Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With California Congressman John Garamendi; Trump Leading; Nuclear Sting; Will Biden Run?; Aired 18-19:00p ET

Aired October 7, 2015 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:01]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, we are learning of multiple similar plots. Will terror groups eventually get what they need to make a dirty bomb?

Run, Joe, run, new pressure on Vice President Joe Biden to jump into the White House race, as new poll numbers for Hillary Clinton come in from critical swing states and Bernie Sanders' momentum continues to grow. Could Biden make his decision as early as this weekend?

Home state smackdown. Donald Trump's latest poll numbers show him crushing rivals, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, in their own states. Can the Republican candidates do anything to stop the Trump juggernaut?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Florida, I was at 21. I went up to 28. We're killing everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news.

A disturbing encounter over Syria involving a Russian warplane and two U.S. fighter jets on a mission targeting ISIS. In the first incident of its kind, the American pilots were forced to divert out of safety concerns after the Russian warplane came closer than U.S. rules allow.

Also, we're learning right now new information about the FBI role in busting smugglers in Eastern Europe trying to sell radioactive material. The fear is that material could wind up in the hands of terrorists. We're covering all that and much more this hour with our correspondents, and our guests, including Democratic Congressman John Garamendi, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

But let's begin with breaking news, that disturbing incident involving American and Russian warplanes in the skies over Syria.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us,

Barbara, what are you picking up?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, the Pentagon going to extraordinary lengths to keep American pilots safe and away from unpredictable Russians.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): For the first time, U.S. pilots had to divert over Syria because a Russian fighter jet came within 20 nautical miles, according to U.S. officials, two F-16s flying out of Incirlik Air Base were in Northeastern Syria attempting to bomb an ISIS target when the incident occurred.

U.S. officials tell CNN that American pilots are under new strict rules. If Russian aircraft come within the 20-mile limit, for their own safety, the Americans must move away. The U.S. doesn't think the Russians will shoot them down, but commanders don't trust Russia not to make a mistake, officials tell CNN.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter pressing for another round of talks with Moscow about managing the skies.

ASHTON CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: To protect our air crews and to continue, as the coalition intends to do, its air campaign unchanged.

STARR: The incident happened after this, the first meeting between the two sides to discuss air safety. The Russians secretly videotaped it all and posted it on YouTube. U.S. commanders say they were shocked, Carter adamant the U.S. will go no further than technical talks.

CARTER: We are not prepared to cooperate in a strategy, which, as we have explained, is flawed, tragically flawed on the Russians' part.

STARR: Russia also launched naval strikes, four warships in the Caspian Sea firing 26 missiles into Syria, hitting 11 targets, according to Moscow. U.S. officials say this was the first time the Russians fired this highly accurate missile in combat.

Pentagon officials believe it is a direct message to them from Moscow: We can fire at you from long distances.

And in Western Syria, Russia now in ground combat. Artillery and rocket launchers pounded targets to back up regime forces of Bashar al-Assad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Now, how bad is all of this getting? I want everybody to take a look at this video. This was posted

by a moderate rebel group in Syria that is supported by the United States. They say this shows them coming under attack from Russian warplanes. CNN is not able to independently verify the video, but we are told the group did come under attack from the Russians -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And did you say, Barbara, that the U.S. and Russian military personnel, they were having closed-door, private meetings about what is going on, and that Russians secretly videotaped those meetings and then posted the video online; is that what happened?

[18:05:05]

STARR: That is what that video is, we are told, Wolf. It was last Thursday.

You remember this was the all-important first meeting. Russian and U.S. military sat down and talked visa secure video teleconference between the Pentagon and Moscow, had the first round of technical talks, how do you keep your pilots safe? What are the rules we're going to use? How do we call each other cockpit to cockpit, all of that? And then the Russians taped it, put it up on YouTube, showed the U.S. officials sitting there, the Russian officials sitting there.

Several U.S. officials, including one that was very familiar with those talks, tell me they had no idea they were being taped.

BLITZER: What a disturbing development that was. All right, Barbara, thank you.

We're also learning new details of an alleged smuggling plot in Eastern Europe that could have delivered radioactive material into the hands of terrorists. The suspects allegedly were offering to sell more than a pound of cesium to men they reportedly believed to be tied to terror groups.

Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown is joining us now and she's got more on the story.

Pamela, what are you learning?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are learning tonight the FBI has helped intercept radiation materials being sold on the black market in Eastern Europe. And officials I spoke with tell me in one undercover operator the sellers claimed that they had an ISIS fighter as a potential ISIS, though authorities say there is no evidence that ISIS has acquired the bomb-making materials from Eastern Europe.

The concern, of course, is that they could one day fall into the terrorist group's hands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): If the alleged plots had been carried out, the results could have been devastating, terrorists buying a radioactive substance on the black market that could be used to make a dirty bomb.

Instead, police in the former Soviet republic of Moldova say earlier this year they broke up the operation and arrested this man along with others in a carefully orchestrated sting, as dealers allegedly try to sell radioactive cesium to men they believed were associated with terrorists.

The video of the sting was first obtained by the Associated Press. The cesium is so dangerous because even a small amount could contaminate several city blocks and cost billions in cleanup.

ANDREW BIENIAWSKI, NUCLEAR THREAT INITIATIVE: We have to be very concerned about this region of the world. It really is a transit and a gateway by which smugglers can transit material Moldova to other regions.

BROWN: Tonight, Moldovan authorities tell CNN they worked with the American agents from the FBI to foil at least three plots to smuggle radioactive material since 2010.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The proliferation, the smuggling, the movement of this material around obviously has grave consequences. We're going to continue to work internationally as this demonstrated to try to stem that.

BROWN: Moldova's close proximity to Russia, where vulnerable nuclear and radioactive material can be obtained, makes the selling of this material big business for criminal organizations.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PRESIDENT, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: A terrorist group that has got billions is certainly willing to pay that for material that could terrorize or shut down a city.

BROWN: In 2014, seven people were arrested in Moldova for allegedly smuggling uranium. But, tonight, counterterrorism experts say the newly revealed sting operations show a potentially more dangerous vulnerability.

BIENIAWSKI: If ISIS were to acquire radioactive material, then they could use it in the region, they could use it in the theater or they could use it for other purposes if they wanted to transport it and bring it here to the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And officials I have spoken with say it would be very difficult to transport these radiation materials from Eastern Europe because of protections in place at the borders.

But for ISIS, it may not even matter because as one official I spoke with today said, if ISIS wanted to build a dirty bomb today, it could because it already has bomb-making materials at its disposal where it is right now. The question is, Wolf, whether it has the expertise to put one together.

BLITZER: What a nightmare that would be. All right, Pamela, thank you.

Let's get some more on what is going on with Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. He's a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

What can you tell us about this smuggling potentially trying to develop some sort of dirty bomb?

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, this has been an ongoing concern of the United States and Russia.

They're at risk, as is the United States and Europe. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, there was a great concern about this. The United States government spent a lot of money over a lot of years to try to secure the nuclear materials.

That is an ongoing issue. In fact, we just finished a hearing not more than a half-an-hour ago on this very subject of plutonium. Russia has 34 metric tons of it. We have it. We're in the process of trying to destroy that unused plutonium. We're talking about the heart of a thermonuclear weapon here.

Ongoing issue, big concern in Congress among many of us that we need to continue to put the money up to do these kind of efforts to understand what is going on, to secure the borders. There has been an effort under way.

[18:10:03]

Fortunately, it was taken out of the Defense Authorization Act. There was a major effort in the House of Representatives to reduce the money to secure the borders.

BLITZER: How close has ISIS or any other terror group, for that matter, ever come to getting radioactive material, nuclear material to build that so-called dirty bomb which could be so destructive?

GARAMENDI: Well, there is very many different kinds of radioactive material that could go into it.

Some of it is in hospitals. If you take some of the materials that is in hospitals here or hospitals around the world, you can manufacture at least a small dirty bomb. I suppose if you got a lot of it, it would be bigger. It is an ongoing concern everywhere it is possible.

The big sources of this are the radio -- the reactors, the nuclear reactors, the material, the spent nuclear fuel, all troublesome. Is it possible to get it? Yes, it is radioactive and difficult to transport.

BLITZER: Do they have the expertise to build a dirty bomb? GARAMENDI: You get the material, you surround it by other kinds

of explosives, put it in a suitcase, now you got a dirty bomb. It's fairly simple.

