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Donald Trump Speaking to Voters in New Hampshire; Trump, Bush Hold Dueling Campaign Events. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired September 30, 2015 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:08] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, Donald Trump, at a rally in Keene, New Hampshire. The republican front-runner, you see him there, a wide lead in the latest polls out today. He's speaking out live in his first appearance in New Hampshire since he took an anti-Muslim question from a supporter. That sparked national outrage. He's speaking live and we're going to listen in.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And by the way, nothing to do with this but we're going to get rid of the regulations that are mounting up on a daily basis. It's ridiculous. Regulations that are going to go by the wayside. There will be some but they'll be meaningful, they won't be the nonsense that every single day is happening. Every single day. The plan will provide major tax relief for middle income and most other Americans. Major tax relief. It will totally simplify the tax code will grow the American economy and all of this will add up to a point where we're not going to be increasing our debt.

If anything, if it really kicks in like I think it might where the economy grows, we'll start reducing our debt and reducing it bigly, which I want to do. And, again, it's -- I know the people I'm running against and I know Democrats and Republicans. They can't do this, folks. I'm really good at it. Who's better at debt than I am? Who's better? Is there anybody?


I've had borrowing so big and I worked it out perfectly. The companies bigger, stronger than ever before and that's what you need. You need somebody with whatever the hell that is, whatever that craziness is up there. You need that. You need that. You can't just be a politician, all talk, no action. They talk. They wouldn't know what to do with China. Carl Icahn, a great entrepreneur. Everybody knows Carl Icahn. He came out yesterday. He said Trump is the only one that knows what he's talking about. And he's great. And I'll get him involved. I'll say, Carl, you handle China. And you know what I'll do, just walk away. Don't worry. We'll do very well. We'll do very well.

We're going to come out great. We're not going to have a $400 billion deficit. That will go away very rapidly. And we'll get along. China doesn't even like us. You know, these countries, they rip us off. They don't even like us. With me, I'll stop the rip-off and they'll like us. Can you believe it? Hard to believe but that will happen.


So in the plan, we're going to cut the individual rates from -- and this is very important. Number one, we're cutting down from seven brackets to four and the rates are going from 25 to 20 to 10 and to zero. When somebody is not making enough to live, what's the purpose of them doing lengthy returns, going to get help from H&R block who we intend to put out of business because it's so ridiculous. So ridiculous. In order to pay -- I mean, these people need help. They are not doing well. So what's the purpose? Plus, the bookkeeping it will be a tremendous percentage and some are not paying now anyway but they have to go through this process. It's brutal. So, we're going to simplify but think of it, 25 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent and that's a major reduction.

Some people said, it's too big of a reduction. Some of the great geniuses that haven't made a dollar in their life. But not a dollar. They haven't created one job. Well, I think it's too much. The only dollars they get is from their mouth. Then, if you're single and earn less than 25,000 or married and jointly earn less than 50,000, you will not pay any income tax. Okay? You won't. If that's the way it is. What's the purpose of that? And by the way, everyone agrees and they can't get it done. We eliminate the AMT which is alternative minimum tax. We eliminate it.


We end the death tax. It's a double taxation. It's a double taxation.


I mean, a lot of you as an example in New Hampshire, you have a store, you have a little building. You leave it to your kids. Your kids get a tax bill and have to pay 35 and even 50 percent in state taxes. Now they mortgage up the business. The bank ends up taking it over because they have to pay the estate taxes and you've been paying taxes all the while. It's double-taxation and it has to end. So many businesses have been destroyed by the death tax or estate tax, as people like to call it. But so many businesses. So it's very important.


[19:05:8] Our plan reduces and/or totally eliminates most of the deductions in loopholes available to special interests who, by the way, are supporting Bush and Rubio and most of them -- and Hillary, big league Hillary, big legal Bush. You know, Bush is going to spend $100 million on ads. That money comes from friends of mine. They are friends. Some are enemies. Some I don't like. Actually, many of them I don't like. But when you see an ad, every time you see an ad from Rubio or Bush or Hillary, remember, that money is coming from special interests and lobbyists. And when they want something done in a year from now, two years from now, if they ever get in -- BURNETT: All right. This is Donald Trump live at a campaign

rally in New Hampshire. Now, Jeb Bush is holding a dueling town hall just about 50 miles to the east of Donald Trump. Donald Trump has already taken a couple of stabs at Jeb Bush. Our reporter Sara Murray is in the room with Donald Trump right now. We're going to get more as he wraps up the speech. We expect him to take questions which is significant everyone because the last time he had -- this is the first time he's had a town hall in New Hampshire since he was asked a very hateful question about Muslims which he chose not to challenge at a town hall in New Hampshire. So, he's going to be taking questions, expected to at least. We're going to bring back to you live.

