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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Strongest Hurricane on Record Headed Towards Mexico; Hillary Clinton Back on Campaign Trail After Benghazi Hearing; Trump Polls 2nd in Iowa Behind Ben Carson in 1st. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 23, 2015 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The breaking news this morning, the strongest hurricane on record. One meteorologist told "The New York Times" it could inflict catastrophic damage and leave areas uninhabitable for months. Patricia is a category 5 storm with winds of 200 miles an hour.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in aerial reconnaissance weather officer, First Lieutenant Leesa Froelich, with more on this. She actually flew into Patricia last night.

Thank you for being here.

What was that like flying through that last night?

1ST LT. LEESA FROELICH, AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE WEATHER OFFICER, U.S. AIR FORCE RESERVE: It was definitely very intense. It was obviously the strongest storm we've had in my strongest, my first cat 5 and it was very intense last night.

BERMAN: I heard this is the lowest pressure ever seen in a hurricane. People who have been doing this for a while say there's been nothing like this since Hurricane Andrew, and we know the damage that caused. What does this all mean?

FROELICH: Well, it's the lowest pressure ever recorded in the eastern Pacific and the lowest for a hurricane. And it had a very intense wind at flight level. We saw over 200 miles an hour, up to 220 miles an hour was the highest we saw at flight level. Now, like you guys mentioned earlier, that is a very concentrated area where those winds are, but where those winds are will cause catastrophic damage when it makes landfall.

BOLDUAN: What -- obviously, we can't be in that flight with you. What do you say? What do you feel when you are in the middle of this storm, when you're flying through it?

FROELICH: One of the first things we're looking at before we feel anything is the radar. We see everything that most every other pilot in the world would go the complete opposite direction but we head right to it. On the radar we'll see blinking lights which tells us severe turbulence, which we saw tonight. We don't have a choice. We have to punch through it to get to the actual eye. You experience a few jolts here and there. The best description I can relate it to is going on a roller coaster, that constant dropping out of your stomach. Luckily, it doesn't last that long. It usually lasts a minute or two depending on how big the storm is. So, luckily this one wasn't a very large one. The eye was only seven miles across.

BERMAN: What can they expect, do you think, on the ground, based on what you saw? This storm, will it maintain its strength and will it head where they think it is heading?

FROELICH: Well, I'm not a forecaster. You'd have to look at the national hurricane center and look at what they're forecasting, but when we left it, it was still intensifying on each pass. We did three passes through the eye last night and each one we did, it kept getting stronger and stronger. From when we first got there, they weren't expecting the central pressure to be as low as it was. It was almost 30 millibars lower which is a huge, huge deal, almost 30 less than what they were expecting.

BERMAN: Each pass it was getting stronger and stronger.

Leesa Froelich, thank you for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

FROELICH: Thank you.

BERMAN: What a week for Hillary Clinton. Grilled for 11 hours on Capitol Hill. Plus, one candidate she doesn't have to face in the presidential race.

BOLDUAN: Plus, one debate behind her. Does Hillary Clinton have her groove back?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:37:51] BOLDUAN: Quick turn-around this morning, Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail just hour after testimony on the Capitol Hill at the Benghazi hearing. Next hour, she'll be at a rally in Virginia with her former campaign chair, now governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe.

BERMAN: Moments ago, she spoke at the DNC women's leadership forum in Washington, D.C.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It's been quite a week, hasn't it?

(CHEERING)

CLINTON: Well, thank you all so much. I am absolutely delighted to be here. As some of you may know, I had a pretty long day yesterday.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. I believe Jeff is in Virginia right now, where Hillary will be shortly.

What's she expected to say, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John and Kate. That is what a victory lap looks like and sounds like, and it's going to continue here today in Alexandria, Virginia. You can see the crowd that's gathered behind me here. Several hundred people who are eager to see Secretary Clinton stand up and give a speech after sitting down for some 11 hours at that hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill. She is trying to energize Democrats. She's trying to capitalize on what's been the most -- the strongest ten-day stretch of her campaign, really beginning with that debate in Las Vegas through the decision of the vice president not to challenge her, and then finally into that hearing yesterday, she has never had a stronger moment. So, she's trying to take that confidence out to the campaign trail.

But she's also giving a hat tip to Joe Biden himself, perhaps trying to win over some Democrats who wanted him to run. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: And I want to say a word about another great Democrat who has always been a champion for women and families and all of us. Vice President Joe Biden has been in the trenches with us for years.

