMAN: All right. Kaylee Hartung for us in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, watching things.

I want you to take one more look at what this storm, Hurricane Florence, looks like from space. Look at that eyewall just churning. That is what is heading right now to the East Coast of the United States. The city of Wilmington in North Carolina right now the most likely city to leave a direct hit or near direct hit.

Joining us now is the mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina, Bill Saffo.

Mayor, thank you very much for being with us this morning. Why don't you just briefly tell us what your city is doing to prepare?

MAYOR BILL SAFFO, WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, you know, we're a resilient bunch down here. We go through a lot of these hurricane scares throughout the years, but this is pretty serious. We've prepared. We continue to prepare our community and our city. We make sure that we have resources pre-arranged in different locations. We're clearing out all of our storm drains, getting ready for this storm to come ashore.

We want to make certain that our citizens are listening to the emergency management folks, take this storm very seriously, prepare because once this storm is upon us we're not going to be able to send emergency personnel out to rescue you. You need to make preparations now and get ready.

BERMAN: I know you know from what you're hearing, which is what we're hearing this doesn't look like just another storm. This is shaping up to be particularly bad for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the rain which could come in feet over Wilmington. Two feet of rain over the next three, four, five days.

What is your area of biggest concern? I know you're right up against the Atlantic. You also have the Cape Fear River right next to you.

SAFFO: We are a peninsula here and, you know, we prepare for these events, but when you have that kind of rain, possibly 17 to 20 inches, what we saw last year in Houston, Texas, or what we have seen in other locales with a tremendous amount of rain that will come with this storm and especially if it's a slow-moving storm is going to create a tremendous amount of flooding for our community and for our residents. We want to make certain everybody is prepared.

If you're in a low-lying area get out of there as quickly as you possibly can. Prepare yourself, because it's going to be a while before this thing passes through, and we want to make certain that everybody is safe.

BERMAN: People who decide to stay, what can they expect to see and what can they expect in terms of support?

SAFFO: Well, if it's a mandatory evacuation, especially here on the barrier islands, please heed the elected officials and the emergency management people's warnings and get out of the way.

Once this storm is upon us, we're not going to be able to send out emergency personnel to save you if there's an incident at your home. There's just no way we can send people's out in harm's way during that -- during a storm event. We want people to heed these warnings, take them very seriously. Prepare your home, prepare your family.

If you're in a low-lying area, get out of there as quickly as you possibly can. You've still got time. You know, this thing is a couple or hours out or a couple of days out, but we've got to prepare, because we're talking about a tremendous amount of folks that are moving off of the coast going inland. So get ready and be prepared.

BERMAN: And that is one of the concerns here about where do you go if this storm does stall. Then you could get some serious flooding inland, as well, correct?

SAFFO: Correct, and we've seen that with other storms where we had a tremendous amount of rain that fell inland and created a tremendous amount of flooding in the rural areas around our communities, and it was hard for people to get in or out.

And so we want to make certain that the people heed these warnings, have enough time to get out before the event takes place so we don't have to come out here and rescue you. But we've got to be prepared and get -- get ready for this storm. This is a big storm and a serious one.

BERMAN: A big storm, a serious one. A lot of people know Wilmington maybe for the Battleship North Carolina. It's a terrific city. Do you have a sense of what will happen to your city if you do get 20 inches of rain, which would follow what could be a 10-, 15-foot storm surge?

[06:10:10] SAFFO: We have seen it with other storms, especially with Floyd, where we had, I think, about 13 inches of rainfall within a seven-hour period. You are going to have a significant amount of flooding. It is going to take some time for that flooding to precipitate. It's going to take some time for our emergency management folks to get out there to help people, especially if they are trying to cross a road that has been flooded or somebody takes a chance to go through a swollen creek.

We just want to make certain that people make the preparations now, get out of the way, get out of low-lying areas. If you have to get to a shelter, if you have to get out of town, now is the time to do it while you still have time to do it.

BERMAN: The city itself of Wilmington not yet under a mandatory evacuation order. Do you anticipate that happening?

SAFFO: Right now we are in a voluntary evacuation order. I know that the area beaches, the mayors at those particular beaches, I think, are going to be calling for mandatory at some point in time possibly today.

But we want to make certain that people have the opportunity to make that decision on their own, but I will tell you this is a very big storm, all the projections and models are looking for this thing to make landfall between Wilmington and possibly a little bit north, but we want to make certain that the citizens take this seriously and get ready in the event that this thing does come ashore, we want everybody to be prepared. So we're giving people that -- those warnings now.

BERMAN: Mayor Bill Saffo, thank you for coming on and talking to us and delivering that message. We do hope people are listening. Again, this storm really hasn't moved very much. There is every sign it is headed your way, so we thank you for sending that message out, sir.

SAFFO: Thank you.

BERMAN: Mayor Bill Saffo.