In the meantime, as these two town halls are going on, I want to go now to our panel of guests, spokesman for the Tea Party Leadership Fund Katrina Pierson, a Donald Trump supporter, republican strategist and former RNC communications director Doug Heye and our political commentator S.E. Cupp.

All right. Good to have all of you with us. Let me just start with you.


BURNETT: Doug, he came out swinging here talking about polls. That's the Donald Trump we all know. Right, live speech, he's going to come out with the polls. And today he had the ammunition. The latest poll out today, USA Today, Suffolk University, he's solidly in the lead, he's up six points since July. At the same time, as you see Jeb Bush falling. You can see these numbers. He is a significant lead in this poll. Are you surprised?

HEYE: I'm not surprised. This is the candidate that we're talking about the most. And the candidate we've been talking about the most for weeks and even months now. We've also seen other polls that have seen him possibly plateau where we've seen Ben Carson is rising, Carly Fiorina is rising, Marco Rubio rising. Trump is always going to say that he's number one and he's in a comfortable position but there's enough going on right now where he needs to follow what Satchel Paige said which is, be careful when you're looking behind you. Somebody may be gaining on you.

BURNETT: And there are gains, of course, someone Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson gaining. But S.E., one person not getting is Jeb Bush. And as we said, these two town halls are going on live at this hour as we're covering them. Here's what Donald Trump just actually said about Jeb Bush's town hall.

TRUMP: They are expecting 125 people. We have 3,564 people. We have closed circuit. It's amazing. It's great. And it's always like this.

BURNETT: I mean, S.E., look, this is the Donald Trump we know, right? Bragging about the size of his crowd versus Jeb's crowd. But Jeb Bush has had a lot of trouble here, at least in this latest poll. I mean, do you buy into what this poll says about Donald Trump so solidly on top? S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I think Doug is

right, that he's probably plateauing at this point. You know, look, Donald Trump has proved a lot of prognosticators and pundits wrong, so I want to hedge everything I ever say about Donald Trump. Because you never know what's going to happen. But I do think that he talked a bit of a beating after the debate and then after that rally where he took the question about Muslim-Americans, I think he suffered a bit and people are sort of seeing the Trump show exposed as maybe not as serious and substantive as some people thought it was going to be, in addition to entertaining.

And so, you know, Jeb, I've talked to Jeb personally and what Jeb says onto the campaign trail and to everyone else is that he's in it for the long haul. And, you know, the one criticism I would have for Jeb is that he's very dismissive of the power of Trump's campaign. He has said before that this isn't going to last. Who wants an entertainer? A president has to be a leader. And I think the message for Jeb is, you can be a serious substantive person but also be charismatic and appealing and maybe even entertaining when the time calls for it.


CUPP: So, you know, I would hope that Jeb could take a little bit of everything from all of the candidates who have some really winning attributes out on the GOP side.

[19:10:05] BURNETT: Interesting. Because as you point out, Jeb Bush dismissive of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton was not dismissive to me last night at all. Even when Donald Trump called his wife the worst Secretary of State in American history. Bill Clinton still smiled and said, well, he's wrong but he's really good at what he does and he could be the nominee. Katrina, the same poll that puts Donald Trump on top today from USA Today in Suffolk asked voters to give one word that described Donald Trump. Okay? This is the front-runner. Here were the words. Some variation of one of the following, idiot, jerk, stupid or dumb. Those are words Donald Trump uses to describe people at times but they are not words that we would usually associate with a front-runner for the White House.

