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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Poised to Strike; Interview With New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; New Year's Eve Threat; Trump: Lewinsky Scandal "Fair Game" Against Clintons. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired December 29, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: ISIS terror. Local leaders say the militant group still is wielding power in parts of a key city where Iraqi forces say they have taken charge. Are coalition gains at risk tonight?
New Year's Eve threat. About 48 hours before the celebration in Times Square, new arrests overseas are linked to a holiday attack plot. I will ask Mayor Bill de Blasio about security concerns in New York City right now.
And poised to strike. We're standing by to hear from Donald Trump. He's heading to Iowa and he's zeroing in on the Clintons and scandals from the former president's he past. Will Trump pour more fuel on the feud tonight?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We are following new moves to thwart terror attacks by ISIS and its supporters. The U.S.-led coalition says its airstrikes have killed 10 senior ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria in recent days.
The coalition says one of the slain terrorists had a direct link to the mastermind of the Paris attacks and was actively planning additional attacks against the West. In Belgium, authorities have arrested two people in connection with a suspected plot to attack Brussels during New Year's Eve celebrations. We're told the plot appears to have been inspired by ISIS.
Also, this hour, we do expect remarks by Donald Trump. He has been escalating his war of words with Hillary Clinton. He insists that it is fair game to bring up Monica Lewinsky other women involved in scandals from Bill Clinton's past.
We have correspondents, analysts and newsmakers standing by to cover all of the news that is breaking right now. And I will be talking to the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, about any potential New Year's Eve terror threats in Times Square.
First, though, I want to get to CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott. She has the latest on the battle against ISIS in Iraq.
The terror group is still a threat in Ramadi. This isn't over, Elise.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, and it comes on the heels of this announcement of 10 ISIS leaders killed. We aren't sure how senior any of them really are, but the direct ties to the Paris attacks make at least one of the killings very symbolic. And today the coalition made a direct link between the killing of ISIS leaders to the losses the group is suffering on the battlefield, including Ramadi.
LABOTT (voice-over): As Iraqi forces evacuated civilians from Ramadi's city center, and swept for explosives left behind by the militants, pockets of resistance remain. Tribal leaders charged with holding Ramadi tell CNN, ISIS still controls a quarter of the city now mostly in ruins.
Still, the U.S.-led coalition said it was confident the Iraqis would hold the area.
COL. STEVE WARREN, U.S. SPOKESMAN FOR OPERATION AGAINST ISIS: We don't think the remaining enemy has the oomph to push the Iraqi security forces off of their positions.
LABOTT: Iraq's prime minister arrived in Ramadi under heavy guard, a day after the army declared the city liberated. Today, he saluted the troops, promising to take the fight to Mosul and push ISIS out of Iraq entirely by the end of next year.
Today, the coalition boasted 10 ISIS leaders have been killed in recent airstrikes, including Charaffe al Mouadan, who had direct contacts with the suspected ringleaders of the Paris attacks days before the siege and was believed to be planning more attacks against the West.
WARREN: Without leaders to be able to facilitate the activities, your ability to conduct activities goes down. We haven't severed the head of the snake yet and it's still got fangs. We have to be clear about that. There's much more fighting to do.
LABOTT: In Syria, the coalition has now helped secure a hydroelectric dam from ISIS' grip for the first time since 2012. Located near the eastern city of Manbij, it chokes off a key supply route from ISIS headquarters in Raqqa.
But despite the battlefield losses, one retired general warns, ISIS is growing as a worldwide threat.
BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR PLANS AND STRATEGY: While they may not be doing ground military offensives, they're controlling the social media, they're still attracting a significant number of recruits, and I think their new strategy for inspiring attacks worldwide has proven effective for them. (END VIDEOTAPE)
LABOTT: And this just in. We're learning about what could have been a close encounter between a U.S. warship and an Iranian rocket. Last week, a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, was transiting the Strait of Hormuz when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard began conducting a live fire exercise, firing rockets about 1,500 yards from the carrier.
