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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Cheap Gas; Europe's Refugee Crisis; Hillary Falling in Polls. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 7, 2015 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:15]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Bernie Sanders supporters say, feel the Bern. Is it possible Hillary Clinton might a need some aloe?

I'm Jake Tapper. These is THE LEAD.

The politics lead, Hillary Clinton now talking like an underdog after Bernie Sanders surging to his largest lead yet in the first-in-the- nation primary state of New Hampshire, the signs her campaign is reacting, while Vice President Biden looks closer than ever to capitalizing on this changing race.

The world lead. Desperately seeking hope. The refugee crisis reaches something of a tipping point in Europe, thousands fed up about sleeping in their own trash. They are praying that the world wakes up to this disaster.

The money lead. Getting a cheap fill. The last time Labor Day gas prices were this low, George W. Bush was in his first term as president. For a lot of people who depend upon their cars, cheap gas is like getting a raise. But are these savings here to stay?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Happy Labor Day, everyone.

And for those of you not laboring or paying tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers, you might be spending the day doing cannonballs into your neighbor's pool or grilling under the sun, asking yourself, where did the summer go?

But if you're on the job today and you're working for the Clinton or Bush or Walker or Rubio campaigns, you're probably more than ready for this summer of voter discontent to finally have been over. It's been a long and hot season for all of those campaigns and candidates, but let's start with Hillary Clinton.

She has watched Donald Trump make the biggest splash in the race, stealing the sunlight and airtime many thought would go to her. And while Clinton has been getting a less than warm reception in places like New Hampshire, independent Senator Bernie Sanders from neighboring Vermont has been trailblazing inroads with progressives there, in the process overtaking Clinton in polls in that key first- in-the-nation primary state. CNN of course never takes a day off the trail. And our team of

correspondents is out there with the candidates and one potential possible candidate today.

Let's start in Hampton, Illinois. That's one of the Quad Cities right across the river from Davenport, Iowa, with CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, Senator Clinton hard at work as her campaign seems to be trying to reset her message, trying to inhabit this underdog role. When your last name is Clinton, though, can you really credibly play the underdog?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, that's a great question.

When your name is Clinton, it is difficult to play the role of underdog, but a senator named Sanders has made that much more plausible this summer. But she just finished speaking here just a few moments ago at this Labor Day rally. People are enthused about her, but I have to tell you, Jake, one of the advantages goes on the excitement category to Senator Sanders.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), Presidential Candidate: Happy Labor Day.

ZELENY (voice-over): A Labor Day wake-up call for Hillary Clinton. The Democratic presidential contest is now a real race. The summer of Sanders has blossomed into a fall fight for Clinton.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a people's campaign. And we will win this campaign.

ZELENY: A new poll in New Hampshire shows Bernie Sanders leading Clinton by nine points.

SANDERS: I want your vote. I want to win here in New Hampshire. I want to win the Democratic nomination, and I want to become president of the United States.

ZELENY: It's still a stretch to call Clinton the underdog. She leads Sanders by 11 points in Iowa and still carries tremendous muscle in a party long loyal to the Clintons.

But she's lost the luxury of running out the clock and focusing only on her Republican rivals.

CLINTON: It's going to be a fight. Make no mistake about it. It is going to be a hard election.

ZELENY: A long summer has taken its toll on her campaign and, on this visit to Iowa, her voice.

CLINTON: My voice is a little raspy. But don't let it bother you. It still works. I have been talking a lot in the last few days. ZELENY: And she will talking a lot more. She's ratcheting up her

campaign, appearing on "Ellen" and giving policy speeches every week, including one Wednesday on Iran. She's even opening the door to more debates as Sanders and rival Martin O'Malley have called for.

CLINTON: I would certainly be there with lots of enthusiasm and energy if they decide to add more debates. And I think that's the message that a lot of people are sending their way.