KATRINA PIERSON, SPOKESWOMAN, TEA PARTY LEADERSHIP FUND: Well, not usually. But now you have a front-runner for the White House that does not come from what a lot of the establishment folks would believe. So, of course they are calling him names because their candidates like Jeb Bush are tanking in the polls and these polls show a number of things, that one of which being the outsiders are definitely going to be on top. It's not going to be your mainstream person that ends up the nominee even though the polls say that Donald Trump is the most unfavorable but we're talking about an economy on fumes and global chaos. They don't want your, you know, Nobel Peace Prize in charge. They want somebody that's going to stand up and fight for the American people and that's why Trump stays on top.

CUPP: Katrina, let me just ask Katrina, I mean, the same voters that you would say are putting him ahead in the polls are the people who are calling him dumb and stupid and idiot. That's not coming from the establishment. That's coming from the same people populating the polls that you like for Donald Trump.

PIERSON: Well, I think that it comes from a wide range of those in the poll. That particular poll only had 400 of the 1,000 that even participated in that part of it. However, this is also a number of things that are about to happen. You're going to have people drop out throughout the next couple of weeks who aren't going to make it to the next debate and those people have to go somewhere and we're going to see exactly who those people go to.

BURNETT: All right. We're going to take a brief pause here. All of you are going to stay with us. We're watching both of these town halls. Jeb Bush obviously taking questions from voters right now. Donald Trump anticipated to do so shortly and we're going to be taking that live when that happens. We also have a special report out of Melania Trump, super model, businesswoman, the question is now, is she Donald Trump's secret weapon? A special report on Melania ahead.


[19:15:40] BURNETT: Breaking news at this moment, dueling campaign events from Donald Trump and Jeb Bush both in New Hampshire tonight. We're standing by for Donald Trump to take questions from voters. And we're going to bring that to you live. The last time he took questions in New Hampshire of course was when he appeared to agree with or that anti-Muslim hateful question from the voter. One person not in the crowd tonight, though, behind Donald is his wife Melania. The former model is rarely seen on the trail. But tonight, trump tells CNN that is all about to change. For the first time since her husband launched his campaign, Melanie Trump is speaking out.

Joe Johns is OUTFRONT.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest incarnation of the Trump family, Donald, youngest son Barron and Melania Trump on the cover of "People" magazine. Relaxed and smiling, it's a far different Melania Trump that the woman who famously rode the Trump tower escalator back in June with her billionaire husband for that stunning announcement.

TRUMP: So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States.

JOHNS: But since that quick kiss, the first lady of the Trump state has been noticeably absent from her husband's side, except for a date night at the US open serenated by a pours of boos and an appearance at the first republican debate. The "People" interview appears to signal that Melania is about to join the campaign. The five-foot-eleven former model has graced all of the usual covers, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar even posing topless for British GQ. But she also is a businesswoman with her own line of skin care products and a jewelry collection in her name.

MELANIA KNAUSS-TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: I'm designing for women across the country. JOHNS: Born 45 years ago in the former Yugoslavia, she wants

Americans to know she is more than just Donald Trump's third wife telling "People," I am my own person. I'm not a yes person. I tell my opinions and I was always like that. So I think he likes that. Adding, "Even if you give him advice, he will maybe take it in but then he will do it the way he wants to do it."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you like what she had to say? Do you agree?

TRUMP: Well, I think it's probably true. Look, I mean, I have my own mind. I do listen to a lot of people and then it goes through that and I do what I think is right.

JOHNS: An immigrant and now a naturalized citizen, Melania says her view on the immigration issue is in line with her husband's. "I went through a long process to become a citizen," she says. "I think people should follow the law." Melania and Donald Trump married in 2005. Barron was born 14 months later. And while he's been raised bilingual, he speaks to his grandmother in Slovenian, Melania sounds like a Trump. When you come to America, you speak English. Barron made his CNN debut five years ago on "LARRY KING LIVE."

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Is he a little Donald?

MELANIA TRUMP: He's bossing everybody around the house.

KING: Has he fired anybody yet?

MELANIA TRUMP: He did, yes, actually, he did. He's firing the housekeeper and the nanny many times.

JOHNS: If she is joining the campaign, Melania sounds like a reluctant warrior saying she's "not ready to get political yet. It's a long road. We will see."

TRUMP: Melania, she'll make a very beautiful first lady, I can tell you that.


And a great first lady.

JOHNS: Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


BURNETT: And OUTFRONT tonight, the senior editor at "People Magazine," Charlotte Triggs. And Charlotte, I mean, this is incredible. These pictures. You got to talk to Melania, you saw Donald at home. What was their home like?