Now, there was no direct communications between the U.S. and Iranian navies. The carrier transited without any further incident and is now in the Gulf launching airstrikes against ISIS. U.S. military officials tell our Jamie Crawford the Iranians didn't seem to be targeting any specific ship, but they believe the rockets were very provocative. They say this ship did not tray into Iranian waters and was in an internationally recognized maritime traffic land.
And it just shows, Brianna, the potential for the dangers between the U.S. and Iran when the U.S. is operating in the Gulf. They have had a few close calls with Iranian ships this year.
KEILAR: Yes. They weren't communicating, but they were certainly communicating, right, in a way there.
LABOTT: A lot of messages there.
KEILAR: A lot of messages.
All right, Elise Labott, thanks so much.
Now to New Year's Eve terror fears. The city of Brussels is on alert after the arrest of two people linked to an alleged plot to target high-profile sites on Thursday night during holiday celebrations.
Well, tonight, New York City is ramping up its security before more than a million people gather in Times Square to ring in the new year as they always do.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is in New York for us.
Miguel, tell us about these security preparations that are under way.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's massive security operations for a massive party in Times Square and certainly across the city of New York as well.
Look, there will be tens of thousands of events, parties all across the city. What used to be just a fun time is now considered a soft target after the Paris attacks and San Bernardino, so, New York City and its police force very, very aware of that.
Front line, they say they will have everything thrown at this, not only Times Square, but across the city, everything from bomb-sniffing dogs, lots of them, certainly around Times Square, chemical detectors, radiation detectors, and even a lot of special forces that they have brought on as well.
The police commissioner talking about the number of police they will have ready at Times Square earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BRATTON, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: ... America can match what we can put out on the street. Those 6,000 officers that will be here, that's larger than just about three or four police departments in the United States. And they are going to be within this multiple square block area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Now, if you want to get into Times Square, you will have to go through two magnetometer. They are going to have plainclothes and lots and lots of uniformed police out there as well.
Additionally, the big difference this year is that they will have about 800 additional police officers out there and a rapid-reaction force or a critical response team that they have developed over the years, basically the mayor of New York saying that they can respond to up to 12 different attacks at the same time, the city extraordinarily confident that they can take whatever anyone can bring at them -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Miguel, thank you so much for that report.
I do want to talk more about this New Year's Eve security there in New York with the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio.
Mayor, thanks so much for joining us. We certainly appreciate it, as we wait for a million people to be there in Times Square, and obviously so many millions more watching the festivities at home on television.
This security that is in place in New York City ahead of New Year's Eve, it sounds like it is going to be higher than in years past, when you're talk about 800 additional police officers.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Well, that's right, Brianna.
We have added just this year, in the wake of the first Paris attacks, we added a new critical response command, 500-plus officers who are specifically focused on anti-terror activities, preventing terror. And God forbid we ever had to respond rapidly. They have that capacity, too, 500-plus officers who are trained, highly trained, well-armed, for this duty and this duty only.
And it's the most that any city in this country has. So that force will be ready. In addition, as you heard, thousands of other officers who will be a key part of our capacity on New Year's Eve.
Look, this is going to be a very, very safe place. Times Square on New Year's Eve is going to be one of the safest places in the country because of the huge concentration of police resources and a lot of security measures you will see and a lot of security measures that you won't see that will help keep people safe.
KEILAR: So you have many more resources. When you're looking, though, at the threat level to New York, do you think it's higher this holiday than in past years?
DE BLASIO: Look, we know that, because of ISIS, it's a more complicated overall dynamic, but in terms of threats directed toward New York, there has been a lot of chatter, there's been a lot of traffic in terms of information around the world related to terror, but there is not a credible threat directed at New York. There's not a threat that has been corroborated in a meaningful way.
We have been in constant touch with the FBI and with Homeland Security and other agencies, including earlier today. And they confirm that there is not that kind of credible threat. But that doesn't in any way decrease our vigilance.
