Dorian grazes Georgia Coast. TRANSCRIPT: 9/5/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Jerry Jones; Barbara Res, Michael Crowley, Jared Higgs, Zerlina Maxwell, Kristen Soltis Anderson
Transcript:

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  I`m Steve

Kornacki in for Chris Matthews.

 

Hurricane Dorian is continuing its sweep up the northern seaboard tonight. 

After grazing Georgia, the storm is now bearing down along the Carolinas

with a possible landfall over the vulnerable outer banks of North Carolina

tomorrow.

 

In South Carolina, Dorian knocked out power for 250,000 residents.  Rising

floodwaters submerged streets in Charleston where the eye of the storm

passed within 45 miles offshore.

 

Meanwhile, tornado sightings have been reported across numerous counties

and experiencing the early effects of the hurricane`s outer bands.  Among

them Emerald Isle, North Carolina, it suffered extensive damage which local

officials say was inflicted by a tornado in advance of the storm.

 

Tonight, North Carolina is bracing for Dorian`s impact.  This is a time

lapse view from earlier today along the coast of Wilmington.  That city is

likely to experience hurricane conditions tonight.

 

All of this comes amid the shock and horror over the extent of the

devastation in the Northern Bahamas, where the death toll has now risen

officially to 23 people.  That is according to the Minister of Health

there.

 

And joining me now is NBC News Correspondent Jay Gray in Wilmington.  So,

Jay, we said the eye of that storm still off the coast but making its way

in your direction.  Set the scene.  What is it like on the ground there?

 

JAY GRAY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Steve, a tense waiting game continues

here in Wilmington.  Throughout the day, we`ve seen people boarding up,

getting sandbags in place where they can now.  For the most part, this city

is empty and people watching to see where Dorian may go next.

 

As you talked about, this is a storm that`s just been mirroring the coast

for quite some time, could make landfall in this area, perhaps a bit north. 

Either way, it will likely be close enough to leave us with winds gusting

over 100 miles an hour, a storm surge that could be seven feet or more and

then driving rains for hours here.  This is a city that floods even during

a rough thunderstorm.  Now, you`ve got the power of a Category 2 hurricane

behind all of this water moving in.  So it could be quite a mess here come

early morning tomorrow.

 

Look, we`ve got some problems as far as people waiting and watching this. 

When we started covering this story last week this time, this area wasn`t

even in the picture.  It was all about the islands.  It was all about

Florida.  Now, it`s a possible strike point.  We`ve seen people getting

ready or evacuating through the week.  They`re getting a bit of fatigue.

 

And there`s really been a strong message from officials, from first

responders here, show a little more patience.  This thing is coming, and

it`s going to cause some problems.  You`ve prepared.  Now, make sure you

take advantage of those preparations.

 

KORNACKI:  All right.  Jay Gray is in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Jay,

thank you for taking a few minutes.

 

And from where the storm is heading to where the storm has been, I want to

bring in NBC News Correspondent Kathy Park.  She is in Charleston, South

Carolina.  Kathy, we were looking at some of those images of flooding in

the downtown there.  What is it like now as the storm has passed through

your area?

 

KATHY PARK, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Steve, that`s right.  So we are on the

back side of Dorian.  So the wind gusts, the heavy rain showers, they have

all calmed down significantly.  It`s a big change from what we saw earlier

this morning.

 

Now, we had an opportunity to kind of drive around downtown Charleston. 

There is some damage on the ground.  We saw downed power lines, snapped

trees, some blocking roadways.  But residents here are breathing a sigh of

relief because they were anticipating even more damage.

 

Now, behind me is the Charleston Harbor.  Just a couple of hours ago, the

water level was significantly higher.  2:00 P.M., that was a critical hour

because folks in this area, they were bracing for high tide.  They were

also bracing for the potential for even more coastal flooding. 

Fortunately, that didn`t happen.  It looks like even at this hour, the

water level is slowly going down.

 

People here, we had a lot of opportunities to kind of go around, talk to

residents in downtown Charleston, and they said they live through a lot of

hurricanes.  They waited anxiously, prepared for days for this storm. 

Obviously, they are breathing a sigh of relief because conditions could

have been a lot worse here.  Steve?

 

KORNACKI:  Yes.  And, Kathy, just, again, as we continue to see some of

those pictures there, in terms of the cleanup, in terms of the aftermath,

you say not quite as bad as they were expecting.  But what`s that process

going to be like?

 

PARK:  Right.  So, you know, as I mentioned, prepare for hurricanes.  They

spent days cleaning out the drains.  People boarded up.  They put the

sandbags up on their doorsteps to kind of keep the water out.  We actually

saw some folks coming out of their homes.  They`re cleaning off the debris. 

They`re chopping up the trees.  This is kind of routine for them.

 

Every summer they kind of go through a scare, a hurricane scare.  They

obviously have to prepare because they just don`t know how the storm is

going to position itself.

 

But, yes, the cleanup is starting to begin.  Like I told you earlier, the

damage is not as significant.  I mean, people here, they were really

concerned about the water.  They were really concerned because this area is

called the low country for a reason.  Flooding is susceptible just because

of the geography of this area.  So they were bracing for significant amount

of rain, which we got.

