Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Cancels S.C. Speech Amid Firestorm; Candidates Respond After Trump Allows Anti-Muslim Remarks; Obama's Faith, Birthplace Back In The Spotlight; Trump Retaliates with Fiorina's CEO Records; High School Football Players Tackled a Referee says They're Just Doing What They're Told; Fiorina at a Republican Conservative Forum

Aired September 18, 2015 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:10] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, Trump still silent. Donald Trump canceling an appearance in the face of withering criticism over his failure to correct a supporter's anti-Muslim remarks. Now Trump's opponents were attacking him.

Plus, we're standing by for a live appearance by Carly Fiorina. She scored points against Trump in the debate. Will she go after him again tonight?

And those Texas high school players who tackled a referee now speaking out for the first time. How do they justify the brutal blind-sided hit? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Jim Sciutto. I'm again tonight for Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, Donald Trump staying silent. Donald Trump cancelling a scheduled political appearance in South Carolina tonight as he faces a firestorm of criticism over his failure to correct a supporter who lashed out at Muslims and questioned President Obama's own faith. You're looking now at live pictures from that event. That is Marco Rubio speaking now. Most of the GOP candidates expected to take the stage there at the heritage action political forum tonight.

Trump, however, saying at the last minute he had, quote, "a significant business transaction to handle. But Trump isn't the only one who is remaining silent. In fact, almost all of the other candidates have failed to condemn the remarks. A few, though, did take the opportunity to pounce on the GOP front-runner.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Somebody at one of my town hall meetings said something like that, I would correct them and say the president is a Christian and he was born in this country.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He should have, from the beginning, repudiated that kind of rhetoric that level of hatefulness.


SCIUTTO: That blistering criticism in response to this moment that we brought you last night live on our air. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my question. When can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We're going to be looking at a lot of different things and, you know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We're going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.


SCIUTTO: Sara Murray is outfront in Greenville, South Carolina, where Trump was supposed to be speaking tonight. Sara, are people there buying Trump's excuse about this significant business transaction?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think for the most part people are disappointed that Donald Trump canceled at the last minute. A number of people showed up still expecting him to be here. And I've talked to a couple of people who say that they are a little skeptical about this business transaction reason and they've told me that they think the reality is Donald Trump just didn't want to come because he didn't want to answer some tough questions, whether those were from the press about the incident that happened at his event last night or whether they were here from the moderator where they're having pretty, you know, substantive in-depth policy conversations. Now, I also spoke with the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party and here's what he had to say about Trump's last-minute cancellation.


MATT MOORE, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: It's a bit disappointing. I think people were excited to see him. Any chance you get in South Carolina to get in front of 5,000, 10,000 people, this is a biggest event in South Carolina of this year and so, I think it's a missed opportunity for him and his campaign.


MURRAY: And this arena, it's filled with a number of voters who would have liked to have hear from Donald Trump tonight. We'll have to see whether that ultimately ends up partying -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you Sara, because you were in the room last night when that exchange happened. We were live on the air and listening as well. In that room, how did the audience react?

MURRAY: Well, you know, it was interesting because Donald Trump didn't really react. When the guy started asking his question, Trump seemed sort of taken aback? Like really, this is the first question? And the guy continued and, you know, Trump sort of answered saying, he was looking into Muslim training camps in America and then he just moved on. And so the crowd kind of moved along with him and it just became a regular event. Jim, I would say the thing that is really interesting, though, is we've asked the Trump campaign repeatedly if Donald Trump agrees with what the man was saying, if he agrees that President Obama is not an American citizen, if he believes that President Obama is Muslim, obviously these things are not true but what's interesting is Trump's campaign still has not responded. They've refused to answer those questions today, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Not at all. They do say they'll keep an appointment on the campaign trail tomorrow, we are told. Sara Murray, down there at that South Carolina event. For the first time, the outspoken Donald Trump has created a controversy by remaining silent.

Dana Bash is OUTFRONT tonight.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump is often under fire for a controversial things he says but now it's what he didn't say. Failing to correct this New Hampshire voter's comments about President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question as the first question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us.

TRUMP: Uh-huh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my question. When can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We're going to be looking at a lot of different things.

