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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Trump Leading. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 11, 2015 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:10]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican race is getting heated and personal. Wish me luck next Wednesday. I may need to bring my shin guards.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The politics lead. It's working for Donald Trump. Today, more candidates are trying to climb the polls by doing the same, launching broadsides against other candidates. What can we possibly expect five days from today at the Reagan Library debate?

The national lead. Never forget. Fourteen years ago today, terror hit the homeland and changed everything. Today, the man then heralded as America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, joins me to look back at those defining days and to look forward to the race for 2016.

Also in national news, a violent hot pursuit, two carjackings, a spectacular crash, and a hostage situation that ended with one suspect dead. What are we learning today about why this happened?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD.

I'm Jake Tapper live today in Los Angeles because of our politics lead. In five days, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in scenic Simi Valley, 11 Republican rivals will all huddle on one stage for the biggest event yet in the race for the Republican nomination. It is the next debate.

It could forever shift the odds and shake up the polls, but today it seems more evident than ever that it's going to take quite a lot to shove Donald Trump off the top of the Republican mountain. A new poll out of Iowa shows 27 percent of Hawkeye State Republicans want Trump to be their nominee.

But look at that top five again, Trump, Carson, Cruz, Bush, Fiorina. You will notice one name not on that list, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. He led in Iowa back in July, summiting the pack at 18 percent. But now he's at 3 percent.

But if you thought the candidates would wait for debate night to swing rhetorical pickaxes at one another, well, you clearly haven't been paying attention. Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, now saying it looks like Donald Trump has a woodland rodent on top of his head. His words, not mine.

Donald Trump using his weapon of choice, Twitter, to thwack back at Jindal. And Jeb Bush just wishing Mr. Trump would lay off those late- night tweets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald, don't tweet. Please, please, go to sleep. Take some rest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is on the Republican trail.

Suzanne, this gets more and more personal by the day.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does, Jake.

I just had a one-on-one interview with Dr. Ben Carson. And he said it is very personal now, but he also said, look, if you're going to say something bad about him, go ahead. He is not going to engage. He is in Ferguson today, he says, to de-emphasize the divisiveness over race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Trump continues his rise in the polls even as his insults increase. Now Carly Fiorina, the only female candidate in the Republican race, is taking on Trump.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Leadership is not about the size of your office, the size of your airplane, the size of your helicopter. It's not about your title. It's not about your ego.

MALVEAUX: This following an exchange that Trump had earlier this week with "Rolling Stone" magazine about Fiorina. "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?"

Trump tried to clarify the comment.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm talking about her persona.

MALVEAUX: Even suggesting those comments have a certain context.

TRUMP: Many of those are made as an entertainer, because I did "The Apprentice."

MALVEAUX: With this debate possibly being a make-or-break for some candidates, attacks like this could be the new norm.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As long as Trump is in the race and the other candidates are engaging him, you're going to have to go to his level.

MALVEAUX: According to the latest Quinnipiac poll of Iowa voters, Trump now leads that state among Republicans at 27 percent. Carson is not far behind at 21 percent.

And coming in third, Ted Cruz at 9 percent. Bush has fallen to fourth place. Ben Carson is in Ferguson, Missouri, meeting with city officials, the same city that erupted into civil unrest a year ago following the death of Michael Brown.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much.

MALVEAUX: Carson is also in a verbal brawl with Trump, this one over faith. The two are battling over the critical evangelical vote, questioning each other's religious beliefs.

CARSON: The biggest thing is that I realize where my successes come from. And I don't in any way deny my faith in God. And I think that probably is a big differentiator.

[16:05:07]

MALVEAUX: Trump was quick to fire back.

TRUMP: If you look at his past, which I have done, he wasn't a big man of faith. All of a sudden, he's become this man of faith. And he was heavy into the world of abortion.

MALVEAUX: Today, Carson did not take the bait.

CARSON: I have made it clear that I was not attacking him. It was interpreted that way by the media, and I think he took the bait, but I'm not taking the bait.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And, Jake, in our one-on-one interview, he actually did respond to Trump's statements. And he says he does not take his faith lightly, that this is something that is very serious and dear to him.

And also Trump's statement, you were heavy into the world of abortion, he said as a medical doctor, of course, he's never performed an abortion, never would, and also would not knowingly benefit from research that used fetal tissue from an aborted fetus -- Jake.

