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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum; Brink of War; Dow Jones Plunges; Awaiting Massive Trump Campaign Rally. Aired 18- 19:00p ET

Aired August 21, 2015 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:01]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Massive sell-off. The Dow Jones industrials plunged more than 500 points. It's the worst week on Wall Street in years. Is this a so-called correction or something much worse for the markets and your investments?

Brink of war. North Korea threatens new military action against the South. Tensions right now are soaring. A deadline is looming. Will either side back down?

And Trump in the arena. He's holding a super-sized rally tonight and doing battle over a hot-button term to describe hundreds of thousands of American citizens. Are Trump's opponents fighting him? Or are they copying him?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following two breaking stories, sources telling CNN that a shooting on a high-speed train is believed to be an Islamist terrorist attack and the gunman appears to be sympathetic to ISIS. The alleged gunman is in custody tonight, accused of opening fire with an automatic weapon on a train from Amsterdam to Paris.

Also breaking, Wall Street's biggest loss of the year, the Dow Jones industrials taking a nosedive of 531 points as new economic uncertainty rattles investors.

Another major story this hour, we're standing by for a Donald Trump rally in Alabama. It may be the largest campaign event of this presidential primary season so far. It was moved to a football stadium to accommodate 35,000 people expected to attend. The Republican front-runner's popularity growing, despite controversy after controversy.

I will talk with one of Donald Trump's rivals, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. He's standing by to join us live here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Our correspondents and analysts, they are also standing by to cover all the news that's breaking right now.

First, let's go to our terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank. He's more on that train attack from Amsterdam to Paris today.

What are you learning, Paul?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Wolf, a senior European terrorism official, counterterrorism official telling me this is believed to be an Islamist terrorist attack, that the Moroccan gunman was on the radar screen of European security agencies.

The official also telling me that two U.S. Marines in civilian clothing surprised the gunman in the toilet of this high-speed train as it traveled between Amsterdam and Paris, that when they surprised him in the train toilet, that the gunman with a handgun managed to get a round off. He was loading a Kalashnikov at the time.

But the Marines were able to overpower him, despite the fact one of the Marines was wounded, and they were able to prevent a massacre, in the words of this senior European counterterrorism official. So extraordinary events playing out on this high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris. This gunman had a lot of ammunition. He had several weapons. This could have been a truly horrible terrorist attack.

BLITZER: Fortunately, those two U.S. Marines were there to stop it. Stand by.

I want to bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's getting information on what happened as well.

What are you learning, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, very sketchy reports arriving at the Pentagon. Officials tell us so far here at the Pentagon, they cannot confirm that these two individuals were U.S. Marines. They're not disputing it. They just don't have the information in hand to confirm it.

But a short time ago, the Pentagon did put out a statement and let me quote. It says: "We are aware of the reports and can only confirm that one U.S. military member was injured in the incident. The injury is not life-threatening." They go on to say that they will monitor the situation. Now, if there were U.S. service members on board this train, they would not be traveling in uniform. They do not do that. That is standard procedure to be in civilian clothes.

They would not have any military-issue weapons with them on board a civilian train. If they had personal weapons, that might be something else entirely. But, by all accounts, they certainly were not armed. This appears to be an act of extraordinary heroism to save civilians on a high-speed train in Europe. The Pentagon still, though, trying to put all the pieces together, one military member injured, non-life-threatening. They're looking to find out the rest of the details -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by, Barbara.

I want to go back to Paul Cruickshank, who is working his sources on what's going on.

This follows a series of terrorist incidents in France over these past several months. This individual, this alleged terrorist on this high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, we're told that -- and I think you reported it -- that he was relatively well known as some sort of ISIS sympathizer to French authorities?

[18:05:02]

CRUICKSHANK: He was on the radar screen for his radical pro- jihadi views. They believe that he was indeed sympathetic to ISIS, but they're still trying to sort through that to see exactly where his loyalties were.

Not clear at this point whether this was a lone wolf terrorist, somebody inspired by a group like ISIS, or somebody that actually traveled to somewhere like Syrian Iraq and learned how to use these kind of weapons. He had a Kalashnikov here. He was loading this Kalashnikov as the Marines surprised him in the toilet on the fast- speed train.

Presumably, the Marines feared something was up and felt that they needed to act to stop a lot of bloodshed on this train, Wolf.

BLITZER: Could have been a huge, huge massacre. Fortunately, those two U.S. Marines were there. One of them injured, we hope not seriously. We will stay on top of the story. Guys, thanks very much.

