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Preview of GOP Debate; Are We Being Misled About War on Terror?; Kim Davis Will Go Back to Work as Rowan County Clerk Tomorrow. Aired 6:30-7 ET.

Aired September 13, 2015 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:01] DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We really focused on education. They've done a great job in Iowa.

JEB BUSH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the greatest country in the face of the Europe. And I don't know about you but I'm tired of people tearing down this country and dividing us.

BILL SANDERS: When we talk about some of the major issues facing this country, all of you know that we live in a highly competitive, global economy and we need the best educated workforce in the world in order to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the first time in U.S. history, we are destroying more businesses than we're creating. And we're destroying the businesses that create jobs, small businesses, family owned businesses, community based businesses.

JOHN KASICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm elected president of the United States, if I don't have the united Republican Party, you know how much harder it makes it?

I've also been allowed voice for saying that you need to have a - we need to get rid of the tax code. All 70,000 pages, and I'd replace it with a tax return that you could do on one page. One single rate for all taxpayers. And I think that would encourage jobs to come back home from overseas.

BEN CARSON, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A lot of the problems that we're finding in places like Ferguson is due to the fact that people don't respect each other.


PAUL: CNN's Athena Jones joining us on the phone from the site of CNN's GOP debate in Simi Valley, California. So, Athena, we heard everything there - education, small business, the issues on race in our country. Jobs, economy. So, I know that there's going to be this really big group at the end of the day of candidates on the stage together. What are your hearing about preparations?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Christi. A lot of these candidates are going to have to figure out how they're going to be able to make any impression on that debate stage. 11 people on the stage, many of these candidates are only going to get a few minutes, each on the end, to talk. Marco Rubio was asked about this over the weekend about preparing, and what he learned from that first - He said he learned that a minute goes by very, very quickly. We know that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, he felt that in the first debate he had a sort of polite, Midwestern, nice guy approach. He has said that he is going to try to be more aggressive. And so, they've got to leave an impression.

A lot of these candidates aren't getting a lot of mentioning in the media unless their name has come out of Donald Trump's mouth. And so, this is their opportunity to appear in front of the largest audience, and many of these candidates are going to have. The last debate 24 million people. And so, that's a huge television audience, very, very important for them to try to make a stand.

One more thing - though, was that Marco Rubio said was that, you know, they answer questions from voters every day and so that in many ways is very good preparation for the debate stage. But, of course, when you have a limited amount of time, they're going to have to be very direct and forceful and get their points across while also appearing tough. Because clear that a lot of the things voters say they like about Donald Trump is his toughness. So, it's a tall order. Christi.

PAUL: You know, the first debate was held at a pretty big stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The upcoming debate is at the Reagan Presidential Library. Help us understand how different the audiences at both of these places may be and how that energy affects the debate itself.

JONES: Well, certainly, it could affect it, but as the audience here is going to be no more than 500 people. That's a lot smaller than in that sort of stadium sized crowd at the first debate back in August. So, the candidates may not be able to rely on the audience to draw their energy. They're going to have to come across forcefully in front of a crowd that isn't going to be a crowd that has thunderous applause. But at the same time, these candidates are used to being interviewed on television with no audiences, and so - and talking in front of smaller town hall crowds and the like.

So, that shouldn't be necessarily a difficult challenge for them to surmount. Really the challenge is how can they use their minute, minute and half, their few minutes of time over the course of the whole debate to leave an impression with voters so that they can try to break away from the pack. If it's, of course, Donald Trump, who is in the lead, Ben Carson, these outsider candidates, how can these other politicians compete with the nonpoliticians and show the fire that the voters want to see? That's going to be the really big question here.

PAUL: Absolutely. Athena Jones, great breakdown for us. Thank you so much.

JONES: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Well, let's talk about what to expect now as far as this debate that is coming up this Wednesday. And for that I'm joined by CNN politics senior reporter Stephen Collinson. He's live from Washington. And CNN political commentator and conservative radio talk show host Ben Ferguson. Good morning to both of you at this early hour.


