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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Clinton: I'm Trying To Better Explain Email Issue; O'Malley Goes One-On-One With CNN; Twelve Dead As System Moves Towards Florida; Former President Bush Returns To New Orleans. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 28, 2015 - 16:30   ET

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


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[16:30:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- license plates as well as a gun and ammunition. Today, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe visited the local station where Alison Parker and Adam Ward worked. Outside Parker's father called on politicians to look hard at gun control laws after yet another senseless attack.

ANDY PARKER, ALISON PARKER'S FATHER: I want to go to the Virginia legislature, and I want them, I want them to look me until the eye and tell me, why can't we have a reasonable proposal, any reasonable background check, you know, the things that common sense dictates?

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BROWN: Speaking with raw emotion there. He also says that he is disappointed that Virginia senators have not called him after the death of his daughter -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Pamela Brown, thank you so much.

Our Politics Lead, a day after a voter verified Donald Trump is the real deal. Hillary Clinton gets the all-important hair debate.

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HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And if anyone wonders if mine is real, here's the answer. The hair is real, the color isn't.

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BERMAN: And that's not the only swipe Hillary Clinton took at Donald Trump, that's next.

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[16:35:15]

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman. Jake Tapper is off. It's what Democrats fear, wherever she goes, whatever she does, the first question Hillary Clinton will face will be about her e- mails. Today in Minneapolis, that actually wasn't the first question, the first question was about Joe Biden. The man who might run against her, many think, because of the opening provided by the e-mail questions. Then, people asked about the e-mails.

Joe Johns is at the Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis where she spoke. And Joe, the secretary's speech played well in the room today. There were chants of Hillary, Hillary, but how did Clinton do in front of reporters?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, there were more questions in the media to Hillary Clinton, specifically, about the ethics of the vetting process for speeches made by President Bill Clinton when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. But for the crowd here, this was an opportunity for the Democratic candidates to, if you will, preach to the choir.

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CLINTON: I'm just getting warmed up.

JOHNS (voice-over): Hillary Clinton staying on offense against Republicans as she addressed members of the Democratic National Committee today.

CLINTON: Today the party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump.

JOHNS: Her top target, Donald Trump.

CLINTON: Trump actually says he would do a much better job for women than I would. Now that's a general election debate that's going to be a lot of fun.

JOHNS: Clinton clearly has been keeping an eye on the outspoken Republican frontrunner, including his insistence yesterday that the famous cloth is his own hair.

CLINTON: If anyone wonders if mine is real, here's the answer, the hair is real, the color isn't. And come to think of it, I wonder if that's true for Donald too.

JOHNS: But behind the scenes at this Democratic huddle, lingering questions about Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state.

CLINTON: Well, all I can tell you is what I've been telling you for months which has the benefit of being true and factual, and that is that I never sent any classified material, nor received any marked classified.

JOHNS: Clinton's rivals meanwhile made their pitches to the power's party groper, Sanders.

BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is hot of that establishment. JOHNS: Notably absent from the meeting, Vice President Biden, who is expected to announce this fall whether he'll join the Democratic field. President Obama said if Biden decides to run, it'll be up to the voters to decide.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What I would say is that both are, Joe and Hillary, are wonderful people, great friends, Joe's been as good a vice president as I think we've seen in American history.

Hillary Clinton was one of our best secretaries of state. The truth is, though the great thing about American democracy is it's not up to me, I'm just one voter. It's going to be up to the American people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Joe, you just wrapped up an interview with Democratic presidential candidate, Martin O'Malley, you asked about issues, and you pressed him on the party's frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. What did he have to say about it?

JOHNS: That's right, john, former Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland was the first speaker here this afternoon, and he has been struggling in the polls lately.

I sat down with him, and we did talk just a little bit about some of those tough remarks he's been aiming in the direction of Hillary Clinton.

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JOHNS: You've been tough on Hillary Clinton lately. You kind of teed off on her saying essentially the party should not been be anointing a frontrunner at the stage and also talked a little bit about the e- mail, but rather non-committal. Do you think she's not the right person?

MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the most important thing is that as a Democratic Party, we have full and open debates and will let the people decide. It's not for any one person or any one group of people to decide.

We need to the ideas that face our country and what I've said is that talking about e-mails is not the same as having a debate about the issues that people care most about around their kitchen table.

How are they going to afford to send their kids to college, how are they going to pay bills? How to get wages to move up and not down, so yes, I am hard on the party, I think we should have debates.

I think this is not a time to limit debates. Right now we're letting the Republicans fill up the air waves with their versions of our country's future. We have a better way.

JOHNS: That question debate seems to be a little processy to some people. It works within the Democratic Party, but do you think it's resonating with the American public because you push it very hard.

