Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Donald Trump; Crisis for Hillary? Poll: Kasich Gaining Ground in New Hampshire; Presidential Spoilers Upset Political Balance; Clinton to Turn Over Private Server to Justice Department; Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired August 12, 2015 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Hey, folks. We have got some brand-new presidential poll numbers from the key state of Iowa coming to you in just seconds.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

Breaking news in the politics lead, new CNN/ORC polling out showing Donald Trump is now on top in Iowa, too, and that the first Republican debate has totally reshaped the rest of the field. We will have Donald Trump reacting live.

Also in politics, as her poll numbers drop, and her trust deficit rises, Hillary Clinton finally hands over her private e-mail server, after top secret messages were found.

And the world lead. It looked like a meteor hitting. Witnesses thought it was a nuclear bomb. New video of a massive explosion that shook the ground miles away and the rush to save lives right now.

Good afternoon, everyone.

To our viewers around the country and around the world, welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our politics lead, it's lesson number one in candidate training school, at least for right now in this presidential election cycle. And I'm going to teach it free of charge.

Repeat after me, candidates. I am not a politician by profession. That phrase worked so well for one guy, he became the standard against which all Republicans measure their candidates. Ronald Reagan uttered those words in 1976.

And that notion, that pitch, I am not a professional politician, that is working for candidates right now, perhaps because voters are so angry at Washington and the dysfunction in this city. You can understand how the three people in the Republican field who have never before held public office are winning more and more support.

Our Key Race Alert. It's our brand-new CNN/ORC poll of Iowa right now and our first poll of that state this election cycle, breaking right this minute. And it's taking stock of the GOP field.

The numbers show Donald Trump on top, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina rising up the Republican power rankings.

CNN chief national correspondent John King is over at the magic wall to run down the numbers for us.

And, John, once again, the pundits were all wrong. Donald Trump, no matter what controversy he causes, no apparent damage done to his candidacy.


If you deep in the weeds of the poll, a few warning signs, but the big numbers, all good news for Mr. Trump. Let's look at the number, our brand-new poll just releasing right now, 22 percent, Donald Trump leading the pack among Iowa caucus goers, Republicans and independents who say they will in the Iowa caucuses.

You mentioned Dr. Carson. A strong debate finish has moved him up to second place in Iowa. Trouble for Scott Walker. He was the Iowa leader pre-debate. Third place at 9 percent right now. Also trouble down here for Jeb Bush. Iowa never his strongest state, but he is dropping down into the middle of the pack.

And you mentioned as well Carly Fiorina, the breakout performance in the second-tier debate. She's now in the top tier, the top five, if you will, if you look at the Iowa poll numbers. What is going on here in the state if Iowa?

Again, if you want to see one warning sign for Mr. Trump, it's here; 27 percent of Iowa men back Trump, only 15 percent of Iowa women. There is a big gender gap, perhaps some damage here from his showdown with the FOX moderator Megyn Kelly. But I should note this. In the Iowa Republican caucuses, more men than women typically vote. So, it might be a problem for Mr. Trump, not as big in the Iowa caucuses as it might be elsewhere.

Who gets him? Remember, he's the billionaire in the race. He likes to tell us he went to the best schools. His support, though, highest from those who make less than $50,000 and those who have not attended colleges.

And here's an interesting point, Jake. Mr. Trump, he has spoken favorably about single-payer health care. He has an immigration position some Tea Party voters would call amnesty, yet he's leading the pack in Iowa among those who say they are Tea Party supporters at 19 percent, Dr. Carson at 18 percent.

If you are Ted Cruz and Scott Walker looking for Tea Party support, Donald Trump is not only in your lane, Jake. He's blocking it.

TAPPER: Fascinating. John King, thanks.

With me on the phone right now to react to these brand-new poll numbers, the Republican front-runner in Iowa and New Hampshire and nationally, Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Trump, thanks so much for calling in. We appreciate it.

If I may, last month, in many major polls in Iowa, you were in second place. Now you're in first place. It doesn't seem to matter who you offend in the establishment. You rise in the polls. Are you at all surprised?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm not really looking to offend people, Jake.

It seems to be every once in a while, that will happen. But I think I was mistreated a little bit, but that's OK. And I'm really honored. I'm honored by your call. And 22 percent, that's a big number. That's a really big number. And so it's a great honor. Thank you.

TAPPER: Not even a month ago, Governor Walker was leading in Iowa. Now he's in third place behind you and behind Dr. Ben Carson. Why do you think he slipped and why do you think Carson is rising?

TRUMP: Well, if you look at Wisconsin, they are having some trouble.

They have pretty big deficits, I think $2.2 billion. And that's a lot different than the billion dollars that they were supposed to make. That hurts, obviously. And people are seeing the numbers. And there's been a lot of divisiveness, a lot of dissension. And it's not been an easy journey over there.