 

But, you know, it kind of worked in their favor because of just the kind of

conditions, the way they were.  The water level wasn`t as high as

predicted.  Steve?

 

KORNACKI:  All right.  Kathy Park there in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Kathy, thank you for that.

 

And I`m joined now by NBC News Meteorologist Bill Karins who has been

tracking every movement of this storm.  Bill, we were saying at the top,

has passed by the area of Charleston.

 

BILL KARINS, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST:  Yes.

 

KORNACKI:  Just passed Myrtle Beach.  Take us to what –

 

KARINS:  Minor damage in both of those places, that they can clean up. 

They`ve got power outages, 200,000, a quarter million people.  It`s kind of

a similar situation to Florida.  And now, we`re waiting for actually the

hurricane winds to move onshore.

 

So here is the Wilmington area right here.  This is obviously the eye,

still very well defined, still a strong Category 2, and you can see these

northern bands.  If you get into these northern bands, that`s when the

damage is going to happen.  That`s when the power outages will start to

occur, the tree limbs begin coming down you.  You get the arcs on the power

lines there, and the transformers.

 

And these bands now coming into Oak Island and Little River here in Myrtle

Beach, these are 50, 60-mile-per-hour winds.  That doesn`t do too much

damage.  Once you get out here, this northern eye is what we need to avoid. 

That`s where we could see the winds kicking up to 80, maybe even 100-mile-

per-hour wind gusts.

 

And that`s going brush coast here, the Wrightsville Beach up to Wilmington,

as we go 8:00 to 9:00 this evening.  That`s the concern.  And then we`ll

watch it tonight going up the North Carolina coastline and heading up to

the Morehead City area, Atlantic Beach.

 

So we`re not done yet.  We haven`t had.  Ever since the storm left the

Bahamas, we haven`t had hurricane conditions anywhere yet.  This will be

the first time tonight that that returns.  So that`s going to be the big

concern, Steve.

 

And when we wake up tomorrow morning, the storm will be over the outer

banks and we`ll be able to assess and just how bad it was this evening.

 

KORNACKI:  Yes.  And, Bill, when we talk the idea of the storm maybe making

landfall, what is the difference between it actually hitting the land,

actually making landfall versus being off the coast 30, 40 miles?

 

KARINS:  Two things.  One of them is that the strongest winds are usually

on the north or the northeast quadrant of the storm.  That`s the part you

want to avoid.  That`s usually where we have the maximum sustained winds

are usually measured in that region.  So if this northeast quadrant can

stay offshore, that will usually will mean some weaker winds.  But these

are pretty good thunderstorms on the back side.

 

The other thing that it means is that if we don`t – if we have a parallel

the coast, we don`t get that water piling up, so we don`t get the high

storm surge.  It`s much worse if you have a storm approaching a coastline,

like when we get them in the gulf, like Katrina did, and approached due

south and a hit like a tee.  And that pushed all the water and the water

had nowhere to go.

 

Here, the water hits the coastal areas as it`s moving along.  And then the

backside winds push it down back along the ocean.  So it doesn`t allow the

water to accumulate.  So it makes a big difference, the angle of approach. 

This angle of approach will bring high winds, but it shouldn`t bring the

peak winds unless we get that northeast quadrant over the outer banks. 

That`s possible around Cape Hatteras and maybe down toward some areas of

Carteret County.

 

So that`s the big difference.  That`s why we didn`t have those 100-mile-

per-hour wind gusts this afternoon in Charleston or Myrtle Beach, and we

haven`t had them yet appear towards Little River or even in Georgetown.

 

So that`s what we`re going to be watching, Steve, is how much of the core,

the damaging part of the storm moves over Eastern North Carolina tonight.

 

KORNACKI:  Okay.  Thank you, Bill Karins.  I appreciate all the

information.

 

And NBC`s Simone Boyce is in Myrtle Beach.  So, Simone, you are the

closest.  We mentioned the eye of that storm passing just north of where

you are.  But you were the closest of our correspondents to where this

storm actually is right now.  Set the scene for us.

 

SIMONE BOYCE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  So, Steve, it has been just unrelenting

rain and wind all day today, starting actually late last night.  And I can

almost say that it feels as though the storm might be a little bit north of

us right now just because the rain has let up just slightly.

 

But as you can see through our camera lens, it is still coming down out

here, and we are still feeling the wind.  And that`s the thing.  Even as

this storm continues to move north, city officials are asking residents

here in Myrtle Beach to remain vigilant.  They have issued a curfew here

for nearby areas.  As of just a few minutes ago, asking residents to stay

off the roads because there is a potential still for flooding and storm

surge, especially flash flooding.

 

Another concern that we have actually witnessed firsthand here today

throughout this whole ordeal is the threat of isolated tornadoes.  Those

started early this morning.  We woke up to an alert at about 4:00 in the

morning saying that there was a tornado warning and a potential waterspout

nearby.  Thankfully, I think the threat, the immediate threat from those

tornadoes may have subsided, but the damage is still here.

 

Have I been traveling up and down Florida following this storm, and I can

tell you that the damage I`ve seen here just in South Carolina over the

past 24 hours is already worse than anything I saw in Florida, Steve.

