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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Deadly Typhoon in Japan; Donald Trump Rising; Interview With Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired September 10, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, Colbert warmed him up for me. And, today, Governor Jeb Bush will get serious on CNN.
I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.
The politics lead, Donald Trump vs. the world? He's attacking Dr. Ben Carson's surgical skills, Carly Fiorina's face? As the final CNN poll before next week's debate shows, he is stronger than ever. Trump's favorite target, Jeb Bush, will join me to weigh in and respond.
The national lead, moving targets -- 11 shootings in 11 days, zero suspects, armed volunteers now patrolling a small busy stretch of an interstate on the lookout for a possible sniper.
The world lead, homes swept away, water up to rooftops, incredible rescues under way as a deadly typhoon dumps two feet of rain on parts of Japan.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Our politics lead. As my kids would say, we only have six more sleeps until the next Republican presidential debate. But if you happened to notice a little pep in my step, a little vibrato in my voice, it's because today better than Sunday fun day. It's poll day, a critically important day for the candidates trying to get on the prime-time debate stage.
Our brand-new CNN/ORC national poll shows Donald Trump enjoying an encore atop the Republican field. He's now the first Republican candidate in our poll to crash the 30 percent threshold. He is shoring up support among demographics where he seemed vulnerable just a month ago, with women and with those with college degrees.
And there are more hugely encouraging signs for Trump in the poll. A majority of Republican voters now say he is most likely to win the nomination, and if he does in fact do what most everyone thought impossible back in June and snag that nomination, 67 percent of Republicans say they will at least be OK with Trump representing the party in the general election.
The poll, however, brings more ominous news for Jeb Bush. Yes, he is in third place behind Trump, but now 47 percent of Republicans in our poll say he would not be acceptable to them as the nominee. The one- time Republican front-runner is here today on THE LEAD talking to me for his first sit-down interview with CNN this cycle. We will get to that in just minutes.
But, first, let's get to the top political news with CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash to bring us up to speed.
Dana, the insults in the Republican primary process so far this process have been fast and furious, but the last 24 hours, they have really gotten personal.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is unbelievable. You have the top two candidates questioning each other's faith in God, and now you have a third calling the front- runner egomaniacal narcissist, that as Donald Trump continues to defy political convention and gravity by reaching new heights.
BASH (voice-over): Donald Trump's dominance in the Republican field is even more solid, a high watermark for any GOP candidate, 32 percent, and no one else coming close. But the man who is running second, Ben Carson, is mixing it up with Trump like never before. Trump used to call Carson too nice to attack.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I cannot hit him.
TRUMP: Very low-key. Frankly, he looks like -- he makes Bush look like the Energizer Bunny.
BASH: Trump's turnaround follows a family pattern. Carson questioned Trump's faith.
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't in any way deny my faith in God. And I think that probably is a big differentiator.
BASH: So, Trump counterpunched.
TRUMP: Ben Carson, you look at his faith, and I think you're not going to find so much. And you look at his views on abortion, which were horrendous. And that's I think why I'm leading with all of the evangelicals.
BASH: On that, Trump is right, CNN/ORC's new poll has Trump on top with evangelicals, 32 percent, and Carson not far behind at 28 percent.
TRUMP: Who is he to question my faith when I am -- he doesn't even know me. I have met him a few times. But I don't know Ben Carson. He was a doctor, perhaps an OK doctor.
BASH: To be sure, Carson is a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who pioneered separating conjoined twins.
Trump is also getting into trouble again talking about women's appearances, quoted in a new "Rolling Stone" article as saying this when seeing Carly Fiorina on TV. "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?"
The brash billionaire tried to clarify on CNN this morning.
TRUMP: The statement on Carly, I'm talking about her persona. Her persona is not going to be -- she's not going to be president.
BASH: Fiorina's strategy is to not take the bait, saying instead she's getting under his skin. Yet another candidate unleashed on Trump today.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R-LA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The reality of Donald Trump, however, is absurd. He's non-serious. He's a carnival act.