It's a great state. I love the state, but it's not been an easy journey. So, maybe people see that. And his numbers certainly have been affected, because you're right. About a month ago, in a couple of polls, I was actually number two, and I think I was number three, and now I'm number one by quite a margin. So I'm very honored by that.

TAPPER: Being the front-runner, of course, you have a target on your back. You and Senator Rand Paul have sparred a little bit in the past couple weeks.

His campaign is going hard after you, using some of your own words again you in a new TV ad that they say is going to begin airing tonight in New Hampshire and Iowa. We are going to run just a brief snippet. I would love to get your take. Listen in.



TRUMP: Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman. I mean, I'm a little biased because I have known her for years, because I probably identify more as a Democrat.

I have been around for a long time. And it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Want to give you an opportunity to respond to Rand Paul's ad, using your words praising Hillary Clinton, talking about -- this is more than 10 years ago -- but talking about how you identified more as a Democrat.

What is your response?

TRUMP: Well, sure, if you look at Hillary Clinton, I contribute to everybody.

I was a businessman, a world-class businessman. I built a net worth of much more than $10 billion, and deal all over the world, and I contributed to everybody. And I let that be known. And, frankly, the people in the Tea Party, who I love so much, and they seem to like me a lot, everybody understands that.

When I have to go for whatever it is, if I don't -- if I did not -- and I'm not saying this is a good thing for the country, Jake, but if I go in for a meeting and I let's say stiff somebody, as the expression goes, when they come up to my office, all of a sudden, I don't get treatment.

So I don't think it's a great thing for the United States. I'm not sure that the system should work that way, but, as a businessman, I did what other businessmen did, and I contributed to everybody. Everybody liked me. Everybody took my call. And I got what I wanted.

If I would go back in two years, three years, or four years, they remember that. So, that's important. As far as other elements are concerned of, you know, what you're saying, it's all old stuff, it's all old hat, and I think that's been very well-vetted.

You look at a guy like Rand Paul, he is failing in the polls. He's weak on the military. He's pathetic on military. I mean, here's a guy called me a year ago, oh, let's play golf. Can we go and play golf? And I ended up playing golf with him probably seven or eight months ago. I ended up playing golf with him.

And he couldn't have been nicer. He was very nice. He wanted my support. He wanted to know if I would contribute to his doctor situation, which is very good, where he helps children with the eyes. I actually think he's a far better doctor than he is a senator.

And, you know, it's -- I mean, it's fine. They're trying to do a little bit of a number. The last two people that did it were Lindsey Graham. He came at me really hard. And he's right now at zero. And Rick Perry was at 4 percent, and he came at me really hard, and he went down to 2, which was actually a great honor.

And, look, Rand's campaign is failing. I think his -- hasn't his whole team been indicted? I have been reading where...


TAPPER: I think that's his -- the super PAC supporting him.

TRUMP: Yes, they have been indicted, so he's a mess, there's no question about it.

TAPPER: We're told that you told "The Chicago Sun-Times" that you would strongly consider a woman as your running mate should you get the nomination. Is there any particular woman or women on your short list?

TRUMP: No, they asked me the question, and it was a terrific reporter, somebody I have a lot of respect for.

And I said very openly that I would be very, very delighted if it were the right person, but it would be a great honor to have a woman as a running mate. So, if we had the right person, I would certainly consider that. It's obviously too soon to think about it. They immediately want to know who, who, but I would certainly think about that and I would certainly consider it.

TAPPER: This week, the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, responded to news of your campaign. Take a listen.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The secretary of state, where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success.


TAPPER: All right, well, that was Jeb Bush, and not Hillary Clinton. I apologize for that, but the Democratic...


TRUMP: But it sort of works, and I will tell you why it's works, because unlike Jeb Bush, unlike the brother, unlike the brother, who got us into the whole war -- I was totally opposed to the war.

You look at 2004. Reuters, in July of 2004, headline, Trump opposes war in Iraq. I'm the most militaristic person you will ever meet. However, you have to know when to go and when to use the military. They used it at the wrong point. And I said, there will be a total imbalance of the Middle East, Iran will take over Iraq, lots of bad people like ISIS will take over the oil.

And that's exactly what happened. I turned out -- and I'm the only one of all of the candidates running, I am the only one, the absolute only one that opposed the war, so, you know, one of those things. And you could call that vision, to be honest with you, Jake. You could call that vision. And I'm very proud of it.


[16:10:00] TAPPER: I appreciate your rolling with the punches and responding to

the Jeb Bush video.

I do want to get your response to something that Hillary Clinton had to say about the campaign. Take a listen.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's all entertainment. He's -- I think he's having the time of his life, you know, being up on that stage, saying whatever he wants to say, getting people excited both for and against him.

