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STATE OF THE UNION
American Train Heroes Meet French President; American Train Heroes Describes Confrontation; Attacker Was "Ready To Fight To The End"; Shout Of "White Power" Heard At Trump Event; Trump Carson Ticket?. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired August 23, 2015 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN GUEST HOST: I'm Jim Acosta coming to you live from Washington for a special edition of STATE OF THE UNION.
And we are awaiting a live press conference right now in Paris where three Americans are being hailed as heroes after they took down a gunman who opened fire on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday. Witnesses described a dramatic scene as French passenger found himself face to face with a man holding a Kalashnikov. That passenger, a French man tried to overpower the gunman but he got off several shots, injuring someone sitting nearby.
British, Chris Norman, described what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS NORMAN, HELPED SUBDUE GUNMAN: I then stood up to see what was happening. I saw a man with what I think was an AK-47. Anyway, it was some kind of a machine or submachine gun.
So, my first reaction was to sit down and hide. Then I heard one guy, an American say, go get him. And I heard another American say, don't you do that, buddy or something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: But an incredible act of bravery, they did do that. And French official say those three Americans thwarted a larger attack. The gunman was armed with two guns including a Kalashnikov. Several rounds of ammunition and a box cutter.
One official tells CNN the suspect, a Moroccan national, is likely linked to a group of French ISIS fighters in Turkey. And I want to get right now to CNN's Nic Robertson who is outside the American embassy in Paris. So, where this press conference is about to get underway.
Nic, what can you tell us about these three men? We know that they were scheduled to meet with French President Francois Hollande and they are being hailed as heroes in France.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From the top of the country from the president down to everyone on the streets here, absolutely. That's what we're seeing. We were outside the police station in the north of France when two of those young Americans came out of the police station after they have been talking to the police. Giving the police all the information they could about bringing down this attacker. (INAUDIBLE) that can help in their investigation. As they came out, there were French people standing on the sides of the street. Now (ph), when (ph) they realized these were two of the three young Americans who helped prevent such -- a potential massacre on the train.
There was applause. There was shouting. There was cheering. People came to us on the streets today -- yesterday telling us they absolutely believe that these men saved many, many lives. They feel that they're heroes.
They're going to meet the French president tomorrow. Not just the French president of the Elysee Palace, you can't get better than that. That are being treated like rock stars. The prime minister will be there. The interior minister (INAUDIBLE), the transport minister. They are really getting, if you will, a full court press of top presidential French hospitality because people here feel their heroes saved (ph) huge (ph) number (ph) of (ph) lives (ph), Jim.
ACOSTA: OK. Nic, we understand right now that those three men have walked into this room here in Paris for a press conference. So, tell us about what happened and let's go there live and see what they have to say.
It looks like right now they are having their pictures taken I suppose. This is right before they sit down and tell their side of the story. But probably not since World War II have Americans been greeted so positively by the French.
Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos were all aboard this high-speed train en route to Paris from Amsterdam when this gunman opened fire. And as we have been talking about over the last 48 hours, this amazing act of bravery it was one of those when others rushed out and they rushed in type of scenarios where Americans responded to the call, there was a threat present, and these Americans saved the lives of countless people on that train that day.
And as you can see right now, they are about to sit down. You can see one of those three Americans, Spencer Stone, his arm is still in a sling. He was injured during that altercation with that gunman. And you can see he is still -- he is still taking care of those injuries right now. I'm sure they will be asked about that. That was one -- from what it sounds like from the accounts an incredible moment during that ordeal. And it looks like we are just moments away from the press conference getting started. Let's listen in.
JANE HARTLEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE: -- and Anthony Sadler.
I want to start by thanking President Hollande, Interior Minister Cazeneuve and the people of France for their heartfelt out pouring of support and concern for these young men. I also extend my thanks to the French authorities, doctors, nurses and everyone who took such good -- take care of them after the attack.
We often use the word hero and in this case I think that word has never been more appropriate. I know these young men sitting with me won't like it because even in the brief period we've known each other, they are so humble. But they are truly heroes.