[19:05:18] BASH: Today, presidential rivals are seizing on Trump's silence.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Very inappropriate, I think, to let that go. You need to look the guy in the eye and say, listen, I don't agree with you.

CHRISTIE: If somebody at one of my town hall meetings said something like that I would correct him. And say, no, the President is a Christian and he was born in this country.

BASH: That's exactly what John McCain did when he was running against Barack Obama in 2008.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is an Arab. He is not?



MCCAIN: No, ma'am. He's -- he's a decent family man, citizen.

BASH: Today, Democrats were eager to denounce Trump, too.

CLINTON: He knew or he should have known that what that man was asking was not only way out of bounds, it was untrue. And he should have, from the beginning, repudiated that kind of rhetoric, that level of hatefulness.

BASH: But a stunning 43 percent of Republicans do think the President is a Muslim, according to CNN ORC's latest poll, despite the fact that Obama is a Christian.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I accepted Jesus Christ into my life.

BASH: As for Trump, he abruptly canceled a planned appearance today, the conservative cattle call in South Carolina. Other candidates who came noted and reveled in Trump's absence.

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The best birthday present is, I heard that Donald Trump had dropped out. Oh, wait a minute. That was just for today.


BASH: Now, Trump's campaign said he canceled today because he's in the middle of a big business deal, which a source tells me will be announced next week. And while he stayed quiet on last night's questioner all day, Trump's campaign did release a position paper on the second amendment, a press release about winning a lawsuit. So, Jim, it would have been quite easy for them to release a statement about the controversy we've been talking about all day, the fact that he didn't, there's no way it's an accident. He clearly sees all of this discussion and him letting it fester as a political plus for him -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Donald Trump tweeted as well about some good poll numbers. Dana Bash in Washington. OUTFRONT next, Katrina Pierson, she is a Trump's supporter and a spokeswoman for the Tea Party leadership Fund.

Katrina, I have to ask you, you saw the moment from 2008 when Senator John McCain was asked a similar question. He immediately corrected the questioner. Don't the candidates have an obligation to correct false and what some perceive as offensive information in this case?

KATRINA PIERSON, TEA PARTY LEADERSHIP FUND: Well, I think in this case Mr. Trump did say he didn't hear the whole question but even having said that, no, I don't think it's the candidate's obligation, considering it's a question that's been out there for a very long time. I personally wouldn't claim to correct anyone on anybody's faith other than my own -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, two things I want to get to. First, let's get to the idea that Donald Trump didn't hear the question. Let's play this moment last night as that question was beginning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current President is one.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, he's not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question. This is the first question.


SCIUTTO: He says, right, right. He make as joke, sort of, oh, we need this question. He clearly heard what that questioner was talking about.

PIERSON: I do believe he heard exactly what he was talking about but not as specifics, which is why he probably said, oh, we're going to look into everything, we've had people talking to us and telling us things. He didn't go on and say, oh, yes, you're right because then I would be agreeing with you right now but he didn't. So, I'm going to sit here and tell you, that no, it's not Trump's responsibility to go out and correct someone else on what someone else's faith is.

SCIUTTO: Well, I've got to ask you a question, though. If you and Donald Trump have made that accusation for eight years to which the President has responded with his birth certificate, with the announcement in the why paper, I just -- if you're going to make that accusation after eight years, doesn't the candidate and his supporters, like yourself, have to present some evidence to back up that accusation?

PIERSON: Well, first, I'd like to say that no, I've never made that statement. But what I am telling you is that Donald Trump said he didn't hear the exact allegation and he said he was going to look into it. And, if we really want to talk about why this question is out there, CNN's own poll shows 30 percent of people still have that question. Isn't it Obama's responsibility to show people what his faith is? Because, after all, Matthew 7 says, you know them by their fruits. So, clearly, if there's still a question, then he hasn't clarified.

SCIUTTO: But to be fair, the President has answered this question multiple times. You've seen him go into church. He's talked about accepting Jesus Christ as his savior.

PIERSON: Yes, Jim. Yes, Jim, I know. He's answered it so many times and he also ended the national day of prayer and he's also having secret deals with Iran and he also said, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. And as he is considered the lie of the year, well, I guess everyone is going to have to make their own decision, aren't they?