ZELENY: At a Labor Day picnic, some supporters were nervous; others were not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have the magic wand. I don't have the crystal ball, but I'm wishing her the very best and I'm backing her.

ZELENY: But even as Clinton addressed the crowd, not all were backing her. Bernie Sanders wasn't on hand, but plenty of his fans were, like Kay and Mike Pence.

[16:05:00]

(on camera): What is it that he has that Hillary Clinton does not have in your view?

KAY PENCE, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: I think he has a proven track record and authenticity. Like I said, he doesn't need a poll to know where he stands on an issue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: When you talk to Sanders supporters like that, I can tell you this e-mail controversy does not come up. They are more pro-Sanders than they are anti-Clinton, but this e-mail controversy is certainly not going away.

Hillary Clinton did an interview just a short time ago to the Associated Press here and she said one of the reasons she's not apologized for this is because what she did was allowed by law -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

With Clinton struggling a bit, Joe Biden finally says the words his fans at least have desperately waiting to hear. "I'm going to run." And then the vice president did run. He jogged in a parade. But while the veep teased reporters, he sounded every bit in a candidate in a fiery Labor Day speech to union members today, and there's evidence voters are saying there's a chance for Biden to topple Hillary Clinton.

More Democrats in both Iowa and New Hampshire say they like him than say they like her.

CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is in Pittsburgh with the vice president. Brianna, Biden is perceived as more likable in the latest polls.

That's not all, of course. He runs better than Clinton does in a hypothetical matchups against Republicans, but, of course, he's not a candidate yet, so no one is really attacking him, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, That's right. He's not under that really glaring political spotlight yet, but he's certainly toying with reporters and getting a lot of encouragement from supporters here in Pittsburgh along this Labor Day parade route today.

But when you look at this NBC/Marist poll, you see in Iowa that Trump -- Donald Trump beats Hillary Clinton, but Joe Biden beats Donald Trump, and then just generally speaking, in the two early contest states, Joe Biden does just better than Hillary Clinton. He certainly fielded a lot of questions today and had a lot of different answers to them about whether or not he's going to be running. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have nobody to stand -- be us and the major -- no, no. You have got to talk to my wife about that. I have got to talk to my wife about that.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And, Jake, I asked him after what was really a remarkable speech, pretty much because it really contrasted to his somber speech last week, where I think if someone was listening to him last week in Florida, they might have thought he's not going to run.

But you listen just to this speech today without context, and it sounded very much like a candidate. I asked him, it sounds like you have a rationale for running, and he said I'm going to be running for part of this parade. Yes, as you mentioned, he did jog off, he was zigzagging along the parade route. Right now, this very small cadre of confidants and longtime friends of Biden are keeping a close hold around him as they work through whether or not he is going to be running.

He has said that major factor in all of this is really if emotionally he and his family are there to take this on. It's of course just three months since he lost his son Beau Biden -- Jake.

TAPPER: Brianna Keilar in Pittsburgh, thank you so much.

Let's turn now to the Republicans. Iowa was supposed to be the field of dreams for one candidate. New Hampshire was supposed to be the granite fortress for another, but for Scott Walker and Jeb Bush respectively, neither is true right now. Both men are polling in the single digits in Iowa and New Hampshire, a long way behind Donald Trump.

CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is with me here in Washington.

Suzanne, Trump towers over his Republican rivals now in the polls, but it's almost more stunning how far Jeb Bush and Scott Walker have fallen.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is really amazing when you think about it, especially Jeb Bush, because he has a kind of support around $100 million in super PAC money.

He also has the backing of many in the Republican Party establishment, but this really is a critical turning point in the campaign, Labor Day signifying the sprint to these early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, and just 10 days away from the next Republican debate. That's why these poll numbers are starting to matter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Donald Trump dominating the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, even as he lays low this Labor Day.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party, and the conservative principles for which it stand.

MALVEAUX: In Iowa, Trump leads with 29 percent followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 22 percent.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that this is the greatest nation in the world.