As President Obama said during his phone call with President Hollande last night, these three brave young Americans along with the French and British passenger demonstrated remarkable bravery and acted without regard for their own safety in order to subdue a heavily armed individual who appeared intent on causing mass casualties. When most of us would run away, Spencer, Alek, and Anthony ran into the line of fire. Saying, let's go. And those words changed the fate of many.
I also of course commend the other passengers, French and British who displayed equal heroism in confronting the assailant. And I add my personal thanks and gratitude to these young men who demonstrated the very best of America through their selfless actions. As a representative of my country, as an American, and as a mother of a son not much older than you, I am so proud to be sitting here with you. Thank you so much.
And now we will take a couple of questions and I'm going to let Mike who is standing to my right call on you. And thank you so much for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Madame. (INAUDIBLE) a couple of questions.
I have one mobile microphone so bear with me. I'll give it to you as quick as we can.
Please identify yourself, state your question directly to one of the gentlemen if you'd like or they can decide who will take it.
May I have a show of hands. Maggie (ph), can we start with you? Here's the microphone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- from the "Associated Press." My question is for Spencer. Can you described the sequence of events from the moment you left your sit and what prompted you to react the way that you did?
SPENCER STONE, USAF AIRMAN, THWARTED TRAIN ATTACK: It's kind of a long story, but I kind of just woke up from the middle of a deep sleep. And my friend Anthony -- Alek was sitting next to me. Anthony was across to my right side. And I turned around and I saw he had what look to be an AK-47 and it looked like it was jammed or it wasn't working. And he was trying to charge the weapon and Alek just hit me on the shoulder and said, let's go. And ran down. Tackled him. We hit the ground. Alek came up and grabbed the gun out of his hand while I put him in a choke hold.
It seemed like he just kept pulling more weapons left and right. He pulled out a hand gun. Alek took that -- took out a box cutter and started jabbing at me with that. We let go and all three of us started punching him while he was in the middle of us. And I was able to grab him again and choke him unconscious while Alek was hitting him in the head with the pistol or rifle. I can't really remember but that's pretty much what happened -- so -- survival. And for -- to survive and my friends and everyone else on the train to make it. So --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please identify yourself.
CHARLIE D'AGATA, CBS NEWS: Spencer, has it sunk in yet what has happened? Have you thought about what may happen if you (ph) haven't intervened (ph)?
[12:10:00] STONE: No, it hasn't at all. It feels very unreal. It feels like a dream. So, I don't really know what to say.
D'AGATA: (INAUDIBLE) possibility (ph) of (ph) having (ph) (INAUDIBLE) active (ph)?
ALEK SKARLATOS, U.S. NATIONAL GUARD, THWARTED TRAIN ATTACK: Well, yes. I mean, the guy had a lot of ammo. I mean, his intentions were pretty clear. But -- I mean, you can speculate all day long, but -- I mean, like Spencer said, it really hasn't (INAUDIBLE) it doesn't really seem real. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Identify yourself (INAUDIBLE).
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: David Muir from "ABC News."
Spencer, I gather that after you were injured you (INAUDIBLE) and how you're (ph) doing (ph)?
STONE: Well, I didn't even -- other than my finger, I didn't really feel any of my other injuries. I knew I was bleeding, but I didn't know they were that bad.
I just went over saw that he was squirting blood out of the left or right side of his neck. And I was going to use my shirt, but I realized that wouldn't have worked. So, I stuck two of my fingers in his -- the hole and found what I thought to be the artery, pushed down and the bleeding stopped. And so, I said, thank God, and I held that position until the paramedics got there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next question. Don't be why, please.
Yes, madam. Stand and identify yourself, please.
NANCY SNYDERMAN, NBC NEWS: Thank you very much. Hello. It's Nancy from NBC news.
Spencer, Alek, or Anthony, can you tell me at what point the gunshot went off? Was it during the struggle and was it a stray bullet or was it deliberately aimed at someone? And have you digested the magnitude of the reaction to all of this for your heroic actions? Thank you.
SKARLATOS: The gunshot was probably the first noise I heard and then that was followed up by some breaking blasts. So, the gunshot was one of the -- pretty much the first thing that came to our attention. I didn't know it was a gunshot at the time, but that was like the first thing I heard.
