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Piling on Trump; Interview With Hillary Clinton. Aired 18- 19:00p ET

Aired September 17, 2015 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: piling on Trump.

The GOP front-runner takes fire from all sides in the CNN Republican presidential debate. Did his rivals manage to chip away at his considerable lead? We're standing by for a Trump rally scheduled to begin shortly.

Exclusive interview. I go one on one with Hillary Clinton, getting her response to the wave of debate attacks unleashed by the GOP candidates, and she speaks out about the controversies dogging her campaign. Why did it take her so long to apologize for using a private e-mail server? I will ask her.

Debate breakout, Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush getting high marks for their performances in the Republican face-off. Will it be enough to push them out of single digits in the polls?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following the race for the White House more heated than ever right now after CNN's Republican presidential debate here at the Reagan Presidential Library that now stands as the most event watched in CNN history; 23 million people here in the United States tuned in to see the GOP hopefuls battle it out in a marathon contest full of pointed jabs, one-liners and breakout moments.

Now the candidates are back out there on the campaign trail. Donald Trump is about to hold a rally in New Hampshire, which will hold the first primary in less than five months. We're expected to hear from him soon. Stand by.

We will also hear from Hillary Clinton. She's also in New Hampshire. She spoke to me in an exclusive one-on-one interview.

CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is here with me in California.

Dana, it was a remarkable night. All of us watched closely. You were there right in the middle of all what happened. Explain to our viewers the very latest.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it was in so many ways different from the first round and I think the most obvious was that there was a different person on the stage and she certainly made her presence known.


BASH (voice-over): A standout moment for the only woman on stage, saying so much without saying much at all.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump said the following about you -- quote -- "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?"

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it's interesting to me Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she's got a beautiful face. And I think she's a beautiful woman.

BASH: Carly Fiorina's reaction today?

FIORINA: It's only a woman whose appearance would be talked about while running for president, never a man.

BASH: On that note, it was her command of challenges America faces, especially national security, that has the political world buzzing today.

FIORINA: The reason it is so critically important that every one of us know General Suleimani's name is because Russia is in Syria right now, because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up Bashar al- Assad.

BASH: That another swipe at Donald Trump, who last week stumbled on questions about names of key figures who threaten the U.S.

TRUMP: Arab name, Arab name, Arab name. And there are few people anywhere, anywhere that would have known those names.

BASH: Marco Rubio also used the billionaire as a foil after Trump gave vague answers about how to handle Russian President Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: I will get along, I think, with Putin. And I will get along with others.

TAPPER: You've called Vladimir Putin a -- "gangster."

Why would President Rubio's approach be more effective than President Trump's?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, I have an understanding of exactly what it is Russia and Putin are doing, and it's pretty straightforward. He wants to reposition Russia, once again, as a geopolitical force.

BASH: Rubio's mentor, Jeb Bush, showed more fight than ever before.


TRUMP: OK, more energy tonight. I like that.

BASH: Going after Trump for invoking his wife, Columba, on the trail.

(on camera): Did Mr. Trump go too far in invoking your wife?

BUSH: He did, he did. You're proud of your family, just as I am.

TRUMP: Correct.

BUSH: To subject my wife into the middle of a raucous political conversation was completely inappropriate, and I hope you apologize for that, Donald.

BASH (voice-over): Trump wouldn't apologize and this morning tweaked Bush for not trying harder to make him.

TRUMP: I thought he was going to push me harder to apologize to his wife.

BASH: Bush did take advantage of an unexpected gift, discussion about one of the few areas where Americans still praise his brother.


TRUMP: Your brother -- and your brother's administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster, those last three months, that Abraham Lincoln couldn't have been elected.

BUSH: You know what? As it relates to my brother, there's one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.

I don't know if you remember...


BUSH: ... Donald...