There's other breaking news we're following, including that huge sell-off on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials plunging nearly 531 points at the closing bell just a couple hours ago.

Our business correspondent, Richard Quest, is joining us now from New York.

Almost 1,000 points down in the last few days alone, what's going on, Richard?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a question of serious selling, but no panic. I can make an argument either way, Wolf.

But the best view seems to be, you look at China, which had bad manufacturing numbers. There are worries over the strength of the Chinese economy. Now, because China is for many U.S. corporations their profits and growth for the future, that is transmitting itself around the world.

The reality is, we just don't know how good or bad the situation in China is at the moment. And that's the uncertainty. But one other important point, oil under $40 a barrel. That's great, Wolf, for consumers, for holiday-makers and vacationers driving on the summer vacation. But it's dreadful for oil companies, for North Dakota, for Texas, for out West, where the oil industry is such an important part of the economy. As I say, you pays your money on this one, you takes your choice.

BLITZER: They're saying this is, what, a correction, not necessarily the start of a bear market, right?

QUEST: Well, at the moment, we're 10 percent down from the May high. So, yes, we are now officially in a technical correction sense.

We'd have to go 20 percent lower before we were in a bear market. And it would have to be a series of sustained sell-offs to make a bear market. A bear market is when you get the feeling the market's going down and it ain't going to recover. Now, so far, yes, there are people out there who will say this looks like a bear market. But the people I have been speaking to today say, this is an overdue correction, it's 1,200 days since we had the last one, it's needed, there was way too much froth and frivolity in the market, and that's what's happened. It's been wiped away, brutally, in two short sessions, but it's gone.

BLITZER: Almost 1,000 points -- at least 1,000 point in the last few days, four days in a row now. Thanks very much, Richard Quest. A lot of nervous investors over the weekend.

Let's go to Donald Trump's big rally tonight, the newest uproar he's creating in the presidential contest. We have new reaction to Trump's use of a controversial term to describe the children of undocumented immigrants who are citizens of the United States because they were born in the United States.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is in Iowa right now with the latest on what's going on.

Jeff, what are you hearing?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as Donald Trump's momentum continues to grow, he finds himself at the center of another immigration firestorm. And it's really triggered an extraordinary back and forth between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush that's only likely to intensify tonight.

But not all Republican candidates are eager to weigh in on this Trump primary. We caught up with Ted Cruz today, who's smiling from the sidelines.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will use the word anchor babies. Excuse me. I will use the word anchor baby.

ZELENY (voice-over): That single phrase that many consider offensive is now setting the agenda for the whole field. Ted Cruz, who hopes to siphon some of Trump's anti-establishment momentum, said today it was political correctness gone wild.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The focus on language and P.C. and bickering back and forth, most people I think don't give a flip. They're interested in solving real problems.

ZELENY: Cruz is holding a rally in Iowa tonight as he tries to tap into the Trump phenomenon. QUESTION: Some of your rivals are trying to figure out how to

run against Donald Trump. You seem to be running with him.

CRUZ: I am a big fan of Donald Trump's, and I think it is a mistake for other Republicans to try to take a stick to Donald Trump and whack him.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are we prepared to do what it takes to remain the greatest nation ever?

ZELENY: For Marco Rubio, a candidate who the GOP hopes can repair its image with Latinos, the anchor baby fight is a chance to take a stand.

QUESTION: Anchor babies. People are talking about anchor babies.

RUBIO: Well, these are 13 million human -- those are human beings. And, ultimately, they're people. We're not -- they're not just statistics.

[18:10:05]

ZELENY: And for Jeb Bush, the term became a problem of his own making after he used the phrase himself in an interview.

QUESTION: Governor, do you regret using the term anchor babies yesterday on the radio?

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I didn't. I don't. I don't regret it.

[16:10:03]

QUESTION: You don't regret it?

BUSH: No. Do you have a better term?

QUESTION: I'm not -- I'm asking you.

BUSH: OK. You give me a better term and I will use it. I'm serious.

ZELENY: Trump was quick to seize on what he called a Bush flip- flop, tweeting, "Jeb Bush signed a memo saying not to use the term anchor babies, offensive. Now he wants to use it because I use it. Stay true to yourself."

But that tweet, not exactly true. This is the memo. It does say to not use the phrase anchor baby. But it's not signed by Bush, simply issued by a group he was co-chair of. So Bush fired back with his own swipe at Trump. "His massive inconsistencies aside, Donald Trump's immigration plan is not conservative and does not reflect our values."