BLITZER: It's not that complicated.

Stand by for a moment. I want to continue our conversation, including what Russia is doing right now in Syria. You heard about that close encounter between those two U.S. fighter jets a Russian warplane, too close for comfort.

GARAMENDI: Yes.

BLITZER: We will take a quick break -- much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:17]

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news.

For the first time, U.S. pilots forced to divert over Syria because of a Russian fighter jet that flew way too close to the American planes. Way too close for the Pentagon's desires. The two F-16s were in Northeastern Syria attempting to bomb an ISIS target when the incident occurred.

We're back with Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

A lot of people are worried about this kind of miscalculation. How likely would this kind of disaster, could this disaster be?

GARAMENDI: I think it is highly likely.

We have to sit down with Russia. They have to sit down with us and we have to have a conversation about how we're going to conduct each other's operations in this area. Obviously, we're not on the same page, not on the same page with regard to Assad and certainly not on the same page with conducting a war. You have got to coordinate, and that means you have got to sit down, you have got to talk this out.

BLITZER: But the Russians want intelligence, if they will cooperate with you, but you have got to share information where various groups are. The U.S. says, we're not going to share that intelligence with the Russians because we know what they want. They want to prop up Bashar al-Assad and go after those U.S.-backed rebels.

GARAMENDI: Well, that is part of the problem. But that has to be talked through, because, as you know just from this incident, there is going to be something really bad happening out there, airlines colliding. Others kinds of thing will happen. And we need to have that conversation about the airspace, who is doing what, when and how.

That has to take place. And if that means we have got to sit down with a big bottle of vodka to get it done, then get it done.

BLITZER: Because most of the Russian airstrikes have nothing to do with ISIS. They're going after these U.S.-backed rebels, who are going after Bashar al-Assad.

GARAMENDI: That is certainly correct. And what is Russia's reasons for being there? Prop up Assad? Yes. Going after ISIS? Maybe. We're certainly going after ISIS. Is there a common goal here? ISIS? Then let's work on that.

It's going to be tough, but we have to talk about. Otherwise, there are going to be some very serious accidents or incidents, and then where does that go along to when you start that ball rolling down the hill? And who knows where it's going to go?

BLITZER: Do you support a U.S. no-fly zone over Syria?

GARAMENDI: Northern Syria, yes, next to the border of Turkey. That would make a lot of sense to do that. And we ought to make that part of the discussions with Russia.

They say no, but, listen, we have refugees all over the place. We have got a serious humanitarian problem. It would make sense to have that no-fly zone in that area, a safe haven.

BLITZER: Let's talk about what is going on in Afghanistan right now.

The U.S. blew up a Doctors Without Borders medical facility, killing a lot of people, patients, doctors, staffers, others, as you well know. There's now some reports out there that three months or so ago, Afghan troops raided that facility, because they had indication that Doctors Without Borders, this excellent international medical group, was actually treating Taliban fighters who came in for medical attention. They didn't like that.

Have you heard that report?

GARAMENDI: Yes, I have certainly read that report. It's been out in the news.

It is a very serious breach. Doctors Without Borders is a wonderful humanitarian organization. They don't care what side you're on. They're there to take care of the individual, the human being. And that is how it ought to be.

We will find out more about this. This ought to be a full, open, fully transparent discussion and investigation. We can't hide anything here, because clearly the United States participated in this action. Who was responsible? What led up to it? All of those things must be thoroughly investigated and the world needs to know.

BLITZER: As you know, the president, President Obama, today did an extraordinary thing. He called the head of Doctors Without Borders to formally apologize on behalf of the United States, point out that NATO, the U.S., the Afghan government, they're all going to have their separate investigations right now.

That was not good enough for Doctors Without Borders. They welcomed the phone call, but they also said they want an international, impartial, outside U.N.-type investigation to find out what happened.

[18:20:05]

Should the U.S. cooperate with that type of international investigation?

GARAMENDI: We should. It's our reputation at stake. We're an open country.

What are we hiding here? Are we hiding a mistake? That would be a serious problem. Get it out there. Obviously, there was a serious mistake made. Who is responsible? Who is to bear the burden of the responsibility? How far up the chain of command does it go?