BASH: And another candidate with a troubled campaign, Chris Christie, got himself back on the political map with moments like this.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't want to hear about your careers, back and forth and volleying back and forth about who did well and who did poorly. You're both successful people. Congratulations. You know who's not successful? The middle class in this country who's getting plowed over.


BASH: Now, that was the main debate, top 11 Republican candidates in the polls.

Four others duked it out earlier for about an hour, the so-called undercard there. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham stood out saying things like he won't tell Americans that they want to hear, but he can't deliver on, and of course by cracking a lot of jokes, many of them self-deprecating, but you know what? It's unclear if that undercard will happen anymore, because it's possible the Republican National Committee is saying no more with that. We're just going to go with one debate.

BLITZER: So maybe there will just eight or nine or 10 or whatever, just one card, not two cards. We will see what happens. There's several more Republican debates coming up.

Stand by, Dana.

I want to bring in our CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's with us, along with our senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of "The National Journal." Also joining us, CNN political commentator Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker," magazine and our senior political reporter, Manu Raju.

Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

Carly Fiorina, Gloria, she was certainly the focus of a lot of this discussion last night. By all accounts, almost all accounts, she did well talking about women's qualifications, rather than her appearance or whatever. Does that though translate into votes right now following this important debate?


First of all, she was very strong on the stage last night, she was very strong on foreign policy. She made it very clear that Donald Trump is not her best friend and her response to Donald Trump when he did not apologize to her for his obviously offensive remarks was to be completely stony-faced into the camera and when he tried to say to her, you know, we think you're beautiful or whatever it was, she just stared right ahead and I think he dug himself a little hole there.

So I think on two fronts, you know, she knows how to conduct a surgical strike on policy, which she does very well, and also as a woman, as she said on "NEW DAY" today, enough with this judging us by different standards.

BLITZER: She's obviously an intelligent woman.

Ryan, Carly Fiorina also hit Donald Trump hard on his business record. Listen to this.


CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I led Hewlett-Packard through a very difficult time, the worst technology recession in 25 years.

TRUMP: She can't run any of my companies. That, I can tell you.

You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people's money, and you were forced to file for bankruptcy not once --

TRUMP: I never filed for bankruptcy.

FIORINA: ... not twice, four times, a record four times.

TRUMP: I have made over $10 billion.


BLITZER: All right. So Ryan, what about that? If voters like Trump's business record, his outsider experience, can she capitalize on that by hitting him hard on the specific area?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A little bit. I don't know though that that's the way to go at him.

I mean, he is obviously successful. He made, whatever it is, $3 billion to $9 billion, depending how you're counting it. He had this series of bankruptcies, mostly related to Atlantic City.

But for Fiorina to go down that road, it really does open up her to attacks that she has had throughout her runs for office that at Hewlett-Packard, she didn't have such a great career. I think it's a sort of dangerous road for Fiorina. I think the smarter attack in a Republican primary, the one that worked in 2012 against every sort of pretender to the nomination, is Trump's not conservative enough for you. Right?

Point out his history on the issue of abortion. Point out his issue on taxes. For a long time in his life, he was at odds with conservative voters. And I think down the road, that's the more fruitful attack against Donald Trump if you're a Republican candidate.

BLITZER: Yes, Ron, you wrote that Trump would recede when he was not launching insults at the various Republican candidates. Was Trump specific enough last night, for example, when it came to national security, foreign policy?


I think, by the way, on the business side, I think it's a safe prediction they will damage each other by going down the line of attacking each other's business record. I think that is a very likely outcome. But on foreign policy, I think Donald Trump had two problems that

were in evidence last night. One was a lack of specificity and a lack of detailed knowledge about a lot of these issues that really kind of shone through as he tried to address them.


I think in some ways the bigger problem is, he hasn't figured out his lane, he hasn't figured out where he fits in this field on those issues. On domestic policy, he has a North Star. He's assembling an agenda of blue-collar populism on immigration, trade, taxes, and so forth.