 

KORNACKI:  Okay.  Simone Boyce there in Myrtle Beach, again, close to where

the eye of that storm, it`s off the coast there, but in her vicinity. 

Simone, thank you for that.

 

Joining me now by phone, Jerry Jones, he is the mayor of Morehead City,

North Carolina.  Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us.

 

You`re certainly familiar with the reports we`re familiar with.  There is a

possibility this storm could make landfall where you are.  Are you prepared

for that?

 

MAYOR JERRY JONES, MOREHEAD CITY, NORTH CAROLINA:  I don`t know if you`re

ever prepared.  But as I describe hurricanes, it`s always a work in

progress.  You do the best you can this year.  But as we know, hurricanes

are unpredictable.  So the next hurricane brings new challenges.  But we

are prepared.

 

Right now, the model shows the eye, it does not over Cape Lookout, which is

in Carter County about eight miles from Morehead City.  It will be pretty

close.  But right now we`re just getting tropical-force winds.  I`m looking

in my backyard.  I`ve got some tree limbs down and stuff.

 

In Morehead city, we`re under curfew, but it`s kind of hurry up and wait

for it to get here.

 

KORNACKI:  When you say you feel you are as prepared as you can be, what

does that mean?  What goes into that?

 

JONES:  Well, it`s communication.  And I`ll hats off to all the media, CNN,

you, and everybody, just create an awareness for people to let them know

that, hey, this isn`t fun and games.  This is serious.  And this could be

life-threatening, and you need to be prepared.

 

And so we have had evacuation orders in process for a couple of days, and

people have heeded that and left town, and others have stayed here and

boarded up.  And they`ve got their provisions in the house and their

generator is gassed up, and they`re inside just waiting to see what

happens.

 

KORNACKI:  And I don`t know if you heard our reporter in Charleston, where

the storm was a while back now said that there is damage there, but

officials were fearing even worse.  Are you encouraged at all by some of

the reports you`re getting from where this storm has been on the eastern

seaboard?

 

JONES:  Yes.  I actually enjoyed listening to the reporters for a few

minutes before I was interviewed.  It sounds encouraging.  But that doesn`t

mean you let your guard down by any means.  Hurricanes are unpredictable. 

And just a slight wobble to the west, which will bring the eye more closer

to us can make all the difference.

 

KORNACKI:  Okay.  Mayor Jerry Jones from Morehead City, North Carolina,

again, the storm we are tracking is going to be very close to you, maybe

exactly where you are.  We wish you the best of luck.  Hope you and your

community remain very safe over the next 24 hours or so.  Thank you for

joining us.

 

JONES:  Thank you.

 

KORNACKI:  All right.

 

And later, we will get an update on the devastation in the Bahamas. 

Search-and-rescue efforts are continuing there tonight.  Again, the death

toll has reached 23 there, officially.  MSNBC will continue to update you

on the hurricane in the hours and days ahead.

 

And coming up, President Trump heads into the autumn with no clear policy

agenda.  Instead, he is spending a lot of his time attacking his critics

and defending his mistaken claim about the hurricane threatening Alabama.

 

Plus, the rise of Elizabeth Warren.  The Massachusetts senator is getting

big crowds and trying to lead the policy debate.  President Trump has taken

notice and reportedly now sees her as a serious threat to his re-election.

 

We`ve got much more to get to.  Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  It`s what we`ve done no other administration

in the first two and a half years in history has done.

 

We`ve done more together in he first two years than any administration in

the history of our country.

 

I think I`ve been the most successful president in the first two years of

office.  I mean, it`s been a tremendous administration.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

KORNACKI:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

President Trump has often claimed that he`s having the most successful

presidency of all time but he has had trouble delivering on key campaign

promises with almost half of them being blocked or dropped, according to

PolitiFact.  And as Michael Crowley writes in The New York Times, quote,

President Trump heads into the closing months of the year without a clear

policy agenda in an uphill path to achieving any major new accomplishments

before he faces voters.

 

That follows a summer with few highlights.  He canceled the trip to Denmark

because they wouldn`t discuss selling Greenland.  He spent an extensive

amount of time on Twitter attacking perceived enemies, using words like

disgusting, crooked, nasty, pathetic, psycho and lunatics.  And today, he

kept up the attacks.  He called actress Debra Messing the mess and accused

her of McCarthyism after she called for a full disclosure of Trump`s

financial supporters.

 

Barbara Res, former executive vice president at Trump Organization told the

L.A. Times that he seems to be working less than when they work together. 

Adding, quote, it looks like he is not even trying but he thinks he is

trying.  To him, all the watching T.V. and tweeting is work so he believes

he is on the clock 24/7, 365.

 

And Barbara Res joins me now along with Michael Crowley, The New York Times

White House Correspondent and his reporting I just mentioned, and Shannon

Pettypiece, NBC News Senior Digital White House Reporter.  Thanks to

everybody for being with us.

 

Barbara, let me start with you.  This fixation on the trajectory of the

hurricane, the map, Alabama, do you have a sense just seeing him up close

through the years?  Have you seen a tendency in him?  Have you seen

anything in his behavior that would explain why that matters so much to

him?