TAPPER: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton's hold on the front-runner spot is looking increasingly tenuous. Our latest CNN/ORC national poll only shows her only 10 points up on Bernie Sanders, with Vice President Joe Biden not far behind, although he has not declared his candidacy.

But as the timing looks better as ever to challenge Clinton, last night, an emotional Biden admitted he's just not sure he can do that.

CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is in Washington.

Brianna, Biden seems legitimately emotionally torn up about whether or not he should run.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He is heartbroken. You can see it there, Jake.

This interview may be very revealing, this interview he gave to Stephen Colbert, about where Biden was yesterday. But I am told he is taking this day to day, as you can imagine, and he's still not sure one way or another if he's going to run. His close circle of longtime friends and confidants are eying certainly this Clinton dip that we are seeing in the polls, as the vice president makes up his mind.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton is sliding in the polls. She's still the Democratic front-runner, but down 10 points in just one month, according to a new CNN/ORC poll of Democrats and Democratic- leaning voters. Many Americans say she isn't trustworthy and she is losing support with a key group that she's courting this week, women.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will stand my ground. I will defend a woman's right to choose.

KEILAR: Clinton has lost her advantage in hypothetical matchups against leading Republicans. Ben Carson is beating her, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump statistically tied with her. And though Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls recently, Vice President Joe Biden, who spent today in New York honoring those lost on 9/11, stacks up better against Republicans.

Biden beats Trump by 10 points, Bush by eight, and is three points behind Carson.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to get in trouble. I feel it coming.

KEILAR: Biden, still undecided on a run, talked to Stephen Colbert in a candid interview.

BIDEN: I don't think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and, two, they can look at the folks out there and say, I promise you, you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy and my passion to do this.

And I would be lying if I said that I knew I was there.

KEILAR: The vice president's son Beau died of brain cancer just three months ago. Biden's recent appearances alternate between admissions of his grief and what sound like stump speeches.

BIDEN: Here is the bottom line. I'm hot. I acknowledge that. I'm mad. I'm angry. KEILAR: If Biden doesn't run, polls show a lot of his support goes to

Clinton, not Sanders. The Vermont senator remains relatively level in national polls, but has rallied in early states, now tied in Iowa, and ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire.

BLITZER: Could you really see yourself as being president of the United States?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Increasingly, yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: But many voters cannot. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, even though Sanders is really challenging Clinton in the two early states. Jake, only 13 percent of those polled say Sanders is likely to be the nominee and 22 percent say it will be Biden. And 55 percent think it's going to be Clinton.

TAPPER: All right, Brianna Keilar, thank you so much

Let's talk about this with our panel, the former Democratic Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm and Republican political consultant Eric Fehrnstrom. He was a senior adviser to Mitt Romney.

Thanks to both of you for joining me.

Governor Granholm, let me start with you. You endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. You served as an adviser to a pro-Clinton super PAC. As you know, the importance of poll numbers isn't necessarily where they are at any given moment, but where they are headed, and Clinton's are going down, with Sanders and Biden's going up. What does she need to do to turn that around?

[16:10:03]

JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Well, as you know, it's five months out until anybody casts the first vote, so it really is a huge amount of time.

Every presidential election starting in 2000 had somebody else ahead, whether it was Bill Bradley ahead or, of course, you know, Michele Bachmann was ahead, and Mitt Romney was down by six points to Rick Perry. So, there is a lot of time left.

TAPPER: Yes, and Hillary Clinton.

GRANHOLM: And Hillary Clinton is another one, exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Isn't that an alarm bell?

GRANHOLM: Well, I mean, everybody is taking it seriously, right? It's not like anybody is closing their eyes and saying this is a given. Nobody is doing that. And that's why she's out there stumping. I mean, this week, she is

really focused on women's issues, which is kind of ironic, given what's happening on the Republican side.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Eric, let me turn to you.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Right.

Eric, let me turn to you, Vice President Biden sounding every bit like somebody who was going to run for president Monday night. Last night on "Colbert," he sounded ever bit like someone too scarred by the death of his son to put all his soul into running for president.

You're somebody who was worked for a candidate also torn about running, Mitt Romney, different reasons, obviously, but he decided not to run this year, but having seen this back and forth, the emotional roller coaster, what do you is -- where do you think the V.P. is right now?