On foreign policy, is he a hawk, is he a dove? He gave kind of a strange answer on Syria, where he said we should just kind of let -- stand back, let them fight. He's going to get along with Putin. What is he? Where does he fit in? I don't think he's figured that out.

BASH: The question is, does it matter? Does it really matter at this stage of the game?

Like you said, his North Star, blue-collar voters, the people who are energized by him saying we're going to make this country great again, we're not going to let this country recede as China grows. And every time we think that he will get kind of pummeled by the voters for showing that he doesn't have specifics, like Carly Fiorina did, they don't seem to care.

BORGER: But I think if you are going to run against Hillary Clinton, if you're going to be the Republican nominee, former secretary of state, Republicans want to win.

BASH: That's the general.


BORGER: No, I know. But if they are thinking about that as they vote in the primary, we want somebody who can win, then this question of foreign policy looms large.

And last night on that debate stage, when people were getting into foreign policy, it was like the airplanes were flying over Donald Trump's head, and he couldn't kind of get any altitude.


BLITZER: Hold on for a moment, because I want to get into something that Jeb Bush said, specifically that Donald Trump went way too far when he said Jeb Bush's Mexican-born wife, Columba, had softened his immigration position.

She tweeted this in reaction. She said: "I came to America because I love this country; @realDonaldTrump Trump is wrong."

Could this -- Manu, could this impact on Donald Trump, sour voters against him, this whole issue? MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't know. Donald Trump has

defied all political wisdom. All -- everything that we know about politics doesn't seem to apply to Donald Trump.

Of course, this is a man who insulted John McCain's war record and then he went up in the polls. He also insulted a large group of voters, Hispanic voters, and he also went up in the polls. How much is this going to hurt him? I'm not sure.

But I think what will actually have an impact is this is the first time we have seen a large number of candidates really gang up on Donald Trump and go after him hard on a wide range of issues, which you have shown so far. And that cumulative impact may end up hurting more in the polls, particular as other people have risen, like Ben Carson.

We will see how that plays out. It will be very interesting to see how the first suite of polls, how that reflect on Donald Trump in the coming days.

BLITZER: Yes, those of us who are political news junkies, we are looking forward to those polls, the first polls done since the second Republican presidential debate.

All right. Everyone stand by. We have a lot more coming up.

And, by the way, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be joining us live later this hour. He's done a fact-check on this issue that came up involving childhood vaccines, a debate that occurred between Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Welcome back.

Take a look at this. We're standing by for a Donald Trump rally in Rochester, New Hampshire. He's getting ready to speak once again to a very large crowd there. We will have that. That's coming up. Stand by once it starts.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump vs. Dr. Ben Carson on vaccines. The two candidates leading the Republican field in the polls, they disagreed during the CNN presidential debate last night over alleged ties between immunizations and autism.

Jake Tapper asked Dr. Carson, who is a pediatric neurologist, neurosurgeon, I should say, whether Trump should stop publicly linking childhood vaccines to autism.


BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, let me put it this way, there has -- there have been numerous studies, and they have not demonstrated that there is any correlation between vaccinations and autism.

This was something that was spread widely 15 or 20 years ago, and it has not been adequately, you know, revealed to the public what's actually going on. Vaccines are very important, certain ones. The ones that would prevent death or crippling.

There are others, there are a multitude of vaccines which probably don't fit in that category, and there should be some discretion in those cases.

TAPPER: Should he stop saying it? Should he stop saying that vaccines cause autism?

CARSON: Well, you know, I have just explained it to him. He can read about it if he wants to. I think he's an intelligent man and will make the correct decision after getting the real facts.

TRUMP: Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control.

I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time, because you take a baby in -- and I have seen it -- and I have seen it. And I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two- or three-year period of time.

Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump -- I mean, it looks just like it's meant for a horse, not for a child, and we've had so many instances, people that work for me.


Just the other day, 2 years old, 2.5 years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.