CHARLOTTE TRIGGS, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE MAGAZINE": I mean, their home is everything that you would think it would be. It's covered in marble and gold and crystal chandeliers and angels on the ceilings. It's the epitome of '80s decadent, really. BURNETT: I mean, angel on the ceilings. I mean, what was

Melania Trump like?

TRIGGS: You know, she's a very interesting woman. She's very soft spoken, she supports her husband. She doesn't like to contradict him but she says that she's not a "yes" person. And when you talk to her about certain things, it's very clear that she has her own opinion. She says that, you know, you can try to tell her husband anything to give him advice but he's going to do what he wants to do and any of the outrageous things he says, that's really his opinion.

BURNETT: So what was he like at home? Right. I mean, you would at least see this Donald Trump on the campaign trail unafraid to lobby insults around, talks about his polls. I mean, this is -- was he a different person when he was with his wife and his nine-year-old son?

TRIGGS: You know, he's very relaxed. He was really accommodating and, you know, very confident and, you know, he's the person that he is but he was willing to answer absolutely any question and as they were together taking the pictures, you know, he was very attentive to his son, he went got him a little tie for the photo shoot, he wanted to make sure that his wife liked her pictures. And, you know, they were a very sweet family.

[19:20:18] BURNETT: So she's not been on the campaign trail as she does. As you point out, she's got her own business, a jewelry line. She talks about traveling all the time.


BURNETT: Is she going to start playing a bigger role in this campaign?

TRIGGS: You know, it's unclear whether she's going to play a role in the campaign per say but right now she says that she's not really ready to get political. The only thing that she actually spoke about in terms of political issues was immigration. Because she's a naturalized citizen herself and she says that agrees with her husband that people should have to go through the official channels.

BURNETT: So, she was, that topic did come up and she --

TRIGGS: Yes. We asked her about that.

BURNETT: And she defended him.

TRIGGS: Yes. She defended him. She has to spoke about speaking foreign languages because her son is bilingual. He speaks Slovenian on the phone with her grandmother all the time. She says that she believes that, yes, you should speak multiple languages, it's good for you to know but in America you should speak English. She agrees with him.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Charlotte. I appreciate it.

TRIGGS: Thank you so much.

BURNETT: Katrina Pierson, Doug Heye, S.E. Cupp are back. This is a side S.E. that we have not seen from Donald Trump.

CUPP: Yes.

BURNETT: Melania certainly would be a very unknown campaign factor. Right? I mean, is it possible she could help him?

CUPP: Yes. Putting aside a lot of the criticisms about Trump which I think are justified, you cannot say that he doesn't have a very impressive family that loves him immensely.

BURNETT: That's right.

CUPP: I've met some of his children. I mean, if you talk -- forget about Melania. If you talk Ivana, his wife before Melania, she is, you know, very vocal about her support for Donald Trump, both as a father and a president. This is really an incredibly tight-knit successful, impressive, well-spoken, articulate happy family considering how many, you know, marriages there were, how much money there is, how much excess there is. I can speak from experience, they are very down to earth, his children, and I think any one of them would be an excellent surrogate on the campaign trail for Donald Trump talking about any number of issues.

BURNETT: I mean, it's interesting, Katrina, I just want to play what Donald Trump just said a moment ago at this town hall about women. And by the way, you know, S.E. Cupp is completely right. I mean, the women in his life are all incredibly articulate, confident women. Here's what he had to say about women tonight.


TRUMP: Nobody respects women more than I do. And two weeks ago, I was making a speech, and I said, I respect women, I cherish women, I do I cherish women. And Hillary said, we don't want to be cherished. We want to be respected. I said, I said that. I think you want to be cherished, too. It's better than -- it's everything. You want to be respected, you want to be loved, you want to be cherished, you want to be everything. I think. Am I right, women, or wrong?

BURNETT: But there are some though who would see that as demeaning?

PIERSON: Well, there are probably some insecure women that would see that as demeaning but I think what S.E. said is right. The women closest to him, the ones that would know his true heart and nature towards women, they appraise him. They adore him. Even his previous wife as S.E. mentioned, he has been very, very good to the women around him, even women who work for him that I have myself been in contact with. They all praise Mr. Trump and his treatment of women. So I really don't think this demeaning concept around Trump and women is going to work, particularly when Melanie does hit the campaign trail. BURNETT: It's going to be interesting to see what will happen.

