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Kerry: Russian Military Moves in Syria an "Opportunity"; Trump on Rubio Insults: I'm a Counterpuncher; Bill Clinton Defends Hillary. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired September 30, 2015 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:32:46] MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning: Russia's parliament voting to allow President Vladimir Putin to use the country's air force in Syria, opening the way for air strikes. However, the vote does not allow for ground strikes.
The Obama administration meanwhile has expressed concern about a Russian military buildup in Syria. But Secretary of State John Kerry now telling CNN the U.S. could actually benefit from Moscow's involvement in Syria.
Kerry's comments coming in an interview with CNN's Elise Labott, who joins us to explain -- Elise.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, guys, I was surprised by the candor of this interview. I mean, clearly, the U.S. was really caught flat-footed by the Russian military buildup in Syria. And there's been a lot of talk about how they've now ceded the ground to Russia and there are new facts on the ground that make it impossible for the U.S. to do anything.
But Secretary Kerry clearly trying to accentuate the positive, and say that they want to work with Russians. Take a listen.
LABOTT: A lot of talk this week about President Putin's actions in Syria creating new realities on the ground. And some have said that it's kind of boxed the U.S. into a corner a little bit. Is that true?
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I couldn't disagree more. I don't see how it boxes us in the least. I think it opens up more options.
But it makes life more complicated for Putin himself, for President Putin, because if he's going to side with Assad and with Iran and Hezbollah, he's going to have a very serious problem with the Sunni countries in the region. That means we could become a target for those Sunni jihadis.
So, this is very complicated for him. He needs to work something out.
LABOTT: But his --
KERRY: I think it's an opportunity, to be honest with you. It's an opportunity for us to force this question of how you actually resolve the question in Syria.
The bottom line is, you cannot resolve it without including the Sunni in the political solution, political agreement, ultimately. And that will mean that you're going to have to have some kind of transition, some kind of timing, because as long as Assad is there, you simply can't make peace.
LABOTT: For years, we've been saying -- you have been saying Assad should go.
KERRY: Yes, but no, the argument --
LABOTT: Now you are saying that he's going to choose his successor?
[06:35:01] KERRY: We have not been saying it for years. We have said for the last year that he has to transition out over a period of time. We have not said --
LABOTT: How long are you talking?
KERRY: Let me finish the one thought. That for a period of time, all the coalition were saying he had to leave immediately. That was the original statement, way back when.
We have changed that over a period of time. We said, no, that's not going to work. We need to have an orderly transition, a managed transition so you don't have fear for the retribution, loss of life --
LABOTT: A vacuum?
KERRY: You don't have a vacuum, you don't have an implosion, all of these things. These are all legitimate concerns.
So, we concluded that it would be better and perhaps stand a better chance of reaching a mutual consent if it was done over a reasonable period of time so that you have a strong, sustaining of the delivery of, you know, whatever government services are left. There aren't many, frankly.
But to hold the institutions themselves there, so you have something to build on unlike Iraq, years ago, where you can actually begin to put together government and a future for Syria.
PEREIRA: So, the secretary, Elise, clearly trying to spin Russian involvement on the ground there as something positive. But that's got to complicate things for the U.S.
LABOTT: Well, it does because it creates a reality on the ground now that they can't do anything. Even if they wanted to get rid of Assad, they couldn't, because if you look at some of the weapons the Russians are bringing in, it has nothing to do really with ISIS. It's really just about trying to prop up this Syrian military.
And so, I think what they're trying to do is harness that into a way to work against ISIS. Clearly, this makes it impossible for the U.S. to go against anything Russia wants. Russia wants to keep them there.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The defense of the U.S. and Secretary Kerry, it's complicated. When we interviewed President Obama about the red line, I was very aggressive with him. He was telling me, slow down. We don't know what Syria did here yet, the Assad regime. Four days later, they were thinking about bombing Syria, and then they said, your days are numbered, as you pointed out.
This is complex. They have to find a way forward. Sometimes, you have to work with the enemy in that case. But making the case is also part of this, and this is a tricky one.