I only say it's not -- I'm in favor of vaccines, do them over a longer period of time, same amount.

TAPPER: Thank you.

TRUMP: But just in -- in little sections.

TAPPER: Dr. -- Dr. Carson?

TRUMP: I think -- and I think you're going to have -- I think you're going to see a big impact on autism.

TAPPER: Dr. Carson, you just heard his medical take.


CARSON: He's an OK doctor.



BLITZER: All right, let's get a fact-check on what is going on.

No one better to do that than our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, it's a well-known fact that vaccines, at least according to studies out there, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, there is no correlation with autism. But when you hear this exchange going on, give us the facts. What is your reaction?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is no connection between vaccines and autism. And I will just pause there for a second because I don't want anybody to think there's any strings attached to that statement. There just is no connection. There hasn't been.

There was a study done earlier this year, one of the largest; 96,000 children, they looked at, looked at their history of vaccinations and looked for any correlation with autism. It simply doesn't exist.

The issue that they raise as well, Wolf, with regard to spreading out the vaccines over time really doesn't have merit as well. I think this is a really important point. First of all, you realize this could potentially be dangerous to potentially spread out these vaccines.

When you spread them out these vaccines, you're leaving children essentially unvaccinated for a period of time. You're defeating the very purpose that you have given the vaccines in the first place. That's a huge issue.

But, also, Wolf, we used to give a much larger sort of inoculation of vaccines some time ago. When we gave vaccines for smallpox, for example, that was a much larger amount of antigen or vaccine to the child's system. At that time, we had a much lower rate of autism. So, in fact, the amount of vaccine overall has gone down and the rates of autism have gone up.

In fact, it's the exact opposite correlation. There is no reason not to get kids vaccinated on schedule.

BLITZER: You know Dr. Ben Carson, Sanjay. You're a neurosurgeon. He is a pediatric neurosurgeon. Were you surprised that he effectively refused to correct Trump in the exchange that occurred there?

GUPTA: Yes, I think it was a bit surprised. I have known Dr. Carson for some time. He's a very, very well-respected doctor, very well-respected neurosurgeon.

He's from Michigan. I'm from Michigan. It's interesting, Wolf. This is one of those fascinating topics to me, because I think the science is so clear and yet this is a real collision of science and just social opinion on this particular topic.

I think it's imperative, actually, for Dr. Carson, Dr. Paul, who is also a doctor, an ophthalmologist, to just be very clear on this, because I think it borders on being dangerous to suggest in any way that there is a problem with autism. Dr. Carson did not suggest that. Others have.

Or to suggest that spacing out the vaccines are a good idea. Look, if you have small children in your house, a child who is not vaccinated, another child who potentially is exposed to some potentially problematic disease, you know, that child could get sick. That child could spread that illness to other children at his or her school. These are preventable diseases. And as far as, again, the link to autism, that is just not true. I think people just need to say it, be clear about it and not equivocate.

BLITZER: Let's move on to another issue that came up in the debate, when the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, and Senator Rand Paul, they argued about medical marijuana in New Jersey. Listen to this.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I don't want the federal government interfering and putting moms in jail, who are trying to get medicine for their kid...

CHRISTIE: And Senator Paul knows that that's simply not the truth.

In New Jersey, we have medical marijuana laws, which I supported and implemented. This is not medical marijuana. There's goes as much -- a further step beyond. This is recreational use of marijuana.

This is much different. And so, while he would like to use a sympathetic story to back up his point, it doesn't work. I'm not against medical marijuana. We do it in New Jersey. But I'm against the recreational use of marijuana.


BLITZER: All right, Sanjay, you reported on a New Jersey family that was forced actually to move to Colorado over this very issue.

When you heard that exchange, what was your reaction?

GUPTA: I have a lot of reactions to that, Wolf.

As you know, we have been reporting on this for some time. Governor Christie has been against marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, for some time. More recently did he allow certain strains of medical marijuana in the state of New Jersey.