[19:10:10] SCIUTTO: Well, before I'll let you go, because I want to get to the broader issue. Because what that questioner asked about was not just the President's faith. The questioner also argued that Muslims are a problem in America. He didn't say that Islamic extremists. He said Muslims in general. Donald Trump's response was, you know, a lot of people are saying that. A lot of people are saying that bad things are happening, we're going to be looking into it.


SCIUTTO: Do you believe and does he believe that Muslims in general are a threat or are you saying he didn't hear that part of the question either?

PIERSON: No, not at all. No, what I'm going to say is Donald Trump is not a politician. He doesn't have consultants writing out talking points for him and telling him how to handle these types of questions. So, instead of arguing with the gentleman that was asking him a question, he just said, oh, we've been hearing a lot of things. We're going to look into that. A lot of people aren't understanding that there's a difference between Muslims in general and terrorists which happens to be this gentleman, obviously. So, Donald Trump is not going to pick an argument with this guy. He just said, we are hearing a lot of things, we're going to look into it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

SCIUTTO: Katrina Pierson, thanks very much for joining us tonight.

We want to bring in now, former senior advisor to the President, David Axelrod. David, you've heard Katrina Pierson and her answers there, a Trump supporter, of course. Was that a credible response to the comments last night?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's a response we've heard in the past when these things have come up. And remember, Donald Trump four years ago really ran on this birther issue when he was briefly running for president before. Look, I think the bigger issue here is presidential races are a series of tests, things that you can't plan on, spontaneous events that you have to react to and the whole world gets to see how you deal with them. It was mentioned earlier that John McCain faced a similar thing in 2008 may have been the best moment of his campaign because he bravely stood up to the crowd and talked and told the truth about the President. He said, he's a good man, family man, Christian and all of that. And he's an American citizen. But he took some heat from the crowd on that.

Donald Trump was tested yesterday and, she's right, he's not a politician. He's been this improvisational figure out there but if you want to be president of the United States, you've got to pass these tests. I don't think he wanted to antagonize his base and his base are those people who, in the face of all evidence, won't accept that the President is American, won't accept that he's a Christian. That's probably a predominant feeling among many of Mr. Trump's supporters but he's never going to grow that base if he's unwilling to stand up to some of that and the fact that he's gone underground today is a sign that they simply don't know how to deal with it yet. SCIUTTO: Let me ask you a question though. Because this is not an

isolated incident. It seems almost every few days Trump makes a comment that offends a different ethnic or racial group. Have a listen to a few of those comments.


TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they are bringing crime, they're rapists.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS, O'REILLY FACTOR HOST: What do you think Black Lives Matter are after?

TRUMP: I think they are trouble, I think they're looking for trouble. Negotiating with Japan, negotiating with China, when these people walk in the room, they don't say, hello, how's the weather. They say, we want deal. This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.


SCIUTTO: Despite those kinds of comments, he's risen as you know, to be the republican frontrunner, those numbers stay high and strong. How is that possible?

AXELROD: Well, because he's speaking to a segment of the Republican Party that is a nativist, nationalist cohort. They believe that illegal immigration, that China, that aliens, the others are responsible for all of our problems and for the economic problems that many of them feel and he's tapped into that sentiment. That's his base. The question, Jim, as I said before is, can he grow beyond that base if he's catering simply to that base? I think the answer to that is, no. And you're going to see -- I think he is capped right now because of that very thing. You've got to broaden your base and you're not going to do it by pandering to the most strident voices in your own party.

SCIUTTO: Right. Might be a problem for the broader party as well in the general election. David Axelrod, thanks very much for joining us tonight.

AXELROD: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And if you missed any of the GOP presidential debate on Wednesday, you can catch the entire CNN debate tonight at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN. And OUTFRONT next, we're awaiting a live appearance by Carly Fiorina, her first public event since that Wednesday debate. Will she address the elephants in the room, Donald Trump ignoring the question about President Obama's birthplace and his religion?

Plus, the debate opened the window on drug use and addiction, and how that's impacted some of the candidates.

[19:15:02] Ahead, a closer look at drugs and the candidates.

And many were outraged by this video of a ref blindsided by two high school football players. Now, the players are revealing what led up to that brutal hit. Why they say they did it.