 

BARBARA RES, FORMER TRUMP ORGANIZATION EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT:  I`m

trying to figure this out, because, generally, when he does something like

that tells a lie.  And I think he knew it was lie when he tells it.  He has

reason.  It`s going to help him with something or he is going to get back

at someone.  I don`t see either at play here, and yet he is so insistent.

 

And the only time I`ve ever really seen him like that was when his wealth

was challenged.  He`s even sued people when they charged him on false

reports of wealth.

 

KORNACKI:  What about this idea that this is somebody who just can`t admit

or won`t admit that he is wrong?  He made a statement, it got perceived in

a certain way, then he comes back to it because he feels it was perceived

the wrong way, and he makes all of these claims that are now being

challenged, you know, by all sorts of fact-checkers. 

 

In your experience, did you ever hear him admit he was wrong, ever say he

was wrong about something? 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

RES:  Personally, he did, actually, maybe the only time in his life.

 

But he doesn`t admit to being wrong.  He will just back off, or he will

just insist on what he wants, which is wrong, knowing that you will do the

right thing. 

 

KORNACKI:  Yes. 

 

Michael Crowley, we were referring to some of your reporting there.  Just

in terms of where the president goes from here, if and when he decides to

drop this matter of Alabama, Congress is coming back in a week. 

 

Is there a sense that anything can be achieved here legislatively, that he

will have any more accomplishments by the end of the year that he can take

to the voters in 2020? 

 

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  I think there is a sense that it`s

possible, but not likely.  And it depends on some things.  A lot of them

involve Trump.  Some of them involve the Democrats. 

 

One question is just how much does Trump want to get serious, go after

getting some wins in Congress, work members of Congress, try to cooperate

with Democrats?  You know, he has been talking about doing an

infrastructure plan. 

 

It`s, of course, become kind of a running joke in Washington for a couple

of years.  But he canceled a key meeting he was going to have with Nancy

Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in May because he was upset about Democratic

investigations. 

 

Is he willing to kind of start that conversation with Democrats again? 

There is this revised version of NAFTA that Congress could ratify, the

USMCA trade agreement.  His people are actually working that on the Hill.

 

That is somewhat up to Nancy Pelosi.  But some other big things really are

up to him.  What`s he going to do on gun control?  Does he want to have gun

control legislation? Is he willing to possibly offend the NRA?  Do we even

know where he stands on something like background checks?  I don`t think he

has made up his mind. 

 

One other final key example I will mention, Steve, is health care. 

President Trump has been talking about unveiling a big sweeping health care

plan.  He told ABC News in mid-June he would be rolling it out in two

months or maybe less.  Now we`re on the two-and-a-half months, and there is

no sign of it.  So, is that going to happen? 

 

So, really, a lot of question marks.  But when you look at the hostility

with Democrats, Trump doesn`t want to seem to work with them.  And,

frankly, a lot of them, I think, are wary of giving him any victories he

can brag about on the campaign trail, let`s be honest. 

 

The odds are not great. 

 

KORNACKI:  And, Shannon, I`m curious what is happening behind the scenes

there at the White House in terms of, is the president engaged?  Is he

involved?  How engaged, how involved is he just in terms of trying to come

up with a legislative strategy, a political strategy, with his aides, with

the folks in the White House?

 

I`m asking because we have that quote we read there from Barbara, who knows

Donald Trump well.  She says, he feels watching cable news, tweeting is

part of work. 

 

But when you get beyond the watching cable news, reacting to it, and

tweeting about Debra Messing, how much is he engaged there behind the

scenes with a team trying to come up with some kind of a strategy? 

 

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC DIGITAL SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Well, I do

agree with Barbara that the tweeting and the watching TV, I think he does

view that as work. 

 

I think the watching TV is analyzing the coverage, analyzing what people

are saying about him, the mood of the country.  I think the tweeting is

about messaging.  It`s about showing he is strong, communicating with his

base. 

 

I think whether – we can argue whether any of this is effective or not,

but I definitely think that that is work to him.  As far as stuff going on

behind the scenes, I actually think there is a lot going on behind the

scenes right now in the White House.

 

Particularly, I guess, on the front burner right now is China.  That is

really a number one priority in the White House is getting a China deal

done.  There`s indications that talks will continue next month. 

 

The campaign people feel, if they can get a good strong deal with China

done, that is really going to help him in the election.  That`s something

that resonates well with those working-class voters in the Rust Belt. 

 

And then, on guns, there are very active conversations going on right now

between staffers, between members on the Hill.  The president is being

briefed on them about potential gun legislation. 

 

The issue is trying to figure out what could actually get past the Senate

before the president gets behind something.  I know, I mean, the White

House would like to do something on guns.  They know that would be

appealing to voters like suburban women, for example. 

 

But they want to get behind something that can actually pass.  They don`t

want a big glaring failure.  So, part of the conversations going on right

now is trying to find a bipartisan group in the Senate and figure out what

they can agree on, whether it`s background checks, red flag laws, straw man

purchasing or other legislation, and how to move forward on that. 

 

And on the foreign front, too, you still have North Korea.  You have Iran. 

He has talked about foreign trips to Germany, possibly another one to

Poland.  So, I think there is a lot going on behind the scenes.  And it`s

certainly going to be a very busy year for me just covering the White

House, let alone trying to cover a campaign too. 