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, FORMER SENIOR ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, I think he's watching the race very closely. Since the last CNN poll, Hillary Clinton has lost 19 points in seven weeks.

That's half-a-point a day. If she continues at this rate, then by December she will be competing with Jim Webb for last place. Look, she's been in the race for five months. Jake, during that period of time, she's had multiple campaign resets. Her support is collapsing across the board, including among women.

She's losing to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. He's catching up to her in Iowa. What's truly amazing about all of this is that no Republican is running advertising against her. She's not suffering from any attacks by other Democrats in her own primary, and she's pumped millions of dollars into positive TV ads in the early states, and it still hasn't stopped the bleeding.

I think this is all self-inflicted. If I were Joe Biden, I wouldn't rule anything out. I would be prepared to move into the race, because I don't think things will get better for Hillary. They will get worse.

GRANHOLM: Jake, really, every Republican would love to trade places with Hillary Clinton if their numbers were the same on the Republican side.

On every national poll, right now, on the average at RealClearPolitics, she's between 20 and 30 points ahead of her next challenger. She is going to be just fine, but she's got to work, there's no doubt about it.

The debate that you're about to moderate -- and good luck -- it's going to be a hoot to watch -- that one I think will be a show- stopper, because I would like to hear -- and I don't know if you're taking suggestions or anything, but I sure would love to hear Donald Trump responding to what he would do, for example, about paid leave.

TAPPER: Sure.

GRANHOLM: I haven't heard what he said, but certainly the others have been saying it. What he said about Carly Fiorina today, people have said he's a male chauvinist pig. He's not a pig. He's a parrot. He's actually parroting a lot of the stuff that is happening behind the scenes in Republican white -- policy white papers.

He wants to shut down the government on Planned Parenthood. I would love to hear whether he agrees with all of the rest of them on the Violence Against Women Act, or on raising the minimum wage, where you have got two-thirds of women who are affected. Let's hear what he says about that.

TAPPER: OK.

Eric, let me ask you, you have been through many, many presidential debates with Governor Romney. If you were advising Donald Trump, how would you use this debate?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, Donald Trump is in complete command of the field.

Whatever he chooses to talk about at this debate is going to be the headline that comes out of it. So, you can do one of two things. You can either leave everything to chance, or you can take control of the situation. I would recommend that he tried to take control of the situation.

So how do you do that? I would think of putting forward a piece of policy that nobody's talked about to this point. Maybe it's something as simple as a stem-to-stern review of every federal program to examine its usefulness.

Whatever it is, it should be something that relates to why he is doing so well in the polls, which is people are hungry for an outsider candidate, someone who is not part of the go-along-to-get-along crowd, or who is going to go to Washington, and not just shake things up, but turn the city on its ear.

TAPPER: All right, Eric Fehrnstrom, Jennifer Granholm, thank you both. Wish me luck. I appreciate it.

GRANHOLM: Good luck, Jake. Good luck. Yes.

FEHRNSTROM: Good luck.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: This programming note: You can catch the next Republican presidential debate right here on CNN.

[16:15:01] That's coming up Wednesday, September 16th at the Reagan Library. I'll be the moderator. I am looking for your questions for the

candidates. You can tweet them or Facebook them to me, using #CNNDebate. It all starts at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

The national lead -- it was the day when everything as we knew it changed, September 11th, 2001. America watched in horror as terrorists hit the homeland. Now 14 years later to the day, the man who was mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani will join me to reflect and talk about whether the nation is ready, if it were to happen again. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

It is a day that changed all our lives, especially those who lost someone close to them, in the towers, on the planes at the Pentagon or to this day on the battlefields.

Topping our national lead, an emotional and somber day of remembrance for all the lives tragically lost in the worst terrorist attack on American soil 14 years ago today in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania.

[16:20:09] President and Mrs. Obama observed a public moment of silence earlier today on the White House lawn, at 8:46 a.m. to be precise, the exact time terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Yesterday evening in New York City, nature gave us its own tribute, in light seemingly ending at the New World Trade Center, which now towers proudly over Lower Manhattan and the footprints of the buildings we lost.

Joining me right now is Rudy Giuliani. He was mayor of New York City on that fateful day, which changed America forever.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us.