[19:18:35] SCIUTTO: You're looking at live pictures of Marco Rubio speaking at a conservative forum in South Carolina where most of the republican candidates are on tonight. Donald Trump, originally scheduled to join them, cancelling at the last minute as a politically charge though, repeatedly debunked myth about President Obama was revived at a Trump rally last night. Let's start with some facts. President Obama is an American born here in the United States and a Christian. But seven years into his presidency, a significant number of Americans, especially Republicans just don't believe it. That startling contrast came into focus last night when Donald Trump faced a supporter who questioned the President's faith and birthplace. And Donald stayed silent. Why won't the questions dot?

Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are lies President Obama has heard before. They hounded his first bid to the White House, not they're back just as his approaching the end of his second term. This time, it was a false smear about the President's religion at a Donald Trump rally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We now our current president is one.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know he's not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question as the first question.

ACOSTA: Trump's failure to set the record straight was no shocker to White House aides who heard the GOP front-runner repeatedly deny the truth of the matter, that the President is a Christian who was born in Hawaii.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Is anybody really surprised that this happened at a Donald Trump rally?

ACOSTA: But the White House did note, unlike trump, Mr. Obama's one- time rival John McCain made it clear seven years ago when false rumors first swirled in the heat of that campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not Arab. He is not?

MCCAIN: No, ma'am.


MCCAIN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's -- he's a decent family man, citizens that I just happen to have disagreements with.

ACOSTA: Colin Powell did the same just days later.

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, the correct answer is, he's not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is?

ACOSTA: Four years ago, it was Trump who led the birther movement, questioning the President's background.

TRUMP: Very simple. I have people looking into it.

ACOSTA: The President responded, posted his own birth certificate, dubbed Trump a carnival barker.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We do not have time for this kind of silliness.

ACOSTA: And then mocked him at the White House Correspondents' Dinner days later.

OBAMA: For the first time, I'm releasing my official birth video.

ACOSTA: Despite the President's numerous speeches about his Christian faith --

OBAMA: It led me to embrace Jesus Christ as my lord and savior.

ACOSTA: Twenty nine percent of Americans still believe the President is a Muslim. As to 43 percent of Republicans and more than half of Trump's supporters, the lies live on in social media. Every time the President tweets, the smears are tweeted right back at him. The White House insists it's up to Republicans to stop it.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a cynical strategy that too many republican politicians have doubled in because for some of them, it's proved to be successful.


ACOSTA: The White House officials all but rolled their eyes after the Trump campaign claimed today that Trump did not hear his supporter calling the President a Muslim or doubting that he was born in the United States. Aides to the President are just not buying that. And Jim, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner did put out a statement lashing out at the White House saying that the White House crossed the line and tying Trump to Republicans. That's a sign that the speaker's office is not too pleased with all of this controversy that Donald Trump is causing, seemingly every day -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Jim Acosta at the White House. OUTFRONT now, democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana. He's the second Muslim ever to be elected to Congress. First Muslim to sit on the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Carson, thank you for joining us tonight.

REP. ANDRE CARSON (D), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thanks for having us. SCIUTTO: So, it's been four years since the President has released

his birth certificate. He's often spoke of his Christian faith, yet you still see these polls, 29 percent of Americans don't believe he's a Muslim. Forty three percent of Republicans. How do you explain these numbers?

CARSON: Well, I think it's clear that there's a deep level of anxiety in our country as it relates to race and even religion. President Obama has stated very explicitly that he is a Christian and what makes President Obama so great is that he, his life story, he has a global life story and he has a global vision. You know, the founding fathers, as imperfect as they were, as imperfect as we all are, they were at least visionary when they established in Article 6 of our constitution, that there should not be a religious test to hold a public office. And anyone seeking the presidency has to know that he or she will represent all of America, non-theists, Muslims, Christians, Sheiks, Jewish, brothers and sisters, this is a pluralistic society in a very diverse society and if he can't pass that test, Mr. Trump, then it's going to be a tough road for him.

[19:23:40] SCIUTTO: I want to ask you, we noticed the silence today, not just of Donald Trump but of most of the GOP candidates on this. Only Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham coming out to slam Donald Trump for those remarks. Senator Santorum actually said, it was not Donald Trump's responsibility to respond. A lot of silence there. You heard David Axelrod's called or rather Josh Earnest call this a cynical strategy by Republicans. Is it intentional to let these doubts and fears sort of live and hang out there, to appeal to a certain part of their base? Is that an intentional political strategy?