MALVEAUX: No other Republican candidate receives double-digit support.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And now it is our turn.

MALVEAUX: Jeb Bush is in third place with 6 percent, falling from 12 percent in July. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker saw his support plummet from 19 percent two months ago to just 5 percent now. Walker spent the holiday in New Hampshire on a two-day motorcycle campaign swing, trying to project confidence despite the drop in his support.

[16:10:05]

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't have ads up. I think we get out message out, we talk about who we are, we will be in good shape.

MALVEAUX: Second place in New Hampshire now belongs to Ohio Governor John Kasich, who sits at 12 percent to Trump's 28 percent. Kasich today worked the crowd at a Labor Day parade in Milford.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're doing fine here. I always felt that if I could do the town halls and really let people see me, then we would do OK. That's been the history of my political career. MALVEAUX: Kasich's bump in the polls part of a New Hampshire strategy

that includes a heavy dose of town halls and paid television ads by a pro-Kasich super PAC. Just as in Iowa, Bush and Walker also lost ground in New Hampshire. Bush saw his support cut by six points, down to 8 percent.

Walker, meanwhile, dropped eight points, leaving him at 4 percent. Carly Fiorina, who has moved up to fifth in New Hampshire, said she's optimistic about the direction of her campaign.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have come a long way since May 4. I have come a long way. I'm not worried.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And in this hour, we're going to Fiorina again, along with Walker and Kasich, at the Labor Day picnic in Salem, New Hampshire.

Marco Rubio, who's polling at 4 percent in Iowa, 5 percent in New Hampshire, well, he's moving on to the critical state of South Carolina, where he will be participating in a town hall later this week. Get ready. Jeb Bush, he's going to be on "The Late Show" and Trump back on the trail, Jake, on Wednesday. Happy Labor Day.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: A very fluid race. We will see what happens. Very exciting.

No one could have predicted these poll numbers when the first candidate jumped in the race back in March. Now Labor Day is going to usher in this whole new mode of campaigning, but from Donald Trump's blunt talk to Hillary Clinton's track record, can any candidate remain on firm polling ground? Our panel is here to weigh in on that after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:15:57] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

More now on our politics lead on this unbelievable election race. Labor Day is really the starting gun for the sprint to the primaries. And, while, yes, the summer of Trump reshaped the race, things could undoubtedly change before the voting starts, as candidates are beginning to go up in the air with their first official ads and their travel schedules pick up the pace.

Let's talk about this race with Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, and conservative writer Ramesh Ponnuru.

Thank you both for taking a break from barbecuing and being here. We really appreciate it.

Let me start with you, Jamal. Hillary Clinton gave an interview to "The Associated Press" in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, earlier today. Asked if her practices about e-mail have damaged her campaign, she said, quote, "Not at all. It's a distraction certainly." Asked Monday by "The A.P." why she won't directly apologize, Clinton

said, quote, "What I did was allowed. It was allowed by the State Department. The State Department has confirmed that I did not send or receive any information marked classified. I take the responsibilities of handling classified materials very seriously and did so."

So, Jamal, she thinks that this controversy isn't damaging her campaign? Really?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I'm not sure how you can arrive at that conclusion, based on --

TAPPER: Odd conclusion.

SIMMONS: Based on what it is that we know from all the polling and what it looks like. If I were her, to play strategist for a second, which is why I'm here, right?

TAPPER: Yes, please.

SIMMONS: If I were, I would start the conversation whenever I'm asked about this by saying, "You know what? It was legal, but it wasn't the right thing we do, here's why we did it", and then move on.

But by starting out with the legalities, about other people did it, and here are all the reasons why, it sounds too defensive. You've got to give people permission to move on by acknowledging that she made a mistake and then moving on --

TAPPER: How much of an effective issue do you think this is for Republicans? It is a little bit legalistic. She's already parsing in terms of things that are marked classified. Everybody knows that there is over-classification in the state -- everybody in Washington, there is over-classification.