 

So, I don`t think the business of the White House is going to completely

shut down, at least not through the rest of the year and early 2020. 

 

KORNACKI:  All right. 

 

Well, President Trump, as you probably remember, was elected on that

promise that he would build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, we will build the

wall.  Guys, don`t worry about it.  It will be a great wall.  It will be a

real wall, folks. 

 

I promise we`re building the wall, and Mexico will pay for the wall. 

 

Mexico will pay for the wall.  And I think they will end up actually being

very happy to do so. 

 

The wall just got 10 feet higher. 

 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

 

TRUMP:  We love it.  We are going to build the wall.  It will be a real

wall, a real wall. 

 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

 

TRUMP:  Who is going to pay for the wall? 

 

AUDIENCE:  Mexico!

 

TRUMP:  Who? 

 

AUDIENCE:  Mexico!

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

KORNACKI:  On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the

diversion of $3.6 billion from military construction projects in order to

build part of that wall. 

 

The money will come from 127 projects that were planned in 23 states and

around the world.  They include $400 million from a National Guard training

facility in Puerto Rico and $17 million from the Tyndall Air Force Base in

Florida, which suffered catastrophic damage during Hurricane Michael. 

 

Michael, obviously, this was – this was the central promise of Trump`s

2016 campaign.  It has not progressed the way he talked about it on the

campaign trail.  What is the sense in the White House?  How nervous, how

much anxiety is there, nervousness? 

 

Is there anxiety in the White House about going to the voters in 2020 and

specifically not having to show for this issue what was promised in `16?

 

CROWLEY:  Well, I think that, you know, people around Trump realize that

this is a problem. 

 

But I think their answer to it is going to be to run, you know, kind of a

classic play that we have seen from other presidents.  Just basically

attack the opposition party in Congress and blame them and say, I couldn`t

do this because the Democrats wouldn`t let me, so reelect me and give me a

friendly Congress, and maybe we can get it done. 

 

Now, the question is whether his voters are going to accept that for an

answer.  A lot of particularly lower-information voters who don`t follow

Washington too closely overestimate the power of a president.  They hear a

promise like that, and they think a president can deliver it. 

 

And they`re not really very interested in hearing about the legislative

logjams that prevented it.  So that is going to be a key question going

into this election.  How accountable will the president be held for some of

his most grandiose claims?

 

And that one probably tops the list. 

 

KORNACKI:  Barbara, I wonder how Trump himself approaches this kind of a

promise and the follow-through. 

 

In the business world, obviously, he was a very public business figure.  We

all heard him, just as consumers, make big, bold promises about various

business ventures.  When he would do that, what was it like with him in

terms of how committed was he to the follow-through?  How did he generally

approach that? 

 

RES:  You know, there are different kinds of promises. 

 

I mean, some things, he knew we could deliver, and he promised them, and,

yes, he tried to deliver them. 

 

With the wall, I don`t think he ever thought he could do it.  It`s not

planned out.  They can`t build it right now.  It would take years to plan

it out.  There is so much involved in it. 

 

So maybe he – yes, he didn`t really think it was going to happen, but I

think yet he got away with it.  And he did, didn`t he, so far.  So, I think

it`s more that he thought that that would be beneficial to his campaign,

and he ran with it. 

 

KORNACKI:  The question is, what will it do and what role will it play in

2020?

 

Barbara Res, Michael Crowley, Shannon Pettypiece, thank you all for being

with us. 

 

And up next: the battle for the swing voter.  I`m going to head over to the

Big Board to look at the issues that pollsters say could take swing voters

and move them to the Democratic column, and the one issue they found where

maybe it will keep them with Donald Trump. 

 

Big Board next. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

KORNACKI:  All right, well, every election, we`re trying to figure out,

who`s going to win, who`s going to lose?

 

What is the group of voters we are always talking about?  We`re talking

about swing voters.  How are the swing voters going to break?  Are they

going to break for Trump in 2020 and get him reelected?  Are they going to

break for his Democratic challenger and make Donald Trump a one-term

president? 

 

We`re always talking about swing voters.  And now an interesting way of

looking at swing voters, looking at who they are, how many of them there

are, and what issues are going to potentially animate them in 2020. 

 

This is from – this is the Kaiser Family Foundation and our friends at The

Cook Political Report got together and put a very interesting survey

together. 

 

First of all, this question of, how many swing voters are there?  How many

folks are there who right now are not sure they`re going to vote for Trump

or for the Democrat or against Trump or against the Democrat?  How many of

them are there? 

 

So, this is how they broke down the electorate.  Check this out.  I think

it`s very interesting.  First of all, are you definitely going to vote for

Donald Trump?  Will you definitely vote to reelect Trump in 2020?  Twenty-

nine percent in this survey, 29 percent say they are definitely voting for

Trump.  We would not call those swing voters.  Right?

 

Now, who might potentially be a swing voter?  Folks who say, I will

probably vote for Trump, but I`m not sure.  It`s not definite.  My mind

could be changed.  Some of them say they might actually be willing to vote

for a Democrat.  Some say they might vote for a third party.  Some say they

might not vote. 