The world needs to know. If we're going to be successful anywhere in the Middle East and anywhere around the world, we have to be open and transparent.

BLITZER: Today, get this. It is hard to believe. It marks the exact 14th anniversary since the start of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. It was October 7, 2001. I remember it vividly.

I was anchoring my Sunday show at the time, "LATE EDITION." We went back and we got the clip of when we first got word that U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan had started about a month after 9/11. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Senator Edwards, I want to alert our viewers out there that we're told that the White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, will be having a briefing momentarily.

The Associated Press is now reporting from Kabul that there are explosions. There's anti-aircraft fire in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, which would indicate, Senator Edwards, that the long- anticipated U.S. action may, in fact, already have begun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And, of course, it did begin that day. It's hard to believe, 14 years later. The U.S. went in there to destroy the Taliban, to destroy al Qaeda.

If anybody would have said 14 years later that mission would still not be complete, they would have thought that that was crazy, because the U.S. defeated the Nazi empire in four years in World War II.

GARAMENDI: Well, yes, at an extraordinary cost of human lives on every side. A lot of mistakes made here, a lot of mistakes. The Russians

were there. The British were there. A lot of folks tried to subjugate Afghanistan and nobody has been successful over time. We also -- after the success of getting rid of the Taliban, we moved our attention to Iraq and left Taliban for a few years -- left Afghanistan for a few years.

And it just erupted into a huge civil war that is still going on to this day. And we're right smack in the middle of it. It's a lesson that we need to learn about not only the Middle East, but other countries.

Getting involved in these civil wars is a very dangerous and very difficult thing. Russia should have learned that in Afghanistan. Probably, we should have hired the general that ran out of Afghanistan with his tail between his legs and asked him, what happened? We didn't.

We need to understand that now Russia is in the middle of Syria and they may be sorry that they got into that mess.

BLITZER: By now, the longest war in U.S. history.

GARAMENDI: Seven hundred billion dollars.

BLITZER: In U.S. taxpayer money.

GARAMENDI: And that doesn't count for the ongoing debt.

BLITZER: Just in Afghanistan.

GARAMENDI: Just in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: And all the lives lost and the wounded warriors and all the Afghanis who have been killed as well.

GARAMENDI: Seven hundred billion dollars.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Congressman...

GARAMENDI: Thank you.

BLITZER: ... 14 years ago, that war started for the United States.

Thanks very much for joining us, John Garamendi of California.

Just ahead, Donald Trump explains his campaign ad strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All over the programs, and then we put an ad in. Right? Who the hell wants to see an ad? You O.D. on Trump, that's no good. I can't have that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And Hillary Clinton's campaign plays a name game to go after one of her leading critics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:28:15]

BLITZER: All right, we're just six days away from the CNN Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas.

This is the first, the first Democratic presidential debate. And tonight, Hillary Clinton is taking a new and dramatic step away from President Obama, announcing she now opposes his historic Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is with us right now.

This is the latest development in this campaign that she has for the White House, a significant move.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very significant, Wolf.

Hillary Clinton breaking with the president today and contradicting herself. She once heralded this as the gold standard among trade agreements when she was secretary of state. This is a sign that she is worried about Bernie Sanders' appeal to liberals to take multiple positions against the president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton breaking with President Obama and breaking big, opposing his signature trade agreement that she once heralded.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it. I don't believe it's going to meet the high bar I have set.

KEILAR: Add it to the list where Clinton has taken a position against Obama, the no-fly zone in Syria, his deportation policies and her announcement she is against the Keystone XL pipeline before Obama announces his decision.

Clinton's Democratic rivals weighed in on her trade reversal, Bernie Sanders saying this:

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am glad that she reached that conclusion. This is a conclusion that I reached from day one.

KEILAR: And sharper words from Martin O'Malley. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton

can justify her own reversal of opinion on this. But I can tell you that I didn't have one opinion eight months ago and switched that opinion on the eve of debates.

KEILAR: A new poll shows Clinton well ahead of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. But her trade deal switch comes as Sanders challenges her in Iowa and New Hampshire, and a possible Biden run threatens to siphon off some of her supporters.