BASH: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, struggling in the polls, threw a political Hail Mary.
JINDAL: I have enjoyed him as a reality TV show star, but just because a lot of people like watching Kim Kardashian, we wouldn't put her in the White House either. He's an unserious, unstable, narcissistic egomaniac.
BASH: Now, Jindal is not the first candidate to go after Trump. Rick Perry called him a cancer on conservatism. Jeb Bush is now painting him as a Democrat in disguise, but Jindal's approach is different.
Jake, it's not so much about politics. It's about Trump's personality and character. He's trying to make the point, he says, that the emperor has no clothes.
TAPPER: Well, let's see what Jeb Bush has to say.
Dana Bash, stick around. I want you to weigh in after I talk to Governor Bush.
TAPPER: Here now for his first CNN interview of the 2016 presidential race, former Florida Governor, Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush. Sir, thanks so much for joining us.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You bet, Jake. Good talking to you.
TAPPER: This morning your fellow candidate and southern state governor, Bobby Jindal, went on a lengthy invective against Donald Trump, the front-runner. He called the front-runner "dangerous" and more. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JINDAL: Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He's a narcissist.
He's an egomaniac.
The only thing he believes in is himself. Donald Trump is shallow. He has no understanding of policy. He is full of bluster. He has no substance. He lacks the intellectual curiosity to even learn. You can't argue policy with this guy. The only thing that Donald Trump believes in is himself.
Donald Trump is for Donald Trump. He's not for anything. He's not against anything. Issues don't mean anything to him. Policies, ideals, they're not important to him. He is for Donald.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Agree or disagree, Governor?
BUSH: I agree.
I think that Mr. Trump, as the front-runner, needs to be treated like all candidates and he needs to share what his experiences are to be president of the United States, what his ideas are, and so far, at least, he has not been serious about that.
I think he believes that he can insult his way through the presidency and I don't think history is a really good guide for that. I think he needs to begin to say what his vision is for the future and up until now, I think Governor Jindal is absolutely correct that he's not a serious candidate.
TAPPER: Now, we saw Donald Trump along with Ted Cruz rally on the Capitol steps yesterday, Trump went after the -- quote -- "stupid people who made this Iran deal."
This deal looks like it's going to happen. What would a President Jeb Bush do about this deal on day one and why is your approach better than Trump's?
BUSH: Well, first of all, I think you need to look at the full relationship that we had with Iran.
By giving them over $100 billion of revenue, they're going to be able to continue to be the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world. Their people are still repressed and held back by the ayatollahs. They have the capability of -- with conventional weapons -- to be a real existential threat to Israel and there's no evidence that they'll comply with this agreement because they violated the agreements in the past.
And so the next president is going to need a strategy to push Iran back and to make sure that they never have the nuclear capability.
Donald Trump has said that Hillary Clinton has got so much talent that she'd be a good negotiator with Iran. Well, she and Obama's administration has yielded this negotiation, which has been unmitigated disaster. He's wrong on that. TAPPER: When you say you would push Iran back, do you mean that you would rescind this deal or that you enforce it more vigorously? What exactly do you mean?
BUSH: What I mean is the broader context of Iran's efforts to create a radical Shia force in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria through its support of Assad and certainly in Lebanon through the support of Hezbollah, both in Syria and Lebanon, and now reengaging with Hamas and the Gaza Strip is a huge problem in the immediacy. That's in the here and now.
And when you combine that with their capabilities, their ability to have ballistic missile capabilities, their purchase of missile defense capabilities and my belief that they're not serious about complying with this agreement, this president is leaving the next president with a much more dangerous situation as it relates to Iran and we need to strategy to contain them as it relates to the region and to assure the American people that they'll never get a nuclear bomb.
TAPPER: I do want to ask you about the tone and tenor of the campaign.
Most recently, "Rolling Stone" magazine quoted Donald Trump saying this about Carly Fiorina, your fellow presidential candidate -- quote -- "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?" -- unquote.
Trump said today that he was talking about Fiorina's persona, her personality. Do you believe him and what's your view of that comment?