 

But there`s another 9 percent who say they will probably vote for Trump,

but they`re not sure. 

 

OK, now, what about the other side?  How about the Democrats?  Definitely

vote for the Democratic candidate against Donald Trump, there is 34 percent

who say they`re definitely going to vote for the Democrat.  So, already,

you see that, based on this poll, a little more built-in support for the

Democrat than there is for Trump. 

 

And how about that, the probably vote for?  Not sure they`re going to do

it.  They`re inclined to do it.  But you don`t put them down as definites. 

There is 13 percent here.

 

So, interesting, if you add up the probablies and the definitelies,

Democrats in this poll 47-38 over Trump.  And you think of all those head-

to-head matchup polls we have been seeing, Trump has been stuck high 30s,

low 40s. 

 

So, then the question is, OK, if these are potentially maybe swing voters,

these are potentially maybe swing voters, and all the folks who answer this

and say, they already are swing voters, they`re just not sure who they`re

going to vote for, that`s your giant pool of swing voters.

 

It`s almost a third of voters.  Almost a third of all voters, they say, are

swing voters. 

 

So what issues do they view as differentiating the two parties, Trump and

the Democrats?  This is interesting.  Check this out. 

 

A couple of clear advantages for Democrats.  The issue of climate change,

those swing voters, 59 percent of them who say they prefer the Democrats to

Donald Trump on climate change. 

 

How about the issue of health care?  Again, pretty wide margin here, 50

percent for the Democrat, whoever that would be, 32 percent for Trump. 

 

Then the issue of immigration is a little narrower, but, again, you see an

advantage here potentially for Democrats, 49-40.  These are issues, not

surprisingly, you already hear Democrats talk a lot about.  These are

issues where swing voters, according to poll, tend to prefer Democrats to

the president. 

 

But there is one issue in this poll where the president has a clear

advantage over the Democrats.  It is the issue of the economy.  We have

been talking so much about this, Trump with the advantage there.  All that

talk about, can Donald Trump harness the economy to get himself reelected? 

 

You look at this, that is his clearest issue-based path at least with swing

voters. 

 

Some interesting data there from the Kaiser Foundation and from the Cook

Report. 

 

Still ahead, we will get an update on Hurricane Dorian`s progress, talk to

a reporter in the Bahamas about the rescue and recovery effort there. 

 

Stay with us.  You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

KORNACKI:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

The Carolina coast is taking a pounding from Hurricane Dorian, with heavy

winds, rain, and flooding.  Right now, the storm is off the coast of South

Carolina.  It is bringing winds up to 110 miles per hour, storm surges up

to seven feet. 

 

Hundreds of thousands of people are now without power. 

 

NBC correspondent Simone Boyce is in Myrtle Beach. 

 

Simone, we were talking to you a few minutes ago.  Again, you are

relatively close to where the eye of that storm is.  You were telling us

about some of the conditions. 

 

In terms of what`s to come once this storm passes and things settle down,

what are they expecting the biggest challenges are going to be in the

Myrtle Beach area? 

 

SIMONE BOYCE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Steve, this is an area that

has experienced significant flooding in past storms like Hurricane Florence

and Hurricane Matthew, and some of the areas that experienced some flash

flooding over the past 24 hours are filled with residents that are still

recovering from those two storms. 

 

So, those are some particularly that experienced some flash flooding over

the past 24 hours are filled with residents that are still recovering from

those two storms.  So those are some particularly sensitive areas here that

officials are going to be catering to in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. 

 

Now another thing I want to mention is the damage from the tornadoes here. 

There were tornado warnings early this morning and tornado watches in place

for most of today.  Some of those tornadoes actually ripped the roofs off

of homes.  People were forced to evacuate from apartment complexes that no

longer had roofs over their head. 

 

And several trees have been overturned as a result of those winds.  Now,

thankfully, the threat from those winds has subsided for now.  But those

are some of the things that officials are going to be have to monitor over

the next few days, as well as downed power lines.  That of course

electrocution is a major threat after storms like this – Steve. 

 

KORNACKI:  All right.  Simone Boyce, stay safe there in Myrtle Beach.  I

appreciate you taking a few minutes with us. 

 

Turning to the Bahamas, that is where a massive relief effort is just

getting started.  Rescue workers are making their way to the most

devastated areas of the islands.  The death toll now is 23, according to

the minister of health.  That number sadly is expected to rise. 

 

Joining me by phone is Jared Higgs who is a reporter with the “Nassau

Guardian”.

 

Jared, thank you for joining us. 

 

The devastation we`re describing, we`re seeing some aerial pictures of, you

have seen firsthand.  Just describe if you would some of the scenes you`ve

witnessed here. 

 

JARED HIGGS, NASSAU GUARDIAN REPORTER (via telephone):  I mean, it is

absolutely devastating in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.  People are quickly losing

hope.  The desperation, it`s just so clear wherever you go to the

government, the government clinic, where everybody is hanging out. 

Hundreds of people outside. 

 

Whenever you go to another government facility, that many people are using

as a shelter, I can`t even describe it.  It`s like a favela.  This is our

office where the office of the prime minister is actually housed.  And so,

now, like I say, it`s a makeshift shelter. 