I mean, you know, as somebody who covered Donald Trump back when I was a business reporter for a long time, there are a lot of women who work for him who are very strong women. It will be very interesting to see as they come out what their stories are and how this all plays. Be sure to watch Don Lemon's interview with Miss Donald Trump tonight at 10:00 on CNN.

And OUTFRONT next, our panel is going to stay with us, and Jeb Bush as we said, dueling town hall. Also in New Hampshire tonight, his poll numbers have been sinking. Can the onetime presumptive nominee hang on? We're going to bring you Jeb Bush live from New Hampshire in a moment.


[19:28:00] BURNETT: At this hour, dueling preside campaign events in New Hampshire. You're looking at live pictures, Donald Trump is on the Left. Jeb Bush is on the Right. They are both with voters. Events just 50 miles apart. Now, we brought you Donald Trump. We're going to take his voter questions when that happens. I want to now though listen in to Jeb Bush who is taking questions. Here is Jeb Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do to help? Are we going to let Putin run this world? He's a dictator. I mean, he cannot have the world stage and that's what's been happening. That is what's happening today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I would like to know your views --

BUSH: First of all, my heart goes out to your family and I applaud the fact that you're acting on your heart to take care of them and that should be applauded by everybody in this room.


I have a personal story in this that's similar and that is, my daughter-in-law, my precious daughter-in-law, is Iraqi. And she's an Iraqi Christian, she was born in Canada. Her parents are Iraqi. And the slaughter of Iraqi Christians goes on. As we pulled back, ISIS has formed and there's no mass in Mosul anymore after what -- since 500 or something there's been Christianity consistently there and it's gone. And I asked her how I could help and it was hard to find actually people that were actually interested in this. This is a place where -- back to -- and how we act, this is normally what we do unbelievably well. We act on our heart, we organize it well, we take care of people, typically with support of government but it's normally with organizations that do great work.

And the Knights of Columbus was a place, by the way, that ending up being, where they had a matching program and we raised a lot of money to help. And so I have a personal connection to this because it's not dissimilar. And I think, look, I'm not going to go through the litany of why this refugee crisis has taken place. Simply put, put aside our role, our lack of role because I think it did have a corollary role of the plan in this. But Assad is a brutal dictator. He barrel bombs his innocents in his -- he kills them. He's destroying communities, 200,000 plus people have died. Ands people are leaving not just because they are immigrants looking for a better life. They are leaving because, if not, they will die. It's that simple.

And we have to play a role in providing support and it's hard to do this far away in terms of screening and all those things. We need to make sure that we don't have people that hate America in our midst but I think we are duty bound to support and even supporting refugees, which I think is appropriate in some scale. We need to be part of the strategy to deal with taking Assad out and taking ISIS out.

And in 45 days --


Forty-five days ago, I gave a speech at the Reagan library with a strategy to do just that. And I didn't say that it could be done in, you know, like great bravado, you know, we'll just like -- you know, watch the shows and we'll just this and it will all happen and, you know, I mean, this is like -- we've created a mess and the mess was hard to deal with and we made it worse by our lack of leadership, now, we have to create a strategy. And I think the strategy starts by creating a serious alternative to both ISIS and Assad.

A Sunni-led but not -- you know, a multiethnic, multi-religious group with the support of the neighborhood, with Jordan, with Turkey, with Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf countries. We should be leading this effort to train an alternative and create safe zones so they can operate. Those same places may be places where refugees could stay as well.

And what I advocated, which has been extraordinarily more complex, by our lack of action, lack of strategy, is a no fly zone. I think what we should have done was to tell Assad, no more barrel bombs. We'll wipe out your airports. We'll wipe out your airports.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. You're listening to Jeb Bush at a town hall answering a voter question about Vladimir Putin and Syria, talking about what he would have done differently. It was an emotional question and he also now is talking about his Iraqi daughter-in-law. We're going to have a lot more on that in just a moment.

But, Trump, just moments ago, took a shot at Jeb Bush.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They ask Bush, what do you think of Rubio? He comes out and he's talking about Bush. What do you think of Rubio? He's my dear friend. He's so wonderful. I love him so much.