But your point, the family that we profiled had to leave New Jersey and move to Colorado because there weren't marijuana laws on the books at that time. And even in New Jersey now, there are some, but not adequate for this particular family.


Look, I think people commingle the issues of medicinal and recreational marijuana a lot. I think if you called medical marijuana by another name, a completely different name, cannabis or something else like that, people wouldn't constantly be commingling these issues.

But the situation that Dr. Paul was talking about, where you have families who are obtaining this for their children, it works for them when nothing else has worked, they have tried everything that mainstream medicine has to offer. Those things have not worked. They try this and it's a benefit.

But now they can't leave the state of Colorado or leave a state, a medicinal marijuana state. If they do, they could potentially be charged with a crime. He's right about that. That is definitely happening, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Sanjay, good fact-check. Always good to get your expertise. Thank you, very, very much, critically important issues.

Once again, 23 million Americans were watching that debate last night.

This important programming note: CNN will also host the first Democratic presidential debate. That's coming up on October 13 in Nevada. Stick around.

Up next, my exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton. We talk about the Republican debate attacks on her, the controversies dogging her campaign, and a possible challenge by the vice president, Joe Biden, and more.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Now my exclusive interview with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, her first interview since coming under the barrage of attacks by her GOP rivals in the CNN presidential debate. Former secretary Clinton joined me from the campaign trail in New Hampshire just a little while ago.


[18:31:14] BLITZER: You certainly did take a lot of fire from the Republicans at the CNN debate last night. I assume you watched it, especially from the lone female candidate up on the stage, Carly Fiorina.

She said if you want to stump a Democrat, she said, ask them about Hillary Clinton's accomplishments as secretary of state.

If you were on that debate stage with her, what would you say was your No. 1 accomplishment as secretary of state?

CLINTON: You know, Wolf, I didn't get to see all of their debate, but I saw enough of it to know that this is just the usual back and forth political attacks, the kinds of things you say when you're on a debate stage and you really don't have much else to say.

I didn't hear anything from any of them about how they're going to make college more affordable or get down student debt, or get equal pay for equal work for women, what they're going to do to make sure that we deal with the challenges of raising incomes for hardworking people.

So I don't really pay a lot of attention to this kind of rhetoric that heats up the debate stage. They're all trying to vie for more attention from, obviously, the Republican Party. I'm going to let them decide how best to do it.

But if anybody is interested, you know, there's a long list about what I have done, and I'm very proud of it. You can read my book, "Hard Choices," read about how I negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. You can read about how I put together the coalition that led to international sanctions against Iran. You can read about what I did when I was first lady to get the Children's Health Insurance Program, or as senator, working across the aisle on issues like getting better health care for our veterans.

You know, this is just the silly season. I am looking forward to eventually debating on that stage whoever they finally nominate once they get around to doing that.

BLITZER: All right, so listen to what Carly Fiorina also said, Madam Secretary, about some controversial videos opposing Planned Parenthood, an organization you support.

Listen to this.


CARLY FIORINA, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes, watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, "We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."

This is about the character of our nation.


BLITZER: All right, Planned Parenthood...

CLINTON: You know, of course not...

BLITZER: ... says that video doesn't depict -- Madam Secretary, hold on. I just want to explain.

CLINTON: That's right. BLITZER: Planned Parenthood says the video doesn't depict an

aborted fetus. They says -- they said that was from a miscarriage; it had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood.

This is an organization, though, you support.

First of all, have you seen those very, very controversial videos?

CLINTON: Well, Wolf, let's -- let's break down what's happening here, because I think it's important. I know that there's a move on by some of the Republicans in the Congress to actually shut down the United States government over their demand that we no longer give federal funding to Planned Parenthood to perform the really necessary health services that they do for millions of women.