Coming up in our next hour, we're going to speak with FEMA administrator Brock Long about how the federal response to this hurricane is going. In our 8 a.m. hour, we're going to speak -- we're going to get a new advisory, first of all, in the storm's track. And we're going to talk to the director of the National Hurricane Center, Ken Graham, get his sense of this forecast which really, again, hasn't changed very much. This storm is coming. It's getting more and more powerful.

CAMEROTA: And it's a monster.

All right. There is other news. There's a new CNN poll, many of them, in fact, poll numbers, and they show trouble for President Trump. So we will share his approval ratings among independents and what what all of this means going into the midterms.

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[06:16:02] CAMEROTA: OK, President Trump's approval rating has fallen in a new CNN poll. It has gone down six points in just the last month. It is now at 36 percent.

The president hitting a new low, also, with independents. So let's discuss all of this with a senior writer and analyst for CNN Politics Harry Enten; reporter and editor at large for CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza; and CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip.

OK, Harry, let's start with you. So let's just put this up again, the overall approval number. Thirty-six percent approve of the job that President Trump is doing. Fifty-eight percent disapprove. As we said, that is down six points, just from August.

Do you -- can you shed any light on what is happening this month?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Look, traditionally, I might say it's noise. It's definitely not noise. It's happening across a slew of pollsters. One reason might actually be the death of John McCain and the reaction that President Trump had to it.

In fact, John McCain died in late August, and if you line it up with when these polls were taken, it seems to be taken just afterwards. And all the rest of the stuff is -- we've seen this kind of happen before, where Trump says crazy stuff and he does crazy things with other people, indictments, so on and so forth, hasn't moved the numbers.

But the John McCain death and the reaction to it seems to be unique, and that's really the only thing I can really point to at this time. I'm sure there are other guesses out there, but it's amazing.

BERMAN: Well, there hasn't been a lot of good news, between the op- ed, between the Bob Woodward book, between indictments --

CAMEROTA: The economy is good news.

BERMAN: Let's -- hold off on the economy for one second. We're going to get to that. I want to hit on one thing that Harry said there, this is not just noise.

Look at all of the polls that have come out in just the last few weeks, and the president's approving rating, hopefully we have that -- has dropped in all of these polls. You can take my word for it, at CNN, ABC News, "Washington Post," Gallup, IDP, Kaiser, Quinnipiac.

And beyond the approval rating, and this is P-19, guys. If you look at the attributes, these are traits for the president. He is down across the board there, as well. Can bring needed change, cares about people like you, honest and trustworthy, proud to have as president, will unite the country, down, down, down, down, down.

Chris Cillizza, people like the president less in all of these categories than they did one month ago.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS WRITER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes, let me highlight that first attribute on that graphic, John, which is can bring about needed change.

So in -- we did a poll right after the election, and it basically had it even, 49, 49, can bring about needed change for Trump. It's now down to 40 can bring about needed change, 57 cannot.

Why is that important? Because if you look at the 2016 exit poll, they ask, basically, four attributes. Which of these made you most likely to vote for the candidate you supported? "Can bring about change" was one of the four. Four in ten people said that was the most important attribute in deciding their vote. OK, that was by far the most important attribute out of those four.

Donald Trump won that vote 82 to 14 over Hillary Clinton. If you need one number that explains how he won, it's that. He's the change agent in a year in which people want radical change. If he's no longer the change agent, and it's hard to be as an incumbent president, but if he is no longer the change agent -- and our poll certainly suggests he's not -- that's big trouble for him as he moves forward into trying to get reelected.

CAMEROTA: Abby, I want to show everybody the number for independents. This is also obviously critical. So it is now down at an all-time low, according to our CNN poll, at 31 percent. It had been 47 percent, his approval rating among independents back in August. Now it is at 31 percent.

For Republicans it's gone from 88 percent to 82 percent, but the independent number is interesting, because obviously, the White House cherry-picks what polls they look at, they often cite polls that don't meet our CNN standards so we don't use them. But the number for independents has to be getting the attention of people in that building behind you.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. I think that the White House takes it as a given that the president's approval among Republicans is probably going to be pretty steady, but the big question mark is always independents.

[06:20:09] But what's interesting in the last couple of weeks, even as we've seen these poll numbers showing a trend downward for the president, he has been growing increasingly frustrated that he's not getting enough credit for the economy.

You've been hearing him talk so much about it, almost on a daily basis, in the sense he doesn't understand why these numbers would be what they are when things are going so well on the economy.

And you see that in our poll, that people -- you know, about 65 percent of people say they like the Trump economy. But the problem is -- and I know Harry has identified maybe the John McCain moment as being one of the factors contributing to this -- I'm not sure we can say definitively, but you have to take a look at the environment that's facing this president right now.

There are a lot of problems facing him. This summer he's faced two former aides being -- being indicted and found guilty on criminal charges. He had the John McCain controversy that was, I think, widely viewed as being handled poorly.

And then there is the Woodward book. There is the Omarosa book. There is a picture being painted of this president that is not positive. And I have to wonder if that is penetrating into the voters' psyche, but what I'm most interested in is what happens in a couple weeks.