A Biden spokesperson reiterated his backing of the trade pact as he considers a bit, sounding a lot like a candidate at a Latino event, slamming Republicans.

JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are depressed, and the message I have for you guys is these guys don't remotely speak for America.

KEILAR: As he weighs a candidacy, the Draft Biden super PAC is out with a new TV ad.

BIDEN: Things can change in a heartbeat, I know. Six weeks after my election, my whole world was altered forever.

KEILAR: Josh Alcorn is a senior adviser to the PAC.

JOSH ALCORN, SENIOR ADVISOR, DRAFT BIDEN PAC: The point of this ad is to tell a story of Joe Biden that many people outside Delaware may not know. It is a story of his overcoming personal tragedy and gaining this enormous empathy for people who have suffered. And then it offers this hopeful vision, optimistic vision for -- for America.

KEILAR: One source close to the vice president says there will be a family conversation this weekend that could determine whether he gets in the race.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: But Biden's pathway to victory is uncertain at best, with the Democratic establishment firmly behind Clinton and the Democratic grassroots enthusiasm backing Sanders -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brianna, stand by. I want to bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and national political reporter for Real Clear Politics, Rebecca Berg.

Gloria, let's take a look at this new emotional ad, very emotional ad from this Draft Joe Biden committee. I'll play it for our viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Things can change in a heartbeat. I know. Six weeks after my election, my whole world was altered forever. I got a phone call. My wife and three children were Christmas shopping. Tractor- trailer broadsided them and killed my wife and killed my daughter. And they weren't sure that my sons would live.

Incredible bond I have with my children is a gift I am not sure I would have had, had I not been through what I had been through. But by focusing on my sons, I found my redemption.

Many people have gone through things like that. My dad's definition of success is when you look at your son and daughter and realize they turned out better than you did, and they did.

You're on the cusp of some of the most astonishing breakthroughs in the history of mankind, scientifically, technologically, socially, but it will be up to you in this changing world to translate those unprecedented capabilities into a greater measure of happiness and meaning, not just for yourself but the world around you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Gloria, that is a very dramatic, very moving Draft Joe Biden ad that's already out there right now. Seems to suggest his time has come.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It does. I have to say to you, Wolf, that I think it's the wrong ad at the wrong time. I think right now, as Joe Biden decides whether he's going to run -- and this was an excerpt from a speech that he gave some time ago about his life, I know that the people who sponsor it want to introduce him, re- introduce him to the American public.

I don't think Joe Biden is looking for sympathy right now. If Joe Biden runs, he's going to run because he thinks he could be a good president of the United States. And so I think this kind of strikes the wrong tone right now.

Now, having said that, there is going to be a family conversation this weekend. In speaking to people who are close to Biden, they say he is sounding more like somebody who's interested in the mechanics of a race. Who believes that it might be his time to run. But again, nobody really knows. The only one who knows is Joe Biden, and I'm not even sure he knows yet.

BLITZER: Well, we asked, Rebecca, our Facebook users to weigh in. We asked them should Joe Biden run? This is not a scientific poll. Forty-eight responded yes, 52 percent said no, obviously very, very close among those who did respond. Are you surprised by that?

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Not at all, actually, because I've heard from a lot of Democrats, and I'm sure you all have, too, that they don't want Joe Biden to run.

And a lot of people are worried that he'll sort of taint his legacy by running, and especially if he doesn't win the nomination or win the presidency. He's had a very good career. He's well-liked. His favorability is higher than many other politicians right now. It's actually the favorability that Hillary Clinton would kill for right now. But that changes when you get back into politics and especially a presidential race. BLITZER: Yes, we should know soon enough whether or not he runs.

Brianna, let's talk a little bit about your report. Hillary Clinton now coming out against this new trade deal. Even though, while she was secretary of state, she supported it enthusiastically, what, 45 times we have her on record. Now she's changed her mind. This is another change and a deviation from the president's policy on sensitive issues.

KEILAR: If you talk to the campaign, Wolf, they'll say, "Well, actually she'd left the door open to this. She had said before that, without seeing the details, she couldn't really sign on."

But I think what it really comes down to here is there's this element of, "By God, I am not going to leave my left flank unprotected again." She's seen a lot of the enthusiasm that Bernie Sanders is engendering among the supporters that she really wants.