I didn't know him that well. I mean, I knew him. I knew him. And I happened to be planning to be in Florida. And I thought it would be fun to go to his wedding, because it's always entertaining. Now that he's running for president, it's a little more troubling.


TAPPER: "It's a little more troubling."

What is your reaction, sir?

TRUMP: Well, she is right about one thing. I am enjoying it.

I was in -- last night, as you probably heard -- in fact, you put it all over your show -- I was in Michigan. And it was an amazing crowd. We had 3,000 people. And they turned away a tremendous number of people, because the place just couldn't hold any more.

And it was an absolutely fabulous evening. And it was, you know, standing ovations all over the place. I talked about the wall. I talked about China with the devaluation of their currency, which they did yesterday, which is shocking that they can get away with this. What they are doing with us is unbelievable, with devaluation, and they're just taking the money right out of our pocket.

And we have people who don't know what they're doing. We talked about the Iran deal and how pathetic it is, how bad it is. And we had a good time talking about horrible subjects, to be honest with you. It was a -- there's not a lot of good news for the United States. But we can turn it around.

TAPPER: Any response to Hillary Clinton saying that you have gone from entertaining to troubling?

TRUMP: Well, I think the poll numbers sort of indicate that maybe it's troubling for her.

I think that I would be her worst nightmare, in a sense. I think nobody has been tougher on Hillary. I'm the one that said a long time ago, to you, as a matter of fact, long before this has all come up with the FBI over the last few days, that what she did is a criminal act. There's no question about the fact that it's a criminal act. You look at General Petraeus. They destroyed his life over something

much less. The documents were much less important, much less high level. What she did is a real problem for her. I don't know frankly that she will be able to run, because it just looks to me that the whole e-mail thing is a very criminal situation, and it could cause problems for years to come.

TAPPER: Mr. Trump, I'm being told that you have to go. I appreciate your calling in and taking my questions, as always, sir. Thank you.

TRUMP: Well, thank you very much, Jake. And thank John.

TAPPER: OK. Will do.

TRUMP: Thank you.

TAPPER: One man pushing to top Trump is focused on one early voting state.

Right now, GOP candidate John Kasich is in New Hampshire. And the Iowa (sic) governor talked to CNN just moments ago. He's sharing his position on a key issue that has divided his party. We will have his conversation next.


[16:16:55] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

More now our politics lead. Our brand-new poll from the Hawkeye State of Iowa is restacking the race there. He does not register with Iowans yet, but Ohio Governor John Kasich is clicking in New Hampshire, a poll of likely Republican voters in the Granite State shows him right on Jeb Bush's heels, in third place.

I want to check in with CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She is in Derry, New Hampshire, with Governor Kasich today.

Dana, you sat down with Governor Kasich, I spoke with him on Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION." We talked about illegal immigration, and you pressed him on that issue today.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There's so many questions to unpack and, obviously, a lot of differences within the Republican Party.

So, I did ask him about that, and here's what we talked about.


BASH: Immigration.


BASH: You talked about granting citizenship to -- ultimately, to some undocumented --

KASICH: No, that's not --

BASH: OK, you said I'm not closed to it. Everybody in this country needs to feel like they have the opportunity.

KASICH: Right.

BASH: Explain where your position is.

KASICH: Right, I would prefer for them to be legalized once we find out who they are, because I think they contribute a lot to America. They're hard workers. They're God-fearing. They are family-oriented. If they committed a crime, they've got to be deported or put in prison.

The only reason I say that is we have to solve this, but I don't favor citizenship. As I teach my kids, you know, you don't jump the line to get into a Taylor Swift concert.

BASH: You're leaving the door open to citizenship --

KASICH: Yes, but let me be clear, I don't favor it and I'm not sure we would ever have to do that. Let's make citizenship, getting in here legally, that's my view on it. But, you know, I'm just not going to pound my table on all these things, and say, my way or the highway. I mean, I will on some things, but I've got to be careful about that.

Because you know what, I actually think about what it would be to be president. So, do you ever know when people run for presidents, they make lots of promises and they never keep them?

BASH: No, I never noticed that.

KASICH: OK. Well, I do. OK? And you know why? Because they make promises they can't keep, because they don't know any better.

BASH: You told Jake Tapper on Sunday speaking about immigration, that you have moved on from doing away with birthright citizenship, which has been your longtime position.

KASICH: Well, I mean, I put my name on some bill. I've learned a lot about --

BASH: My question is why? Why have you moved on from it?

KASICH: Because I think it's -- because I'm -- when I think about it, I don't believe it should be a fundamental part of this whole thing, because I think it remains dividing, to be honest with you.

And, look, you're congressman from Ohio, somebody says, if somebody comes in illegally and they have a kid, is a kid a citizen, maybe we shouldn't do that. But I think we need to get over that. I'm not for it anymore. Let these people who are born here be citizens and that's the end of it. I don't want to dwell there anymore.