CRUZ: I will not engage in the personal attacks. ZELENY: Cruz says he has differences with Trump, but now is not

the time. He's waiting and watching, making sure no bridge is burned.

CRUZ: Do I want Donald Trump supporters to support me? Absolutely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Now, here in Des Moines, Ted Cruz is planning a rally of his own tonight. But it's hardly Trump-sized. Only 3,000 people or so are planning to attend. But I can tell you all eyes of the Republican Party are on Mobile, Alabama, tonight to see what Donald Trump will do next.

Of course, that is a key primary state next spring. But people are more interested in what he's going to say tonight about the rest of this GOP field -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, he seems to be dominating and driving this Republican presidential discussion. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny.

I want to show our viewers some live pictures outside Trump's rally tonight in Mobile, Alabama. People are lining up, about 5,000 people waiting in line right now. It's expected to be the largest campaign event of this presidential primary season so far. Maybe as many as 35,000 people will show up.

Let's go to Ryan Nobles. He's on the scene for us.

Set the scene for us, Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, right now, they just opened the gates here to this football stadium in South Alabama and the crowds are now starting to pour in.

They're estimating somewhere in the range of 35,000 to 40,000 people will be here for this rally tonight. That will be the largest campaign rally of the cycle for any candidate, but even for Donald Trump, who's drawn big crowds across the country. This event will have all the trappings of a presidential visit.

He's going to arrive in his private jet. He's going to come here by motorcade, riding with the mayor of Mobile. And he's expected to continue that fiery rhetoric that has drawn so many big crowds. Now, people were lined up out here as early as 6:00 this morning. And I talked to many of them, Wolf. And they weren't talking about coming here because they want to gawk or see a celebrity. Many of them genuinely believe that Donald Trump is the best candidate for president of the United States.

Not all of them are necessarily Republicans. Many of them describe themselves as independents. But they want to see what he has to say today, take that home with them, and then perhaps sell that message to their friends and colleagues. This will no doubt be a big event tonight for Donald Trump -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Ryan, stand by.

I want to bring in the Republican presidential candidate, the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum, who's with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Did you ever think that we'd be seeing this in this presidential campaign, what's going on, for example, in Mobile, Alabama, tonight?

SANTORUM: Donald Trump is making an impact. And so, you know, it's good to see that he's energizing people and getting people talking about issues that frankly I care a lot about.

I mean, the most recent issue set is one that I have been out there focused on for actually quite some time. It's part of a package of trying to get people back to work and have their wages go up and benefits go up, so they can live a better quality of life here in America. I think the immigration debate has too long focused on the people who are here illegally and not focused on the people who are impacted by the amount of illegal and even legal immigration that we have in this country.

BLITZER: All right, let's talk a little bit about that.

First of all, where do you stand on the use of the term anchor babies?

SANTORUM: Yes, I mean, I don't use that term. Is it pejorative or not? I don't know. It's a term that I know is used and is often used.

I try to call children children and not anything other than that. These are people who were born in this country. These kids are born in this country. And under the law right now, they're American citizens. They didn't do anything wrong. Their parents did. And their parents should have to pay a price for doing that.

BLITZER: You think Jeb Bush, for example, should apologize for using that term?

SANTORUM: No, I don't -- look, I don't think -- I don't see it as an offensive term. It's a common-use term. I have heard it for a long, long time.

Up until last week, a couple of days ago, I should say, I never heard it -- anyone say it was an offensive term. I think it was just -- it was a term used to describe a phenomenon here in this country. But I think -- again, I think much has been blown up about this. I don't think it's offensive. I don't use it.

[18:15:05]

BLITZER: You don't use it. All right.

What about Donald Trump's notion that all 12 million, 11 million, 13 million undocumented, illegal immigrants need to be deported; the good ones, he says, can then come back?

SANTORUM: Well, I would say this, that we have to go through a process of enforcing our laws.

And the laws say that if you came here on a visa and you overstayed your visa, you need to go home. And that's roughly, according to the numbers, anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent of folks who are here illegally came here legally and chose not to leave. They need to be removed. They need to go home. The people who came across the border illegally are in the same situation.

Eventually, we have to go through an orderly pass of removals and enforce the laws of this country.

BLITZER: What about the children, their children who were born here in the United States?

SANTORUM: I look at it as the situation that confronted my father and grandfather. My grandfather came to this country right after my father was born, lived here for seven years, never saw his son, and had to wait until he became a citizen in order to bring them over.