So let's put aside for a moment here that there is no debate and there should be absolutely no argument that Planned Parenthood does cancer screenings; it helps provide family planning and contraceptive advice; it works to provide, you know, some of the most difficult kinds of counseling when it comes to giving an HIV test, for example.

What this is about is the fact that some of the Planned Parenthood facilities perform abortions, which is legal under the laws of the United States.

I understand that the Republican Party, and particularly the candidates we heard from last night, wish that were not the case, wish that abortion were illegal and they could turn the clock back.

[18:35:07] So I think we ought to be very clear that Planned Parenthood has served to provide health care, necessary health care for millions of women. And I think it deserves not only our support, but the continuing funding from the federal government so that these women and girls who are seeking the kinds of services that are provided will be able to achieve that.

BLITZER: All right, have you -- are you confident that Planned Parenthood, Madam Secretary, or any of its affiliated groups, if you will, haven't violated any federal laws?

CLINTON: Well, Wolf, let me tell you what I know, and that is there is a -- a willingness on the part of Planned Parenthood to answer questions. They have been doing so. Some people may not want to hear the answers, but they have certainly put those answers out there into the public arena.

And if the issue -- the core issue that some on the stage last night or some in the Congress are trying to promote or trying to raise questions about has to do with the kind of research that is done legally in the United States, then that is an issue that goes far beyond any Planned Parenthood example.

So I -- I think it's important to sort out -- there's a lot of emotion. There's a lot of accusations that are being hurled about. I think it's important to sort out and try to actually figure out what is going on. If it's the services that they are trying to shut down, like providing family planning or breast cancer screenings, that is just wrong and women deserve to be given support to get those services provided.

If they want to shut down the legal provision of abortion services, then they've got a bigger problem, because, obviously, they -- Planned Parenthood does not use federal dollars to do that.

And if they are more focused on the research that is going on, then that's a set of issues that certainly is not only about Planned Parenthood.

So I -- I would hope...

BLITZER: But a...

CLINTON: ... that the Republicans, and particularly the Republicans in the House, led by Speaker Boehner, would not put our country and our economy in peril pursuing some kind of emotionally politically charged partisan attack on Planned Parenthood to shut our government down.

BLITZER: All right...

CLINTON: I think that would be a very, very unfortunate decision.

BLITZER: All right, let's talk about another source of criticism you received last night, this one from the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie. He said at the debate, you can't tell the American people the truth. Those are his words about your email, whole controversy. He says you should be prosecuted for having a server in your basement. He says with national security secrets running through it. He says Russians, Chinese, even 18-year-olds could have hacked into your server.

You -- you think that was possible, that they hacked into your server?

CLINTON: There's no evidence of that. And, again, this is -- you know, this is overheated rhetoric, baseless charges trying to somehow, you know, gain a footing in the debate and in the primary. And it really doesn't deserve any comment.

BLITZER: It took you a long time to say you're sorry about what happened, the mistakes you made in organizing that server to begin with.

Why did it take so long?

CLINTON: Well, you know, I was trying to explain what had happened, and obviously it was clear that I should have used two different email accounts. And I've said that that was a mistake; I'm sorry; I've taken responsibility.

But I've also, for more than a year now, been asking to testify before the Congressional committee that is investigating the situation in Benghazi. They would not let me appear.

Finally -- and I'm very happy about this -- I will be appearing, toward the end of October, and I will look forward to answering all their questions.

I'm trying to be as transparent as possible. That's why people are reading the contents of the emails that are being released. It's why I've turned over my server. It's why I will testify.

BLITZER: You've dismissed Donald Trump's campaign as entertainment, suggested, in part, he's not really serious. But the top Republican candidate right now, Donald Trump, and, for that matter, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, they're all political outsiders; and your main Democratic opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, he's pulling way ahead in some of these polls in New Hampshire and Iowa. He's running as an outsider, as well.

So how do you deal with that? Why is Bernie Sanders, for example, ahead of you in these polls in New Hampshire and Iowa right now?