 

KORNACKI:  In terms of the worst hit, the hardest hit areas, just getting

help in there, just getting aid in there, how successful have officials

been with that? 

 

HIGGS:  I must say, the U.S. Coast Guard has been absolutely vital.  They

are landing their helicopters in the heart of Marsh Harbour, which is, like

I say, the hardest hit area by this storm.  And when I say that, I mean you

have the government clinic on one side and the U.S. Coast Guard is landing

their helicopters 200 yards away.  So they`re at the heart of this. 

 

Of course, the Marsh Harbour International Airport, that has been limited

in terms of its use.  And so, today, they actually had evacuation lights

coming in and out.  They were getting out women, children, people who were

injured, and elderly.  They`re of course hoping to open the government

fully so they can get more people out of there.  The whole place really

needs to be evacuated.  There is so much destruction, absolutely leveled. 

 

I explained to many people that as a result of the storm, I noticed you

mention there the death toll of 23.  As a matter of fact, just within ten

minutes of being in Marsh Harbour, I was guided by a resident, by someone

who lives in one of the migrant village there`s to three more dead bodies. 

Our officials have a lot of work to do. 

 

KORNACKI:  And I don`t know if you`ve had a chance here.  You`re moving so

quickly here in terms of dealing with this tragedy, but to process it.  You

are from the Bahamas.  This is your home. 

 

What has it been like to see the place you lived, the place you`ve grown up

in this state? 

 

HIGGS:  This is something that we never, ever, ever expected.  You know,

we`re from the Bahamas.  And so we know that we get hurricanes.  But, you

know, we feel I think we have this strong building code, and that`s going

to save us. 

 

But in this case, that didn`t do much for us.  I mean, it`s absolutely

heartbreaking.  I could never have imagined. 

 

I know that before the prime minister first officially announced that there

were confirmed deaths, I was hoping with everything in my that there would

not be deaths.  And of course that`s not the case.  I don`t know where the

death toll is going to be.  I have kind of come to grips with the fact that

there are deaths now, and lots of them. 

 

KORNACKI:  It`s just a horrible situation there. 

 

Jared Higgs, thank you for everything you`re doing with the rescue recovery

efforts, and good luck.  Best wishes to you and to your family there. 

 

HIGGS:  Thank you. 

 

KORNACKI:  Up next, the summer of Warren.  Elizabeth Warren has emerged as

a very serious contender for the Democratic nomination.  How and why is her

message resonating?  And is it potentially unsettling the Trump campaign as

well? 

 

That`s next on HARDBALL.  Back after this. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

KORNACKI:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Perhaps the biggest development in the Democratic presidential race this

summer has been the steady rise of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. 

According to the “Real Clear Politics” average of poll, since Memorial Day,

Warren has gained around 7 percent nationally.  That has lifted her to

second place behind former Vice President Joe Biden. 

 

Meanwhile, a Monmouth University poll in the critical early state of Iowa

last month showed Warren in second place there as well, 19 percent for her. 

That is up from just 7 percent support that Warren had back in April.  In

other words, she jumped 12 points basically over the summer in Iowa,

according to “The Daily Beast”. 

 

President Trump has taken notice of this.  Quote: The president has

specifically highlighted what he views as her surprising political and

populist talents during the Democratic primary, and has told multiple

advisers and associates that he hears she could be tougher in a general

election than many initially expected. 

 

For more, I`m joined by Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of Progressive

Programming for Sirius XM, and Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican pollster

and “Washington Examiner” columnist. 

 

Thanks to both of you for being with us.

 

Zerlina, we have a newsletter here from NBC News.  Our politics team every

morning, “The First Read” newsletter, they were talking about potential

parallels between Warren, and here is a blast from the past, Howard Dean. 

 

ZERLINA MAXWELL, SIRIUS XM SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING: 

Yes. 

 

KORNACKI:  Summer of 2003, the summer of Dean.  He was doing rallies across

the country, 10,000 people, 15,000 people, surged to the lead.  And, of

course, we know how that ended. 

 

Are there parallels there you`re seeing, or is there more staying power

here? 

 

MAXWELL:  I don`t see the parallels because of the substance she is putting

together with the vision.  And it`s not just that she`s exciting the base

of the Democratic Party and many progressives with essentially having the

more bold vision like a Bernie Sanders, but coupling that with a specific

policy proposals that you can look at and say, not just where Elizabeth

Warren wants to go, but how we`re going get there. 

 

And I think that`s something that voters really – it resonates with

voters, because they can say well I know what she`s going to do as

president.  It`s not necessarily a black box where you say, well, she has

all of these policies that seem radical, and I don`t know what that will

look like.  She is laying out a vision. 

 

I also think that she has this ability to speak in a way that doesn`t sound

like a politician.  I don`t know if that`s because she was an educator and

a professor, and she is really adept at being able to explain difficult

policy nuance in a way regular Americans can understand.  And that`s

something I think can gain traction.  Because when you have somebody who is

really a compelling speaker, I think she actually gets hit a bit because

there is something about women on television.  It doesn`t translate in the

same way with men. 

