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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Reuters: Hurricane Death Toll Climbs to 283 in Haiti; Monster Hurricane Packing Winds of 140 MPH Nearing Florida; Trump Holds Town Hall in NH, Talks About First Debate. Aired 9-10p ET.

Aired October 6, 2016 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Florida's governor, Rick Scott, who's been issuing dire warnings for days, telling people in evacuations areas the time is running out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SCOTT, FLORIDA: I spent the past the four days traveling Florida's east coast, urging people to prepare and get ready for Hurricane Matthew. It's here. It's absolutely here. It's not very far off t coast of Palm Beach. We're already starting to see the impacts and it's a monster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We have correspondents, we got meteorologists across the affected areas, the winds growing, power outages now in the tens of thousands, to bring us all up to date on all of it, including evacuation and rescue efforts when they happen. We'll be checking in with all of them throughout this next hour.

We begin in one of the areas Governor Scott says he is most concerned about. CNN's Nick Valencia joins us now from West Palm Beach. How was -- how were things out there right now where you are?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We continue to get hit by the bands of Hurricane Matthew as it barrels its way towards the east coast of Florida. All day long, really, Anderson, the wind has been a problem. But just in the course of the last 15 minutes, this rain is starting to whip us here in the eyes and really intensify. The storm surge is happening about 2 1/2 miles away. The beach -- Palm Beach, I should say, about 2 1/2 miles away from here. It is significantly worse, I'm sure there. But just now, as I mentioned, this rain really starting to intensify. Downed trees according to local mayor here is a really big issue, thousands are already without power. And this appears to be the start of the worst of it. Anderson?

COOPER: There is a flood watch in effect for Palm Beach County right now, right?

VALENCIA: So that's a great point here. We were speaking to residents earlier in a mandatory evacuation area there by Palm Beach about a couple miles away from here, they say they're worried about storm surges because just on a normal day, if you think about it, a storm causes flooding on those streets and those downtown areas, this is anything but normal. So storm surges are certainly going to be an issue.

Also an issue, we've touched on this and I can't stress it enough, those who have decided to ride this storm out, those who have chosen not to evacuate, first responders pretty upset at those folks who decided to stick this storm out, stay in their home -- according to first responders we ...

COOPER: You can see Nick's image breaking up, often happens as those outer bands of the storm start to interfere with the satellite.

Let's go back this hour to CNN meteorologist, Tom Sater, is tracking Matthew from our weather center. So where is this storm now?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's about 70 miles, just offshore of West Palm Beach as the crow flies directly east and west. But again, this is quite a large system, as you see here. If you were to look at the tropical storm force winds and stretch them out, it would be like from Philadelphia to Boston. But we're already seeing bands of showers that have moved in. We've got about 23,000 without power in Miami-Dade and Brevard County, just from thunderstorms.

But the track is interesting, as we talked about the last hour. But a closer inspection, it hasn't changed much. Some models want to give us a 6:00 a.m. land fall in Cape Canaveral. But if it just hugs the coast, it's going to create tremendous damage. We really think that West Palm Beach, sure, maybe in some hurricane force winds, but they're not going to have the surge. That's from the storm center northward. And this is where the winds start to extend outward just a little bit and cause the more problems with the storm surge in the Jacksonville area.

COOPER: So some of the warnings and watches have changed though for parts of South Florida into last hour, right?

SATER: Yeah, that's right. It's because of the angle of approach, because of the wind direction.

And here's what we know and red are hurricane warnings. It's been dropped from around Boca, south of Golden Beach. So it's just a tropical storm warning. We're still going to see tropical storm force winds.

The south western part of Florida has lost this yellow, which was the storm watch. Yes, there could be some strong winds, but all of the deadly elements of the flooding and the surge and the damaging winds are going to be mainly in this area of red. When you look at the radar, Anderson, again, 70 miles here, when this system moves in, the storm surge problem is just one element. We don't know exactly what happened in Nassau yet, free port which was hit very hard, but it's still a Category 4. And as we watch it, it's going to spread a lot of problems up and down the entire coast through the Carolinas.

COOPER: Well, obviously we're looking at Georgia, but let's talk about the Carolinas, let's talk about Georgia, South Carolina, what should they expect next 12 to 24 hours?

