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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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Up first, the wrath of Tropical Storm Isaac barreling through the Caribbean right now. We're watching what's going on as it picks up steam over the warm waters of the Caribbean, heading towards Florida potentially.

The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, is joining us right now.

Governor, what's the latest information you're getting? How worried should Floridians be right now?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Well, you know, we're used to hurricanes in Florida. We have a great emergency management team at the state level and at the local level.

And we work with FEMA well. We're doing updates. We will do our next update about 5:15. We will get some additional information from the National Hurricane Center at 5:00. It fortunately is going a little bit further west, but we will be prepared whatever happens. But hopefully it will dissipate and it will go away. But if something happens, we will be ready for it.

BLITZER: What parts of your state are you most worried about right now, Governor?

SCOTT: Well, right now it's clearly the Keys. You know, we will see what happens when it goes across Cuba, but the Keys are our biggest concern right now.

After that, it appears to be going further west away from Tampa. But right now it's the Keys and that would happen early -- it looks like early Monday morning. So that's what we're getting ready for first. But as we find out where it's going, we will get the rest of the state ready.

I want everybody in our state to get prepared. At the same time, we're a tourism state. You know, we're ready for hurricanes. I want everybody to feel comfortable that they should be coming to Tampa. We're going to have a great convention in Tampa. We will have 50,000 people there and it will be a great convention.

BLITZER: So you're not suggesting evacuations or anything along those lines, at least not yet, even in the Keys, is that right?

SCOTT: Oh, absolutely.

I mean, absolutely we're not. Right now as you know it's a tropical storm. We will see what happens as it goes through Hispaniola and goes through Cuba to see how much is left. It looks like we will clearly get some rain, but we will see how much wind we get.

BLITZER: I'm heading myself off to Tampa to cover the convention. I will be there over the weekend. Are you in touch with Republican National Committee leaders, the Republican Party leaders, giving them some potential worst-case contingency advice?

SCOTT: Absolutely.

We have -- we're doing two calls a day, and with the Republican leaders, local officials, state officials, federal officials to keep everybody informed, get everybody with the same information so we can make a good, informed decision together.

But clearly we're going to have a great convention, but we're going to be ready for this. If something happens, we will be ready.

BLITZER: Are we convinced, based on all the information that you're getting right now, Governor, that this tropical storm by the time it reaches Florida, wherever it reaches, will in fact be a hurricane or will it still be a tropical storm?

SCOTT: Right now, we don't know.

The projections are that it will be -- it should be a hurricane, but, look, it's still going to go over a lot of land, so there's still a lot of issues to deal with. We don't know the intensity. We don't know how much rain there will be and we don't even know the path yet.

So it's still a few days out. Every time, every day we will get a little bit better information. That's why we're doing twice-a-day phone calls with everybody involved, federal, state and local, the RNC Committee. We're talking to them to keep everybody informed so we can make a good, valid decision.

But just remember, Florida is used to this. We have had hurricanes before. We have a great team here. So we're very comfortable we're going to have a great convention.

BLITZER: Here's what concerns me and I have covered hurricanes in Florida and I have got a lot of good family and friends who live down there.

The elderly. You have a lot of seniors that live down there right now. Is there any advice you think you need to give them even at this relatively early stage before we know for sure where it might make impact?

SCOTT: Absolutely, Wolf.

We want everybody to have a three-day supply of food and water. You should go on a Web site called FloridaDisaster.org. Have your checklist. Make sure you know who you want to contact if there's a problem. If we need them, we will have shelters all across the state. You will know -- follow the weather, follow any evacuation plans if we have any.

But we have a great plan for the elderly, for anybody with special needs. But the first thing you need to yourself get prepared.

BLITZER: And folks, about an extra 50,000 people or so will be coming to Tampa for this convention. At this point, you're telling everyone, correct me if I'm wrong -- you're still telling everyone don't cancel your flights, don't make any changes, come to Tampa for the convention.

SCOTT: No, Tampa is open for business. We're going to have the convention. We're going to do it. We're going to have a great convention.

Tampa is ready for this. The city looks beautiful. Remember, we're a hospitality state. We do this every day. We're prepared in case there is a hurricane, but in the meantime we're going to make sure we have a great convention.

BLITZER: When you picked -- and you're a Republican. When you picked Tampa to be the site of the Republican Convention, right in the middle of the hurricane season, was there a lot of discussion about potentially bad weather and Tampa being the site of the Republican Convention? Walk us backwards a few years, when they made that decision to select Tampa.

SCOTT: Well, everybody knows that we're a state that has had hurricanes, but we have the best emergency management team in the country.

We're ready for these things. So they knew we would be prepared at the state level and at the local level. And they knew Tampa was going to be and the state of Florida were going to be a great hospitality location because we do this. We have 87 million tourists a year come to our states. We're good at these conventions.

BLITZER: One final question, Governor, before I let you go. And I know you have a lot of work. What would it take to cancel that convention? How bad, in other words, would it have to be and who would make that call?

SCOTT: Well, the decision will be made by the convention, the host committee of the convention. The CEO is Bill Harris. His team will be the ones that will make the decision.

My job is to help keep them informed, make sure everybody, state, local and federal, have all the facts. So that's a hypothetical. But the most important thing is we will make sure everybody is safe. I'm responsible for this state. The local elected officials are responsible for their communities. And the convention will make a decision if they couldn't have a good convention. But I'm very comfortable. We have a great team in place, we have plans in place. We will implement those plans.

BLITZER: We will get the latest forecast about a little less than an hour or so from now. We're going to speak to the new director of the National Hurricane Center as well.

Governor, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in Florida. We are going to be watching this obviously very, very closely. Thanks very much for joining us.

SCOTT: Sure. And I will see you next week.

BLITZER: I will see you maybe in Tampa, who knows. All right, appreciate it very much. Rick Scott is the governor of Florida.

SCOTT: All right.

BLITZER: Brian Todd is in Tampa right now. He's standing by with a closer look at just how high the water could surge if -- and it's obviously still a huge if -- if a hurricane or even bad tropical storm weather were to hit.

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