LABOTT: Well, also, it's one thing to say Assad should stay, but if you don't get the opposition to go along on the ground and stop fighting, it's not going to work at all. And the anti-Assad crowd, you have Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, a lot of these countries don't want to keep Assad.
So, that's really what Secretary Kerry is trying to do this week, get everybody on the same page.
PEREIRA: Global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, always good to see you. Thank you.
CUOMO: Donald Trump is back on FOX News. He just couldn't stay away from the mother ship. But it wasn't all kissing and making up on O'Reilly. We'll show you what happened, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[06:41:48] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Again, I'm a counter-puncher. He hit me all of a sudden.
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: OK, I didn't mind the gang of eight stuff. I didn't mind the gang of eight stuff. You're calling him a clown. That's not presidential.
TRUMP: He was a member of the gang of eight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Donald Trump ending his FOX News boycott. Last night he went on O'Reilly, who challenged him there about calling his rival Marco Rubio a clown.
Will Donald Trump make a tone shift now?
CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", Ryan Lizza, joins us, and contributing editor for "New York Magazine", and political correspondent for "GQ", Jason Zengerle.
You couldn't see Chris' facial expression, which spoke a thousand words.
So, Jason, let me start with you. Will we see Trump temper his tone?
JASON ZENGERLE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I would say no. I think that's unlikely to happen. I don't really know what he has if he tempers his tone. What is he going to say if he's not outlandish? Is he going to offer his policy proposals or geopolitical insights? I think his entire candidacy has been based on that tone and it's working for him.
CUOMO: But why? But why matters? You know, I'm smiling because it's a rhetorical question, at best. But, Ryan, the point is, he has tapped into people's disgust with the process. He's become a face of their discontent. Is there a downside to that?
Obviously there is, especially among us. We don't like how he is. It doesn't mean his base doesn't. So, what's a man to do?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think if he's really serious about winning the Republican nomination, he has to enter some phase here where he actually does the work that is necessary to win it. I mean, he can't just show up on television every day and insult Republican candidates and insult people in the media.
CAMEROTA: Ryan, he's put out his tax plan. He is putting out more substantive things.
LIZZA: That's exactly what I was going to say. Look, the most boring interview he's done so far, and I say that as a compliment, is the one he did yesterday with CNN where he just sat down and talked about his tax plan. He talked about it in a fairly knowledgeable way.
And I think there has to be that side of his candidacy if he's going to be taken seriously by people in the Republican Party who are deathly afraid of him and will do everything they possibly can to make sure he doesn't win the nomination.
CAMEROTA: Jason, you know, there's another question. It's not just, will he temp his tone, but is he setting the tone for the Republicans right now?
So, let me play for you what Marco Rubio said about Donald Trump last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's very clear. He's a very insecure person. He doesn't like to be criticized.
You know, the presidency is a tough job. You are going to be criticized. And you can't flip out every time somebody says something about you. He does. And that's his problem. I don't have time to kind of analyze why that is, but that's the reality of it.
He had a bad week. You know, he got booed a stage. He had very few people show up to an event he gave. Just today, Tom Brady said he's not endorsing Donald Trump despite these reports that he has Tom Brady on his side now.
So, he's very sensitive guy. And that's fine. That's his problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So, Jason, is that a winning strategy for Marco Rubio to take the gloves off and go after Trump like that?
ZENGERLE: Yes, you know, I think it's an interesting attack from Rubio. It seems like it's designed to get under Trump's skin, you know, saying he's insecure, mentioning Tom Brady.
[06:45:04] You know, it's almost like he wants to drive Trump to madness. I think Rubio has to be careful, they all have to be careful. They don't want to turn this into a circus side show. They don't want to get drag into the mud --
CUOMO: Right. But, Ryan, that's the problem. Why is Marco Rubio talking about Donald Trump? He doesn't want to talk about Donald Trump. He gets asked about him incessantly. If he doesn't answer, he looks weak and the media comes after him why he doesn't talk about Trump. So, you're forced to do it.
Look at Governor Kasich. Governor Kasich has said, I don't want to talk about Trump. He can't get on TV as a result.
So, you know, we're getting into a little chicken and the egg situation with Donald Trump, aren't we?