SKARLATOS: It didn't -- I mean, I -- it was behind me so I had no idea what he was aiming at or what he intended to do, but -- yes, that was the first thing that happened.
SKARLATOS: No. Personally I thought they were just going to let us go after questioning.
ANTHONY SADLER, THWARTED TRAIN ATTACK: Initially kind of after it happened, I kind of knew -- realized the magnitude. I didn't quite understand that all this would happen, but I knew that it was something very serious, because we were traveling internationally and my two friends are off duty military, so I just knew -- I knew it would be bigger than just the initial investigation, but I had no idea it would be like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next question preferable from one of my French colleagues. Yes, sir. Identify yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, guys, for what you did.
And my question is very simple because the French Minister Bernard Cazeneuve talked about a (ph) French (ph) who (ph) started (ph) to act. Could you just tell us what you saw from this guy and can tell us about this (ph) guy (ph)?
And my second question is what are you going to do right now and when are you going -- are you going back to America?
STONE: I'm sorry. Can you repeat the first question, please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry. Bernard Cazeneuve the French minister talks about the French guy who (ph) just first (ph) act (ph) before you. He talked about this guy. I would like to -- you to describe if you have any information about this French guy or what he did really. And when are you going back to America and what are you going to do. Thank you.
STONE: I personally don't have a lot of information on him, but I heard that he started the struggle at first. So, I feel like he deserves a lot of the credit because if it wasn't for him, you know, maybe it could have been way different.
And I don't know when I'm going back. I know my friend Anthony should be going back shortly. And me and Alek and my family and his family should be headed to somewhere in Germany for medical care. And then from there we don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next question, (INAUDIBLE). Sorry. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE. Hi. (INAUDIBLE) from the "France 24" television. Thank you for what you did.
[12:15:02] For those people who are watching -- those people who are watching this around the world because that's what it is, is there a lesson that you would want to convey maybe for yourselves and for others? I realize it hasn't quite sunk in as you said, but if you have a thought for others, what lessons they might gain from that?
SADLER: These are my friends and I was the third one to get up. And I just like want the lesson to be learned that basically in times of like crisis like that, I would want it to be learned that basically to do something. Hiding or sitting back is not going to accomplish anything. And the gunman would have been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up.
So, I just want that lesson to be learned going forward. In times of like terror like that to please do something. Don't just stand by and watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please (ph) stand (ph) (INAUDIBLE) the microphone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). I would like to (INAUDIBLE) have news of the man you helped in the train and if he's a French or American guy say the guy who is in the hospital (INAUDIBLE)?
STONE: Yes. When I was talking to him on the ground, he said he was from Virginia. So, from the information I have he seems to be doing well and he should have a full recovery and surgery soon. So, we're glad that he's going to be alive.
HARTLEY: I also spoke to his wife yesterday and he is doing pretty well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) from the "Wall Street Journal."
I was wondering if you guys could tell me -- Anthony was saying what he thought the lesson was. Spencer and Alek, I wonder what you think about that. Did your training at all help in being able to assess the situation and act quickly and, you know, the (ph) state of awareness you think that other people should have in situations like this? And I also wondered if you could describe the assailant a little bit, what he looked like.
SKARLATOS: Well, I feel our training mostly kicked in after the assailant was subdued frankly when I came to medical care and things like that, and providing security. Making sure there was not another shooter, but in the beginning it was mostly just gut instincts, one. Survival basically like Spencer said.
And what was the other part? I'm sorry. Describe him? Was that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. (INAUDIBLE). In other words (INAUDIBLE) your state of awareness (INAUDIBLE) everybody would (ph) have in situations like this?
SKARLATOS: Not necessarily. I mean, I didn't really have much of a state of awareness. I wasn't really a conscious decision. We just kind of acted. There wasn't much thinking going on. At least on my end. I don't know about them. Spencer?
STONE: No, not at all.
SKARLATOS: He was about (INAUDIBLE) help me out? Like he was skinny. Like probably 160 -- 170.
SADLER (ph): About 5'10."
STONE: He never said a word. He just basically came in and when he entered the car we saw him capping (ph) the AK-47. So, at that time he (ph) would (ph) either do something or not (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)?