I think we've sometimes seen with this president his approval rating dips at times like around the Charlottesville incident, and then they pop back up after a little while once the collective memory has eroded a little bit. So I'll be interested in seeing that.

And I think President Trump in a lot of ways counts on that happening to him. He counts on the next controversy blowing away all the previous ones, but we are getting closer to an election. And I'm not sure that, you know, Democrats will, frankly, let that happen.

BERMAN: Abby was talking about the economy number there, and it's actually, 69 percent of people in this poll think that the economy is good. And that is a very, very high number, and it's also an incredible disconnect, Harry, between the economy and the president's approval rating. ENTEN: This is nuts. And I will say if you were to plot out the

president's approval rating on the economy, it tends to be significantly higher than his overall approval rating, so he is getting credit for the economy. He is.

I just wonder what will happen if the economy ever goes south. Does this president have a floor? He can go -- go completely nutso.

And here's the other thing. If the president's approval rating dies stay this low through the midterm elections, I just do not see how the Republicans hold onto the House of Representatives. Because there is a direct correlation between these two factors.

We see over and over again in our polling that over 80 percent of people who approve of the president say they're going to vote for Republicans, and over 80 percent of people who say they disapprove of the president say they're going to vote for the Democrats. So the lower this number goes, the better chance the Democrats have of taking control of the House.

CAMEROTA: But Chris Cillizza, isn't it the economy, stupid? No offense. I mean, when you see the economy is 69 percent, doesn't it wash away everything else that we've been talking about?

So if people feel good about their own pocketbooks, yes, they can be quite upset. They can even be offended about things that they've seen from the president, but when you go into the polling booth, it's personal; and you vote with your pocketbook.

CILLIZZA: OK, first of all, let me agree with Harry that I think you -- you bet that the Republicans lose the House.

To your point, though, Alisyn, the best-case scenario for Republicans, and a bunch of Republicans have made this case to me, is this. Yes, voters do not like Donald Trump, but they don't really consider him a Republican in any meaningful way. He is sort of his own satellite. He's his own planet.

And they will give Republicans credit in a traditional way that we would always expect for the strength of the economy. That it will be the "It's the economy, stupid," minus what we don't like about Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CILLIZZA: Like I said, best-case scenario, there have been three midterm elections since the 1930s in which the president's party has picked up seats. That's 1934, 1988 and 2002. All of those had major huge catastrophic moments in them that altered the sort of traditional dynamic. We don't have that yet.

Now, I say yet. We're 56 days, I think, away from the election, but I think that best-case scenario is looking less and less likely for Republicans, even though, if you told Harry Enten that the -- that 69 percent of people would approve of the economy, you would suggest maybe, just maybe, this would be an anomalous year, and the president's party would benefit from it. But Trump is so scenery- eating that I think he overshadows everything.

ENTEN: I just want to say very quickly that, in fact, if you were to plot out the strength of the economy versus the generic bell and how predictive each are, what will happen in a midterm election. In fact, the state of the economy has no effect. In a presidential year, the economy has a major effect, but in midterm elections, the economy actually has a minimal effect.

BERMAN: On that point, on that point, we've seen the generic ballot test actually spread out with the president's approval.

ENTEN: Exactly. Those two.

BERMAN: I don't know what the CNN numbers are. I think we'll see them this week. Maybe they are spreading out, as well.

[06:25:07] And Abby, to the final point, one of the reasons that maybe the president can't get the credit for the economy is that he can't leave these scandals behind. He can't leave the Bob Woodward book available in book stores today, behind.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, he gets in his own way. You hear this from his own aides all the time. They wonder why he can't just stay on the right message, which is, if all things are going poorly, and the economy is the only thing going well, stick to that.

But President Trump wakes up every morning, and he talks about all of the other things facing him. He has to combat every person attacking him. And I think a lot of people around the president who support the president find that to be incredibly unhelpful.

And I think what it contributes to is voters always being bombarded with the negative news, in part because the president is always putting it right in front of them. So, you know, this is a story of a presidency that maybe could be going better in some ways if President Trump would get out of his own way in some ways.

But it's been -- it's been 18 months now. This is not something that is going to change. I think it's baked into the cake. I think the president's advisers, his political advisers know that all too well.

CAMEROTA: OK. Chris, Harry, Abby, thank you very much.

BERMAN: We should note Chris and Harry have a Democratic presidential ranking of the field coming out later today, and I understand there's a big -- a big shift.

CAMEROTA: Of 2020.

BERMAN: 2020.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I look forward to seeing that. How relevant that is.

CILLIZZA: Big shifts.

BERMAN: Huge. Huge shifts he says right there. They won't tell us who. All we know is it's big.

BERMAN: All right. Hurricane Florence is churning towards the East Coast. This is a huge storm, a Category 4 storm and it's strengthening.

Up next, we're going to speak to a hurricane hunter flying inside the storm.

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