New York City will be prepared. We're the best prepared city in this country to handle any terror threat. I always say, for 14 years since 9/11, the NYPD has thwarted plot after plot, really very specific plots over the years that were stopped by the NYPD.
We're very happy there is no credible threat at this point, but we don't ever rest on our laurels. It will be the biggest force out on New Year's Eve than you have ever seen.
KEILAR: Mayor, I spoke yesterday with New York Congressman Peter King, and I want to get your thoughts on an idea that he's floating, this idea that law enforcement needs to increase its surveillance of Muslims.
Well, today, you had the homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, saying that law enforcement needs to reach out to this community. Do you think that the New York Police Department is doing enough to reach out to Muslims? Certainly, we know there's been some issues with the surveillance program that this city had undertaken. And it's ended up in federal court.
DE BLASIO: Well, Brianna, first of all, I agree with Secretary Johnson. I have a lot of respect for Peter King, but I think he's in the wrong place on this one.
Secretary Johnson is right. The way to do a better job of knowing what is happening at the community level and knowing that there are some individuals who aim to do us harm is to deepen the relationship with the Muslim community, with all communities, because we know, sadly, that domestic terror has taken many shapes, including all those horrible campus massacres and other things that have nothing to do with jihadists.
So we need close relationships in all communities, including the Muslim community. The previous surveillance policy in New York City a few years ago not work. Commissioner Bratton was the first to say he wanted a change because he didn't think it was effective. By the way, NYPD -- the finest police force in the country, has 900
Muslim American officers. And we're very proud of them. And they are also a crucial part of our ability to connect more deeply with the community. So, it's all about a community engagement, communications, intelligence gathering that comes from actual organic respect between the police and community.
KEILAR: Mayor, if you can just stay with us for a couple minutes, I'm going to take a quick break, but I want to talk to about gun violence that we're seeing in major cities.
We will talk about that right after this.
DE BLASIO: Yes.
KEILAR: We're back now with New York City Mayor de Blasio, as the NYPD ramps up security for New Year's Eve.
And we also want to talk about other grave concerns for mayors and for law enforcement officials across the country.
I'm sure, Mayor, that you have had your eye trained on Chicago, as we have, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is under fire right now. He's been facing these calls to step down in the wake of this shooting and killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
We also saw the shooting by police in Chicago this weekend that included an innocent bystander, a 55-year-old woman who is the mother of five kids. Just devastating when you see that that happened.
There are calls for him to resign. But when you look at this, having come at this as the mayor of New York, as we saw so much outrage over what happened with Eric Garner, what do you think the mayor needs to do and officials in Chicago need to do to bridge this gap with the African-American community?
DE BLASIO: Look, there is a lot of work to be done in all our cities. So, let me be blunt to begin with.
We have had a path we had to travel in this city over the last two years. We had a lot of tension between police and community over the previous stop-and-frisk policy, which we have changed. We have had to make a series of reforms. And they have been tough do. It's taken a lot of money, a lot of time and energy. We are going to retrain our entire police force in how to de-escalate conflict. We're in the middle of doing that now.
A lot has to change. The Eric Garner incident was very painful for this city. And that pain lingers. And I understand, so I can relate to some of the challenges that Rahm Emanuel is going through.
Look, he has to succeed, is the bottom line. Folks who are calling for his resignation, I don't think, are thinking through the whole equation. Rahm Emanuel is now the person who is in the position to turn the situation in Chicago around, who can drive the reforms and changes that are needed.
And they are going to have to be very, very substantial, because the community has deep and real concerns. So I would say, no, Rahm Emanuel is needed at his post. I know he has a long history of changing organizations. And he's a forceful leader. If he applies himself, as I think he will do very effectively to reform, I think he will be -- he's literally the only person who can make these changes.
But they have to happen urgently.
KEILAR: I want to talk to you now about politics, because you're in this unique position of having been Hillary Clinton's campaign manager when she ran for Senate successfully in 2000. And you endorsed her this year after you did voice a little skepticism about her, which certainly we took note of.