STONE: He was shirtless, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, madam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pardon me. We have to follow the rules.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Well, I'm going to ask that question (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE).
I have two questions. One is we hear you were not even supposed to be in that carriage in the first place, is that right?
And the second one is, the gunman has spoken to his lawyer and said that he had no terrorist intentions, that he didn't even fire a shot when (ph) those (ph) shots were fired and that he was a homeless man who (INAUDIBLE). I wonder what your reaction is to that. Thank you.
SADLER: Well, we had first class tickets to the carriage where the incident took place. And we were sitting in a different carriage because we couldn't find it at first. We decided to get up because the Wi-Fi was not good in that car and we were like, we are first class. We might as well sit in first class.
So, we just decided to go to the car about a half hour into the train ride and to the point that he was just trying to rob the train. It doesn't take eight magazines to rob a train.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next question please. Yes, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) "People" magazine. For the three of you, you are all from Sacramento. You've been friends for a very long time. Does that back story work into the fact that you can (ph) open (ph) up (ph) and you'd go (INAUDIBLE) trust in (INAUDIBLE)?
[12:20:00] STONE: Well, I trust both of my friends very much. And if it wasn't for them, I would have been dead. And so we all had a critical role in whatever happened. And everyone else that helped the conductors, the guy at the bathroom. So, everyone played their own part. No one specifically is to praise, I feel like (ph).
SADLER: I know for me personally I don't know what I would have done if I was by myself. I don't know. I saw Spencer get up. I saw Alek get up and those are my close friends. So, I just like -- I couldn't let them go alone. So that's the reason -- totally the whole reason I got up out of my seat.
SKARLATOS: I would like to say thanks to Chris for helping us out. He helped tie the gunman up and he also was very helpful afterwards as well just because he spoke both languages.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. First question -- I have to ask these fellows, you guys doing all right? Can you take a couple more?
STONE: That's fine. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Next question please. Yes, madam.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). If you can describe how you -- what kind of state (INAUDIBLE)?
STONE: I can't really tell you. He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end. So were we.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Spanish media are reporting that this man might have had some flammable liquid with him. Probably (ph) gasoline (ph). Maybe there was an intention of setting fire to the train. When you went through his satchel, did you see anything that resembled that?
SKARLATOS: I went through his satchel and there was nothing. Just magazines and like a few little things in the front. There was no container of liquid or anything like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Let's try to limit it to two more. Is that fair? Yes.
MICHAEL BIRNBAUM, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks. Michael Birnbaum, from "The Washington Post."
Spencer and Alek, I wanted to ask you based on your military training, as you saw the shooter operating the guns, did he seem to be trained? Does (ph) he seemed (ph) to know what he was doing and could he have inflicted more damage?
SKARLATOS: Yes. He clearly had no firearms training whatsoever. And yes, if he knew what he was doing or even just got lucky and did the right thing, he would have been able to operate through all eight of the magazines and we would have all been in trouble and probably wouldn't be here today along with a lot of other people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). To know you are about to be welcomed by the French president (INAUDIBLE) several French ministers and Belgian prime minister, how do you feel? How (ph) does (ph) it (ph) make (ph) you (ph) feel (ph)?
STONE: It feels pretty crazy. I never thought I would be here in this position. So it's unreal like I said before.
SADLER: Me personally, I'm still waiting to wake up. This all just seems like a movie scene or something. It's like he said, the word to describe it is pretty unreal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, gentlemen. Please join me. (INAUDIBLE).
STONE: I want to say to the French people, you guys have been more than kind and the medical staff and the cops and everyone. The surgical team that reattached my thumb and my tendons and nerves and everything like that. Just want to say thank you. All the nurses, techs, paramedics they were great. So, thank you.
SADLER: The police in Arras too they took good care of us for the day or two (INAUDIBLE) we were there. We really appreciate that.
HARTLEY: Thank, everybody.
ACOSTA: Well, it isn't very often that you hear applause at a news conference, but we certainly got one there at the conclusion of that press conference in Paris as Americans Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos told the stories about thwarting that train attack. They are no questions about it, heroes.