SATER: Well, if you consider 20 to 40-foot waves from Miami to Jacksonville, underneath the center of the storm where the heights are so high, that wall of water is going to unfortunately hit the curvature of the coastline. So the intensity of rain, even in Florida on the coast well inland, some 100 miles, you're looking at 8, 10, 12 inches of rainfall. But it gets enhanced. This is just rain, that's 12, 13, maybe 14 inches. We know what South Carolina went through just a year ago. So, that's just one element. But the winds are going to be a big issue with this

Hurricane-force winds extend from the center, 60 miles. That's like seeing an Ef-2 tornado. Not just isolated spot which snaps a tree or takes a roof off, that's every community, house by house, business by business, as it wraps back and around.

[21:08] When it gets near the Georgia coast, that's where I think we could have a problem with a tornado outbreak. And we'll probably see a watch that will be formed a little bit later and posted. But again, it doesn't really look like the system wants to move back and away from land. Worst-case scenario, again, Anderson, is that it stays over water, continues to be fueled by that water. Sometimes it's better if it just make landfall, get it over with so it can be downgraded and lose its strength.

COOPER: Yeah.

SATER: But because it's going to have the fuel, the storm surge, the winds, this is going to be devastating for about 36 hours.

COOPER: You're going to be watching closely over the next hour and all night. Obviously, we'll check back in with you. Tom, thanks very much.

Let's go to Palm Beach deputy town manager, Jay Boodheshwar, he joins us now on the phone. How are the conditions there and how much damage are you expecting from this storm?

JAY BOODHESHWAR, PALM BEACH DEPUTY TOWN MANAGER: Hi, Anderson. We're, so far, so good considering we have a Category 4 storm out in the Atlantic. We have had reports of power outages in Palm Beach. We have a pretty decent amount of debris, but we have not seen anything that is of great concern at this time. What we're looking for is later on tonight at high tide, there is some concern about the storm surge. Mostly on the west side of the island, the intercoastal side, where our elevations are a little bit lower. So we do expect some pretty good flooding along the western shoreline.

COOPER: And obviously, there's been a mandatory evacuation in Palm Beach. But do you know -- I mean, have the majority of people evacuated, do you know how many or what percentage have stayed behind?

BOODHESHWAR: Yes, we're fortunate that Palm Beach is a semi-seasonal community, so we have a lot of folks who aren't in Palm Beach at this time of the year, but we had pretty good participation, as far as the evacuation is concerned. So we're guessing there's roughly 15 to 20 percent of the people riding out the storm in Palm Beach right now.

COOPER: And the plan to try to help those who have stayed behind, if and when they need help, I mean, obviously, at the height of the storm, that's a real issue.

BOODHESHWAR: It is. It's a really big issue. And we try to do our best to let everyone know that there is a point in time when the winds get too heavy, and we are not able to send out medics or police officers to deal with an emergency situation. But our 911 center is still operating. The weather is not that significant that it would keep us away if there is an emergency, but the storm is just, you know, it's about 75 miles to our east right now, the eye of the system and we do it to get a little worse before it gets better. So that is a possibility that we may not be able to respond at some points tonight.

COOPER: And then at what point are you able to get, you know, first responders back on the streets? I guess it's just -- it's an hour-by- hour check on how high the winds are?

BOODHESHWAR: Absolutely, it is an hour-by-hour situation. We expect to have a full crew, not only from our public safety departments, but also our public works departments, doing damage assessment, right at day break, as the winds do let up, before daybreak, we will have a police officers, public safety folks out taking a look at the community and seeing if there's anything that needs to be addressed immediately. Otherwise, at daybreak, we'll do our assessments, see where the dangers are, and try to get the island restored as quickly as we can to allow residents to get back to their homes.

COOPER: Yeah. Well, Jay Boodheshwar, I appreciate you talking to us and all our best to you and everybody in Palm Beach.

Joining us now by phone is Daytona Beach Police Chief Michael Chitwood. Chief Chitwood, what are you expecting tonight? How prepared is your community?

Michael Chitwood, DAYTONA BEACH POLICE CHIEF: Anderson, how you doing? We are prepared. We have four shelters open in the city. All four as of about 15 minutes ago were filled to capacity. We probably have 25 percent of our peninsula or the barrier island that where here still occupied, people are refusing to leave. They believe that this is just like any other hurricane that they have ridden out. We have emphatically told them that you have to get out. This is a matter of life and death. This is going to be devastating. When the storm surge rolls through there, there are parts of that peninsula that may be only four or five blocks wide.

The city, we broke it down into five quadrants. We have strike teams that are already in place and we will be out trying to help people and rescue people until the point in time where it becomes dangerous for us. And we think that that's unfair that you have some idiots to think it's OK to ride out a storm and put other people's lives in danger, and then when they decide it's not fun anymore, they want to call 911 and say, "Oh, come and get me now." That's not going to happen. [21:10:04] COOPER: Yeah.