[16:40:10] O'MALLEY: I believe it does. I mean, I have now been in 30 of the 99 counties of Iowa. I have been in all ten counties in New Hampshire, and people in Iowa and New Hampshire take their responsibility very, very seriously.

And they are offended that the Democratic National Committee would try to limit their states to just one debate before the people of New Hampshire decide. One debate before Iowa decides. This has never happened before.

It's fine, all of us should be able to go out, assemble the strongest campaign we can, but when it comes to actually exchanging ideas openly and freely as a Democratic Party, this is what we do. This is how we make our case to the people.

JOHNS: Is the Democratic Party being undemocratic. Those are pretty strong words in this forum.

O'MALLEY: I believe to limit debates is undemocratic. I believe that to try to punish candidates by excluding them from debates if they participate in more than the one sanctioned debate in New Hampshire or the one sanctioned debate in Iowa, I think it's undemocratic. We've never had this before.

I mean, look, I know that every challenger wants to have millions of debates, but somewhere between a million and just one, I think is a happier medium. And we need to have open debates.

We need to talk about the ideas that will actually lift our party up in the eyes of people in the fall. It's the party that can give our kids a better future. Not to do that is frankly political malpractice, and it is undemocratic.

JOHNS: A little bit more about Hillary Clinton. Yesterday, she likened the Republican Party to terrorist on women's issues. These have been seen as strong words. What's your view of that? Would you go far?

O'MALLEY: There are a lot of strong words coming out of the Republican Party?

JOHNS: But would you go that far?

O'MALLEY: I don't think -- I have learned -- I have learned that, you know, infusing any sort of analogies with the word terrorism is something that we should all be very cautious and restrained in ever doing. I learned that the hard way.

But I will say is this though, all of us have a responsibility. Candidates in both parties, to push back against this sort of hate- speech, the racism that the current leader of the Republican pack puts forward against people of whole ethnic group of Americans.

If we don't, shame on us. We need to push back against this. The scapegoating of new American immigrants is appalling, it is dangerous, and it creates an atmosphere where worse things can happen.

JOHNS: Bernie Sanders, you're in a competition with him, and one of the questions that arises is the disconnect or the difference between you and Sanders on the issue of gun control. He comes from Vermont, which is a state that has a lot of guns between both Democrats and Republicans. What's the difference between you and Bernie Sanders on gun control?

O'MALLEY: Well, there is a big difference. Both of our states have hunting traditions and value our open space and conservation lands, but in our state, I actually led the fight to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation that require background checks, outlawed the sale of assault combat weapons.

I feel very firmly that this is a reasonable step for us to take to save more lives. And I don't believe that that is the position of Senator Sanders.

JOHNS: Sanders is looking pretty strong in Iowa, and a recent poll suggested that about 75 percent of the Democratic voters there didn't know who you are, aren't sure about Governor O'Malley because they're not familiar with him. Why is that you're not breaking through?

O'MALLEY: Well, I think that will come. I smile because that means the 25 percent of people now know who I am and 70 days ago, only 1 percent of people knew who I was.

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JOHNS: It's back to the stump now for Martin O'Malley. He has an immigration forum with Bernie Sanders scheduled in the near future in Iowa, for Hillary Clinton, one more fundraiser here in the state of Minnesota then a couple more days off. John, back to you.

BERMAN: Martin O'Malley, the glass is 25 percent full candidate. Joe Johns in Minneapolis, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Tropical Storm Erika barrels through the Caribbean, on the track to hit Florida in the coming days. Brand new forecast from the hurricane center expected in just a few minutes.

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[16:48:25]

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper. Making headlines in our National Lead today, Florida's governor declaring a state of emergency as people there brace for Tropical Storm Erika.

Powerful system could make landfall on the southern tip of Florida as early as Monday morning. Right now, Erika is wreaking havoc across the Caribbean dumping heavy rain turning streets there into rivers.

Witnesses sleeked in horror after a pool was ripped off his foundation. Twelve people are dead there, more than 20 others missing. Still getting word of how bad things are on that island.

Let's get right to Jennifer Gray live in the CNN Severe Weather Center. Jennifer, this storm has been very difficult to follow over the last several days, where is it going now?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You're exactly right. The model had a very hard time getting a handle on exactly where the center of the storm is and where it's going. And in fact, the next 12 to 18 hours will be critical in determining the life of this storm.

I want to tell you why, let's go to the floor and you can see where the storm is right now. It's just to the south of Hispaniola, what's going to happen over the Dominican Republic in Haiti, mountainous terrain there.

Some of the mountain peaks as high as 8,000 to 10,000 feet. That is going to shred this storm. Once it gets on the north side, it's going to have to get itself back together again, then we'll be able to have a better understanding of how strong it's going to be when it approaches the U.S. and exactly where it's going to go.

Let's go to the monitor here. We'll show you, we are going to get the next advisory any second now, but this is based on the 2:00 p.m. advisory with winds at 50 miles per hour, gusts up to 65. It's moving west at 18 miles per hour.