You know the Clintons very well. And we're seeing Donald Trump right now really going after Bill Clinton. He says he's fair game. What do you think about that?
DE BLASIO: I think Donald Trump is trying to mask the fact that his rhetoric and his ideas are increasingly divisive, and it's actually turning a lot of the American people against him, including a lot of Republicans.
He's spoken out against -- in many ways against women, Mexican Americans, Muslims. He's put forward ideas about Muslims and about a religious test for whoever gets to come into the country that are literally unconstitutional and go against our values.
So I think he's trying to distract from his own mistakes and his own very radical views. And to start calling out Bill Clinton, well, if ever there's been a case of the pot calling the kettle black, Donald Trump, who has offended so many different people, obviously has offended women regularly throughout the campaign -- it almost seems like a sport to him to come up with a new way to offend women.
And I assure you the women of this country are taking note of that. I also think Hillary Clinton is doing better and better. I would never say I was skeptical. I would say I wanted to hear a clear vision for where she was going to take this country. She has done that. She has a real vision for how to turn around the economy and make it serve the middle class.
And I think more and more people are listening to Hillary Clinton. And so Donald Trump is now struggling to find a way to actually seem like a legitimate general election contender against Hillary Clinton.
KEILAR: He is a prominent figure obviously in your city. You have some familiarity with him and just, I think, a knowledge of sort of things that he has said over the years, things that he has done even in conjunction with the city.
When you listen to Donald Trump that we're hearing now, and we have heard over the last several months, is that the Donald Trump that you recognize from before he declared his candidacy?
DE BLASIO: No, I think what is so interesting is, there was always a guy who liked attention, who was colorful, didn't mind controversy, but there was not this negativity, this bitterness, this divisiveness which has increased literally month by month since he's been a candidate.
I think a lot of people in New York would say maybe they liked him, maybe they didn't, but they wouldn't have seen him as a negative and divisive figure, brash, a guy who was very willing to tell you how wealthy he was, but not a guy who offended people on a regular basis and seemed to enjoy it. This Donald Trump is a dangerous figure, a demagogic figure who I think is trying to literally take us backwards.
I don't think it will work, but, no, he does not resemble the person I think most of us knew.
KEILAR: Mayor de Blasio, thanks so much. We really appreciate you talking with us really about a range of topics today. Happy new year to you as well.
DE BLASIO: And to you, Brianna.
KEILAR: Thank you so much.
And just ahead, we expect that remarks from Donald Trump are going to come at any moment. He is heading to a campaign event in Iowa. And the Clintons aren't the only ones who are under attack by the Republican front-runner tonight.
KEILAR: We're expecting some new comments at any moment now from Donald Trump. You can see his plane there landing in Omaha, Nebraska, not far from his campaign event in Iowa, where he will then be heading as he pursues a new scandal-tinged line of attack against Hillary Clinton.
CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny has been covering Trump's appearance in Council Bluffs.
He's really escalating this battle against not just Hillary, but Bill Clinton, Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, he sure is.
I mean, the one way to unify Republicans, the one way to rally that Republican base is to go after the Clintons. So that is exactly what Donald Trump is doing here, trying to rally this conservative base by mentioning the name of Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones and others.
So far, the Clintons haven't taken the beat. But when Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail next week, we will see.
ZELENY (voice-over): Trump is opening up a new front in his war with the Clintons, reviving political scandals from two decades ago.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was certainly a lot of abuse of women. And you look at whether it's Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones or many of them, and that certainly will be fair game.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all so much!
ZELENY: With Bill Clinton ready to hit the campaign trail, Trump says everything is fair game in his outreach to women voters, even this:
TRUMP: Certainly, if they play the woman's card with respect to me, that will be fair game.
ZELENY: In New Hampshire today, Hillary Clinton ignored Trump's latest taunt.
QUESTION: Do you have a response to Donald Trump's comments about your husband?
CLINTON: Great to see you.
ZELENY: Her campaign issued a statement saying: "Hillary Clinton won't be bullied or distracted by attacks he throws at her and former President Clinton."