I asked my dad, were you ever upset with America that you had to live in fascist Italy and march as a Brownshirt in Mussolini's little Youth Corps? And he said, no, America was worth the wait.

And I would just say that it's going to certainly put a strain on families, but they put themselves in that situation and they have to suffer the consequences.

BLITZER: Do you believe the 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees citizenship to the children who are born in the United States whose parents are here illegally?

SANTORUM: I don't. I think that that's a -- I think there is some controversy about whether it does or not. I know that currently we do grant citizenship to people who are born to illegal immigrants here in this country.

But -- and I would actually want to change that. I think that we need to have -- the Congress has the authority, under the Constitution, to determine citizenship. It's very clear in Article I that they have the ability to determine naturalization. And so whether these children in the future will be considered citizens or not, I think, is under the purview of the Congress, and I would urge Congress to change that.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You think Congress can do it without a constitutional amendment? SANTORUM: I do. I think it's clear in the Constitution. I

think it's unclear in the 14th Amendment.

The 14th Amendment doesn't say, if you're born here, you're a citizen. It says, you're born here, and you're under the jurisdiction of the United States. And I think the United States Congress has the right to determine that jurisdiction.

BLITZER: Because children who are born in the United States of foreign diplomats who are serving in the United States, they're not...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: They're not.

And at the time the 14th Amendment was passed, Native Americans weren't considered citizens of this country, even though obviously they were born here. So there is a precedent to say that just because you're born here doesn't mean that you're...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: So, on this issue, you're with Trump?

SANTORUM: On this issue, I agree with Trump. I don't know exactly -- I believe that people who are currently here in this country who were born here to illegal immigrants are citizens and you can't be retroactive.

I don't think anyone's suggesting that people who are now citizens because of the way the law was enforced should be now stripped of their citizenship. I think we have to do this going forward.

BLITZER: When you see tens of thousands of people lining up in Mobile, Alabama, tonight to listen to Donald Trump, we know the primary in Alabama I think is early in March. It's not that far away.

SANTORUM: Yes. And I won that primary four years ago.

BLITZER: So you remember that.

SANTORUM: Yes.

BLITZER: Have you at all campaigned, by the way, in Alabama yet? Have you been down there?

SANTORUM: I actually have been down to Alabama earlier this year. Yes.

BLITZER: So, when you see -- look at these pictures, what's going on right now. It's pretty amazing when you think about it.

SANTORUM: Yes. Oh, it is.

There's clearly a buzz out there. The media's focused on it. He's certainly developed -- continued to develop his persona. I just keep reminding everybody it's five-and-a-half months until the first votes are cast and we're working really hard in Iowa and we feel very good that we're going to do well.

BLITZER: Very quickly, because I want to get to some substantive policy issues, but if Donald Trump were to win in Iowa, he's ahead in the polls there, New Hampshire, South Carolina, he's doing well in all of those states, do you think that automatically would set the stage for his winning the Republican presidential nomination?

SANTORUM: I -- one of the things I found last time when I ran, it's a long presence.

And if he wins some early states, I think there will be an effort to try to galvanize behind some other candidate, as what happened when Romney won some of the early states four years ago. And that galvanizing came behind me.

We didn't quite pull it off, but I think there will be a similar effort. I don't think anyone, whether it's Donald Trump or anybody else, is going to skate through this by winning the first few primaries and having everybody say it's over. I think this is going to be a long process.

BLITZER: All right, we have some issues to go, the news of the day, what's going on with ISIS, the Dow Jones of course taking a huge fall today.

SANTORUM: Yes.

BLITZER: Much more with Senator Rick Santorum when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:24:24]

BLITZER: We're back with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

We're following the breaking news, sources now telling CNN a train shooting in France is believed to be an Islamist terrorist attack. Two U.S. Marines reportedly were on that train, prevented a mass slaughter from going on.

You hear what's going on. There's been a series of these kinds of attacks in France especially. If you were president of the United States, what do you do about this?

SANTORUM: First off, you just -- first, you have got to feel proud to be an American, don't you, that these two Marines, off-duty, on whatever...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Wearing civilian clothes. SANTORUM: Civilian clothes. And they obviously sniffed

something out, figured something was going on, and took matters into their own hands and potentially saved maybe dozens, hundreds of lives.

[18:25:04]

SANTORUM: So very, very proud of those Marines, and just God bless them and thank them for their courage.

What we see is terrorism -- when I hear the term lone wolf -- no Wolf intended here -- but when you hear the term lone wolf, that disturbs me, because these people are not lone wolves. They're following the call to jihad. They're following the call to ISIS to act.