(CHEERING)

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: He fought for the Violence Against Women Act and so much more. And I'm confident that history isn't finished with Joe Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:20:05] ZELENY: You may ask why Hillary Clinton is saying kind thins about Joe Biden. She wants his endorsement, for one, and, two, she's trying to consolidate all those Democrats who still remain unsure about her candidacy. It's basically down to three Democratic presidential candidates, her, of course, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley.

This morning the fourth candidate dropped out of the race, the former governor and Senator from Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee. So Hillary Clinton is starting here and take it on the road and into Iowa over the weekend -- John and Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jeff, thanks so much.

Jeff Zeleny in Virginia for us.

There's a lot to that. In the next hour, Hillary Clinton will be headed there.

Let's discuss everything that's going on this week for Hillary Clinton. Let's bring in CNN political commentator and author of "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton," Carl Bernstein.

Carl, great to see you.

I was watching you last night, watching that hearing and talking about it afterwards. As Jeff said, coming off an endurance test, but she survived that hearing for sure.

(CROSSTALK)

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & AUTHOR: She did much better than survived. They teed it up for her to look like the president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, what she would look like as the president.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: They sure weren't trying to.

(LAUGHTER)

BERNSTEIN: Well, actually, that's what they did. We got a look. It was very impressive. She was in command throughout the whole hearing. She was nuanced. She was in command of the facts. She knew what had happened in Benghazi. She gave the best account of it that was possible. She was empathetic. That is not to say some of the things she said aren't subject to some truth-testing, which, of course, is her problem throughout this campaign. But she has moved way past where she was in terms of what this distrust issue was two weeks ago.

BERMAN: It's interesting. In soccer terms, we call these set pieces, right? The debate and the hearing, something you can study for, where you know the opposition, you can game out the questions that will come your way. People think this is the kind of thing Hillary Clinton does very good at.

BERNSTEIN: She does. She was great at debate. She's been on congressional investigations herself, including the Watergate Committee. She knows the terrain. She's a student. Bill Clinton is a conceptual thinker. Hillary is someone who sits down and does the hard studying, prepares herself, and does better on the test than Bill Clinton.

BERMAN: Can she, then, turn it around from test day to sort of improve when she gets out on the trail?

BERNSTEIN: It depends on what she's up against. Right now the wind is at her back. Have you to go back to the key moment, that is Bernie Sanders' gift that is going to keep on giving when he said, we don't give a damn about your e-mails. That changed the equation of everything. It meant the Democrats, who have had great anger at Hillary Clinton because of the server question, now give her a pass on it. That translated as well going into yesterday's hearing. So, the Republicans no longer were quite as credible on this question. Again, she was very nuanced. Hillary Clinton has a way -- Dave Gergen said in an interview with my colleague, Bob Woodward, the other day, he said, well, she doesn't lie. She's very careful with the truth. It's a distinction he makes, but it's very hard -- she understands ambiguity and her enemies don't. That was a hanging party, that hearing. And it showed as a hanging party. And Benghazi has been a murder trial from the beginning of Hillary Clinton --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Do you think it moved anybody, though?

BERNSTEIN: Yes.

BOLDUAN: In the granted scheme of -- when you get to a general, let's say it's Hillary, it looks like it's a Rorschach test. You get out of it whatever you want to get out of it. We just had Lindsey Graham on and he thought it was horrible for Hillary Clinton. He disagreed with any kind of --

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: Of course, Lindsey Graham is going to say that. I think there are a certain number of undecided voters, as well as some in the Democratic Party, but undecided voters who are going to move toward Hillary Clinton if they see her as credible, competent and we got a real picture of that. You know, this -- elections are decided by very slim margins. And also the Democrats have all the demographic advantages going into the general election. They might lose it if Hillary Clinton can't be credible, can't look like the president of the United States, but the Republicans just keep giving her gift after gift. Look at the Republican field. Look at those 16 candidates. Look at what they're saying. Look at where most of the country is on the issues when you get past these primaries. And also --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Well, look, we have to close here, but I will say this, in most head-to-head match-ups we've seen in all the polls, many, if not most, of the candidates are still running ahead of Hillary Clinton in a lot of key states. So, America is looking at this race right now. They haven't made up their mind quite yet.

BERNSTEIN: That's my point.

BERMAN: But --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: It's been a big week for Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: Carl Bernstein, thanks so much for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Carl.

BERNSTEIN: Good to see you. [11:45:08] BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

So, there is a new front-runner in Iowa. Ben Carson knocking Donald Trump from the top spot. Ahead, another Republican presidential candidate coming on to talk about this big shift in the race.