The Clintons, the picture of a big, happy family, seen here on a Sunday stroll in New York, a stark reminder of how much time has passed since this tense moment at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, raising the question of whether these old controversies still carry any weight.
Trump, once a golfing buddy with the former president, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in 2008 Clinton's impeachment was nonsense.
TRUMP: Look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant, and they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense.
ZELENY: But now Trump is butting heads. The new feud has Trump's primary fight written all over it. Few things rally Republicans more than taking on the Clintons.
Overnight, he tweeted: "Remember that Bill Clinton was brought in to help Hillary against Obama in 2008. He was terrible, failed badly, and was called a racist."
From name-calling to nose-picking, the Trump campaign once again took the low road, retweeting a Photoshopped picture of Jeb Bush picking his nose.
A Bush campaign spokeswoman fired back: "Out on Twitter, there arose such a clatter. Late-night Twitter drunk Donald is back at it."
All candidates feeling the pressure, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie also in Iowa, squeezing in a final round of handshakes and speeches of 2015. In the new year, Trump said he's going to open his checkbook in the final month before the Iowa caucuses.
He gloated in a tweet today that he spent less than any candidate, saying: "Now I will spend big in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina."
He's fighting to stay out front.
TRUMP: I demand the election be today.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ZELENY: But the election is not today. So that is the challenge for Donald Trump, over the next five weeks before those Iowa caucuses, turning crowds like this you see behind me into caucus-goers.
Some of these people have not yet attended the caucuses. They're newcomers to the process here. So that, Brianna, is the challenge going forward here, if Donald Trump is able to make these people his supporters on February 1, or if Ted Cruz and other more ingrained candidates will actually have their supporters turn out more than he does -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, it's a big question. Jeff Zeleny is there for us in Iowa, as he awaits Donald Trump.
And we will be waiting to bring Donald Trump's comments to you once he gets started there in Council Bluffs.
Joining me now, I have a Donald Trump supporter and Tea Party leader Scottie Hughes. And she's also chief political correspondent for USA Radio Network.
Scottie, thank you so much for being with us.
And this is what is getting all the headlines, is this new line of attack or sort of this expanded line of attack that Donald Trump has about Bill Clinton when it comes to Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones, and saying that he's fair game.
What is the point of this line of attack?
[18:30:14] SCOTTIE HUGHES, TEA PARTY NEWS NETWORK: Well, listen, I don't think it's new.
And let's remember who hit first. It was Hillary Clinton, who charged Trump, Mr. Trump, as being sexist. And this has been the plan and the protocol of Hillary Clinton's campaign all along, is to claim sexism. And it doesn't matter whether Mr. Trump's first, Ted Cruz, whoever is
in that first spot. You know that they're going to be charged with sexism. And do I think sitting here talking about Bill's past indiscretions are going to be the final nail in the Clinton campaign coffin? Absolutely not, but this is just another ribbon on the wall of Hillary Clinton's failed legacy, personally and professionally.
So this is just Mr. Trump sitting there and defending himself against these horrible things that he's the one that's sexist when, in truth, be told Hillary's been married to the biggest sexist that has been in American political history.
KEILAR: We do see him attacking Bill Clinton in a way that we haven't seen other candidates do. Rand Paul brought this up a long time ago, but didn't really expand on it, certainly not in this way that Donald Trump has.
I want to show you, there's a picture of Clinton out from this past weekend. She's out for a walk. Here she is. She's Grandma. Chelsea pregnant again. They're out walking the baby with Bill Clinton and Chelsea's husband, Mark.
I just wonder where does the line -- where is the line drawn for Donald Trump? Does he think that Chelsea Clinton would be fair game? Or is there some sort of distinction between Bill Clinton because of the position that he's in?
HUGHES: Listen, that is a lovely family photo. I'll be the first to say. But let's also look at their Christmas card photo, which was from, like, 1995, I think and was a reminder of when Bill Clinton was president. So Hillary Clinton, nobody has drawn Bill Clinton into this campaign, except Hillary herself. So therefore, it is fair game. And I think if there wasn't...