CHITWOOD: You know, the power's going to out, people are going to lose their cell phone usage, they're going to lose internet usage, they're going to lose power, and then you want to call and say, help me. And the time to get out is now. The window is open. There are shelters throughout this county. We're imploring you to get out.

COOPER: So there's still time for people to get to a shelter?

CHITWOOD: There's time for us here in Daytona Beach for you to get out and leave now. But bridges are closed eastbound. There are three bridges that connect us to the barrier island. They are open only to travel westbound. If you call 911 now a strike team will show up and get you to a shelter. We are imploring people, "Get out, before it's too late."

COOPER: When you went door to door and you tell people, you know, they need to get out, I mean, how did they react? Obviously, you can't force people. It's got to be incredibly frustrating?

CHITWOOD: It's frustrating because people will say, I spent my whole life here, there's no reason to leave, I've been through five or six or 10 hurricanes. But an anecdotal story for you is, myself today when I was out in the community there was a young mother out there with two young boys on bicycles. And I got out of the car and I must have spent 40 minutes trying to convince her to at least let me take the boys to the police station because we have all of our families are here with us and there's, you know, we have them all set up, food, video games everything. Let me take the boys if you're refusing to leave and she refused. She -- everybody is making a big deal out of this, this is a hype over nothing. And we have gone back to the house repeatedly to try to convince her to leave and take her children with her.

COOPER: Wow. And so in -- I mean I guess again this may be a dumb question and I guess it's sort of a -- it's an hour or even minute by minute situation, but how long do you think you'll be off the streets for in terms of your ability to respond to people if they need it?

CHITWOOD: We're going to stay on as long as we can, but the general consensus is, once you reach the speed winds of 50 miles an hour plus, sustained, we cannot successfully get over the bridges to get you. Even the strike teams, with the flooding are going to be limited when that wind and that storm surge hits the barrier island.

COOPER: And if there is extensive flooding and it stays flooded, I mean do you have -- do you have, you know, shallow bottom boats to get around?

CHITWOOD: Yes, we do. We have john boats already positioned. We have some really heavy duty pickup trucks that have been donated to us that we -- in 2009, we suffered some devastating floods here, where in some places with 7 to 8 feet high. So we were prepared from that. So we will be going out there when the conditions are safe, because you have to remember there are going to be power lines down, gas leaks. There's going to be a lot of things that are going to happen here that are going to prevent us from doing our job. That's why we're begging and imploring people get out now before we're not able to do a job.

COOPER: Have you been through a storm like this? I mean has the community been through a storm like this in ...

CHITWOOD: We have not. This is the first time in the city area's history that this has ever -- a sized storm this large coming in off the Atlantic has ever come into our area. And even the longtime residents during the weeks have been telling us, this is something we haven't seen before. And these are folks that have lived here 40, 50, 60 years and they evacuated. Because they were like, we don't like the way this looks. This is not going to be good.

COOPER: Yeah. Well, Chief Chitwood, sounds like you're on top of it. We wish you the best. I know that's going to be a long couple of days for you and your officers, we appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

CHITWOOD: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead, more on what it takes to prepare for this and respond effectively in the wake of it. The retired Lieutenant General Russel Honore joins us for the kind of insight that he yearned the hard way during Katrina.

Also later, we'll talk about presidential politics, how Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are prepping for Sunday's debate, including Trump's event tonight, a town hall style event in New Hampshire.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:17:21] COOPER: A scary night for a lot of folks in Florida, Hurricane Matthew now getting dangerously close to Florida's Atlantic coast having just slammed through the Bahamas and before that Haiti where Reuters is now reporting there have been 283 fatalities. In Florida, 1.5 million people have been told to leave vulnerable areas. There you see the exodus, several thousand National Guard troops standing by. Supplies were told pre-positioned. Patients at the hospitals in some danger zones have been moved further inland as a precaution and preparations are also underway up the east coast all the way to the Carolinas.

I want to go to Stephanie Elam now in Savannah, Georgia tonight. Stephanie, how are things there? What are the preparations like?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN RPORTER: Well here in Savannah, they started at noon today making sure, Anderson, that people who needed to get evacuated, but had no other means of getting out of Savannah could get to a safe place. So what they've been doing here is, they've been taking city buses that say "Evacuation" on them. They're stopping at bus stops. And if anyone needs a ride from there, they'll pick them up and then they'll drop them off here at the Savannah Civic Center. From there, they go through, they process, make sure that they know who's here and then they'll board buses and they're being driven out to Augusta, a couple hours away, about 2 1/2 hours away. If you could see these buses here, they're lined up and they'll going to be doing this through midnight tonight. Tomorrow at 6:00 a.m., they'll start doing the same thing. The problem is, for people who have trouble getting to the Civic Center, they're going to have to find another way, because these city buses will not be in service tomorrow to help them out. So that service tomorrow will be from 6:00 a.m. until noon.