CLINTON: Well, I -- I've said for a long time, polls are going to go up. They're going to go down. I'm very confident and very comfortable about our strategy. I feel that our campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, all the early states, and now we're moving on to the states that come after, are really coming together well.

[18:40:15] I'm excited by the level and intensity of the support that I have. So I always thought this would be a competitive election. I'm looking forward to it. This is an important job. This is the most important job not only in our country, but in the world. And people have to fight hard. They have to make their case, and they have to earn the votes of the American voters.

BLITZER: You sat next to Joe Biden when you were the secretary of state for four years. He's been the vice president of the United States now for almost seven years, a heartbeat away from the presidency.

If he does decide to run, will you be able to tell the American people that you're more qualified to be president than he is?

CLINTON: Well, Wolf, I'm not going to comment on a hypothetical, and I'm certainly not going to comment on my good friend and former colleague. He has to make up his own mind about what's best for him and his family, as he wrestles with his choice.

But I will tell the American people I believe that my set of experiences, my plans for the future, my vision for what America should be, what I've already told voters I would do on everything from making college affordable to paying down student debt to tackling climate change by making us the clean energy superpower, dealing with substance abuse and addiction, like I did here in New Hampshire today.

I have a very comprehensive agenda that I think addresses the very issues that Americans are talking to me about. And I know that having been around the presidency, both as the

first lady in the '90s and then as a member of President Obama's cabinet, working with other presidents, as a senator and even in private life, I feel very confident that I'm the right person at the right time to lead our country to deal with the growing issues around incomes that are not raising enough money for people to feel they've got a better future, about the kind of jobs we need more of, about how more workers get to share in the productivity by sharing the profits of what they helped produce.

I'm the one out there talking very specifically about what I would do, because I want to run a campaign that lays out my agenda; because when I get elected, I'm going to start working on it immediately.

BLITZER: I know -- I know your time is limited. A quick question: are you ready to tell Democrats, indeed, the American public today, that you're ready to accept more Democratic presidential debates than already scheduled?

You're under pressure to do so.

CLINTON: Well, Wolf, I have said from the very beginning, I look forward to debating. I look forward to the debate, you know, next month, you know, now just a month away. And I will certainly show up anywhere the Democratic National Committee tells us to show up, because I want us to have a good exchange of ideas and to make sure that Democratic voters first, and then general voters to follow, see exactly what we each stand for and what our positions are.

So, you know, I -- I am ready and willing, no matter what they decide, to show up and be there.

BLITZER: Are you ready to ask the DNC to authorize more Democratic presidential debates?

CLINTON: That's up to them. They can, you know, they have made their decision. But I have made it clear that if they want to do more, I'm happy to do them.

BLITZER: Clearly, you're influential, though, with the DNC. And if you want more debates, I'm sure that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the DNC, would -- would go ahead.

Let me ask you one final question before I let you go. You've praised your husband as a great president. So let me ask you this. Would you be a better president than Bill Clinton was as president of the United States?

CLINTON: Oh, Wolf, you know, that -- that's one of those questions that I cannot and will not answer. I will say this. I think if you look at the last 35 years, actually, if you go back further, I think it's pretty indisputable that having a Democrat in the White House is good for our economy, better for our economy than the alternative. I think my husband understood that and produced. I think

President Obama inherited a -- a really big and dangerous mess and has, you know, been able to get us out of that ditch.

So I'm not running for my husband's third term. I'm certainly not running for President Obama's third term. I'm running for my first term.

But I do believe that both of them understood what it would take to try to clean up the messes they inherited from their Republican predecessors and begin to get the economy and the country working again for everybody.

And that's exactly the kind of president I will be, as well.

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck out there on the campaign trail.

We'll look forward to covering you. We'll look forward to covering, obviously, all of those Democratic presidential debates, as well.

Thanks very much for joining us.