KEILAR: Wait, you -- what about Chelsea, though? What about other -- other family members?
HUGHES: Well, the key is about Chelsea, is Hillary has not brought Chelsea or the grandchildren into the campaign. She's not mentioned him [SIC]. And with Hillary bringing Bill back onto the back, back on the campaign -- campaign trail, it does make it fair game.
Plus Bill and Hillary Clinton are tied so conveniently with the Clinton Foundation, a foundation that has taken millions of dollars...
KEILAR: Scottie, so is Chelsea, obviously, tied to the Clinton Foundation. And also, we expect that she'll serve some role on the campaign trail.
HUGHES: Well, then guess what? If you sit there and that's the thing. If you're going to bring your family into it, be prepared.
And so I think if you're going to bring Hillary [SIC] into it, if you're going to bring Chelsea, you're going to bring the grand -- whoever you bring in, and you're going to do the claim of sexism against Mr. Trump, be prepared to defend the fact that you sat there and took money from countries that have a strict discrimination against women policies like Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, nations that the United Nations has actually, the secretary of state's office has said has an anti-women policy.
KEILAR: And Scottie, just -- I just want to let our viewers know what's going on. This is a live camera going up the steps to Donald Trump's plane. Now, this is actually in Omaha, Nebraska, not far from Council Bluffs, Iowa. And there is supposed to be a press availability. These are reporters that you're seeing going onto the plane. So we're going to try to bring you this live. It looks like it's working out pretty well in terms of bringing you a live signal. So we're going to monitor this and tell you what's going on as it happens.
So Scottie, just be prepared in case I have to interrupt you for that. But I do want to ask you this. You say, look, this is fair game. This is a very personal attack that Donald Trump is making. Do you think this maybe opens the doors for Democrats or even Republicans who say, "Look, Donald Trump, you know, you don't have a really shiny personal record. You've been married three times. Allegations have been made against you"? Doesn't that open him up?
HUGHES: I think it absolutely does. I think it is fair game, and I'm waiting for those to come out.
But the difference is, is the women that were victimized by Bill Clinton, he was in position of power over him. The woman, or ex-wives of Donald Trump, you know, they might say that he was a part, and they're all still very friendly. They're not coming out against him.
The women that Bill Clinton actually sexually assaulted or the ones that he had relationships with or affairs with, he was in a position of power over them. That's the difference between the two.
KEILAR: OK. And then I want to ask you about something else that Donald Trump, it's actually something he retweeted. It's a Photoshopped image of Jeb Bush picking his nose. Just to be clear, Jeb Bush not actually doing this. This is Photoshopped. You look at that, is that presidential?
HUGHES: You know, at this point everything in this campaign, it defies all things of what presidential is. But I just think it just shows how childish this campaign has become...
KEILAR: I'm so sorry to interrupt you. We're going to take this press availability live, Donald Trump on his plane.
TRUMP: You tell us when you're ready.
You tell us when.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody ready?
[18:35:04] TRUMP: Everybody ready? OK. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, you've gone after former President Bill Clinton for his infidelity. Are your own personal indiscretions fair game in this campaign?
TRUMP: Yes, they would be. And frankly, Hillary brought up the whole thing with sexist, and all I did was reverse it on her, because she's got a major problem that happens to be right in her house. So if she wants to do that, we're going to go right after the president, the ex- president, and we'll see how it all comes out. And I feel very confident that it will come out very well for us.
I will say this. The last person that Hillary wants to run against is me. And you saw the polls come out today where I'm beating her or tied with her and worse. And we're doing very well. We're did doing very well in all of the polls. We're really doing very well in Iowa. And you see that. I mean, the CNN poll, I'm up by 13 points in Iowa. We're at 33 versus 20. Cruz being in second. And we're doing really well. And we're doing very well in the Iowa poll.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), though, already running a general campaign against Hillary when not one vote has been cast in the primary yet?