BLACKWELL: Steven, Trump is already ahead again and his lead is growing in the polls with the lead over the other candidates. Their numbers seem to be slipping. So, if you're one of those other candidates, and you are there on stage, what are you trying to do?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Right. Basically the story of this debate, it seems already, is going to be one way or the other Donald Trump. The other candidates have tried - have got to work out how they can get in the headline alongside Donald Trump. Now, that could be perilous. It's not necessary a good idea to pick a fight with Donald Trump. We've seen, as he says, he once he's hit, he punches back harder.

But you've got candidates like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rand Paul who we just saw, who really have seen their poll numbers slipping and they really need to do something to get into this conversation. Sooner or later if Rand Paul and Ben Carson are to be stopped, they've got 50 percent between them in the polls, most polls as outsider candidates. One of the professional politicians is going to have to emerge and coalesce the opposition to Trump and Ben Carson. So, this debate is a priceless opportunity for one of them to try to do that.

BLACKWELL: Ben, what would you do? How would you try to get out of the shadow of Donald Trump?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think you have to be true to what your style is as a candidate. And also look at where you are in the polls to see --

BLACKWELL: But is that really, Ben, is that really going to work? I mean that sound great. But I mean what really gets you that soundbite to be seen and shared?

FERGUSON: Well, it depends again, like I said, who you are. For example, if you're Ben Carson, you don't need to go out there and try to get outside of your box and somehow pick some war with Donald Trump, because that's just not your style. And actually, people really seem to like the fact that Ben Carson is a complete 180 in style towads Donald Trump. At the same time, if you're Chris Christie or if you are Mike Huckabee or someone like that, you've got to start really coming after Donald Trump. Otherwise the clock may run out on your campaign like it did for Rick Perry.

So, the debate for them is very important, and I also think for Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush has been sliding since the last debate. He has got to come out and really reassert himself as that second guy, you know, he says, the real guy running for president, not the Donald Trump. How he does that, though, he's got to be careful, because Donald Trump is the best counter puncher I've seen in modern political history. He is the best trash talker. And if you try to over reach, if you go swing too hard at him and you miss, you don't win that punch, Donald Trump is going to come back after you hard core. And that can get you in serious trouble and make people that like Trump love him that much more.

BLACKWELL: Right. Saturday in Iowa Donald Trump spoke to us about what he's expecting at the debate. So, let's just have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that it sounds like you're expecting a bunch of sleepers when you get to the debate this week. What are you going to do?

TRUMP: No, no, no sleepers. Everyone's capable. Everyone's confident. And you do what you do. And I've been doing this for a long time, and I want to make America great again. I know how to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That sounds like a very different Donald Trump from what you used to say before. Capable, confident, talking about your public - that's a different Donald Trump.

TRUMP: I'm trying to be nice.


BLACKWELL: Do you buy that nice bit?

FERGUSON: I think he's going to be nice until he doesn't like you or until you challenge him. I mean remember, this is a guy who tweeted out that Rick Perry needed to take an I.Q. test several months ago. And now we are saying, he's one of the nicest guys in politics, since he dropped out. So, I mean if I were a candidate, I'm going to look at this and kind of laughing to - as soon as you come after him, it is game on. And that's where he excels in this political game. That's why he's in first place right now.

BLACKWELL: Right. Stephen, I want to get one less - response from you. Who do you think if they don't do well is going to come out of this and be rethinking their campaign?

COLLINSON: That's a good question. I think Scott Walker has a lot of pressure on him. He was leading the polls in Iowa just a few months ago0. Now he's down at three percent. He's seeing his support hemorrhaging. If he doesn't put in a good performance at this debate, it's not just his supporters he has to worry about, it's donors as well. So, I think the pressure is really on someone like Scott Walker who - keep campaign going in this debate.

BLACKWELL: Right. Stephen Collinson and Ben Ferguson. As always, good to talk with you, thank you very much.


BLACKWELL: And this programming reminder. Be sure after all of this conversation to tune in for the Republican debate. It's hosted by CNN. It's Wednesday, September 16th and it starts at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

PAUL: It is short of --


PAUL: A new report questions the accuracy of intelligence reports on ISIS and other terror groups. What does that mean to the war on terror?