And it was interesting to hear their accounts telling reporters in the room there in Paris that it was gut instinct.
[12:25:01] And one of the heroes, Anthony Sadler said, please do something. Don't just stand there and watch. That was his recommendation to anybody who finds themselves in that same kind of situation.
Then you heard Spencer Stone saying, this felt like a dream. It felt like it was unreal. And I think Anthony Sadler there at the end summed it up for everybody when he said it seemed like something out of a movie, which it certainly was. Although this one had a very, very good ending.
Let's turn now to I believe we have got Paul Cruickshank, Nic Robertson -- let's go to Nic Robertson first standing by. You just heard that press conference there in Paris. What grabbed you? You know, they were very humble in, you know, taking this -- all this praise from the French people. It was quite extraordinary.
ROBERTSON: Sure. And certainly there has been a lot of praise from the French people and then this sort of not being able to wake from the sort of realize magnitude fully yet and this being something like -- something out of Hollywood for them.
I think until they really come out of the French presidential palace tomorrow (INAUDIBLE) the meeting not just thee president, but the prime minister and the foreign minister, the transport minister and interior minister. The Belgian foreign minister is coming as well.
This is a pretty unreal experience for anyone. What they have seen and witnessed themselves, just driving out of the police station, just those few brief minutes out on the streets in France have seen people clapping and applauding them. But what really grabbed me there was the description of this attacker. You know about 5'10", tall, about 165 to 170 pounds. Not saying a word through all of this, but determined to continue to fight, to continue to fight.
There have been some reports circulating here in some of the media here in France that maybe the assailant was on drugs. But everything that they are saying here right now is that no, he was -- he was fighting back. They had to essentially knock him out, hit him on the head with one of the two weapons to calm him down before they could hog tie him. That once they go one weapon away from him he pulled that automatic pistol out to get that away from him. And the was attacking Spencer there with a box knife. And as Spencer said as well, I mean, now we're learning the extent of his injuries. Where (ph) he told us his thumb was almost coming off that he said the surgeons they had to reattach the nerves and the tendons on his thumb and really -- and really save that for him.
So, I think this if you will, this attacker silent but utterly determined and not at all it seems tranquilized on some kind of drugs or whatever
ACOSTA: And Nic, as Alek Skarlatos said at the end of that press conference there all of the passengers on the plane including those three brave Americans were very lucky that this gunman who has been identified as Ayoub el Khazzani did not -- was not capable of using those firearms in a very effective manner. He didn't seem to know what he was doing according to Skarlatos and was not able to really get many shots off. And because of that all of those passengers in that train carriage were very, very lucky.
Nic Robertson in Paris, thank you very much.
And we want to encourage our viewers who are tuning in from around the world to continue watching here on CNN. We're going to be recapping this press conference that just ended in Paris with those three American heroes who thwarted that train attack on Friday. We'll be talking about the international terrorism implications of all of this and what at it means for people who may be riding the rails not only here in the United States but around the world. And we'll talk about that more on the other side of this break. We'll be right back.
ACOSTA: Welcome back. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington on this special edition of STATE OF THE UNION. We are coming out of that press conference in Paris featuring those three brave American heroes who thwarted the train attack in France last Friday.
Joining us to talk about this, Paul Cruickshank and Phil Mudd, Paul Cruickshank, our counterterrorism expert here at CNN. Paul, you have new information about the suspect. Tell us about him and what do you make of this suspect and how his training or lack of training may have had a great deal of influence on the events that occurred last Friday?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM EXPERT: Jim, according to an official, the suspected gunman is believed to have travelled to Turkey between May and July this year in order to try and join up with ISIS in Syria. It's not clear whether he actually managed to get over to Syria.
He is believed to be possibly connected to a French ISIS cell inside Turkey that previously directed an Algerian student to launch an attack against churches and other targets in Paris.
Now that student was arrested in April of this year as he put his plans into operation and the lead up to that plot against the churches, he had been communicating with this French ISIS cell in Turkey talking about the possibility of launching attacks on passenger trains.
Very, very interesting indeed in light of what happened just the other day obviously and that they now believe that this gunman on the train potentially had a link to this group of French fighters in Turkey.