TRUMP: Well, in the Democratic debate, they mentioned my name nine times. They didn't mention anybody else's name. So I really felt I had to respond. Because, you know, they're mentioning my name during this debate, and they're not mentioning anybody else. So all I did, really, was respond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You invited the Clintons (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TRUMP: You know, it's very important to understand that -- one of the magazines recently said Donald Trump is a world-class businessman. And I am. I made a tremendous amount of money. I built a great, great company, and that's one of the reasons I'm doing this, because we need this kind of thinking when we have $19 trillion in debt and all of the problems that we have.
But as a world-class businessman and as, frankly, a businessman, you have to get along with everybody. You want Democrats, you want liberals, you want Republicans, you want conservatives. And I owed it to myself. I owed it to my family, to my company, to my employees to get along with everybody. And I always have gotten along with everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Houston. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
TRUMP: No, I think it's fine. I mean, I want to get along with everybody, As a businessman, I want to get along with everybody.
As a politician, frankly, you know, in Washington we have gridlock, and it would be really nice if Obama could get the Republicans, the Democrats together and get something done. It's total gridlock. They don't get along. They don't like each other. The whole thing is ridiculous.
But as a businessman, especially as a really successful businessman, it was my obligation to really get along with people. That's Democrats, Republicans, everybody, and that's what I did.
I'm a conservative Republican, and in many ways I'm very conservative. But I had an obligation to my company and to my employees and to my family to get along. So I was able to get along with Clinton, I was able to get along with virtually every politician you can imagine. And when I went to Washington and when I needed something, I got it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TRUMP: Well, first of all, I think we're doing really well as, you know, as a candidate. We're doing really, really well with the evangelicals. And if you look at the numbers, I'm really at the top or close to the top with evangelicals.
I've developed an amazing relationship. And, you know, I'm a protestant. I'm a Presbyterian to be exact. I've gone through the whole thing. And my relationship right now with evangelicals and always has been outstanding.
So I don't know who's leading with evangelicals. I just saw a poll coming out where I'm leading with evangelicals. I'm doing very well with the Tea Party. And I'm doing very well in the Iowa.
You know, if you look at Iowa and look at CNN which is a really poll, I'm at 33 and Cruz is at 20. So I don't know how I'm going to do, but I think I'm going to do very well in Iowa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TRUMP: It's possible. It's really possible. I mean, I've respected a number of them. I'm not going to say every one of them. And some more than others. But I have great respect for a number of the candidates that I'm running against.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been in the entertainment world. You've been in the political world. How much entertainment is there in the field? How much of it (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
TRUMP: Such an interesting question. You've been in the entertainment world and I've been in the business world. And a lot of it can be applied. Frankly, whether it's business or entertainment or politics, a lot of it can be applied.
It's been an amazing period of time. I've really enjoyed this. We've had just incredible results. The relationships I've developed in Iowa have been incredible, in New Hampshire and South Carolina and Virginia and Texas. I mean, all over. I'm leading in the Florida polls against two people that one is a governor and one is a senator, a sitting senator. And I'm leading substantially in Florida.
[18:40:10] We're leading in Ohio against the sitting governor. We're had, you know, an amazing period of time. Now we have -- we start the process. February 1 is the big date. And I think we're going to do really, really well this Iowa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can tell us a little about your campaign and how you're going to ensure that people who are supporting you at rallies are going to be out there on caucus day, on primary day?
TRUMP: Well, as you know and even if you look tonight, despite the bad weather, but the place is packed. We just had it on television to show it's packed. And we get by far the biggest crowds.
Now, the question is will they show up for the caucus? I think the answer is yes. As you know, we have Sam Clovis, and we have Chuck Lauten (ph) here, and they have some incredible people under them.
But we'll see what happens. People want to see our country become great again. We are a country that is troubled, seriously troubled. We have nothing but losses. We don't win with ISIS. We don't win with healthcare. Obamacare is a disaster. The rates are going up 25, 35, 45 percent virtually every year. It's a catastrophe.