BASH: What made you change -- I mean, you know, sometimes --

KASICH: Knowledge.

BASH: Was there a moment? Was there --

KASICH: No, no, don't make too much about this. You know, as a congressman, you got to like --

BASH: Well, I'm just curious.

KASICH: I'm telling you it's not a big deal. It doesn't strike me as the right thing to do now, that I better understand the whole issue.


[16:20:04] BASH: So, I think the way that most politicians say it, he evolved on that issue, Jake.

But watching him in his town hall which he had just before our interview, which was kind of a classic setting in a New Hampshire diner, he's having a great time. Obviously, it helps to be doing well in the polls. As you mentioned, he went from almost not registering to third, almost second in New Hampshire, thanks to that debate performance he had last week.

But he really does talk -- as somebody who has been in politics for a very long time, he tends to talk like a person, if people out there understands what that means and that really allows him to connect with people.

TAPPER: Very interesting. Dana Bash, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, our poll and other polls out this week make one thing clear, the odds-on establishment favorites a few months ago, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. This film is not playing out the way they thought it would, and they're going to have to start addressing these candidates that they initially regarded, and I don't know that they can anymore, as spoilers.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, initially was ignored. Clearly, you know, that's not necessarily working. But I think it's definitely fair to say by now, the script has been flipped on this 2016 campaign. We've seen frontrunners fade and unexpected challengers soar.

It's important to remember it's only summer, and it's a long road until those first votes are cast in New Hampshire and Iowa. But for now at least, those establishment candidates are having a bumpy, bumpy ride.


ZELENY (voice-over): A soaring summer for Bernie Sanders. He's front-page news today, vaulting over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

His populist cry is catching on. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a message

to the billionaire class, and that message is -- you can't have it all.

ZELENY: And his candidacy is taking off. For the first time, a new Franklin Pierce University poll shows him with a seven-point edge over Clinton, all this as Clinton faces new questions about the private e- mail server she used as secretary of state. She's agreed to surrender it to the Justice Department. It's given sanders an opening to be a potential spoiler of the 2016 campaign, and he's not alone.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

ZELENY: Republicans have one of their own.

In Iowa, Donald Trump is leading the pack. Our new CNN poll shows with Ben Carson in second place. These spoilers are upending the race, sending to the back burner, at least for now.

TRUMP: Jeb and Hillary on the same day, they said Donald Trump has too strong a tone. The world is cracking up, and they're worried about my tone.

ZELENY: But instead of taking on Trump, Bush turned his attacks to Clinton last night in a speech on Iraq at the Reagan Library in California.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success.

ZELENY: And instead of challenging Sanders, Clinton is fixated on Bush and the GOP field.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to draw a contrast with the candidates on the other side of the aisle.

ZELENY: While Trump is used to the spotlight, it's a new phenomenon for Sanders, the 73-year-old Vermont senator who proudly calls himself a Democratic socialist, whose rallies drawing more than 100,000 people in recent weeks are the biggest of any 2016 candidates.

(on camera): Are they underestimating Bernie Sanders?

SANDERS: People have often underestimated me. I'm in this race and we're running to win.


ZELENY: Now, Bernie Sanders is smiling a lot these days. He's drawings some of the biggest crowds yet. But it's important to remember, it's not only a national campaign that starts in Iowa, in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, so Sanders, Trump and other surging candidates must build an organization to sustain them into the winter months when it really counts. But, Jake, both Sanders and Trump heading to Iowa this weekend, New Hampshire already. So, they're up to a pretty good start.

TAPPER: I like the pat. He gave you the fatherly pat.

ZELENY: They always underestimate me.

TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

Her strategy is to keep her campaign focused on the issues. But is this e-mail and private server situation hurting Hillary Clinton's chances to win the White House? We will discuss that, next.


[16:28:47] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Our other politics lead today, with polls showing that question about her use of a private e-mail server might indeed be hurting her campaign, and with voters saying they want a president that they can trust. But by a wide margin, they don't trust her. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has finally agreed to turn over to the Justice Department that private e-mail server she used for public business as secretary of state.

CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is live for us here.

Elise, was she handing over the server willingly, or did the Department of Justice or someone else say, you have to hand this over?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Justice Department asked for it, as part of a security referral by the intelligence community to ensure there was no compromise of sensitive information. So, Clinton handed it over before it was taken, but it is something she had initially resisted.


LABOTT (voice-over): Answering Justice Department concerns about the security of her private e-mail server, Hillary Clinton is now turning it over, along with a thumb drive of work-related e-mails. Her spokesman says the former secretary of state, quote, "pledged to cooperate with the government security inquiry and will answer any remaining questions".

In March, a defiant Clinton refused to surrender to a House panel investigating the Benghazi attack.