It raises all sorts of concerns about ISIS pivoting towards launching attacks in the west and using Turkey as a base to do that because, of course, thousands and thousands of European extremists are traveling through Turkey to try and get to Syria over the last couple of years.
[12:35:07] They are now starting to try and redirect them from that to go back home to launch attacks. That is very worrying indeed -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Absolutely indeed. A lot of officials inside the Obama administration feel as though Turkey is just beginning to get a handle on this. Let me turn to Phil Mudd who is also joining us.
And Phil, I wanted to talk to you about the lack of military training that apparently this terrorist gunman did not have any training or else he would have been able to inflict a lot more damage. He had eight magazines on him. That's incredible. Also the military training these three American heroes had because that made a major difference.
PHIL MUDD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think there are a couple of things you got to keep in mind. Look I'm an intelligence professional. We think he didn't have training because of his inability to execute the strike effectively.
Some of these guys don't always remember the training they had. In addition to the heroism of these three Americans as Paul was suggesting, we have a lot of questions from an intelligence perspective that we have to answer.
Did he have a cell phone or a laptop and where he has been traveling to? I want to know the specifics of whether he was involved in any kind of network that did provide training to him or others that might suggest there is a broader conspiracy.
On the comment about the three Americans, I do believe that their background helped not just with the medical capabilities they had, but the push to action as soon as you see something. I don't know how many people would do that.
As soon as I saw them speak, it seemed we should transition as soon as we get to this ISIS phenomenon of attacks across America and Europe or attempted attacks from see something, say something, to see something, do something. The feds are not going to find peole like this. It will take someone on the train to stop them.
ACOSTA: Absolutely. And Paul, that's one of the three Americans that said is don't just stand there and watch, do something. At the end of the day, it may come down to the bravery of the passengers in that scenario to stop something like this from happening.
As Phil was saying, in some of these instances, a terrorist may not think somebody is going to fight back. That adds an element of surprise that they may have to deal with. This goes down in a much better outcome.
One thing I want to ask you about is how much longer can we go on with lesser train security and plane security? When you go to the airport and around the world, it's a far different situation. This man was able to get on the train with an AK-47 and eight magazines and another firearm and box cutters.
You wouldn't be able to get on a plane like that. I know it's inconvenient, but something will have to change.
CRUICKSHANK: Absolutely. There is already a security screening for the euro-style services between London and Paris, and London and Brussels, but not that kind of security for these trains that run from Amsterdam from Brussels to Germany and Paris. They may look at reviewing that in the future.
There is a lot of concern that terrorists might target trains and seen attacks on subways in 2005 and bomb attacks in Madrid as well just before that. A lot of concern that this could be a new form of terrorism from ISIS and other groups.
In the past, we saw bomb plots and law enforcement to try to stop the plans to make arrests. Now the terrorists and wannabes are moving forward quickly and the flash to bang is very, very difficult for law enforcement to intercept, they could go out and get it on the black market and launch an attack.
ACOSTA: All right, Paul Cruickshank and Phil Mudd, thank you very much for that analysis. We appreciate it. We want to encourage our viewers around the world to continue to watch CNN for developments on the breaking story on the three brave American who prevented an immense tragedy.
When we come back, we will talk about domestic politics, Donald Trump and so on so stay with us.
ACOSTA: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jim Acosta. It was the hottest ticket in Mobile, Alabama this weekend, 30,000 people lining up and all of them waiting in 90 degree heat to see the Republican frontrunner.
Donald Trump also took in the view from above doing a fly by while the "Rolling Stones" roared over the stadium speakers. When he landed he doubled down on his controversial position to deny citizenship to the children of the undocumented.
With us now is Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. And, Corey, just want to ask you about this. There's been a lot of back- and-forth about how Trump would execute this idea of taking away birthright citizenship.
I suppose, down in Texas right now, there is a lawsuit that says some officials down there are denying that citizenship to babies that are born in Texas. How is this going to work?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, thanks for having me on. And, first, we have to think about how big of a problem this really is. So, if you think of the term anchor baby, which is those individuals coming to our country and having children here so that their children can be U.S. citizens, there's 400,000 of those taking place on a yearly basis.