So they ask Rubio, what do you think of Bush? Oh, he's my dear friend. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

They hate each other. They hate. Trust me, I know. They hate so much -- they hate more than anybody in this room hates their neighbor.

But it's political (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Do you understand? It's true.


BURNETT: And that's the Donald Trump that voters have come to know.

As we showed you earlier, Trump also called out Jeb Bush for having a smaller crowd tonight, but Bush tells CNN that he is not worried. He gave an interview, a rare interview to our Dana Bash and she's OUTFRONT.


BUSH: Whoa.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The irony of Jeb Bush being labeled low energy is that he's a tireless campaigner.

BUSH: Each and every day I wake up and enjoy my heart with excitement. Yes, Mr. Trump, with high energy.

BASH: Barnstorming the early contest states with a break neck schedule. But some worried backers tell CNN all that effort makes that declining support with voters even more alarming.

(on camera): One of your significant donors told me, it's as if we keep investing in a company and as a shareholder we're not seeing any sales.

BUSH: Who is that?

BASH: What do you say?

BUSH: Who is that person?

BASH: I don't want to say.

BUSH: Yes, he doesn't either, I guess.

Look, the fact is, we've got a plan, we're executing on the plan. I'm convinced that I'm going to win the Republican nomination. I'm going to do it in a way that will actually make it possible to win the general election as well. BASH (voice-over): Once the front-runner, Bush has lost 50

percent, half of his support nationally since July. Even here in the Granite State where Bush was leading in June, he's now tied for fifth place, according to a CNN/WMUR poll last week.

The result: Bush aides are spending a lot of time trying to reassure anxious donors and supporters what Jeb Bush himself told us -- be patient. That Bush rivals may be generating buzz, but Bush is building a nationwide infrastructure team to keep him alive through the GOP contests well into the spring.

BUSH: Patience. That's my first part of the strategy.

[19:35:00] The second part would be, more patience.

BASH: But the long haul does not lead to victory unless Bush can actually win Republican delegates. To do that, even Bush campaign advisers admit the central thesis of his campaign has to work, that he can shed the Bush baggage and convince voters he is the Washington outsider they're looking for.

BUSH: I think people want authenticity. They want someone who has the leadership skills to turn ideas into reality. I got to do that as governor of Florida. I can do it as president of the United States. And I'll convince people of that.

BASH: But even some Bush backers worry the problem is fundamental. Republican voters are looking for excitement and change. Endurance is one thing. Electricity is another. Something Jeb Bush is lacking.

BUSH: I'm the tortoise in the race -- slow, steady progress each and every day.

BASH: Often voters leave Bush events impressed but not excited. Bush aides insist that's OK. Voters are now letting off steam by backing Donald Trump and other first-time politicians. But when it comes time to pull the lever, they'll go for the adult in the room.

BUSH: Ultimately, this is not about the loudness. It's not about entertainment. We're not auditioning for some kind of show here. We're running for president of the United States.


BASH: And, Erin, as I speak to you, I'm going to be a little quiet because as you see behind me, this is quite an intimate gathering of Jeb Bush and voters here in New Hampshire. He has been answering questions for the past 45 minutes or so, a lot of substantive issues.

But I should say, you played the fact that Jeb Bush is speaking at the same time as Donald Trump going into tonight, I asked Bush why voters should come here and not go to Trump. His answer was, if they want to be entertained, they can go to Trump. If they want to learn about how to deal with problems that are facing voters in New Hampshire, they should come here -- Erin.

BURNETT: Dana, thank you very much.

Forty-five minutes of voters questions in substance, you heard a little bit of that, talking about what his policy would have been, very different than what you heard from Donald Trump.

Donald Trump just wrapping up his event. He's going to be taking questions but he's making news on Syria that is important to share.

I want to go straight to our Sara Murray who was in the room with Donald Trump.

Sara, what is it that he said?


So, he was talking about the refugee crisis and in the midst of how he would deal with foreign policy and he said if he were president, he would send all of the Syrian refugees back home. That's actually got quite a big response from the crowd. A number of people stood up and gave him a standing ovation. It was actually one of the loudest rounds of applause he got throughout his entire stump speech. And even more popular lines tonight than his plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico, which is usually his biggest line of stump speech, Erin.