You know, months ago we talked about -- this was the question, right, as she even eyed a run. How is she going to distance herself from President Obama? And actually, I was not too surprised by this position today. I think, after having been in Iowa and watching her come out in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, really undercutting the president, because she doesn't have his position out there, she's making it clear that she's starting to do some -- not just in these little ways, but in these really...

BLITZER: But she's walked away, Gloria, from the president on this issue, on this trade deal, also on the Syrian no-fly zone. She's in favor. He says not so fast. Deportation of illegal immigrants. She says slow down on this. She's clearly trying to distance herself right now on sensitive issues from the president.

BORGER: Yes. As the president might say, she is feeling the fierce urgency of now, which is her presidential race, and so she's got to distance herself.

But, you know, the other day when the president had a press conference, he kind of swatted her a little bit on urging the no-fly zone in Syria. You know, he said it's a little different when you're sitting in the Oval Office and when you're president than when you're a candidate.

If I were in the Hillary Clinton campaign, I'd be looking at that, going, "Wow," right? I mean, the president has taken her on, to a degree. And so she's sort of all bets are off, I think.

BLITZER: She is doing well in all these most recent polls. And Rebecca, let's show some of these polls to our viewers.

This is the new Quinnipiac University poll. In Florida, she's ahead of both Biden, 43 to 19; they both have 19 percent. In Ohio, she's ahead: 40 percent to Biden's 21, Sanders' 19. And in Pennsylvania, she's ahead: 36 percent, Biden 25, Sanders 19.

He's ahead of her in the most recent New Hampshire polls. She likes to say, "Well, it's a neighboring state from Vermont. Maybe that's understandable." She's ahead in Iowa.

But he does get these huge crowds out there. Thousands of people show up at his rallies.

BERG: He does. This latest polling from Quinnipiac does seem to prove the conventional wisdom that the Clinton campaign has certainly trumpeted, that after New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders has a very challenging map ahead of him. He does well in Iowa and New Hampshire, maybe not as well when we go to the South and some of these other working-class, white states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

But I don't think Brooklyn is throwing a celebration just yet, because her favorability in these states is still really low, and that's going to be a problem for her, moving forward.

BLITZER: Brooklyn is where her campaign headquarters is located.

Guys, stand by. We want to remind our viewers CNN will host the first Democratic presidential debate in just six days. It will be Tuesday, next Tuesday, October 13, in Las Vegas. We hope you will join us for that.

Just ahead, Donald Trump's classic campaign style.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have people in office that are being nice, incompetent, being less nice. They're stupid people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Plus, Hillary Clinton fighting Kevin McCarthy with Kevin McCarthy. Her new campaign ad slams the potential next speaker of the House, using a man with the same name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get it; it's gross. But it's not my fault. It's the House Republicans. So please, stop your tweeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:43:35] BLITZER: Donald Trump isn't just the Republican presidential frontrunner nationally. According to a brand-new poll, he's leading in key states where his rivals were hoping for a home team advantage. CNN's Athena Jones is joining us from Iowa tonight with details.

Athena, what's the latest on the GOP contest?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, it was classic Donald Trump today here. He was confident. He was defiant. He riled up the crowd, and he made sure to mention that he's leading in polls in several new key states. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (voice-over): Donald Trump, celebrating in Iowa today...

TRUMP: We're way ahead of everybody.

JONES: ... as a new Quinnipiac poll shows him leading the Republican field in three key states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm delighted to be here.

JONES: Ben Carson coming in second. But it was Trump's standing in Florida that really had him gloating today.

TRUMP: In Florida, I was up to 21. I went up to 28. We're killing everybody. And don't forget: you have a sitting senator and an ex-governor in Florida.

JONES: He bests both Senator Marco Rubio and former governor Jeb Bush by double digits in their home state. The same goes for Ohio Governor John Kasich.

TRUMP: I don't know, maybe there's a mistake. Because actually, the governor of Ohio is a quality guy, and he's doing a good job. But we're beating everybody by a lot in Ohio.

JONES: The new numbers come as Bush campaigned down the road in Iowa today, trying to make headway in the key early voting state, where he is badly trailing the leaders. He downplayed the latest numbers.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last time, who was winning in October four years ago?