BUSH: Look, I don't get it. I don't see how over the long haul that you can insult your way to the nomination or the president -- certainly not the presidency -- and not the nomination either.
This disparaging of women is deeply troubling. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Carly Fiorina has a -- has made a good contribution already and will continue to make a contribution in this nomination process. She should be respected as a talented person and a viable candidate.
TAPPER: We're now watching these harrowing scene out of Europe, Syrian refugees dying as they try to escape war, countries, to be frank, rather slow to help.
We're hearing now from the Obama administration that it looks as though the U.S. will take in up to 10,000 refugees in the next fiscal year.
Senator Ted Cruz says -- quote -- "It doesn't make sense from a logistically or a security standpoint to move large numbers of them" -- meaning Syrian refugees -- "to far-off countries like the United States."
Where do you come down?
BUSH: Look, we are -- we've had a rich, noble tradition of supporting refugees all across the world.
Think of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese that came to our country and they've added a vitality to our country that's undeniable. We have a tradition of doing this and I think we have an obligation to do that in support of the displaced people that right now are suffering in these tragic pictures are real. This is not a made-up game.
The other thing that we need to do is to have a strategy as it relates to Syria. Thirty days ago, I laid out such a strategy at the Reagan Library where we talked about how you build a no-fly zone, where you create safe zone for the building of a moderate force that needs to be supported by Europe and by the Arab nations, trained by America and where our air superiority can bring out -- you know, can create an environment where we can take out ISIS and take out Assad.
You cannot do this without a political settlement that creates more stability.
Twelve million people have been displaced in a country that has no more than 23 or 24 million people. This is a humanitarian problem of epic proportions, and I think the United States needs to act both as it relates to a strategy in Syria, as well as dealing with the refugee problem.
TAPPER: We're going to take a quick break. My interview with Jeb Bush will continue. I will ask him about CNN's brand-new poll that shows 51 percent of Republicans thinking Donald Trump will be the nominee.
More Jeb Bush coming up next.
[16:16:34] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're going to stay with our politics lead and more of our CNN interview with Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
TAPPER: Policymakers say that the most alarming development in Syria, which has happened since you gave that speech, has been -- and this is only the Russians only admitted this in the last day or so -- Russia is sending in troops to Syria to help prop up Bashar al-Assad in the view of American policymakers. The Russians will be fighting ISIS, but they're also probably going to be fighting Syrian moderates that the U.S. is supporting.
How concerned are you about this? Is this essentially going to be a proxy war against Russia in some ways?
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a deeply disturbing trend if it's verified, for sure. And it creates even great dilemmas for the United States, but this was -- this is what happens when you talk with great grandiosity about a red line and then never act. Or talk about supporting the Syrian Free Army and then allow it to be decimated.
The United States needs to lead. When voids are created because of our lack of leadership, you see what's happening. And Putin now sees an America that is so weak and vacillating that he takes these kind of actions.
We need a new president where their word, his word is a bond with the American people and the rest of the country -- rest of the world. We don't have that right now and so Putin is acting as bullies do. And it's going to create a much more difficult situation in Syria if this is true.
TAPPER: You just unveiled your tax plan. I want to talk to you about a couple aspects of it.
Donald Trump said that hedge fund managers are, quote, "getting away with murder". He proposed raising taxes on them. Your former protege Marco Rubio responded by saying if you want to raise taxes, you should be running the Democratic primary.
I think a lot of people were surprised by the fact that in your tax plan, you decided to essentially join Trump on this issue. You're in favor of increasing the taxes on hedge fund managers from the 15 percent they're paying now to a higher rate.
Tell us why.
BUSH: I'm not -- I'm not in favor of raising taxes. I'm just saying that if you -- if you want to create -- you should create investment income taxes for everybody. If you're investing, you should have a lower tax rate and we're proposing 20 percent. If your business is to make money in the financial markets, that's not -- and you don't have skin the game, you don't have capital in the game, you should pay ordinary taxes.