LIZZA: Yes, I think you nailed it, chicken and egg, you know, catch-22. He's candidates, you don't want to risk being Rick Perry and Scott Walker who, you know, Perry arguably got into a fight with Trump and it led to his demise. Walker ignored Trump, was ignored by the media. His polls sank. And he disappeared from the scene.
So, I think all these candidates are trying to figure out, you know, Trump is like this giant, blaring sun in the campaign that they all have to navigate around. And if you want to get on TV, if you want to be part of the conflict of day-to-day politics, that means talking about Trump in some way.
CUOMO: Right. But, Jason, the point is, the Francis effect, right? Pope Francis came. There is an opportunity to change tone. There's an opportunity to be different than Donald Trump, and then compete on that basis with voters. That's the question.
Do you think too many of them were trying to play the same game as Donald Trump that he is certainly the master?
ZENGERLE: Yes, I think they can get caught playing that game. I think what Ryan said is right. You are kind of in this impossible situation. If you don't talk about him, you get ignored.
CUOMO: But how?
ZENGERLE: I think Rubio is -- look, we've obviously been talking about Trump for the last five minutes. Rubio has been steady in terms of keeping his head down, moving along. And it's really benefitted. I mean, occasionally, he'll get drawn into the Trump stuff but that's in response to questions. He hasn't -- he's not on Twitter like Jeb Bush trolling Trump.
Rubio has been pretty good about it. I think the tone he set is actually working for him and I kind of wonder if more candidates might try to follow that path.
CAMEROTA: We will watch with great interest this week what happens on the campaign trail. Ryan, Jason, thanks so much.
LIZZA: Thanks, guys.
CUOMO: Donald Trump is going to talk to CNN's Don Lemon tonight. Tune in 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
And also mark your calendar, right? Here's the part that matters -- CNN/Facebook, first Democratic debate, October 13th, 9:00 p.m. in Vegas.
PEREIRA: I'm sorry, where was that?
PEREIRA: OK, just wanted to make sure.
Bill Clinton says the Trump campaign is fact-free. Ahead, you'll see how the former president responds in a CNN interview to Trump calling Hillary Clinton the worst secretary of state ever, coming up next.
[06:52:00] PEREIRA: Former President Bill Clinton speaking candidly with CNN about his wife's campaign. In an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett, he takes on critics like Donald Trump and even tackles the all-elusive question: will he be a huge force in Hillary's campaign? Take a listen.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You say you can't insult your way to the White House. You say Donald Trump could be the nominee. So, I have to play this for you. This is something he said in the interview yesterday about your wife and I want to play it for you and get your reaction.
Here is Donald Trump in my interview yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I always respected him. I actually liked him over the years, but when we look at what's going on in the world, when we look at the job that Hillary did as secretary of state, she goes down as perhaps the worst secretary of state in history.
And when I run against her evenly in the polls, I'm doing very well against Hillary and beating her. Erin, if you look throughout the world during her reign and the reign of Obama, the whole world is blowing up. We've lost our friendships, we've lost everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, be the thing about branding is you don't have to be -- you can be fact-free.
(LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE)
And I think so even the Republicans admit that the sanctions on Iran were well done and that it was a major achievement to get Russia and China to agree to sign off on these sanctions and to enforce them. She did that. That's what made the talks possible.
So, I would be happy to have this debate. Because there will be somebody on the other side of the debate, if he becomes the nominee, he'll have to sort of hone his criticisms a little more finely because the facts will be easy to marshal.
But, you know, he's good at this, that's what he does.
BURNETT: You know, voters are recently asked by Quinnipiac to say the first word they thought of when they thought of her. The words, the top three words were, liar, dishonest and untrustworthy. Why is that?
CLINTON: Oh, come on, Erin. I've answered these questions for three days. And I'm not here to practice politics.
If I were sitting in your chair and you were sitting here and you wanted to run for office, and I had four, five months to make sure nothing but the opposition's negative claims on you were run, and I presume your guilt with every question, and I beat up on you, you think I could your favorables down?