JONES: Rubio campaigning in New Hampshire (INAUDIBLE) his former mentor.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It doesn't really matter very much. Polls are polls. What is going to matter is what voters are ready to do in February.

JONES: And while Carson is rising in the polls he is also facing questions in the aftermath of last week's community college shooting in Oregon.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not only would I probably not cooperate with them, I would not just stand there and let them shoot me. I would say hey, guys, everybody attack him, he may shoot me but he can't get us all.

JONES: Today, he suggested the media was trying to twist his remarks.

CARSON: We're living in a culture where you have a group of people who just sit there, they don't try to listen to what you're saying. They're just trying to find a defect so that they can cause more division.

JONES: Despite Carson being on his heels in the polls, Trump is defending his rival.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought Ben Carson -- I thought he was treated very unfairly.

JONES: Meanwhile in Ohio, polls show he is also on top, Trump told me he has a team ready to turn that support into a caucus victory.

TRUMP: We have a great team. We have a great ground game and I think we're going to do very well. I actually think we'll do even better than the polls.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: And as for organizing folks to turn out for Trump come caucus night next February, Tana Goertz, the former "Apprentice" contestant who is now a state co-chair for Trump, spent time warming up the crowd telling them what it would be like on caucus night. It's part of an effort to educate first time caucus-goers -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Athena, thanks very much.

Gloria, Ben Carson, not backing from those controversial, getting some back from Donald Trump in the process. These are the number one and two guys in these polls.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and, look, it works for them to be anti-media, you know, anti-political correctness, anti-media. I don't think it sounds presidential for somebody to talk about victims and say if I would have been there I would have done this and that. Imagine if the president of the United States would stand up and say something like that. But he is not running in a general election right now, he is running in a primary, and blaming the media for taking your words out of context always works even when you can see his words on your television screen.

BLITZER: When Donald Trump backs Dr. Carson on an issue like this, presumably it helps Ben Carson, right?

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: And also it helps Donald Trump, don't forget that Ben Carson is polling very well, he is second to Donald Trump at most of these polls that we're seeing nationally and at the state level. And his supporters are very passionate. So, it's possible it could go both ways. Donald Trump supporters could go to Ben Carson, sure, but Ben Carson supporters could also go to Donald Trump.

BLITZER: And these numbers are impressive for Donald Trump, I've got to tell you, Brianna. In Ohio, put it back up on the screen, the Quinnipiac poll, 23 for Trump, Carson, 18, the incumbent governor twice elected very popular, he's down at 13, John Kasich. And Florida, Trump 28, Carson 16. The two Floridians, Rubio and Bush, Rubio at 14, Bush at 12. And as Gloria was pointing out, both Florida and Ohio in the

Republican primaries, these are winner take all states. If somebody gets 25 percent, 30 percent, everybody else can divide it. The winner gets all the delegates going into a convention.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I would be, I mean, imagine how you would feel in a situation like this. You're talking about what should be a home state advantage Ohio for John Kasich, Florida for Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, you add Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush together and you don't even get the number that Donald Trump is pulling in Florida.

So I think this is tremendously disappointing for them, troubling for them as they're plotting their strategy forward. It's like the families kind of taking sides against them. And it just shows you that in this environment, where the outsiders are in, that it's really difficult. You don't even get the home state boost.

BORGER: And the interesting thing about John Kasich is he is a very popular governor in his home state. His popularity last I checked was over 50 percent. He just came off a really good re- election. And he still you know, only at 13 percent and no Republican has ever won the presidency without the state of Ohio.

BLITZER: Now, you may not have Kasich. He's a very smart guy, served in Congress for a long time, now twice elected governor of Ohio. He has limited name recognition outside of Ohio, but in Ohio, he is the governor. People know who he is.

BERG: All right, this is a problem that he is lagging in the polls in the home state. But not only because it's kind of insulting to have your family turn against you and support these other candidates. But part of his whole platform, essentially, part of his presidential bid is reminding people that you need to win Ohio to win the presidency.

And look where I'm governor from, Ohio. So he has been suggesting to voters that he would win Ohio. Right now, it looks like he can't even win it among Republicans.