And we're lowering the ordinary tax rate to 28 percent at the top. And this will create high sustained economic growth in the real economy, which is what we need.
Look, Wall Street's going to be fine. They'll adjust to be able to provide services for people that are going to be building factories, taking advantage of the energy revolution in our midst. We need to create job training programs so that we deal with the skills gap. We need a full strategy of high sustained economic growth, and our tax plan will create dynamic economic activity.
So, it's not a tax raising exercise; this is a tax cutting exercise.
TAPPER: It won't surprise you that liberals and progressives are criticizing your tax proposal, the Democratic National Committee saying that regardless of some of the elements like the hedge fund managers' increase in taxes, generally speaking, your plan ultimately will mean, quote, "more massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations all while exploding the deficit or shifting the burden onto the middle class, an even more extreme plan than his brother's."
What's your response?
BUSH: My plan looks very similar to the 1986 plan, which was a bipartisan tax plan under the Reagan administration that created an explosion of investment and higher wage growth and economic growth for our country over an extended period of time.
[16:20:01] That's what we need to get back to, is high sustained economic growth. Why should we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world where we create inversions where companies are being sold overseas, where we lose the revenue and more importantly the jobs?
We should have the lowest corporate tax rate in the industrial world, which I'm proposing, eliminate the deductions, and allow for investment to take place in our own country. The middle class in my proposal, all of them will get, on average, a 33 percent cut in taxes.
We need to boost people's spirits by giving them more money to be able to make decisions for themselves, and as part of this we'll shrink Washington along the way and disrupt the old order in Washington, which desperately needs it.
TAPPER: You've said that in Washington during your brother's time at the White House, Republicans spent too much money. Can you name any spending items that you would have vetoed or would you have paid for? The Medicare prescription drug benefit? What would you have done differently?
BUSH: Look, if you're going to grow government faster than people's income growth, then you have to pare it back. I believe we ought to have, and my brother tried to do this, entitlement reform. We should shift as much power back to the states.
There should be -- Medicaid ought to be turned into a defined contribution system where states decide it and where you lower the growth rates of spending.
The EDA, I mean, have a thorough review of all of these agencies that have never really been reviewed. You can pare back spending. Just the size of the bureaucracy; allow attrition to take place.
We could -- we could shrink the government workforce by 10 percent just by people retiring and not rehiring. There's a lot of things that we could do in terms of procurement reform.
What we need is a leader that has a practical experience in doing this. I did this in Tallahassee, Florida. I turned the place upside down. We shrunk the government by 11 percent. They called me Veto Corleone, Jake, because I cut 2,500 separate line items in the budget.
This president, the next president, needs line item veto authority and a balanced budget amendment. TAPPER: Let the record reflect I'm only asking one horse-race question. Today, in our CNN/ORC poll, you're third in the Republican field. You're at 9 percent; 51 percent of Republicans say they think Donald Trump will be your party's nominee.
You started this race as the frontrunner. What happened and how are you going to turn it around?
BUSH: It's a long haul. I'm up in New Hampshire right now. I'm going to talk to people that are going to see the benefit of this tax proposal that will allow a small business. And I'm going to talk to the employees about how they're going to get higher wages and more people will be hired because of this tax proposal that stops the punitive nature of our code and actually allows people to invest in their future.
I think, ultimately, the three things that matter is you have to heart for people, you have to ideas to lift them up, and you have to have leadership skills to make sure that people know it's actually possible. I have those skills and I'm going to share it with passion and conviction and we'll see what happens. I'm pretty confident I'm going to be the Republican nominee.
TAPPER: Governor Jeb Bush, thank you so much. I'll see you six days from at the CNN debate, and of course we'll also see you out there on the campaign trail. Good luck out there, sir.
BUSH: Thank you, Jake. Look forward to seeing you.
TAPPER: Let's bring in CNN national political reporter Sara Murray, and still with me, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
Dana, along with me we'll get to ask questions of Governor Bush and all the other candidates in six days at the debate. So, let's just talk about this.