But here's what's really interesting about this. They're telling people that they really think that you can find other options, you should do that, but you should definitely evacuate. The governor has made it clear that they want people to evacuate from the east side of 95, but they've made it clear as far as the mayor is concerned, that these shelters are not going to be comfortable for people, that this is a last resort. If this is what you need, we can help you, we will get you out of here, but at the same time just know that this is going to be a hunker down situation that may not be the most comfortable or the most hospitable, but people should be safe there, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Stephanie, thanks very much for that update.

I want to go to Orlando. The danger there real enough that all the major theme parks in the area, they are closed now. CNN Ryan Young is there. What are the conditions like in Orlando if they're closing the theme park?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the rain is starting to fall here and everyone's talking about this. When you think about the fact that Disney World is obviously right behind us and everybody is thinking about coming here and spending all their money, (inaudible) for several people who spent more than $6,000 to come to Disney World and it closed today around 5:00. From there we were told that the airports close at 8:00. So some people are trapped here.

We talked to one family from Toronto who got on the last plane out of here. People were just trying to evacuate before the storm hits, big conversation, especially here the hotels in this area, Anderson.

[21:20:07] COOPER: Yeah, I mean, Disney World, obviously, a huge deal in Orlando, though, hotels there, I understand, are nearly full. So are a lot of people just going to be stuck there, kind of riding it out in hotels?

YOUNG: You know, that's an absolute conversation, as a Floridian and someone who grew up here. I was talking to people who are coming in, what we're being told is there were people who live on the coast who are coming into Orlando trying to avoid the storm. Now that they're looking at the pattern, they're actually wondering if they made the wrong decision. But when you look at it, you can see that they're really worried about the sustained winds. And that's just something that people have been talking about over and over.

One hotel manager that we talked to said, he has so many cancellations at first, but then all of these out of towners started filling up. They started packing water. They said they can sustain themselves for about four days with, not only with the generator but with the water and supplies they brought in to make sure they can feed people. One woman told me, after 25 years living here in Florida, this is the first time she's ever been scared about a storm.

COOPER: Yeah. Understandable why. Ryan Young, I appreciate that.

Florida governor, Rick Scott has now activated several thousand National Guard members. President Obama signed emergency declarations as well as other order permitting FEMA and other federal agencies to act. Governor Scott telling Wolf Blitzer earlier this evening that he is getting what he needs from the federal government.

Joining us now is someone who knows how difficult and complicated meeting those needs can sometimes be had to fix problems on the flood, (ph) retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, who earned praise in the wake of course of Hurricane Katrina. Lieutenant General Honore, I mean, conditions that seem starting to deteriorate in Florida pretty rapidly. What advice do you have for those who are trying to ride this out?

LT. GEN, RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Riding out is a risk that people take individually. I've heard the governor and all these mayors for the last 24 to 36 hours encouraging people to leave. But let's say this, Anderson, if you're in a coastal community in Florida with those inlet canals that have been built to allow people to go back and forth in their boats, any community there with that type of surge, the right front of that storm probably create 18 to 20-foot surge. The left side, which is the left side of Matthew, as you come up, will create maybe an 8 to 10-foot surge.

At high tide, in that surge, a lot of coastal communities are probably going to flood. But typically around Palm Beach., I've been there many times, they've got a great group of first responders and emergency managers along that Florida coast, but they can only do so much. So if people are listening, they need to move to higher parts of buildings, and don't stay in the first couple of floors, if you're along the coast. If you can see water from where you live and if it goes out to the coast, you need to move to a higher part of a building or evacuate, depending on what your local mayor is telling you, if you still can evacuate. If not, get to a higher part of a building.

COOPER: You know, in a storm like this, in the wake of a storm like this, and this applies to people all around the country who, you know, might one day face something like this, how long should people plan on kind of being on their own or taking care of themselves before help or services can get to them?

HONORE: Well, I think if you look at recent history, Anderson, Katrina, we were still rescuing people 4 1/2, 5 days after the storm, in the isolated areas, inside -- going inside of homes. So it's key that somebody know where you are. If you're going to take the risk to stay, let somebody know what building you're in, what address you're at, because that is going to be an issue afterwards, because the power goes out, the communications will go out, and then it will be very difficult for the first responders to come find you. But it could take to four to five days, if you have the level of flooding 40, 50 percent of these cities flood, which could happen from surge, then it's going to take a while for everybody to get to you, because Florida, being a coastal city, you can only approach it from one side. Unlike New Orleans, we could come from three different sides.