And so while they may not be coordinating with ISIS, they are being incentivized and encouraged by ISIS. So they're acting in conjunction with what ISIS is asking them to do, which is to spread terror and to spread jihad.

And so this is a serious problem, not just in France, obviously, but here in this country. And we have to take it seriously. And the only way you stop it is by defeating ISIS. ISIS, as long as they are maintaining their territory, as long as they are continuing to say that we're fighting the great Satan, the United States, and we're winning, which they can make the claim that they are because they're certainly not losing, we have got a problem with jihadis being activated all over the world.

BLITZER: In the last four days, on another very important breaking news story, more than 1,000 points have dropped on the Dow Jones industrial average, more than 500 today alone, nearly 400 yesterday.

I don't know what's going on, but a lot of nervous investors out there right now. It sort of reminds me a little bit, I hope it doesn't fall off like this, what was going on in 2008 just before the election then. We remember the great recession, the impact that that had on people's lives.

SANTORUM: Yes.

Well, we had a housing bubble back then. I don't think we have a similar bubble in other sectors of the market. But, clearly, the market is up, and up dramatically. The fact that you see oil prices where they are is probably a little off-putting. You see China in the situation they're in right now.

People don't talk about that, yes, manufacturing's off in China, some of the other things are off, but what's up is debt. Chinese debt has exploded over the last few years and trying to prop up this economy. And just like this president, trying to prop up this economy with huge mountains of debt, there's only so much they can do before things start to crater. And I think that's what the big fear is.

BLITZER: Senator, thanks very much for coming in. SANTORUM: My pleasure.

BLITZER: You heading back to Iowa?

SANTORUM: Tomorrow.

BLITZER: I'm sure you are. All right, good luck.

SANTORUM: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

We're standing by for tonight's massive Donald Trump rally. The campaign says as many as 40,000 people will attend. You see them lining up right now.

Plus, a top North Korean diplomat now threatening military action against South Korea. Are the two countries on the brink of war?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Take a look at this. Live pictures of a rally for Donald Trump that his campaign says could draw as many as 40,000 people. This is happening at a football stadium in Mobile, Alabama. The University of South Alabama. The response has been so great that the event had to be proved to this football stadium.

[18:32:35] Let's get the latest on what's going on with the campaign. Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us. He's in Iowa. Also joining us, our national political reporter, Maeve Reston; our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of "The National Journal"; and our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff Zeleny, you've been covering this campaign. What is the sense out there? Is there a realistic -- a lot of people are doubtful, but is there a path to victory that people are beginning to see for Donald Trump?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Wolf. I think there is a path to victory, depending on what the next iteration of his campaign is.

I think any suggestions that his campaign is nearing the end, I think those have been shelved by Republican Party leaders as much as some may want it to be so.

But we still do not yet know how much is real in terms of his on- the-ground effort. And voters are viewing this as a process. Every voter I've talked to is intrigued by Donald Trump. Far fewer are actually willing to sign on the dotted line at this very point. So I think it very much depends how he -- how he evolves as a candidate, how he conducts himself over the next six months.

Campaigns always teach us a lot about presidential candidates. Wolf, I think that is never truer than this campaign, because we simply don't know what he'll do next. So very much a live round. But you cannot rule out that he could win some states, absolutely.

BLITZER: He certainly could win Iowa, maybe New Hampshire and South Carolina. He's doing better than Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in Florida, their home state.

Ron Brownstein, you know, it's been amazing to me, over these last several days, more and more political insiders are beginning to suggest, well, you know what, it's possible that Donald Trump could actually capture the Republican presidential nomination. What do you see? What are you hearing?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think -- I think it's still difficult for him. But there's no question that he's tapped a real nerve.

Look, Donald Trump is dominating among one wing of the party, what I call the populist wing of the party. Tends to be more blue collar, more Tea Party, more evangelical. There will be a finalist in the race primarily representing that wing. That's who Rick Santorum was in 2012. That's who Mike Huckabee was in 2008. That Donald Trump could be that person.

It's still not clear whether he can go from 25 percent, though, to 45 percent, which is what he will ultimately need to do to win states down the line. And while he could be strong in Iowa, New Hampshire in the end is a tougher place.

But there will be a candidate representing the kind of voters who are flocking to Trump tonight in Alabama. And if you're Ted Cruz or Scott Walker or Rick Santorum and earlier you thought you were going to be that guy against either a John Kasich, maybe, or a Jeb Bush, now you have the real possibility that Trump could be the finalist from that wing, and that is within the realm of possibility.