Also, staggering numbers of refugees fleeing Syria continues to grow. 4600 crossed the border from Greece into Macedonia in less than 24 hours.



PAUL: Let me ask you this. Are we all being misled, do you think, about the progress being made in the war on terror? There's a new report from "The Daily Beast" that says intelligence reports about terror groups including ISIS are being watered down.

Here's the quote. "Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department Inspector General in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The accusations suggest, essentially that a large number of people tracking in the workings of a terror group, think that their reports are being manipulated to fit a public narrative." That's the quote.

Let's talk about this with CNN military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, Lieutenant General, so good to have you with us. So, essentially, bad information could not only reach the public, the media, but the highest levels of government including President Obama. Do you think that is possible and have you ever seen anything like it before?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the accusation is being investigated, Christie. And that's a very good thing. The Department of Defense inspector general is taking a look at exactly what these two analysts are saying.

But truthfully, having been in situations where I've had analysts work for me, not only military analysts but those from intelligence agencies like the CIA, the DIA, the NSA, sometimes there is contention between the operators on the ground and what the intelligence analysts, especially if they're in a very closed cell, away from the action, say on reports. In fact, I have been known to do that several times, where I read a report being developed by someone who's not in the area saying something about something that I just saw, and I would go to my higher commander and say, hey, wait a minute, this isn't right.


HERTLING: These analysts need to get a better grip on what's going on. And then we bring the analysts up and trying to do that. So, yes, it happens a lot. There is always contention between commanders on the scene and the analysts providing the information and it should be that way.

PAUL: So, how confident are you that the U.S. has a decent gauge on the capabilities of ISIS and other terror groups?

HERTLING: Yeah, that's the key question. And I am relatively confident that we have a good gauge on it. There are commanders on the scene, we are getting information from multiple intelligence agencies. We are getting feedback from those on the ground about what's happening, but truthfully, even that can be distorting sometimes, especially in that part of the world.

So when you put all of these things together and conduct an analysis and say what do things really look like and what is truly happening, you are going to have some individuals who are going to say, hey that's not what I think is happening. And they have the right to go around the chain of command and go to the Department of Defense IG and say we'd like to have this looked at. The commander of the DIA, General Frazier has said, it's a good thing that we are investigating this, to get everyone on the same sheet of music. So, going back to your original question, I'm confident that the intelligence is being generated in the right way.

PAUL: OK. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, we so appreciate your insight as always. Thank you, sir.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: More on our breaking story out West, the raging wildfires that are burning out of control in California.

Burning homes, thousands evacuating. The latest, just ahead. Also, all eyes will be on Kim Davis tomorrow. That defiant Kentucky clerk who's set to go back to work. Will she do her job without incident or block marriage licenses? We'll have a discussion next. And in the next hour, former tennis star James Blake speaks out about the controversial takedown by New York police. He says he's undecided about suing, but explains why he might.



PAUL: Well, in case you didn't know, tomorrow morning Kim Davis will be back at her job as Rowan County, Kentucky clerk. This is according to her lawyers. Here's a big question, it is still out there. Is she going to issue marriage licenses or is she going to end up back in jail for defying court orders? CNN national correspondent Nick Valencia has more on what Davis's lawyers have been doing thus far. Nick? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martin and Christi. The attorneys for Kim Davis filed the appeal on Friday in front of the sixth circuit U.S. court of appeals asking for a delay in marriage licenses. The argument is that all of those who were seeking marriage licenses have been granted them. Therefore, when Kim Davis returns to office on Monday, she should not be required nor should her office be required to issue those licenses. The lower court denied the appeal, so now the attorneys are taking it to a higher court in a tense of getting the resolution there.

All along, Davis has maintained that her moral beliefs as a Christian do not allow her to issue those same sex marriage licenses. She's simply - is opposed to them, and essentially has said, she'd rather break federal law than break her moral conscience. Her supporters, they have equated her to a Christian martyr, saying that she represents everything right about the Christian right, and her critics, they want her to resign. This is an elected position that she has there as the county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky. Many are asking, why not just hold a special election, or perhaps a referendum there, for Kim Davis.