COOPER: That's why supplies -- water supplies are critical. There are some store models that actually show this storm basically looping around, making a second-round hit in Florida. I don't even know how you prepare for something like that with all the different models there are out there.

HONORE: Absolutely. So I think people need to stay aware and that this can happen. The idea of people taking their own doing their own safe risk assessment and say it's only a Category 3, we've lived through this before, that is not wise counsel, and if you have somebody you're responsible for, particularly kids or elderly people, the lights are going to go out. And if you visualize staying in your place with the lights out and surrounded by water, that is what could happen to you. So, please get to higher ground or evacuate.

COOPER: Well, General Honore, I appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

On that note, earlier in the program, we heard a local police chief talking about all the people who should be evacuating but have not. The window is still open, he says. That's true throughout the danger zone.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in West Palm Beach tonight. He joins us now. Conditions, how are they now, Nick?

[21:25:11] VALENCIA: Anderson, the storm just keeps getting worse and worse. I'm not sure if it translates -- heaviest rain that we've seen here so far. Our photographer, Michael Calloway, if you just want to pan up there to those palms you can see the winds. We expected these winds a lot earlier, Anderson, this tropical storm force type winds, and just in the last, let's say, 10 or so minutes, they really started to pick up significantly. That is a concern of course as the debris can come off of these trees. We've already seen one of these palm trees fall a little bit while ago, as this storm sort of picks up and the intensity happens.

Of course, responders and of course local officials really worried that that can break windows, damage buildings. Here we are outside of a hotel where a lot of people have decided -- local residents have decided to take shelter here, spend the night here. These are the smart ones, those who decided to evacuate, get out of those lower- lying areas, get out of those storm search flood zones, but people here are still concerned as this storm appears to intensify by the minute. Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah. Nick Valencia, I appreciate you being out there.

In a situation like this, obviously, our folks are going to try to stay on the air, as long as they can, all throughout the night. We have a lot of experience covering these kinds of storms. A lot of times you take the satellite truck, you try to find a 90-degree angle on a building so that if the winds pick up, it doesn't literally lift the satellite truck off the ground and flip it on its side. So we'll try to stay on the air, but we have as many correspondents and weather experts all throughout the region as we can to track the storm minute by minute.

We're going to have much more ahead on the storm this hour. Plus, we're going to dip into presidential politics and presidential candidates gearing up for the second debate on Sunday. Donald Trump coming off his performance in the first debate held a town hall tonight in New Hampshire. He says it wasn't a practice run. We'll get the latest on that, how it went.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:30:49] COOPER: Well, 72 hours from now, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be facing off in St. Louis for their second debate which is a town hall. Hillary Clinton known for her intensive debate prep, and this time team Clinton is expecting a better prepared Donald Trump, we're told. He just wrapped up an invitation-only town hall in Sandown, New Hampshire that looked awful lot like a practice run for Sunday's debate. Trump said it was not a practice run. The participants were hand pick by his campaign.

Here's what Trump said when he was asked if he held back his attacks on Clinton at the first debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah, I did hold back. I thought it was just inappropriate to say what I was really thinking I would say. And I held back. I think for good reasons. I think for good reason. I much rather have it be on policy. And I didn't like getting into the gutter.

But I had a problem with the mike. We had a guy inside the room oscillating my mike. It wasn't that the mike didn't work. And, you know, it's interesting, I went there a little bit before, and I said, boy, the mike is so great.

Unfortunately, when I went to talk, they turned the mike up and down. And you saw it, everybody in the room saw it. So we had a real problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: CNN Sara Murray joins me now from New Hampshire. Trump made a point of saying tonight it was not a dry run for the debate, also took a swipe at Hillary Clinton. What more did he say?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, even though this was a town hall style event, the kind of town hall that Donald Trump really didn't do during the primaries, like his Republican opponents were doing it. And even though there was a countdown clock that timed his answers to two minutes, Donald Trump was insisting that this was not a dry run, this was not debate prep for what was coming up on Sunday, and he couldn't help but getting yet another hit in against Hillary Clinton, who has spent quite an awful lot of time preparing for this debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We want to keep this small. And by the way, they were saying, this is practice for Sunday. This isn't practice. This has nothing to do with Sunday. We're just here because we just wanted to be here.