CARSON: Not only is it intentional, it's insidious. I think that David Axelrod was correct in saying that Trump did not want to incite his base. Let's be very clear, Mr. Trump is not an unintelligent man. I've met him before. And having said that, I think that there's a tendency, when you're looking at poll numbers each and every day, and you're being a -- even being provocative helps to push you in numbers and helps to increase your popularity, I think that often becomes confronties and solidified in a way that is hurtful and harmful because when the debate is closer and closer and there were fewer of people on that stage, he's going to have to delve deeply into the serious policy issues that deal with education, job creation and our broken infrastructure.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you this. Is there a positive responsibility from the candidates, such as in a situation last night, to knock this kind of speculation down, just as, you know, John McCain did in 2008? Did they have a responsibility not just to sit back and say, hey, the questioner can think what he wants to think but to knock it down?

CARSON: If they are seriously concern about keeping our republic, if I can quote Ben Franklin, then certainly they have a responsibility. There are nearly eight million Muslims in this country. Many of whom hold elective offices. I challenge anyone to go to any major hospital in this country and they'll find a Muslim position. There are Muslim attorneys, they're Muslim businessmen and women who were helping to put Americans back to work. There are Muslims who are in our intelligent services and law enforcement community who are helping to keep our country safe. Surely anyone seeking the highest office in the land must recognize that Muslims are not only here to stay but we are a critical and vital part of our society.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Carson, fair words. We appreciate you taking the time tonight.

CARSON: Thank you for having us.

SCIUTTO: And OUTFRONT next, we are standing by for Carly Fiorina in South Carolina. Her first public event since her strong debate performance. Will she take on Donald Trump again?


[19:30:12] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: You're looking at live pictures of the stage where in just a few moments, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina will speak at a conservative forum. And, of course, Senator Rand Paul speaking now.

For Fiorina, this is her first public event since Wednesday's debate where she drew strong praise. For her clear and detailed answers as well as sharp responses to Donald Trump. Now, the billionaire is retaliating, stepping up his attacks against Fiorina.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She did a terrible job at Lucent. She did a terrible, terrible, terrible job at Hewlett- Packard, terrible job.

During the run, she was really horrible about Barbara Boxer's looks and she attacked her on her looks. And also she attacked Meg Whitman on her look. Carly is, you know, playing the double standard. She's playing the game herself.


BURNETT: The back and forth continues. Sara Murray is OUTFRONT in Greenville, South Carolina where Fiorina will be speaking shortly.

Sara, are we expecting -- what are we expecting for her to do tonight? To respond to Trump or to take the high road? What do we think?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, I think that's kind of an open question at this point. This forum we're at allows the candidates to be questioned by a panel and a lot of this stuff is pretty wonky policy questions. I mean, this is a very conservative group. They are digging in on these policy issues and trying to discern how someone like Carly Fiorina is different from the other nine candidates speaking here tonight.

Whether Carly or not takes that opportunity to contrast herself with Donald Trump, we're going to have to wait and see. I will say, I was talking to some of the folks who worked for her Super PAC earlier and they were telling me that since the debate, their phones have been ringing off the hooks with folks asking Carly to appear at their events.

So it is clear, like you mentioned, her star power is on the rise. We'll have to see how she tries to capitalize on that.


SCIUTTO: And if it's reflected in the latest poll numbers. Thanks very much to Sara Murray in South Carolina.

OUTFRONT now, CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson. A former "Apprentice" contestant and talk show radio host Wes Moss.

Ben, if I could begin with you. Trump attacking Fiorina's business record, those are the same kinds of attacks that when her opponents to the Senate race in 2010, Senator Barbara Boxer, used those attacks, that ruin in effect Fiorina's Senate run.

How do those attacks this time around not affect, not damage her candidacy?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, one, she's in a Republican primary, which is completely different than running against Barbara Boxer in a liberal state. So I think it's two totally different scenarios here.

I also think that this idea that if you're in business, you must have a perfect success record is incredibly unrealistic for Donald Trump who has had his companies, you know, have filed bankruptcy. The casino is a great example. It doesn't mean that you don't get up the next day and try.