On Monday she goes back to work and her attorney, when asked by CNN, was unwilling to say whether or not Davis would do more of the same and deny those marriage licenses, simply saying that his client, Davis, has an oath to God, an oath that she is unwilling to break.

Martin, Christie?

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Nick, very much. We just heard what Davis's legal team is doing. So, let's try to get some deeper understanding. And to put it all in perspective, we have CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Philip Holloway. Good morning, Philip, good to see you.

PHILIP HOLLOWAY: Good morning, nice.

BLACKWELL: All right. So, let me ask you first about this. Explain what does remove her office's authority from the licenses mean? It's sort of very legalese there, but it's actually asking for something specific.

PHILIP HOLLOWAY, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if you want to put a very blunt and fine point on this, Martin, what you have to understand is that when you're an elected official and you're taking some action in your official capacity, you're not acting as an individual person, you are acting as the government. And she happens to be the person who occupies that office at this current moment.

So, her name at the bottom of the license means nothing more than the person who has applied for the license meets the legal requirements. And the Supreme Court has told us that same-sex marriages are legal. They have to be constitutionally recognized whether you like it or not. The Supreme Court just held us what the Constitution means. And if you don't like that, so be it. But if you're the government, you have to follow the law. BLACKWELL: She seems to just want to say, look, I want to take my

name totally out of this. Yet, she is the clerk. She is the documenter of these licenses. Can she do that? Can she just say, no, you go ahead without me?

HOLLOWAY: The entire statutory scheme involving marriage in the state of Kentucky, Martin, and probably across the United States is going to have to be reworked in light of the new Supreme Court ruling. So, I don't think simply just taking her name off the bottom means a lot. Because as I said, she is acting in her official capacity when she's at work. She's not acting as an individual person. She's acting in her official capacity, i.e., the government. So, the government is not allowed to take a position on religious matters. So, in her official capacity, she has no choice but to issue the licenses.

BLACKWELL: And say she doesn't. Say that she shows up tomorrow or whenever she goes back to work and she says no, I'm not doing it. I'm - upstanding from - these licenses? What happens? Is she automatically in contempt? Are we back and starting this all over again?

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, I think she has a couple of - really, three choices. Number one, she can quit her job. If it means that much to her.

BLACKWELL: Which she said she's not going to do.

HOLLOWAY: OK, then she can sit in her office and let her deputy clerks continue to issue the licenses or if she interferes with them, she's going to go to jail.


HOLLOWAY: We've already seen that the judges very willing to do that, and I guarantee you they are watching this very closely, and if she interferes in anyway or refuses to issue those licenses, she's going back to jail.

BLACKWELL: What about forcing her to resign? Can that be done?

HALLOWAY: That's the bigger question. I think that it would involve some type of interference from the government, or the governor, and may be the legislature --

BLACKWELL: An impeachment process

HALLOWAY: Yes, because if an elected official fails to do their job, they fail to carry out the duties of their offices, they are required to do by law, then they can be removed. And I think that's probably what would happen.

BLACKWELL: But it isn't so simple as somebody walking in there and saying, Mrs. Davis, I'm sorry, you're fired.

HALLOWAY: Well, in the interim time the federal judge saying, Ms. Davis, until you get fired, you are going to jail.

BLACKWELL: Philip Holloway, as always, we really appreciate your legal insight. Thanks very much.

HOLLOWAY: Thanks to be here.

PAUL: All right, we have so much more to show you on a breaking story out west. In case you haven't seen it and you're just joining us, look at these incredible pictures that we're getting of the wildfires. Thousands of people have evacuated. Those are homes burning. We know that at least four firefighters have been hurt. Thousands have been evacuated. We have a live report for you straight ahead.


PAUL: Beautiful neighborhoods turning to ash this morning. More than 6,000 homes are threatened right now as residents are told, you have got to get out. We have complete coverage for you of the California fires.


BLACKWELL: Hours before the start of the Jewish New Year, police in Israel clash with Arab youth outside a mosque. We are live with the developments. Plus --

PAUL: GOP hopefuls out in force this weekend.