And, you know, Hillary, frankly, talk about debate prep. That's not debate prep. She's resting. She's resting. And I want to be with the American people. I want to be with the people from New Hampshire, and she wants to rest. Debate prep.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, in terms of style, tones tonight, was there anything new about how Donald Trump dealt with the audience in this sort of a format?

MURRAY: Well, Anderson, it was an interesting setting, because it was invitation only. The group was hand selected. And the questions weren't asked by people in the audience, but rather, they were asked by a conservative talk radio host, who was moderating this.

Now, part of the reason New Hampshire town halls turn candidates into such formidable candidates is because it draws out engaged voters. It draws out people who are undecided, who can ask really anything. That's not what we saw Donald Trump get tonight. He got a lot of pretty friendly questions, and he didn't dive too deeply into the details. So we heard a lot of the sort of the top, broad brush of his policy proposals, but not a lot of meat on the bones. Not really sort of the long, winding answers we're used to seeing from candidates through the sort of traditional New Hampshire style town halls. Anderson?

COOPER: Sara, thanks very much for the update. Sara Murray.

Joining me now is CNN senior political commentatora and former senior Obama advisor, David Axelrod. He also hosts "The Axe Files" podcast on cnn.com. You should check it out. Also CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger also joins us.

So David, when Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton isn't really doing debate prep that she's just off the trail because she needs rest and a few minutes later and says he wants to keep the debate focus on policy, not get personal, how do you reconcile that?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, first of all, I think it was pretty clear in the last debate that she was indeed doing debate prep because she was well prepared. And she is going through the regimen that you traditionally do. You prepare for weeks in advance and then you go into an intensive period before the debate where you do mock debates and so on.

I wonder whether his staff didn't put this on his schedule because they can't get him to prep and this was the closest thing he could do -- they could do to get him to prep. But, you know, if he goes into this debate as he did the last one and hasn't really rigorously prepped, I think the result could be about the same.

[21:34:59] COOPER: Gloria, it's hard to imagine though that he would not -- I mean, he says he won the last debate, he says he didn't take any of the bait that Hillary Clinton dangled in front of him. But hard to imagine though that he wouldn't kind of change something, no?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's what they were trying to do tonight was to get him accustomed to this kind of environment, because he hasn't done a lot of these town halls. And I don't think it worked, honestly, Anderson. I think that he gave these kind of rote answers, he wasn't allowed to make a lot of contact with the people in the audience. And he seemed to just keep saying, this isn't prep, this isn't prep and it wasn't. It wasn't prep, because his answers were very broad. He didn't give specific answers to some of the questions that were asked.

And then, by the way, were all softballs. How great are you? Was basically the tenor of the questions, so I presume those aren't the kinds of questions he's going to get on Sunday.

COOPER: It's interesting, David ...

AXELROD: But you would think on that ...

COOPER: Go ahead, David.

AXELROD: You would think on that question, Gloria, he could talk for some time but ...

BORGER: Yes.

AXELROD: I'm sorry, Anderson.

COOPER: It's interesting, David. I mean, y know, Donald Trump is saying, look, I want to talk about policy, I want to talk about policy specifics, but we don't hear a lot of it not really tonight in the small amount from that I heard. Do you believe that Trump can be anyone else other than his authentic self, which frankly, did very well for him in the primaries and he's gotten him this far.

AXELROD: No. And I think in this heart of hearts, I'm not sure that he believes that he should. I know people are telling him that. He hates being deemed a loser and he reacted very poorly to it. So, maybe that's an impetus. But look, as you pointed out, he's 70 years old, he's gotten as far as he's gotten by doing it his own way. And it's very hard to imagine that he's going to change in a dramatic way.

The one thing about this thing tonight, though, is that the thing about these town hall meetings is you have people standing in front of you who are real human beings and they represent other real human beings around the country, and voters do watch how you interact with these people. And if you don't interact with them in a real and in a genuine, appropriate way, I think it doesn't work for you.

I will amend something I have been saying. I have saying you can't be negative in a town hall meeting. And I think -- I still believe that if he wants to bring up infidelity and so on, that's not going to go well there. But I recall when I was working for the president, his second debate with Mitt Romney was a town hall debate.

The truth is they did have some very spirited exchanges over Benghazi and a number of other things, but both candidates were well prepped for those. They weren't such spontaneous moments. They were moments they were waiting to have. So, you know, I think that Donald Trump takes great risk if he goes barreling into this next one and does it as a kind of spontaneous exercise as he seemed to for much of the debate last week.