BLITZER: Maeve, you're speaking to all the Republican campaigns out there. Top strategists, staffers, if you will. What are they saying to you? How concerned are they right now about Donald Trump?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they're concerned, certainly, in the sense that it's been very hard for them to actually get their message out. And there have been some strategy fights within some of these campaigns about exactly how to deal with him.

We obviously saw Jeb Bush coming out and punching a lot harder this week. They like the way that that looks. You know, it's now set up as a Jeb versus Donald Trump fight on many of the networks over the last couple of days. And they think that that really helps Jeb Bush, because it starts to get people to focus on his message, and so forth.

But I do think that Jeff made a really important point here, because I was hearing the same thing in Iowa, New Hampshire, which is that many voters out there still say that they are considering as many as four or five candidates.

And when you start digging down and asking them what they think when they imagine Donald Trump, you know, in the big chair, in the Oval Office, a lot of them don't know exactly what that's going to look like, and they aren't sure that they want -- that they're ready to commit to that yet.

So I think we need to leave the possibility out there that this campaign is going to evolve over time. And also, as we've seen today, some of the things, the developments that happen around the world, can change the contours of the campaign the way that people think about who they want, you know, in charge of the red button.

BLITZER: And a 1,000-point drop in the Dow Jones over the past few days, that could have an impact, as well.

RESTON: Right.

BLITZER: Let's see if that continues. Jeffrey, why is he resonating with so many of these conservative Republican, maybe independent voters out there?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It seems like there's a combination of sort of general distrust of Obama, which has gone on for years. I mean, this Republican Party is united.

But there's also resentment against Washington Republicans. You know, the Senate went Republican. The House went Republican. And what do they have to show for it?

Now, maybe that's an unreasonable expectation. But you have a candidate who is not a congressman, who's not a senator, who's not a politician. And who are the two candidates who are doing best in the polls right now, at least right now? You have Donald Trump and Dr. Carson. Completely alienated from the current political structure. And that just indicates that they don't like any branch of government at the moment.

BLITZER: You know, Jeff Zeleny, in a FOX News interview, Donald Trump hit Martin O'Malley, Democratic presidential candidate, former governor of Maryland, while addressing his apology, O'Malley's apology to Black Lives Matter activists for saying that all lives matter.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And then he apologized like a little baby, like a disgusting little weak, pathetic baby. And that's the problem with our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He likes to go after these guys. He's hurling insults. But it seems to be helping Trump, doesn't it?

ZELENY: Sure, especially in a Republican primary, it doesn't get much better than going after a Democrat. But I think Martin O'Malley may end up winning this. Shortly after he said that, Wolf, the O'Malley campaign sent out

a fund-raising e-mail to their supporters, saying, "Look, we're being mentioned by Donald Trump. It's a sign he's taking us seriously."

So I think -- I was interested to see that he's insulting Democrats. Perhaps that's a sign that he's moving away from insulting Republicans. Although I wouldn't count on that full-time here.

But look, I think that people like this raw sense of what he's saying and doing. But of course, there is a line. We don't know what the line is. We'll know probably when it's crossed. But I think this doesn't cross it at all. Because, you know, Republicans to the extent that they know Martin O'Malley at all probably thought that was funny.

BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, there was a very disturbing story out of Massachusetts which you're familiar with. Two brothers allegedly ambushed a Hispanic homeless individual sleeping in a subway stop, saying they were inspired to go after this guy by what they heard from Donald Trump's recent comments. That's what these guys allegedly told police officers. It's obviously a very disturbing development when you think about it.

ZELENY: Yes, I'm inclined to defend Donald Trump on that. You know, Donald Trump isn't causing -- calling for people to be attacked in the subway or anywhere else. And you know, I think you can't really draw a line between a pathological act by some criminals and Donald Trump's views. I just -- I think, notwithstanding what they said, that's not Trump's fault.

BLITZER: I think you're absolutely right on that.

All right, guys. Thanks very, very much. An important note: the Republican presidential candidates are already gearing up for their second debate. It will air right here on CNN on September 16, live from the Reagan Library in California.

And CNN will also host the first Democratic presidential debate. That's on October 13 in Nevada.

Just ahead, Kim Jong-un puts his million-man army on war footing as tensions between North and South Korea soar. Now one official is warning military action may be imminent.