 

And I think that on the stump, she is one of the most charismatic

candidates.  And I think that the more that people see her.  She is doing

town hall after town hall.  She is going into those Trump counties.  People

are really connecting with that message and I think the specifics of that

message. 

 

KORNACKI:  So, we`ll see if her numbers continue to rise.  Kristen Soltis

Anderson, that piece of reporting there that is potentially Warren and this

rise she`s had in the polls has caught the attention of the president.  I

think there is a school of thought if you`re an incumbent president, your

approval ratings is in the 40s, you should be nervous about any potential

challenger because you have some clear vulnerabilities there. 

 

But I think relative to all the other Democratic candidates, how worried

should Trump and Republicans be about Warren?  And I ask that because we

had another one this week, this Wisconsin poll this week.  Warren was tied

with Trump.  Biden was nine points ahead.  We`ve seen that sort of

disconnect a bunch of times. 

 

So, how worried should Republicans be about Warren? 

 

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER:  What I think should cause

Republicans the most concern about Warren is that she takes the economic

populist fight, which is a big piece of how Donald Trump was able to put

together his unorthodox coalition, and she matches it with rhetoric that is

a little bit less out there than what you might hear from a Bernie Sanders. 

Bernie Sanders embraces the term socialism and tries to rehabilitate it,

while Elizabeth Warren tries to claim the mantle of being a capitalist, but

just someone who wants to see capitalism deliver in a different way. 

 

She talks about big structure reform, where Bernie Sanders talks about

revolution.  So, she takes a policy agenda that is frankly just as

progressive, just as sort of to the left as Bernie Sanders, but she tries

to match it with rhetoric that might be a little bit more palatable to

those voters who are either closer to the center or were part of that

economic populist coalition that Trump put together last time around. 

 

KORNACKI:  Well, Warren`s rise comes after her campaign initially got off

to a rocky start.  It was last October that she released the results of the

DNA test, indicating strong evidence she said of Native American heritage

in an effort to blunt the president`s derogatory Pocahontas slur. 

 

Then in February this year, Warren apologized to the Cherokee Nation for

how she handled the situation.  According to “The Daily Beast”, GOP

operatives had a field day and figured they`d feast off that misstep for

some time.  The report adds that now, quote, with few punches landing, the

worry is Trump may have already taken his best shot and that Warren will

end up looking increasingly formidable for having bounced back. 

 

So, Zerlina, what do you make of that?  There`s – on the one hand, there`s

for Elizabeth Warren, a potentially triumph narrative.  She went through

the worse of it late last year.  She`s been rising since. 

 

Is there a flip side potentially where if she gets the nomination, this

comes back against Trump in a general election where the dynamics are just

different? 

 

MAXWELL:  Well, it depends who you`re thinking will care about that kind of

issue, Steve.  I think that the folks that could use that as fodder,

they`ll continue to do that.  Donald Trump is not going to stop calling her

Pocahontas, even though that in itself is racist and much more offensive

than anything dealing with a DNA test. 

 

So, I would say that, you know, in this particular moment, she has shown

that she has tough skin.  She can survive that onslaught of the Trump

attack, the nicknames, that even the Republican candidates in 2016 couldn`t

stand up against.  So, she has shown that she can weather that storm. 

 

What I think is most interesting about her campaign in this moment is that

I think we forget when we talk about 2016 that we have not elected a woman

yet.  We still have not done that.  And so we are distracted every day by

Donald Trump and his antics.  And the fact still remains that we have not

elected a woman in the history of the United States of America. 

 

And so, whatever Elizabeth Warren does in this particular primary and in a

general election will be unprecedented in the sense that if she is

successful, she will be the first.  And that will still be a hard thing to

do, but she has shown that she can weather that storm, the nicknames and

the name-calling, and she`s shown that she has that resilience that I think

will warrant voters to take a second and third look at her.

 

And it shows that she can be elected, right?  That electability chemical

weapon can be answered if she`s able to weather these storms through this

campaign and still seem viable come general election time. 

 

KORNACKI:  Well, so, let me – Kristen, let me ask you quickly, what do you

make of that?  If Warren has weathered it with Democratic primary voters,

we will see, does it play – we`re just talking about those swing voters in

the last segment.  Does it play differently potentially, Trump going after

her like that with swing voters? 

 

ANDERSON:  I think it`s way too soon to tell how this will affect a lot of

voters in the middle.  I think a lot of folks that are not folks are sort

of waiting for the Democratic primary to resolve itself before they really

tune in.  At the moment, Trump tweeting, making fun of people, that`s noise

that they`re kind of tuning out. 

 

So, I think it will take a couple of months for us to know if Elizabeth

Warren is ultimately the nominee, it will take a little while for us to see

if that has an impact.  But I do think the fact that she weathered it at

the beginning and has risen in the polls by just sort of doing the good

things structurally and sticking to policy is a sign perhaps she can

weather the strong longer term. 

 

KORNACKI:  OK.  And again, yes, she has had a terrific summer.  Though, we

should point out, Joe Biden is still leading the polls a this point Labor

Day. 

 

ANDERSON:  Yes.

 

KORNACKI:  Thank you, Zerlina Maxwell and Kristen Soltis Anderson. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

KORNACKI:  That`s HARDBALL for now. 

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

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

BE UPDATED.

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