BORGER: You know, it's much more difficult in a way, and David, you would know this better than I do, too. In a town hall setting, take the turn to attacking the person standing next to you when you're getting a question from somebody in the audience. When somebody in the audience is saying, I have a problem and how are you going to solve my problem, you then have to think three steps ahead and say, here's how I'm going to solve your problem, but here's what's wrong with the way, for example, Hillary Clinton will solve your problem. It's a little bit more difficult ...

AXELROD: Yes, yes.

BORGER: ... I think.

AXELROD: No, you have to make that pivot, you're absolutely right. If people sense that you just blew off the question or ...

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: ... in order to get to your attack, it goes very badly. And again, this is why preparing for a town hall debate is almost more difficult and exacting than preparing for any other kind of debate.

COOPER: David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, thank you very much.

We're going to have a lot more to talk about on Sunday starting 4:00 Eastern Time when our CNN debate coverage gets underway from St. Louis. I'll be moderating the town hall along with ABC News's Martha Raddatz. She'll be joining us for that.

Just ahead tonight, more on hurricane preps up and down the Florida's Atlantic coast. Winds picking up as you can see in the Daytona Beach area. A late update as the deadly Category 4 storm gets closer.

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[21:43:14] COOPER: The winds are picking up along Florida's Atlantic coast as Hurricane Matthew gets closer. The storm has already taken nearly 300 lives in the Caribbean. Sara Snider is in Daytona Beach. She joins us now. How are things there, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just got through with another band. And this time it was the heaviest rain that we've seen. So definitely we're starting to get the effects coming on to shore. You'll notice the trees flowing and blowing back and forth behind me. Sometimes the wind changes direction.

One thing we can also tell you is that we've learned there's at least 500 Florida power and light folks who are going to be coming in here because they know and expect that about 2 million plus people will be without power at some point tonight. They want to be in place right here on the beach and ready to go to try to and get power back on as soon as possible.

We also have seen some people who are still here. They live here. There are some lights on that we saw in some condominiums. So, there are folks on the beach that have decided to stay, trying to weather this storm. A very dangerous decision. A decision that both the governor and the police chief said could be deadly and they will not be able to get help. And that's something they keep saying over and over and over again.

If you call 911, first of all, your phones might not work, and second of all, they're not going to send people out in the middle of a Category 4 hurricane. When it passes, they'll be on it. They'll be right on it. There's at least 200 officers full-time ready to go. The entire department ready to go, but they will only come out when it is safe for them to do so, Anderson.

COOPER: How sturdy are those homes on the beach?

SIDNER: Some of them had been around for a while. We were talking to the police chief about that.

[21:44:59] Some of these hotels, there are folks that wanted to come into the hotels, they feel safer here, but many of the hotels including the one where we were staying has said, no, everybody has to evacuate. So it's no joke. They can make that decision, the general managers of these hotels. And they have told people, no, you have to get out and get off of the beach.

But some of the places that we saw, some of them were older, and that means that they may not have really strong windows. These windows in some of the newer hotels can withstand about 150-mile-per-hour winds, but some of the older ones cannot. And that's going to be a real danger as debris starts spinning around, because there may also be tornadoes inside of the storm because it's such a monster.

So they really, again, are just telling people, don't do it. Don't stand there and watch this storm come in because if you're doing that, it is already too late, Anderson?

COOPER: Sara Sidner, be careful. Thank you.

On the phone with us now is Miami-Dade County mayor, Carlos Gimenez. Mr. Mayor, thanks for joining us. What are you seeing, what are you expecting in the hours ahead?

MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, we're seeing that the worst is behind us. We're really just looking at some squalls, maybe some of the feeder bands coming around the hurricane, on the backside of the hurricane. We expect to be starting our services, normalizing life here in Miami-Dade County as much as possible -- as early as possible tomorrow morning. So, some of our services like transit and et cetera going to start already.

So we expect, like I said, the worst is past us and we were lucky that we didn't get too much wind. We didn't get too much damage. And so we prepared for the worst, but for us, it's -- it wasn't a bad storm but I know that for our neighbors up north, it's going to be a very different story.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean, the forecast is updated, it certainly improved for the Miami-Dade area. In terms of the next 24 hours, I mean, you're still expecting rain, you're still expecting some wind?

GIMENEZ: Yeah, we are, but nothing that ...

COOPER: Nothing like ...

GIMENEZ: Yeah, nothing that will keep our services down. So we're going to, you know, transit is going to start again. We have closed a lot of our services, but tomorrow we're going to start them up again, and we should be back to business as normal here in Miami-Dade County no later than Saturday.

COOPER: Well, certainly good news for the folks there. Mayor Gimenez, thank you so much. Good news there. There are a little bit of good news tonight.