And we're also tracking the first major hurricane of the Atlantic season. Where will it strike in the coming days? We'll have the latest forecast for Hurricane Danny. That and more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:44:56] BLITZER: A very disturbing threat at the United Nations. North Korea's deputy ambassador vowing his country will launch military action against South Korea unless it stops broadcasting propaganda messages. The North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, has already placed his massive army in a wartime state as tensions between the two countries escalate by the hour.

CNN's Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM working the story for us.

What's the latest, Brian, you're finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Tonight, the Korean peninsula could be on the brink of significant cross-border attacks because neither side appears ready to back down.

Kim Jong-un's regime has issued an ultimatum that South Korea has to stop these loud speaker broadcasts by Saturday afternoon Korea time, that's less than 12 hours from now. Take a look at what we're talking about tactically on the map.

Excuse me -- a U.S. official tells us there are indications that on the north side of the DMZ, the North Koreans are preparing for short or medium-range Scud launchers from a single location.

And just a short time ago, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the U.N., An Myong Hun, talked about the weaponry his country might use if South Korea does not stop those broadcasts. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AN MYONG HUN, NORTH KOREAN DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The enemy's provocation bases and the anti-DPKR propaganda bases and means for psychological war are now within sight of the Korean people's armies, rocket launchers, and tactical and strategic rocket forces. If South Korean -- South Korea does not respond to our ultimatum, our military counteraction will be inevitable and that counteraction will be very strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: U.S. and South Korean officials tell us tonight they are watching this very closely.

Now, the South Koreans for their part, they say they are not going to stop those loud speaker broadcasts. Analysts say the broadcasts are provocative to the North Koreans because South Korea is now using defectors to relay these messages to North Korean troops telling them that Kim Jong-un is doing a bad job, that there's a better life in South Korea.

Now, the South Korean government says it started those broadcasts because of a provocation that they cite from North Korea. The placing of land mines on the South Korean side of the DMZ. A mine exploded on August 4th, nearly killing two South Korean soldiers.

The North Koreans deny placing those my opinions. But that is seen as what started this escalation. Analysts say the fact that Kim Jong-un may have decided to order those mines to be placed on the eve of major U.S./South Korean exercises in this area is a dangerous move that his father likely would not have made, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting. We also have word of an extraordinary move by U.S. military forces this week. Tell our viewers what happened. TODD: That's right. U.S. officials say they temporarily halted

those massive joint military exercises with the South Koreans earlier this week.

This is a picture of South Korean troops engaging in those exercises. U.S. officials say they did that just to get their intelligence together that they resumed the exercises a short time later. But military observers are telling us it is really almost unheard of for the U.S. military to stop an exercise of this magnitude right in the middle of it in a situation like this.

It's very likely, Wolf, they were trying to deal with this crisis and figure out how to reposition troops.

BLITZER: Yes, almost 30,000 U.S. troops along the DMZ. Between 1 million North Korean troops and 1 million South Korean troops, very dangerous situation.

Thank you, Brian.

Let's dig deeper with two experts on North Korea, the former State Department senior adviser Christian Whiton, and the Forbes.com columnist Gordon Chang.

Guys, thanks for joining us.

Christian, as I said, what, nearly 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea right now, they're engaged in military exercises. What does the U.S. do in a situation like this, as tense as it is? Because obviously those American troops, if the fighting starts, missiles start coming in, mortars, artillery, rockets, they're in danger.

CHRISTIAN WHITON, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISER: It is, they would be in danger. And that's a big problem. As sort of unsophisticated as North Korea's military is, they have a great number of artillery systems that could decimate Seoul and really wreak havoc, tens of thousands of casualties potentially in the opening phases of a war, should one ever occur.

The thing you should do if you're the United States is really not change anything. And most importantly, to back up South Korea, South Korea's moves, show that we are in solidarity with our allies.

So, if the suspension of the exercises was indeed necessary to prepare for a possible attack or escalation, then fine. But if in fact it was intended as some conciliatory gesture, that would be unfortunate because we should be sending the other -- the very opposite signal.

BLITZER: What was your reaction, Gordon, when you heard them temporarily suspended those exercises with the South Korean military?

GORDON CHANG, FORTUNE.COM: This is the first time I heard the United States suspended for a little time an exercise under the threat of Kim Jong-un or his father. [18:50:03] So I think that that is important. But you've got to

remember that it's also important to lower the temperature. And I think that we can do that in ways that really don't give incentives to Kim Jong-un to create the next provocation.

The problem here is that this is not about us. It's not about the exercises. It's about the problems in the Pyongyang regime, with all the executions of senior military officers. That's the real issue. I think that's the driving force here.