It's been 14 years since the horrific attacks. I know this is not an easy day for you, this anniversary. When you think about 9/11, when you think about that day 14 years ago, what images stick with you the most? What moments?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: You know, the thing that probably repeats itself more often for me is the first sign that this was way beyond the normal emergency that we faced. When I arrived at the scene shortly after the second plane hit, and I realized that I was watching a man throw himself from the 101st floor to his death, it kind of froze me. I watched him come down, and I saw other people being hit by debris, and being killed.

I think it was that first initial realization that this was way beyond anything we had ever faced before, and we were going to have to just do the best that we could to get through it. That's the image that -- I probably see that image almost every day in my -- in my mind.

TAPPER: Such a tough day, yet we saw such strength, the American people, New Yorkers, yes.

GIULIANI: That's how I get myself out of it. So, when I find myself thinking about that or the bodies that I had to identify because I lost 10 or 12 very close friends and a few cases the families didn't want to do the identification, so I was the one who did the identification.

When I think back on that, and I find myself too wrapped up in it, I start to think about the bravery of the firefighters who gave their lives to save so many people. I think about all the people all over the world who come up and thank me. I just love this one this one. They come up and say if it wasn't for your firefighters, we would not have gotten out of that building safely. There would have been a stampede.

I love when they say "your firefighters", because I feel like they're mine.

Then I think about the flag that the firefighters put up that looked so much like Iwo Jima, and gave us a sense that these are the sons and grandsons and granddaughters of the people who won the Second World War. So the strength is there.

I have images like that. The construction workers who came and volunteered at 5:00 in the afternoon, and one of the big, big guy told me, I said, what are you doing here? He said to me, we can lift things. You can use us. We can lift things, and we could use them because we had to lift some very, very heavy things.

So, there are wonderful images, and there are horrible images. And I think that's how you best describe it, the worst day and the best day.

TAPPER: You obviously since then have entered the political arena as a presidential candidate. Obviously you have thrown elbows, and you've taken elbows, but that day -- I just want -- I just want to acknowledge to your detractors, I understand you are a controversial man.

GIULIANI: Sure.

TAPPER: But that day you were heralded for having a strength and a fortitude, you were not -- you did not lash out. You were a voice of stability.

And at a time when, by the way, you know, President Bush was, you know, because of the Secret Service telling him to do this, was in the air, was in a bunker in Nebraska for a bit, or something along those lines, and a lot of Americans turned to you, and found reassurance in your voice.

What was it like inside you while you were conveying that? Did you feel as strong as people ascribed to you? Or did you feel like the puddle we all felt like that day?

GIULIANI: I probably felt like everyone else, except I realized what my duty was, what my responsibility was, to be strong, to act strong. My father once taught me if you're a in a crisis remain calm. If you

can't remain calm, pretend you're calm, because it will keep you calm.

[16:25:01] So I think that, you know, I realized that people were looking to me and that I had to be very careful about making sure that I showed strength. There were times I wanted to cry, when I found out about losing Father Judge, when I found about losing Pete Ganci who I saw 20 minutes earlier, who I was counting on to get us through this, or Chief Downey, who was the head of our recovery efforts, or Captain Hatton whose marriage I had performed three years earlier and whose wife has been my administrative assistant for 30 years.

Each one of those required taking a deep breath and saying, you know, I'm going to think about that later, I have to concentrate on how do we close off the bridges and tunnels, because there may be more attacks? How do we triage the hospitals? How do we get generators down here so we can light up Ground Zero and work all night?

So, I think my responsibilities probably kept me focused. That's something -- you know, people are good at certain things and not so good at other things, and I've run a lot of emergencies. I've been in law enforcement all my life.

That part I felt comfortable with, I mean I felt comfortable with being that, and I think if you're a leader, you're a different person, depending on the circumstances. If I'm going to be in a political debate, that's going to be a lot different than if I'm trying to deal with a tragedy that affected us, no matter if we were Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, or whatever we were.

TAPPER: Yes.

I -- we'll have you on again to talk about all the controversies that your detractors want me to challenge you on, but I just wanted to focus -- I want to focus on that day, because it is such an important day. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, thank you for your time and thank you for your leadership that day 14 years ago.

GIULIANI: Thank you. Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: The world lead: did the U.S. do enough to save an American hostage held captive by al Qaeda? The family of Warren Weinstein is reacting to a potential missed opportunity now being made public. That story is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)