To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 47th largest city in our country. We have a huge problem with illegal immigration. The first thing we need to do is to build a wall to stop the people from coming into our country illegally.
ACOSTA: And what happens if -- let me ask you this, Corey.
LEWANDOWSKI: The second thing we need to do is enforce the laws we have.
[12:45:02] ACOSTA: Let me jump in. Let me ask you, if somebody comes over from Great Britain, for example, a couple comes from Great Britain, and they have a baby in Manhattan, are you saying that that baby would also have its birthright citizenship taken away?
In other words, it doesn't matter about what part of the world the parents come from? Or is this only about couples that come from Latin America?
LEWANDOWSKI: No, it's from anywhere. There was a story just recently about the women coming from China to come and have their children here. It is well-documented that the DEA and the INS has followed a number of women coming from China to have their children here, so that they can be U.S. citizens.
Look, we are the greatest country in the world. Everybody wants to come here. Everybody wants to be a citizen of our great country. There is a proper way to do that. In order to do that we need to follow the rules just like many of our ancestors here, they came here legally. They came through Ellis Island or they came through other places, and then they had children here and became great members of the society. Coming to our country illegally is not an option any longer.
ACOSTA: Let me ask you about this.
LEWANDOWSKI: What we see is illegal immigration is (inaudible) -- excuse me. Illegal immigration is coming through. We will see the severity of the crimes that illegal immigrants are committing. We see that the catch and release program is a disaster.
We see sanctuary city should be defunded because of what has happened. We see people like Jamiel Shaw and Kate Steinle and their families who are first class victims of these illegals and nobody wants to talk about it. It's time to do something to put our country first.
ACOSTA: Let me ask you about this because -- right. And I'm sure you heard about this. There were some reports that the event in Alabama there was a man in the crowd at one point shouting "white power." That situation in Boston that cropped up a couple of days ago where these two men beat up immigrants and said, Trump was right.
Are you concerned that this rhetoric, this anti-immigration rhetoric is going to spiral out of control, and people are going to be hurt?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well look, nobody is condoning violence and Mr. Trump would not condone violence. And you know, I don't know about the individual you're talking about in Alabama. I know there were 30 plus thousand people in that stadium. They were very receptive to the message of making America great again because they want to proud to be Americans again.
There's nothing wrong with being proud to be an American. Now, we would never condone violence. If that's what happened in Boston then by no means would that be acceptable in any nature. However, we should not be ashamed to be Americans. We should be proud of our country, proud of our heritage, and continue to be the greatest country in the world.
ACOSTA: And let me ask you about Jeb Bush. An adviser, his super PAC said that, Trump is really other people's problem, not Jeb Bush's problem. What do you make of that statement? Are they being a little too confident that in the end it's going to be Trump versus Bush?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well I think what you have is a low-energy candidate who really does not excite anybody, you know, their super PACs says that, and then that same day in Alabama they fly an airplane over the stadium to try and talk about Jeb's accomplishments which are so few.
So you know, I think what they say and what they do are two different things. I think if his candidacy was resonating he would not have 125 people in New Hampshire seven miles away from Mr. Trump that has 25,000 people. So I think the crowds and the enthusiasm speaks for itself.
ACOSTA: The crowds do speak for themselves. That is very true. Corey Lewandowski, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it. Good talking to you.
LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you.
ACOSTA: And after the break, new details on just what Joe Biden is up to. The top secret meeting that has tongue wagging all across Washington.
ACOSTA: Welcome back. Breaking news about a secret meeting between Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren at the vice president's residence. The meeting comes as Biden is considering a last minute run for the White House. Warren has pledged not to run herself, but has not endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Observers are wondering if this could mean a Biden-Warren ticket in the making and on the Republican side, there is another potential ticket being buzzed about. A Trump ally told "Politico" this week that the frontrunner is eyeing fellow outsider candidates, Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina as running mates.
ACOSTA: With us is Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson.
Dr. Carson, good morning. Thanks for joining us.
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning.
ACOSTA: Does the prospect of a Biden/Warren ticket worry you very much?