[16:50:07] On this current track, it is going to cross over Hispaniola by tomorrow morning, be on the north side, could have a brush with Cuba. Keep in mind, the more land the storm goes over, the more it is going to tear apart, the more disorganized it's going to be.

The more it stays over open water, that's going to allow it to possibly strengthen. The waters around here are very, very warm. And in the current track has it pushing up on the south side of South Florida at 60 miles per hour on Monday morning.

That's a current forecast track, just as you said, a lot of these models haven't been agreeing much at all. They are clumping together right now, but they've been moving back and forth as a group over the last couple of days.

And right now, most of them are agreeing that it's possibly going to run up the spine of Florida. This is going to cause a lot of rain. South Florida needs the rain.

John, drought in portions of Central and North Florida do not. Tampa has seen more than enough rain and the risk of flooding will come along with the storm.

BERMAN: As of now, or as of the last update from the weather center, doesn't look like it will hit Florida as a hurricane, but are there scenarios, Jennifer, where it stays out over the water for a long enough period of time to strengthen and regain in intensity?

GRAY: That's a very good point. This is expected to stay a tropical storm as it comes on the north side of Hispaniola, caused a lot of rain as you're seeing there, but if it takes more of an easterly track, here we go.

If it takes more of an easterly track and pushes over the warm waters of Bahamas, that is going to cause it to possibly strengthen, then you would have most of the rain would be offshore.

Then you would have more impact than South Carolina, if it goes measure of a westerly route, it could strengthen over Mexico then more rain on the west side of Florida.

The spine of Florida, the west side of Florida more the likely scenarios at this point, but we're going to watch it over the next couple of days -- John.

BERMAN: And the important thing, more than any other, this has been changing so much over the last few day us. So please, pay attention to the forecast and heed the warnings. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

Coming up, he had no problem winning the race, but the fastest man in the world. He was no match for a cameraman on a runaway Segway, just what Usain Bolt was expecting to deal with that day, that's next.

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[16:56:55]

BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper. In other national news, former President George W. Bush returned to New Orleans today to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The historic and horrific storm took the lives of nearly 2,000 people across the gulf coast, caused more than $100 billion of damages. The Bush administration's response to the storm was severely criticized and has long been considered by some a low point of his presidency.

Let's get right to CNN national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, live in New Orleans. Suzanne, you traveled to New Orleans with President Bush not long after that storm hit. What type of reception did he receive today?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have to tell you, John, there were so many people who were kind of surprised that George W. Bush was down here to celebrate the anniversary of Katrina here and at the resilience of the city because many associate him really with the failure, the initial failure, not only the federal government but state and local officials to respond quickly to the tragedy.

We saw the president, the first lady with the mayor at a charter school, and it was a very friendly audience, and he really tried to emphasize the positives, the progress that was made. He emphasized and talked about the charter schools and really a grand experiment here in New Orleans.

More than 90 percent of the public schools now operated by these independent charters and he also talked about initially some of the successes of the federal government right after the storm hit. Take a listen.

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FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: All of us were old enough to remember, will never forget the images of our fellow Americans amid a sea of misery and ruin. We'll always remember the lives lost across the gulf coast. Their memories in our hearts, and I hope you pray for their families. Hurricane Katrina is a story of loss beyond measure. It's also a story of commitment and compassion.

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MALVEAUX: And John, when he talked about the commitment, he mentioned the 30,000 people who had been plucked out of the water, who had been rescued initially in those days afterwards, not those who had lost their lives, and many of the bodies we had seen in the days that followed immediately.

You talked about the $120 billion spent on the recovery efforts so really trying to emphasize the positive here. One thing that is going to happen, John, is later tonight, there's going to be a big concert, a celebration, if you will.

Because these are my people and they know how to party and they like the party. So there is going to be Harry Khannic Jr. and other performers. New Orleans natives and tomorrow, we're going to see President Clinton as well -- John.

BERMAN: Suzanne Malveaux, have a great time tonight if you're there. A lot of weekend plans down there in New Orleans. Thanks so much.

On a lighter note this Friday afternoon, it seems like the fastest man on earth has met his match, no not a mere mortal, but a machine. Usain Bolt was taking a victory lap after winning the 200-meter title from his arch rival when a cameraman on a Segway goes rogue.

Look at that. He lost control, crashed into Bolt, knocking him over. Those are the most precious hamstrings and quads and calves on earth. The cameraman got knocked on his head by the equipment on the way down. Bolt was not injured. He joked that Gatlin, the other runner, paid the guy to run over him. Gatlin joked he wanted a refund.

[17:00:09] That is all for us in THE LEAD. Jake is back Monday. I turn you now over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

addressed members of the Democratic National Committee today, her top target, Donald Trump.