Just ahead, we're going to check in with Nick Valencia in West Palm Beach for an update on the situation there. We'll be right back.

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[21:51:21] COOPER: Hurricane Matthew is heading for Florida after leaving 283 dead in Haiti, according to Reuters. State local city officials throughout the Southeast coast are warning people that the storm could be very, very bad.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in West Palm Beach, he joins us again. Give us an update there, Nick.

VALENCIA: Hey, Anderson, you remember earlier this hour the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew were so strong, it knocked our satellite off the air. Right now, the rain has sort of let up a little bit and so has the wind. It's the pattern that it's followed all day long. Since 4:00 a.m. this morning, our team has been out here covering every element of the storm of Hurricane Matthew. We saw it intensify around 8:00 p.m., now it sort of slowed down. But that doesn't shed away the concern here with people.

We're outside of a hotel where a lot of people have decided to take cover, to take evacuation, local residents who have really listened to these state officials and local officials and tried to take cover, get out of the areas that are low-lying or areas that are in major flood zones.

The concern of course is as this wind continues to pick up throughout the early morning hours and the overnight hours, pieces of debris, things like this behind me. You see that piece of palm tree that fell down earlier. It looks like nothing just laying there but just imagine that whipping around 60, 70, 80 miles per hour, that can create some really damaging effects here on these buildings.

Two and a half miles away is Palm Beach that's really suffering the significant brunt of this damage. We were there earlier. It was a mandatory evacuation zone and we had to get out of there for the safety of our crew. Some people decided to stick it out, stick behind that is not what was advised by the Florida governor. He gave a very dire warning earlier today. And ominous saying we won't be able to help you. This storm will kill you, those words not ours. This is a storm according to all meteorologists that have been broadcasting about this that has been build up to all the significance and we're expecting that to really intensify throughout the early morning hours. Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah. Nick, I appreciate it. We'll continue check with you.

I want to go back to our CNN meteorologist, Tom Sater who's tracking Matthew from our weather center. In terms of where this thing is right now, but how many people do we know are in the path of the storm?

SATER: Well, right now, Anderson, under any watch or warning there's 26 million. Again, however, if you want to talk about like say power outages, there was a power outage forecast that was given yesterday for 7 million Americans to be in the dark by the end of the weekend. It's a forecast that comes from a few universities, University of Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M. They've upped that to 9.6 million in the dark.

Tens of thousands of trees are going to come down. They're going to be up rooted, they're going to be snapped. So with the power outages, those are going to have to be removed. Heavy machineries going to have to get in to repair not just the inlets and of course the dunes but buckled streets, those are going to be washed away, sinkholes, not to mention power crews coming in from every state from around the area. And building materials after thousands of homes maybe inundated with floodwaters will have to be gutted. So, I mean, we're talking lumber, drywall, roofing. This is just the beginning of what's going to happen here in the next couple of days.

COOPER: And can you explain for us again about this possibility that Matthew could actually come back and hit Florida a second time? I mean what's the actual likelihood of that?

SATER: Well, usually it's easier to forecast a track than it is the intensity. With this storm, it's been the opposite. When you look at the population here in the entire region, when -- this system may not affect Miami just yet, but, again, we've got to keep in mind here that even with the Cape Canaveral possible land fall around 6:00 a.m., I mean, that's $11 billion station there.

The system, if it does come around, again we're still working on a land fall tonight but the computer models are hinting at the fact that some hug the coast, some move inland, I think worst-case scenario and stays just offshore, that there's another hurricane, believe it or not, its name is Nicole. We haven't talked about it much, its 1,000 miles away. They could interact with each other. It's called a hemoproria (ph) effect, they kind of move around with the movement of the atmosphere.

[21:55:10] This is a typical pattern, Anderson. There are 18 models here. Fourteen of them want to carry the system back around and possibly affect Miami, that may miss it mainly on the first one. So, days ahead now, those who have already evacuated may not be able to return any time soon. This is going to be going on for a while.

COOPER: And just -- I mean, you mention Cape Canaveral, that's -- is that the best guess of where the eye might make land fall?

SATER: Yeah, there's several different models but mainly around maybe 6:00 a.m. Some of the models put it near Cape Canaveral which means from Cape Canaveral northward, the hours ahead of time with the pounding surf and the heavy rain and the winds will be compounded by then seeing the strongest eye winds make their way upward. So, it's going to be a frightening night, no doubt about it until tomorrow.

COOPER: Yeah, already is for an awful lot of folks.

SATER: Yeah.

COOPER: Tom Sater, I appreciate it. We'll be right back. More ahead.

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