How much do you think this is actually a silver bullet of sorts?

RAMESH PONNURU, SENIOR EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, I wouldn't say it's a silver bullet, but I do think it is damaging, because it makes Hillary Clinton look untrustworthy and dishonest. You see in poll after poll, that is the perception that a strong majority of voters have for her. That cannot be good.

She has got to be looking at those polls, and whatever she is saying to interviewers, she's got to understand that this is doing some serious damage to her candidacy.

SIMMONS: You know, but sometimes, people look at you and they see someone who is may be more political than they would act, the thing to do is to act nonpolitically.

TAPPER: Right.

SIMMONS: Say something that surprises people like, you know what? I made a mistake, I didn't mean to do it, but here's why. TAPPER: It's interesting.

Do you think that Vice President Biden should get into the race? He's obviously very torn depending on what day or hour of the day you catch him, he sounds different. Do you think he should run?

SIMMONS: I'm for the strongest Democratic nominee. I think in vice president Biden got in the race, he would either beat Hillary Clinton or he would make her stronger in the process. So, yes, I'm all for him getting in the race.

And his people, I would have to say -- the people around him, maybe at the close circle, but you hear these stories about phone calls, about consultants being contacted. There are people who are working around, assuming they want to load this thing ready for him to be able to get into the race if he wants to.

TAPPER: The Clinton people have been very respectful of Joe Biden, as he makes this difficult decision. They're starting, however, to attack Bernie Sanders, who's really giving her a run for her money. Take a listen to Sanders this weekend, asked about Clinton's campaign and people -- her surrogates attacking him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they're getting nervous. Shh, don't tell anybody. Obviously, I think the secretary's people are getting very nervous about the kind of energy and enthusiasm our campaign is bringing forth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you think they should be getting nervous, or is this like a flash in the pan for, you know, idealistic progressives, but ultimately, they'll come home?

PONNURU: Well, I would imagine the Clinton people are confident, but they can't be happy about polls where Sanders is actually beating her. Now, they thought, I think that this was going to be put away, that this is going to be essentially be a coronation. That assumption has been upset. So, I think they've got to be nervous.

TAPPER: Speaking of coronations, let's turn to the Republican race and take a look at again at these Republican numbers from Iowa, New Hampshire, that show that Jeb Bush -- that Trump is in the top -- and stunningly -- Ben Carson is number two in Iowa.

[16:20:03] John Kasich is number two in New Hampshire.

But stunningly, Ramesh, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker have dropped, they both have gone from double-digit support in Iowa and New Hampshire respectively, and now they're at single digit. What's going on?

PONNURU: I think we are in the playing the field part of the political season for the Republicans. TAPPER: This isn't just playing field. These are people cheating on

their -- these are people dissing Walker and Jeb and going to other candidates.

PONNURU: Yes. And they -- right now, they are more excited by the nontraditional candidates who haven't held elective office.

John Kasich I think is the only person in the Republican field who's had a good summer who's been elected. Everybody else, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, they are people who have never been elected to anything.

SIMMONS: You know, I've been manning (ph) this informal Uber poll, ask my Uber drivers, what do you think about the presidential campaign? And one of the persons that came back, a 40-ish old woman just said to me, you know, Jeb Bush just looks weak, he just looks weak compared to Donald trump. That's the one thing you can't appear as a presidential candidate, is you can never look weak. I think he hasn't figured out the right stance against Trump to hold himself up as a leader of his party and the country.

TAPPER: But those, you know, that's almost like, remember, Tommy Flanigan, the subliminal guy, was that -- do I have the right guy name? The character who's always doing the subliminal thing? Donald Trump, it's not subliminal, calling Jeb Bush weak, calling him low energy, I think that takes root in people's brains.

PONNURU: That's right, and then Jeb Bush responding to it in a way that causes it to sink in further.