BURNETT: So you're saying the biggest applause, Sara, came from the line of sending the refugees home. That's pretty incredible and obviously significant -- something new that Donald Trump has not said before. We're going to talk about that with our panel as we take a brief break.

We're going to come back as these town halls continue. Donald Trump about to take questions, Jeb Bush taking substantive questions. Both in New Hampshire tonight.

We'll be right back.


[19:42:01] BURNETT: All right. Doug Heye is back with me.

Donald Trump at this town hall in New Hampshire, about to take voter questions.

And, Doug, you heard what he said, that he would send the Syrian refugees back to Syria. You just heard our reporter say that's what he got the most applause for in that room when Donald Trump said there were more than 3,500 people. That's the kind of headline, though, that will get noticed by a lot of people. That's a very controversial thing to say.

DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Absolutely. I'm troubled by the audience's reaction on that. But also, it's not surprising that Donald Trump would say that he wouldn't take any in, not because what he would say about minorities in the past, but in Donald Trump's mind, he's going to create some Middle East Xanadu just by a sheer cult or force of personal. So, why would he need to take any Syrian refugees in?

And that's the real dichotomy we saw with what he has said and what Jeb Bush just said earlier. Jeb Bush offers specifics. He offers clear policies.

With Trump, what we get are name-calling and conjecture, and that's about it and ultimately that's going to be Trump's downfall.

BURNETT: But, Doug, briefly, the people in the room responded to it. I mean, that's a key thing. They responded to it. That's what they wanted to hear.

HEYE: Yes. Look, again, I think that was a troubling reaction from the audience. When we see the images of people who are really suffering, families suffering, of a child who is dead and has washed upon a shore, you know, that's when the American people usually step up and I'm convinced a majority of our party would certainly do so.

BURNETT: All right. Doug Heye, thank you very much.

HEYE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And as Donald Trump talking about Syria, Jeb Bush talking about Syria at this moment, we have major news from that country. Pouring gasoline on a fire is how an angry secretary of defense today, Ashton Carter, described Russian's bombs in Syria today. The United States caught completely off guard as Russian planes attacked.

Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT with me tonight.

And, Barbara, President Obama and Putin meet and then Russia does this behind America's back. I mean, this seems bizarre.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Erin, it certainly is. That was the question I asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter earlier today. It has been a day of military drama between the United States and Russia.


STARR (voice-over): The first Russian combat camera video of their airstrikes in Syria. Russian warplanes struck near the city of Homs in western Syria, an area where anti-government forces are operating, not ISIS, the terrorist group Russia claimed it was going after.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter had been assembling a military team to talk to the Russians about how to keep U.S. and Russian pilots safe when they fly near each other.

But earlier Wednesday, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad got a sudden visit from a Russian general. (on camera): So, a Russian general shows up this morning at the

embassy in Baghdad and apparently reads you -- your people a note saying airstrikes are going to begin in one hour. Is this not a little bizarre?

ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is not the kind of behavior that we should expect professionally from Russian military professionally, and that's one reason why I think it's a good thing to have an avenue of communication that is less unprofessional than a drop-in.

[19:45:07] STARR (voice-over): The Russian general giving just one-hour notice, strikes were to begin and telling the Americans to keep their aircraft out of Syrian skies.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, FORMER NSA DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR TRAINING: The Russians are using this opportunity to basically do their best to shove the U.S. out of the Middle East and they are doing it literally and figuratively right in front of our noses.

STARR: One of the areas the Russians hit, north of Homs where several factions, including the al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra and other anti-Assad groups are fighting the regime.

The State Department trying to diffuse rising military tensions between the U.S. and Moscow but only going so far.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States and the coalition will continue our ongoing air operations as we have from the very beginning.

STARR: Russian Vladimir Putin says his military was invited into Syria by Bashar al Assad, the Russian leader clearly ready to prop up Assad.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will support the Syrian army only in its legitimate fights specifically against terrorist groups.

STARR: For now, little mention of ISIS, the U.S. priority.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Putin's ambitions are blindingly obvious, my friends. He wants to prop up Assad, play kingmaker and any transition undermine U.S. policy and operations and ultimately expand Russian power in the Middle East.