I think the American people and the American worker, they understand at some point, you may lose a job. At some point, you may not have as much money as you had earlier in life and that's part of the American dream.

So I really think that, one, Donald Trump better be very careful with Carly Fiorina because she did start as a secretary and worked her way up through an incredible career. Yes, she did have some points in her career that were not successes. That doesn't mean that she somehow is a terrible leader or a terrible businesswoman. It doesn't mean that she didn't have an overall career that I would say is an incredible success. Some would even say a Hall of Fame career.

So for Donald Trump, a guy that's had parts of his company file bankruptcy which, by the way, I don't blame him for, that is part of business, let's be careful how much you rip on someone else when you literally left people without jobs and without cash that you owed them.

SCIUTTO: Wes, I want to give you a chance to answer. Ben refers to this companies file for bankruptcy four times. No other U.S. company has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy more than Trump's casino empire. That in the last 30 years. He's facing three lawsuits over his now defunct Trump University, including one filed by the New York attorney general. He's also been sued by more than 300 people after a series of buildings with his name on it were never built in Florida.

So Trump has his own business failures. Is this line of attack dangerous for him?

WES MOSS, FORMER "APPRENTICE CONTESTANT: I think that it's a real stretch. First of all, for Ben to bring up that Carly Fiorina would be in the Hall of Fame if they had one for business. So I think that right out of the gate is a real stretch.

Number two --

FERGUSON: How is that a stretch?

MOSS: There are very different businesses -- there are very different businesses that these two are in.


FERGUSON: How is that a stretch?

MOSS: Well, first of all, there's -- she literally --


FERGUSON: Hold on. Hold on, how is that a stretch? If you start as a secretary and you end up as a CEO, how is that on Hall of Fame?


MOSS: It is -- just because she's the CEO of a company doesn't mean she makes the hall of fame. She has stark performance in both Lucent and Hewlett-Packard that are absolute disasters and there is no secret about that. I think anybody can pull up a chart of both of those stocks and see truly what happen.


FERGUSON: So how would you describe Donald Trump's disaster then?

MOSS: Donald Trump is in a much different type of business. Trump is in a non-bureaucratic business where he has around 100 core employees for --


[19:35:06] FERGUSON: Non-bureaucratic, what does that even mean?


SCIUTTO: Wes, I do --

FERGUSON: What does that even mean?

MOSS: Carly Fiorina is doing it in this behemoth bureaucracy, which is corporate America. SCIUTTO: Wes, I do want you to answer the specific questions I asked about the four bankruptcies of Trump businesses, the lawsuits over Trump University, the lawsuits by 300 people for buildings in Florida that would never built.

What are your answers to those black marks, in effect, on Trump's own business record?

MOSS: Well, to Ben's point, if we've been in business for 30 and 40 years, like Donald Trump has been, no one has a perfect record. He's also in a very high-risk business where very often real estate developers hit real home runs or they strike out. That's the nature of the real state development game. It's also the nature of the casino business.

So he happens to be in very, very highly speculative businesses and bankruptcies and failures are part of the game. And they're to be expected. If you talk to any home builder that lived through the crisis of 2006 and 2007, it's very common.


FERGUSON: All right, so let me ask you this, though, so what you're saying is, what you're saying is that Donald Trump is basically average at business in a highly speculative business. He's not an amazing businessman as he's been claiming because he's had the same downfalls?

I mean, if you listen to Donald Trump, who obviously you're a big fan of, he says he's the best negotiator, the best businessman. He's written the book, "The Art of the Deal," but now you're literally telling me that he's just as average as everyone else that's filed bankruptcy or has had failures because of his industry.


MOSS: Ben, Ben, he's clearly not an average real estate developer. He is the most well-known...


FERGUSON: Well, you just described a bunch of bankruptcies and say, well, speculative.


MOSS: ...number one, and very wealthy real state developer. So that doesn't make him average at all. I think if you get back to the point -- and I do believe that Trump has a respect for Fiorina. I believe Carly Fiorina was very impressive in the debate. I think she really is an amazing woman and I think most of America liked what they saw at the debate.

FERGUSON: I wish Donald Trump was as kind as you are.