You know, look, I trust the American people. They are innately fair. But they have to have more disclosure. She wants her e-mails released, the State Department and the intelligence agencies are arguing about whether any of them should be retroactively classified.
[06:55:01] That will play out however it does.
But she's the only secretary of state in history that ever said, just release them all, all my work-related e-mails. And so far, as I said, you get the record out, I think she looks great.
BURNETT: The question is, how much of a force will you be in this campaign. We haven't seen a lot of you. But you're out here today. And I will say you just gave the most succinct and clear defense of her secretary of state tenureship that I heard.
CLINTON: Well, first of all, it is true that I have done markedly less to this point than I did eight years ago when she ran. Eight years ago, I did a lot by now of what I've only done two things. I did some of the fund-raising events so she would be free to go out and campaign, but I couldn't do more because this year we had foundation trips to Africa and still one to finish to Latin-America. And so, my foundation life was full.
And so, now that when this is behind us, I'll be able to do some more of that. It's not to raise my profile. It gives me a chance to go talk to her supporters and tell them what I think they should know and answer their questions and frees her up to campaign more. I have no idea what else I'll do.
PEREIRA: So, it sounds like we are going to see more of Bill out there.
CAMEROTA: Sounds like it.
CUOMO: It's about the capacity, the role and the ratio, right? He can be a distraction. He can also be a help.
This is his wife who's running. It's not him. They are different people. They see things differently. That's relevant. But at the same time, when you're dealing with Donald Trump, if there's anybody --
PEREIRA: Any secret weapon --
CUOMO: -- who would go toe to toe with Donald Trump and win, it would be Bill Clinton. Whether you like his positions or not, this man makes a good case.
CAMEROTA: I mean, also, because he's disimpassioned and sort of amused when he talks about Donald Trump, he doesn't engage. He just says, it's about branding, and, you know, when you have a master brander, this is the kind of things says. He seems very sanguine about it.
CUOMO: That's his genius. It would be like Superman and bizarre, which one is which is up to you.
PEREIRA: Well, interesting.
All right, we are following a whole lot of news this morning on a Wednesday. So let's get right to it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you need federal dollars? You're making a ton of dough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surely, you don't expect us to be easy on you because you're a woman.
CECILE RICHARDS, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: The accusations against Planned Parenthood, on heavily doctored videos are offensive and categorically untrue.
CUOMO: The state of Georgia has killed the only woman on death row.
CAMEROTA: The first woman executed in that state in 70 years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody understands why in turn out the way it did.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How could anyone in my party think this clown is fit to be president.
TRUMP: I think when people see me, when they see, I want to make America great again, they all of a sudden say, you know, we really like him.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota, and Michaela Pereira.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to your NEW DAY.
The fight over defunding Planned Parenthood heating up this morning after a fiery hearing on Capitol Hill, with GOP lawmakers going after the head of the organization.
CUOMO: So, the head did go to Capitol Hill and she insists the videos produced by opponents, as she calls them, were doctored and outrageous and the allegations are categorically untrue. She's calling her critics obsessed.
CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux live from Washington.
Of course, these are all characterizations. The question is, what is the context and content? What was revealed in the hearings that's helpful in understanding this?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, you know, this was a standoff many Republicans were waiting for. And what we heard was a line of questions aimed at Planned Parenthood ranging accusations around hosting pricey parties, over the top fund-raisers, to, of course, providing abortion.
RICHARDS: The outrageous accusations leveled against Planned Parenthood based on heavily doctor the videos are offensive and categorically untrue.
MALVEAUX (on camera): In an emotional and fiery hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you defend the sale of baby body parts?
MALVEAUX: GOP members grilling Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards for more than four hours over the company's use of roughly $450 million annually in federal funding.
REP. MICK MULVANEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You could have provided every single service that you did to every single woman last year if you did not get a penny from the discretionary fund from the United States Congress.
RICHARDS: Well, I actually disagree.
MALVEAUX: At one point, Republican representatives slammed for their line of questioning.
REP. GERALD CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: The disrespect, rampant here today, tells us what is really going on here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surely you don't expect us to be easier on you because you're a woman.
RICHARDS: Absolutely not. That's not how my mama raised me.