SIMMONS: Can I say this, Jake, before we go? I am surprised the only contest right now that they are talking about immigration or any issues have been to deal with Latino Americans or African-Americans is on the Republican side. The Democratic process has yet to really engage these core base voters in the party.

PONNURU: When Biden jumps in.

TAPPER: We're going to talk about a lot of that stuff coming up.

Ramesh Ponnuru, Jamal Simmons, thank you both.

This programming note: you can catch the next Republican presidential debate right here on CNN. That's coming up a week from Wednesday. That's Wednesday, September 16th, at the Reagan Library and Museum. I'll be moderating that debate, believe it or not, and I'm looking for your questions for the candidates. You can tweet them to me or post them on Facebook using #CNNDebate.

The national lead, he was a beloved police lieutenant, a 32-year veteran, his murder touched law enforcement nationwide. Next, the tributes to one of their own killed in the line of duty.

And the world lead: refugees on a desperate journey to escape conflict, flooding Europe thousands by the day. See the toll that that's taking on refugees and the countries they are now calling safe havens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:26:59] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

You are looking at live pictures from Antioch, Illinois. It's a sea of blue. Officers saying their final good-byes for the fallen comrade. All day today, more than 2,000 police officers from departments across the country have been standing in solidarity to pay respects to Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz, the beloved Fox Lake, Illinois police officer nicknamed "G.I. Joe", who was gunned down last Tuesday while on patrol, about an hour north of Chicago.

Investigators are still poring over surveillance footage hoping to identify the three suspects they believe may have murdered the officer.

Let's get to CNN's Ryan Young live in Antioch, Illinois, where the father of four was laid to rest. Ryan, it sounds like a very emotional day.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An emotional day here, in fact, all around us are people standing here, paying their respects as this procession goes. We're told 1,000 police cars should be working their way through this community over the next hour and a half. They believe it's going to take at least an hour to get to the burial site because of all the officers who arrive here.

You can see this blue lights, that I can tell you, it's touched a lot of people. We're going to turn our cameras this direction so you can see the intersection. Look at all the people who lined up here to take pictures. Some people here as early as 8:30 this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG (voice-over): Officer Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz last call for his community.

The husband and father killed in the line of duty last week. His family, including thousands of brothers and sisters in all here to pay their respects before laying the 30-year police veteran to rest.

(MUSIC)

MICHAEL GLINIEWIOCZ, LT. JOE GLINIEWICZ'S BROTHER: When we were growing up, we all knew Joe was a hero. But now, the nation knows he's a hero. You will always be a part of my life.

YOUNG: Many who don't wear a uniform simply came to show their support for those who do.

JOAN CHURCH, RESIDENT: Just to show respect for not only him, but for all the police that serve I day.

YOUNG (on camera): And we've heard from so many people talking about the idea they wanted to be here to show their support, not only to this community, to the officer's family. One of the things that stood to us were all these American flags that are lining the route, people standing here for several hours to show their support to this community and family.

MATTHEW HAERTER, BATTALION CHIEF AT KENOSHA FIRE DEPT.: I hope it sends society a message this needs to stop. We all support each our and can't do it without the public's help.

YOUNG: And while the lieutenant known as "G.I. Joe" was laid to rest, hundreds of officers from multiple agencies including the FBI, ATF, Homeland Security, and Lake County sheriff's office continue analyzing tips and several surveillance videos working to catch the three suspects.

GEORGE FILENKO, LAKE COUNTY MAJOR CRIMES TASK FORCE COMMANDER: We have images of people we believe are our subjects that we'd be interested in talking to.

YOUNG: Friday, investigators confirmed live on CNN that they have found a significant piece of evidence, but they have yet to share the details.

FILENKO: Our evidence technicians were at the scene once again, and they did recover a piece of significant evidence that wasn't found in the last few days. But I can't reveal exactly what that is or any of the other evidence, because it's extremely relevant that we keep some of this information away from the public.

(END VIDEOTAPE)