SCIUTTO: Well, Wes and Ben -- (CROSSTALK)

MOSS: And I think that they have a mutual respect for each other but, Ben, they are going to certainly go at each other and they're going to compare resumes because right now they are really the business people in the G.O.P. And America right now, the focus is on these two because America needs a CEO to come in and turn around the ship. And I think Donald Trump is someone that knows how to do that.


FERGUSON: But do you need a CEO that files bankruptcy four times? Do you need a CEO that has people that sue him, that have debunked universities that people are suing, that have had casinos that have opened and closed, opened and closed. Is that the type of CEO you honestly think is somehow stellar --


SCIUTTO: Ben and Wes -- Ben and Wes, we're going to have to leave it there. I think the one thing you agree on is that each side has its own business failures and maybe that comes with business. At least, well, it's one area of agreement I sense between you.

I want to thank you both for coming on tonight.

Now OUTFRONT, next, you're looking at live pictures of Rand Paul at a political event in South Carolina. Carly Fiorina will be taking that stage momentarily. We're going to bring you that live.

And millions viewed this video of high school football players tackling a referee in the middle of a game. Now the two players are speaking out. Why they are saying their coach made them do it.


[19:42:17] SCIUTTO: Tonight, two high school football players caught on camera violently tackling a referee during a game are now speaking out. They say their coach told them to do it. Why? Because they claimed the ref used ethnic and racial slurs against them. The ref denies the allegations.

Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a brutal act caught on camera. Two San Antonio high school football players who each blind-sided a referee are now speaking out for the first time saying they intentionally did it.

Victor Rojas and Michael Moreno say their assistant coach told them to attack the ref for making bad calls and for allegedly using racial slurs.

VICTOR ROJAS, TACKLED A REFEREE: He told one of my Hispanic friends, he told him, speak English, this is America. He told him that. And then --

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Did you hear that or did one of your friends tell you that?

ROJAS: No, I heard him. And then to the African-American in our team, he told him the "N" word.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you heard him?

ROJAS: Yes, sir.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you heard him say the "n" word? Did you?

MICHAEL MORENO, TACKLED A REFEREE: Yes. I heard him when he had called him, Moses, a friend of us, you know, the "N" word and it was just really --

STEPHANOPOULOS: He says that's a lie.

MORENO: That's not. It's the honest truth right there.

CASAREZ: Allen Goldberg, the attorney for referee Robert Watts disputes these allegations.

ALAN GOLDBERGER, ROBERT WATTS' ATTORNEY: Mr. Watts denies using any inappropriate remarks. The allegations of the students are taking on a character as if it was somehow, some kind of excuse.

CASAREZ: Video from the September 6th game shows Rojas charging at referee Robert Watts, hitting him from behind and knocking him to the ground. Seconds later, Moreno pounces on top of him, diving into him, spearing him with his helmet. Moreno says, John Jay High School assistant coach Mack Breed spoke to him directly before the attack.

MORENO: While on the side line, he pulled me and another player over and he told us, and I quote, "You need to hit him."

CASAREZ: Rojas says he got his orders from another fellow team mate.

ROJAS: A player came over and told me the coach said, "Do it."

STEPHANOPOULOS: The coach told you to do it?

ROJAS: Yes sir.

CASAREZ: Coach Breed who is currently on paid administrative leave could not be reached for comment. The players are now suspended for their entire season and say they know their actions were wrong.

ROJAS: I would apologize for things that I made.

MORENO: Everyone sees me as this thug, you know, or gangster. You know, I did this because I'm a bad guy. Like, that's not who I am. Like underneath the helmet and the pads, you know, I'm really a great kid. CASAREZ: So the Marble Falls Police Department continues its investigation into all aspects of this. The Northside Independent School District in San Antonio says it is cooperating in every way.

At this point, the students are on disciplinary leave. There is a hearing that they are awaiting the results on from an internal investigation so they are going to the alternative school.


[19:45:14] CASAREZ: Once the investigation is finished, it is the district attorney that will determine if criminal charges are filed. And, Jim, the school district tells me they have no idea that these students were flying to New York today, a school day, for the interview.

SCIUTTO: Jean Casarez in New York.

Paul Callan, he's CNN legal analyst.