BLITZER: It raises lots of questions about this new young leader Kim Jong-un.

Christian, I was in North Korea not that long after North Korean forces basically launched an attack on a South Korean ship, a military vessel, killing about 50 South Korean sailors. It was incredibly tense then. But the sense was that Kim Jong-il, the father, he would calm things down eventually. But there's a lot of unpredictability with this young leader now, Kim Jong-un, right?

WHITON: There is, there is. You know, of course, you mentioned the sinking of the South Korean naval corps vet. And I think about four dozen people were killed. And North Korea really didn't pay a price for that. But as you pointed, that there was subsequently an exchange of artillery, as you pointed out. It was deescalated.

There is a 90 percent that this is sort of the end of this episode, that there will be de-escalation. And I have to say, the propaganda crossing the border is basically useless on both sides. If it's being carried by loudspeaker toward hardened troops, it's important to have defectors speaking to people left behind in North Korea. Kim Jong-il hates that, Kim Jong-un hates that.

That's the most effective way of independent media, of information warfare, et cetera. But you reach very few people that way. So, 90 percent chance there's de-escalation at this point. But, unfortunately, with North Korea, there is always that 10 percent chance of unpredictability.

BLITZER: And let's not forget, Gordon, that North Korea has a nuclear capability right now.

CHANG: Yes. And the thing that I think is of real concern is not so much the weapon they have but when you look at, for instance, China. In crises past, what we would do is we would pick up the phone to Beijing and ask them to reign in their North Korean allies. Right now, China's relations with North Korea are very bad. Civilian diplomats, those relationships have been severed. Also, Kim Jong-un has done a lot to severe the military to military to military relations.

So, Kim Jong-un now is acting on his own. And we don't really have anybody that we can go to, to try to help us in this regard.

BLITZER: Gordon Chang, Christian Whiton, guys, thanks very much. Let's hope it deescalates and deescalates quickly. We're following the first major storm of the Atlantic hurricane

season. Hurricane Danny now a category 3 with sustained winds of 115 miles an hour. The latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Center says Danny is about 900 miles east of the closest Caribbean Islands. This storm is expected to start weakening tonight, and could make landfall Monday, as a tropical storm.

Danny comes just days before the tenth anniversary of hurricane Katrina. The killer storm that devastated New Orleans. Recovery efforts there are ongoing. To find out how you can help, visit CNN.com/impact.

Also, take a look at this. Right now live pictures, Donald Trump's plane flying into Mobile, Alabama, getting ready for this huge rally at the football stadium at the University of South Alabama. Much more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:56:27] BLITZER: All right. Take a look at these live pictures. The crowd is beginning to get ready. They are beginning to fill up the stadium. This is Mobile, Alabama, the University of South Alabama. That's the football stadium there.

Originally, Donald Trump was supposed to be delivering his rally in a much smaller auditorium, a couple thousand. And then it was moved to a bigger convention center, an indoor arena. That wasn't big enough either giving the RSVPs they were getting. And all of a sudden, they had to go to the football stadium in Mobile, Alabama. That holds about 40,000 or 45,000 people.

Donald Trump's people say maybe as many as 40,000 people will show up. His plane -- the Donald Trump plane, you see it flying over the stadium, making a grand appearance in Mobile, Alabama. The mayor is going to be there to receive Donald Trump.

As that plane, by the way, was flying over, you could hear the crowds cheer as it was going over. This is a pretty amazing political scene. This will be the largest political rally so far, the largest political rally so far of this campaign. Bernie Sanders has gotten huge crowds as well. But this will be even bigger, we're told.

By the way, the FAA gave Donald Trump, his aircraft special permission for the fly over. We will have special live coverage.

Finally, we want to mark a milestone here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're celebrating ten years on the air, a full decade of bringing you breaking news and other huge stories as they unfold here in the United States and around the world. Here is how it all started.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM, where news and information from around the world arrive at one place simultaneously.

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BLITZER: Back in August of 2005, we actually changed the look of TV news with a wall of video constantly changing as we brought in new images, new information. We updated that look over the years. But our commitment to solid journalism has remained constant. And some influential people have noticed, praising us and spoofing us.

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But more importantly, they are dedicated to keeping all of you informed here in the United States and as I like to say, around the world.

So, thanks very much to all of our viewers for supporting us for so many years. We hope you stay with us as we now begin our second decade.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead, tweet me @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Please be sure to join us Monday right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Have a great weekend. Thanks very much for watching.

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"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.