[18:50:00] BLITZER: On the Democratic side, let me play a video. This is a video put out by the Hillary Clinton campaign featuring Kevin McCarthy, not the House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, the man who wants to be the next speaker of the House, that was a critic of Hillary Clinton, but another Kevin McCarthy.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

KEVIN MCCARTHY: Hi, I'm Kevin McCarthy, not the Kevin McCarthy replacing John Boehner. A different Kevin McCarthy, from Iowa.

I've been getting the tweets lately, why can't you speak a coherent thought? John Boehner Version 2. Kevin McCarthy is a dork.

You know, it was really funny at first and then they kept going and going and going and it wouldn't stop. And then I figured out why. The other Kevin McCarthy went on TV and said this.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.

MCCARTHY: So I get why you're mad. I do.

This guy, who's probably going to be the next speaker of the House, just said that the committee that is supposed to be investigating Benghazi is now focusing its attention on Hillary's e- mails with an eye towards hurting her poll numbers?

So, instead of focusing on the American tragedy they said they'd focus on, they are spending our tax dollars to play electoral politics. I get it, it's gross. But it's not my fault. It's the House Republicans.

So, please, stop your tweeting. My Twitter account just can't handle it. And, oh, by the way, go Hillary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was a smart campaign little commercial there?

BORGER: I think it's a great little commercial. It's another way for her to kind of stick it to the Republicans on politicizing Benghazi. She's supposed to appear on October 22nd and they got handed this gift from Congressman McCarthy and they are making the most of it.

BLITZER: They certainly are.

KEILAR: And it really stands in contrast to what we've heard from her. She's really fired up.

BORGER: Yes.

KEILAR: She's not laughing at it. She's ticked off about this and she made that clear when she was in New Hampshire on Monday.

But I think it's pretty funny. I think it's pretty effective. I don't think they'd be able to do it with you, Wolf Blitzer. I don't think just another of those but --

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting because it does sort of underscore, Rebecca, the new Hillary that we're seeing on "Saturday Night Live," being more open, doing more interviews, having fun with the video commercials, if you will. I think it's a new strategy they have.

BERG: Absolutely. This video struck me as one that would really appeal to a younger audience. You have Kevin McCarthy from Iowa who is obviously younger. They had very funny staging with him in front of a roaring fire and drinking whiskey.

I could see her using this to appeal to the younger audience right now, the college students showing up for Bernie Sanders as well.

BLITZER: And all these things, they obviously have a strong social media campaign out there, the Hillary Clinton campaign. It could have an impact, as President Obama could testify.

BORGER: Sure. I mean, look, they want to take a page from President Obama's book and go beyond it and I agree with Bri -- I think the Clinton campaign is moving into a different phase and anything that fires her up and fires her supporters up is kind of a good thing and this is the first thing she's grabbed onto that has sort of created some serious emotional depth with her and connection with the voters.

BLITZER: The world social media and politics. Guys, thanks very, very much.

Remember, CNN will host the first Democratic presidential debate next Tuesday night, October 13th, in Las Vegas. Please join us.

Much more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:58:23] BLITZER: Tonight at 9:00 Eastern, CNN's Lisa Ling takes an exclusive look inside a notorious and secretive motorcycle club, the Mongols. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wanting to pick up some patches for the run and we'll be patching with some brothers that have earned the right to become full pledge brothers in our club.

LISA LING, CNN HOST (voice-over): At this national run, a few prospective members will receive a patch that signifies their full acceptance into the Moguls.

I asked Dave for more details on how the patches work.

(on camera): Can you talk about the patches on the back of the vest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the Mogul's top rocker, the center patch with the Genghis Khan riding a motorcycle and the bottom rocker that identifies the state that the brother is from.

LING: Do you have to earn those?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you earn them in steps. It's a three-step process.

LING (voice-over): A prospective member first earns the bottom and then the center patch, and when he finally earns the top rocker, he becomes a full-fledged member.

The significance of these patches runs deep.

(on camera): Can you talk about what that meaning is for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, it's total commitment to this club. I'd be willing to take a bullet for a brother and a brother who would be willing to take a bullet for me. So if you get into a jam, a brother helps you out.

LING: People have fought and died for the patches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For sure, right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: "This is Life with Lisa Ling" tonight at 9:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitroom. I'll be right back here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.