BERMAN: Plus, more on our breaking news, the strongest hurricane ever. Let that sink in. A catastrophic storm heading closer and closer to landfall. We have the latest forecast coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:00] BERMAN: All right. We have big political news this morning, and big polling news. Donald Trump and Ben Carson trading places in Iowa. A brand new presidential poll from Iowa showing that Ben Carson is out in front. Donald Trump nine points back.

BOLDUAN: The former New York governor is with us now, George Pataki. He is joining us from the key early voting of state of New Hampshire, another Republican presidential candidate to discuss.

Governor, great to see you.

I want your take on the numbers, the latest polling that John is laying out. Ben Carson is number one and Donald Trump is two in Iowa. Donald Trump has been number one nationally for quite a bit now. You call him an eighth grade schoolyard bully spewing nonsense. If that is true, Governor, what are the voters saying to you?

GEORGE PATAKI, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Well, I think that you just saw that he is starting to lose support, and I'm not surprised. His latest being if he had been president, September 11th would have never happened. It is more nonsense that really doesn't reflect reality, but the other interesting part of this, and not just that Trump went down so much, but it is still Ben Carson. And many this case, another nonpolitician. And what the Republican voters are saying is that we don't like people in Washington. We don't want to have a Senator or Congressman, but we want somebody who is outside of the political realm. You think that at the end though, they are going to be taking a look and say, well, we need somebody who is going to beat Hillary Clinton and who can run this country, and I am hopeful they are going to decide that I am the right person the do that

BERMAN: And most people looking outside and most people think Jeb Bush even though he has been out of government for a while, he is still an insider, and they are cutting back the staff and the campaign headquarters in Miami is going to be downsizing considerably, and from where you are sitting is Jeb Bush in trouble?

PATAKI: Well, you will see that many of the candidates are slashing the spending, and reducing the staff, and I kind of Chuck, because they had all of the money to begin with, and everybody goes, how long, Pataki, can you stay in it? And we have been running on the bare bones campaign since the beginning, so it is an indication that it is id still wide open. Everybody thought that Jeb would be the frontrunner, and he is not, and Donald Trump now down and Carson up in Iowa. It is wide open, and people are going to be looking at who can beat Hillary Clinton particularly after the yesterday's hearing and who can bring this country together, and I know that I can do that and that is why I am running and encouraged by the reaction here in New Hampshire.

BOLDUAN: Governor, I want you to weigh in on the back and forth over 9/11, who is to blame for 9/11, and Jeb Bush saying that his brother kept us safe and Donald Trump stirring things up on this. You were governor during 9/11. What do you want to say about this?

PATAKI: Well, Kate, this is nonsense. We are fighting about who could have done what before one of the worst days in American history. My goal is not to look backwards, but forwards. How do we prevent another 9/11? And that is what we should be focusing on. How we shrink the size of the government in Washington, how we stand up to radical Islamic and take away their training centers, recruitment centers where they're planning today to attack us in American again. We have to destroy them there before they attack us here. And how we can grow the economy and not who could have done what 15 years ago. It is a complete waste of time.

BERMAN: And as former governor of New York, you want to take a position on the World Series, the Mets, Governor?

PATAKI: I am going out on a limb to say the Mets have the best hitting, and Dan Murphy is on a roll, the best pitching. I don't know if it is going to take seven games, but the Mets are going to win.

BOLDUAN: We will hold you to it, the Mets taking it all.

Great to you, Governor. Thank you.

PATAKI: Good to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: More on the breaking news coming up. The strongest hurricane in recorded history. And many are preparing for the worst hurricane to come their way as an extremely powerful storm is headed towards land.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:52] BOLDUAN: Now for a look at one of this year's top-10 heroes, Kim Carter. She turned her life around after years of living on the street and cycling in and out of jail. And now she is dedicating her life to help women facing the similar challenges in life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM CARTER, CNN HERO: What options does a woman with nothing have to start over? You have no money. You have no I.D. You have no family. You have no friends. And you are just out there walking the streets, lonely, with nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Really an amazing story. And you can read all about it at CNNhero.com. And while you are there, check out all 10 of the heroes and then vote. Vote once a day everyday. And you will get to choose for the "CNN Hero" of the year and who it will be.

BOLDUAN: Hope you had a great week. Thank you for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: And major breaking news we're following on Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever, heads towards Mexico. "Legal View" picks that up right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[12:00:11] RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye, in today for Ashleigh Banfield. Thanks for joining us.