STARR: But even with everything that has happened, Defense Secretary Ash Carter says he is still assembling a team of military personnel to sit down and talk to the Russians. How both sides can keep their pilots safe, how both sides can share information as they conduct military strikes inside Syria -- Erin.

BURNETT: Barbara, thank you very much. Pretty stunning how Barbara reported that it happened. Russian general just walks into the American embassy in Baghdad.

All right. OUTFRONT next, Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, she claims she met with the pope, receiving a rosary from him, a very detailed read-out of the meeting. The Vatican will not deny it. Why?


[19:51:17] BURNETT: Tonight, Kim Davis says she met the pope. She is the Kentucky clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and she now says she met Pope Francis during his recent trip to the United States. According to her lawyers, they were specific, they said the meeting happened while the pope was in Washington D.C. and the Vatican is not denying the meeting took place.

Alexandra Field is OUTFRONT.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pope Francis cheered by the masses during a U.S. tour packed with public appearances but he also found time we're finding out for a private visit.

KIM DAVIS, KENTUCKY COUNTY CLERK: It was really very humbling to even think he would want to, you know, meet me or know me.

FIELD: Kim Davis, the Kentucky County clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, says she and her husband Joe spent time alone with the pope in Washington D.C.

DAVIS: I put my handout and he reached and grabbed it and I hugged him and he hugged me and he said, "Thank you for your courage."

FIELD: Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi isn't commenting on the visit, saying only that he won't deny that the meeting took place. And Davis' attorney won't say how the visit came together.

MATHEW STAVER, FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, LIBERTY COUNSEL: There is speculation how did she get in and out without being seen by the media tht was surrounding the Vatican embassy. I will say the bigger issue is not how or how it happened but it did happen.

FIELD: The couple left with rosaries blessed. The meeting leaves a lasting impression.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: I think what it does is reframe the narrative about Pope Francis a bit. I think up to this point, the narrative has been this is a progressive maverick sort of shaking up a deeply traditional church and that's all true. But I think what's been missed is that while he's changing the tone, he's not changing the content of the church's message.

FIELD: It wasn't the pope's only private visit, along with meeting church sex abuse survivors during his stay in the U.S., he also met with the Little Sisters of the Poor, plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Obamacare's mandate for employees to be offered free contraception.

None of those meetings were on the schedule but reflect the broader public messages. On his return trip to Rome, reporters asked specifically about public officials who refused to carry out their duties as a matter of conscience, the pontiff reaffirmed his support but made no mention of the county clerk saying, "I can say the conscious objection is a right part of every human right. It is a right," a message from the Holy Father further fueling Kim Davis' fight.

DAVIS: He told me before he left, he said stay strong. That's great encouragement. Just knowing that the pope is on track, you know, with what we're doing and agreeing, you know, kind of validates everything.


BURNETT: You know, if this happened, I think this changes a little bit the visits, so many people, right, the pope was so ecumenical, so communitarian, as Bill Clinton used the word to me last night, I mean, certainly, the White House would have had an issue with this. Have they said anything?

FIELD: Right. You got sort of a polarizing figure here many this country, Kim Davis, a lot of people who are supporting her, a lot of people who are against her, that seemed to be outside the pope's message but the question was put to the White House today, what does the president think of the fact the pope would meet with Kim Davis? His press secretary said there wasn't a specific comment on the meeting itself or whether it happened with the details of the meeting, but he did bring back around the point the pope was here to talk about religious freedom and said that's a conversation that the president engaged him when the pope was in Washington.

[19:55:05] But he reaffirms the president's point which is this, that religious freedom doesn't grant the freedom to deny fellow Americans their basic constitutional rights. So, of course, he's pointing back the rule of law, and what was established by the Supreme Court over the summer, that is the right of all Americans to marry.

BURNETT: That's pretty incredible and, of course, I guess no surprise given it would have been so controversial and the Vatican is refusing to confirm or deny. But with all the details out there from Kim Davis, it seems at least to me it pretty clear, that it did.

All right. Thank you very much, Alexandra Field.

And we'll be right back.


BURNETT: Thanks so much for joining us tonight. Don't forget to watch Don Lemon's interview with Donald Trump. That is tonight at 10:00 Eastern. Thanks so much. "AC360" starts now.