So the players claim the coach told them to do it. Does that change their responsibility at all?

PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, legally, it doesn't. I mean, if the coach told them to shoot somebody and they did, they would be guilty of a crime.

However, in the context of a football game, my son, who played high school football and tells me that if the coach tells you to do something, and you're a high school kid, you do it. It's a quasi- military organization in terms of the way it's run and anybody who has played high school football knows, you do what the coach tells you.


SCIUTTO: Clear chain of command there?

CALLAN: Well, I think they've got a good defense here. Maybe technically what they did was wrong, but if the coach said that, it's the coach who is guilty, not the kids.

SCIUTTO: How about the allegation that the referee used racial slurs and ethnic slurs. Does that take away culpability at all?

CALLAN: Well, I think it does in the sense that in any disciplinary hearing, that's going to be taken into consideration if in fact it was said and it would reduce the punishment. But remember, the ref is adamantly denying racial slurs. And the other thing we haven't heard is how severe are his injuries?

These are the things the district attorney will be looking at. And, boy, he's in a tough spot. If this guy is seriously injured, is he going to charge these local high school football players with an assault or the coach?

SCIUTTO: Yes. CALLAN: Tough decision by the prosecutor.


SCIUTTO: And a lawsuit as well, I imagine, down the road.

CALLAN: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Paul Callan, thanks very much as always.

OUTFRONT next, Carly Fiorina just moments away from taking the stage in Greenville, South Carolina. Her first appearance since Wednesday's debate. We're going to bring you that live.


[19:51:28] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Breaking news. You're watching live comments from Carly Fiorina at a Republican conservative forum in South Carolina. Carly Fiorina took the stage a short time ago. She talked about her tax plan, now taking a question on Planned Parenthood.

Let's listen in.


CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we have record majorities in the House. That's a huge change from 2013. And, by the way, I worked really hard for that change. And I know all of you worked really hard for that change, too.


And what's disappointing is, we're having the same old conversation. Nothing has changed. If this videotape, which the mainstream media continues to say doesn't exist, I mean, honestly, I went on national television the morning after the debate and George Stephanopoulos at "ABC News" told me that I was mistaken, that the tapes don't exist, that the images aren't real.

Well, yes, ladies and gentlemen, they are real and I will issue my charge again -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, anyone who wants to defend Planned Parenthood, watch these tapes.


So back to what's disappointing, if we will not fight for this, if we will not fight for this, faced with proof positive of the butchery that is going on at Planned Parenthood, faced with an assault on the character of our nation and that is what I believe this is, it is not actually about whether you're a pro-choice or pro-life. We cannot be a nation that funds this kind of barbarity and that is what it is.


And so with record majorities in the House of Representatives and with the majority in the U.S. Senate, if we do not have the courage to stand up and say, President Obama, if you're prepared to shut down the government, to defend this kind of barbarity, have at it and explain it to the American people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that we have to wait until 2017 to defund Planned Parenthood. And said that an effort to defund it this year would end as the 2013 Obamacare apprehended.

As president, you'll have to work with Mitch McConnell. How would you convince him to get in the fight and defund Planned Parenthood this year?

FIORINA: Well, I think leaders should produce results. And I think there's some very clear things that leadership in the House and the Senate ought to be doing right now. I think they ought to pass a border security bill. It would be nice after 25 years. Let president Obama veto that, too.

They ought to pass what's called the Reigns Act, which gives Congress the authority, imagine this, to actually look at regulations before they are passed. Wouldn't that be noble?


And they ought to fight over the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Now let us talk about January 2017. Let us talk about a President Fiorina in the White House.

SCIUTTO: You've been listening to Carly Fiorina speaking at a conservative forum in South Carolina. She referenced earlier a Planned Parenthood video that came up during the Republican debate. I just want to add what CNN's reporting is on this video, and that is that it is a heavily edited clip and that the photograph she spoke about came not from Planned Parenthood but from another anti-abortion group.

Please stay with us. We'll be right back after this break.


SCIUTTO: Thank you for joining us and thanks for welcoming me these past few weeks. I've enjoyed it.

"AC360" starts right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, thanks for joining us.

The news tonight, a thundering silence in its news because that silence is from a man not associated with it, Donald Trump.