I was surprised, I have to say, when we ran some of the sound, the scathing indictment of Donald Trump from Bobby Jindal, who is not doing particularly well in the polls. I asked Governor bush to agree or disagree and he said agree.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He did, because, look, in some ways Jeb Bush started the ball rolling, his line of attack on Donald Trump, as we were talking about it earlier, when Bush started it, it was -- it was much more about his record. Jindal was very personal.
But the fact that he said you can't insult your way to the presidency is something that he's hoping very much will stick. The problem is Jeb Bush is thinking I think about a conventional campaign and what we have learned, including and especially a day like today when our polls shows how well Donald Trump is doing --
TAPPER: Yes. BASH: -- is that this is anything but conventional.
TAPPER: And, Sara, I did know he was going to take it when I asked him to weigh in on the comments that Donald Trump made about Carly Fiorina's face to "Rolling Stone" magazine, or with "Rolling Stone" present. Donald Trump insists he was talking about her persona, but that's not really what the quote suggests.
But he cast this as a bigger issue for Trump.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. He said it was deeply troubling to hear him talk about women this way. I feel like that's Jeb Bush kind of wanting to shake female Republican voters and like, wake up, why are more of you guys -- our new poll shows Donald Trump is drawing more support among women.
I think Bush is trying to say, why? Listen to the things that he is saying about women. But on the other hand, this is how he treats the women he has to interact with on a day to day basis, a woman he's going to be on the debate stage with. And I do think that there are a number of other Republicans who would agree and think these comments are troubling and Republicans need to make up ground with women and not be making comments like this.
[16:25:00] TAPPER: You -- all of us follow this stuff closely, but you and Dana very closely. You detected a tweaking of Governor Scott Walker in his remarks and Governor Bush's remarks about Syria.
MURRAY: Yes, there was a little bit of tweaking there. I mean, when Jeb Bush is talking about the situation in Syria right now and all the Syrian refugees and how the U.S. should respond, he says, look, these are real images we're seeing. This is not a made up game. And this is, of course, just days after Scott Walker said, he would not answer about how the U.S. should deal with Syrian refugees because it's a hypothetical. Now, he went on to clarify that days later.
But this is sort of become a pattern of what we've seen with Scott Walker. As he gets the questions, he kind of stumbled over them on the outset and it takes some days to finally reach an answer. I think Jeb Bush wants you to know he's already thinking what he would do as president.
TAPPER: And I asked Jeb Bush about what he would veto, since he said Republicans spent too much money during thinks brother's time in the White House. I asked him, what spending item would you have vetoed? Would have at least, you know, had the prescription benefit paid for, I didn't really feel like I got an answer. I'm going to have to check with transcripts.
BASH: No, in fact I was looking at the transcript. You didn't get a specific answer, at least to the one you asked, which is pick one thing.
And the reason why I thought that exchange was very telling, Jake, is because I've spent a good part of the modern and early afternoon talking to conservative leaders, those who head groups with deep and wide grassroots conservative members. And when you bring up Jeb Bush, they say one of the biggest problems is his relationship and his name's relationship with the way people perceive the Bush year. His father and his brother, big spending, govern run amok, and the fact he didn't have a specific answer, he talked about his Vito Corleone days in Florida. But on the national federal level is telling.
TAPPER: All right. Dana, Sara, thank you so much.
As we've been saying, the next Republican presidential debate is less than a week from now right here on CNN. That would be Wednesday, September 16 at the Reagan Library. I will be the moderator. We will reveal that debate lineup in just a few hours.
Who made the cut in find out which ones did and where they will appear on stage tonight at 8:00 Eastern on Anderson Cooper, "AC360".
This just in, a Republican attempt to stymie the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran just minutes ago failed in the Senate, coming up two votes short, 58 senators voted to derail the deal, but they needed 60 votes. Forty-two Democratic senators blocked the measure from going to a final vote. And that spares President Obama from having to take out his veto pen, at least for now.
On the other side of the campaign, a brand-new poll that Bernie Sanders admits even stunned him. That's next.