CLINTON: Thank you so much, Wolf. Good to talk to you.


BLITZER: And we're also standing by for a Donald Trump rally that's set to begin in New Hampshire. We're going to bring it to you live. Stay with us for that. Much more coming up.


[18:50:06] BLITZER: Millions and millions of tax dollars spent with almost nothing to show for it and now the Pentagon is planning an overhaul of its program to help moderate Syrian rebels take on ISIS.

Barbara Starr reports.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A shocking admission by the U.S. general running the war against ISIS, how few U.S.-trained Syrian rebels are left.

GEN. LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: It's a small number. The ones that are in the fight is we're talking four or five.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: As I see it right now, these four or five U.S.-trained fighters, let's not kid ourselves that's a joke.


STARR: It was supposed to be the showcase of the U.S. effort in Syria, a $500 million program to train 3,000 rebels this year alone.

AUSTIN: Well, we certainly won't at the pace we're going we won't reach the goal that we had initially established for ourselves.

STARR: Austin also acknowledging his own intelligence director under investigation for altering intelligence reports. The White House for the first time asked if the president still has confidence in his commander.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Of course, yes. And I think that's important to note and I made reference to this yesterday -- General Austin to his credit sat before that congressional committee, took the oath, faced the cameras and delivered some hard news.

STARR: And the Pentagon now defending how involved Defense Secretary Ash Carter is in overseeing the war.

PETER COOK, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT PRESS SECRETARY: He is actively engaged in every aspect of this fight.

STARR: But Carter has deferred to Secretary of State John Kerry to lead U.S. discussions with Russia about its military involvement in Syria. Russia now averaging two flights daily into Syria bringing in troops and weapons. The latest commercial satellite imagery capturing four Russian military helicopters on the ground, the first combat aircraft.

One U.S. intelligence estimate, up to 500 Russian troops already there. The Russian foreign minister has told Kerry it's all to fight ISIS.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not taking that at face value because we look at the type of airplanes or the type of munitions and so forth and it obviously raises much more serious questions about what is happening.


STARR: Russians are setting things up in order to support Assad. And this is a big problem right now. The Pentagon watching it closely but not taking any additional steps and an awful lot of frustration from many military officials -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Frustration indeed.

All right. Barbara, thanks very, very much.

Just ahead, on a very, very different note, the hilarious phone call between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, at least someone who looks a little bit like him. Watch this.


CLINTON: You know, I'm really curious, Donald, what is your stance on women's issues? JIMMY FALLON: Look, I know a lot of women and they all have




[18:58:06] BLITZER: Hillary Clinton had some fun with Jimmy Fallon last night. Watch this.


CLINTON: Hello? Who's this?

FALLON: Congratulations. You're speaking to Donald Trump.

CLINTON: Oh, hello, Donald.

FALLON: How are you, Hillary? I haven't seen you since my last wedding.

CLINTON: Well, I'm sure I'll see you at the next one. You know, I'm really curious, Donald, what is your stance on women's issues?

FALLON: Look, I know a lot of women and they all have issues.


FALLON: You want to win? Here's what you've got to do. First, yell. I yell all the time. In fact, this phone isn't even plugged in.



Next, pick three things everyone loves and say you hate them. Watch, puppies, stupid. Rainbows, total losers. Fall foliage, tree puberty.

Are you writing all this down?

CLINTON: Hold on. Let me grab my pen.

Do you have any idea what it's like to work so hard for something to be so close to getting it and then someone pops out of nowhere and tries to take it all away?

FALLON: Are you talking about Bernie Sanders?

Look, I hate to say this, but I think he's losing his hair.

CLINTON: Well --

FALLON: I hate to say it. He's a great guy. Fantastic. I hate to say it, he's losing his hair. CLINTON: At least he doesn't have this one strand that he twirls

over his head like a soft-serve at Dairy Queen.



BLITZER: Very funny.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.