CARSON: No, it doesn't. You know, I am very happy with whatever they come up with, because I think this election will be a very excellent opportunity for the American people to make a clear choice. I don't think it will to be muddied. ACOSTA: And, Dr. Carson, would you be willing to serve as Donald Trump's vice president? This is something that was sort of bandied about in the media this week. It is summer of the outsider.
In just about all the polls, the top two Republicans are yourself and Donald Trump. Would you serve as his running mate? Would you want him to serve as your running mate?
CARSON: All things are possible, but it is much too early to begin such conversations.
ACOSTA: All things are possible. OK. All right. Well, Dr. Carson, let me ask you this. On the subject of immigration, a big dispute erupted this week over birthright citizenship. On August 19, just a few days ago -- let's put this up on screen -- you said -- quote -- "If somebody comes here for the purpose of having a baby, so that they have an anchor baby, we should keep that family together and send them back where they come from.
Let me ask you, Dr. Carson, some people consider the term anchor baby a racial slur. What do you think?
[12:55:00] CARSON: I think it is silly political correctness. Everybody knows what we are talking about. We need to talk about the actual issue, and stop getting pulled off into the weeds, and saying, you can use this term, you can't use that term. It is so silly.
ACOSTA: And let me ask you about something else you said earlier this week. You said that the United States should consider using drone strikes to secure the border with Mexico.
What did you mean by that? Obviously, drones are used now for surveillance along the border. Are you talking about taking drone strikes at the U.S./Mexico border?
CARSON: It was quite clear what I was talking about. I said that drones are excellent for surveillance. You know, along that border, we have miles and miles of fences. And, you know, I went there last week and didn't see any Border Patrol people. And those fences are so easy to scale. It is almost like not having a fence there.
So, drones can help with the surveillance. In no way did I suggest that drones be used to kill people. And I said that to the media at the time. I said, you guys are -- some of you are going to go out and say Carson wants to use drones to kill people on the borders.
How ridiculous. At some point, I hope we have some responsible media which actually focuses on the problem. We have a huge security risk there. And talking to some of the sheriffs down there on the border, Sheriff Babeu, Sheriff Dannels, and some of the other law enforcement agencies, listen to the frustration. You should have them on your show, and let them talk about what is actually going on down there.
And it seems like we have not only the cartels to deal with, the drug smugglers, the people smugglers, but we have the federal government, which is not being helpful. Over the last couple of years, they have released 67,000 of those people.
ACOSTA: But, Dr. Carson --
CARSON: Sixty-seven thousand.
ACOSTA: -- there were some reports that said that you were at the very least considering drone strikes on cartels down there at the border. You are saying under no circumstances would you use drones for military purposes along the U.S./Mexico border? No drone strikes whatsoever?
CARSON: No, no, that's -- that's a -- that is a total lie. What I said is, it's possible that a drone could be used to destroy the caves that are utilized to hide people. Those need to be gotten rid of.
ACOSTA: Hide immigrants or hide -- who -- who would be hidden in these caves?
CARSON: No, the scouts.
ACOSTA: Where are these caves? What caves are you talking about?
CARSON: The scouts and the people who are facilitating -- the scouts and the people who are facilitating all illegal activities. Those caves are very evident. And I hope you have some of the sheriffs in. They can show you the pictures.
They can show you what is going on there. We are not getting support from the federal government to deal with these people. They're being outgunned. You know, 56 percent of that border is not under our control.
ACOSTA: OK, but I just want to make sure we button this down. So, you are saying that, in some instances, you would advocate using drone strikes to take out cartels that are bringing migrants across the border? Is that what you're talking about? Wouldn't there be some instances where perhaps --
CARSON: Listen, read my lips.
ACOSTA: ... innocent people might get killed? Yes, please, let's agree -- let's do it.
CARSON: Read my lips. Listen very carefully to what I am saying. I said there are caves. There are caves that they utilize. Those caves can be eliminated. There are a number of possibilities. That could be one of them. I am not talking about killing people, no people with drones.
ACOSTA: Dr. Ben Carson, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it. Thank you, sir.
CARSON: My pleasure.
ACOSTA: You can catch more of my interview with Dr. Ben Carson online at CNN.com. Don't go away. We'll be right back.