We don't win with anything. We don't win at the border where people are just blowing across into our country. And I really think those people -- I actually think all of those people and maybe even friends of theirs that weren't at the rallies or the speeches, I really think they're going to come out, and they're going to caucus and we're going to have a very big victory. But we're going to have to see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much are you going to spend on the campaign?
TRUMP: ... and during the month...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been reported $2 million...
TRUMP: So I'll be spending a minimum of $2 million a week and perhaps substantially more than that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb has spent $40 million.
TRUMP: He hasn't spent $40 million. He's wasted $40 million. There's a big difference. Jeb has wasted $40 million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Iowa?
TRUMP: So I'm going to be doing big ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. And they're going to be very substantial, and I think they're very well done. I've seen the first two or three of them. I'm very proud of them. We're going to be talking about a lot of things, including the border, including trade, including ISIS and security for the country. We're going to be talking about a lot of things in these commercials.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TRUMP: Well, I don't think I need on spend the money, because if you're looking at the poll, as you probably just saw 20 minutes ago, Reuters came out, and I'm close to 40. And second, I believe, is 13, which is a big gap. I don't think I need to spend anything, and I'm very proud of the fact that I've spent the least and I have the best result. In other words, I spend here. You look at a guy like Bush. He
actually spent $59 million and he's nowhere. And others, likewise, have spent millions and they're nowhere. So I'm proud of the fact that I can spend the least. That's what the country needs. That's the kind of attitude and thought process that the country needs: spend the least and be the best.
In education, we spend more than any other country in the world per pupil by a lot, and we're 28th. That's the opposite of my campaign. So I'm very proud of the fact.
But now I'm going to spend anyway. I don't know that I need to, when I see a 40 and I see a 12 or a 13 is second, there's no reason to spend, but I feel I should spend. And honestly, I don't want to take any chances. We're doing so well this Iowa. We're doing so well in New Hampshire. We're doing so well in South Carolina. In Nevada the poll came out today, it was beyond. I mean, it was 38 or 39, and everybody else was very low.
But I feel I have an obligation even to myself and to the country. And so we're going to be spending a minimum of $2 million at the first, and then we'll see what happens. If anybody goes after me, I will spend a lot of money against the people that go after me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TRUMP: Well, I'm just saying if somebody attacks me, I will attack them very much and very hard in terms of the ads. So you've got to understand, I'm $35 billion under budget. I thought as of January 1, I would have spent $35 million on ads. I've spent nothing. So I'm $35 million under budget, which is a good feeling.
I love to build. When I build, I like to build under budget. When we fix the infrastructure of our country, I want that to be under budget. And it's going to come in under budget, because we have people that don't know what they're doing. Politicians.
So we're going to fix the infrastructure, and it's going to be done at a reasonable cost, not a cost where they have 25 times overruns. With projects that start out at "X." Some of them cost 20 and 25 times what they're supposed to cost. That's gross incompetence or theft or dishonesty or something. But I look at some of these projects that start off as little projects, and they end up being disasters. We're going to end all of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned ISIS a minute ago. The shooter in San Bernardino was a radicalized American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've said to keep Muslims from entering the United States.
[18:45:00] That said, would you suspend any other constitutional rights of Muslim Americans, such as gun ownership, anything like that? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would look very seriously
at people that are here that are becoming radicalized. If they're using our Internet systems better we do and we're the ones that invented it.
And I'd certainly get all of the geniuses from Silicon Valley together and we will put a stop to all of these things that are going on where these young impressionable people, in many cases children, are becoming radicalized.
As far as that couple, that horrible couple that killed 14 people with more to come because you have some seriously wounded that maybe won't make it fro what I understand, we have to have people turn them in. People knew they had pipe bombs all over their floor. I mean, they had like 20 pipe bombs all over the apartment. People saw it.
Why didn't they turn them in? They should have turned them in.
There is something wrong. Something is going wrong and we're going to get to the bottom of it. But people have to turn these people this. These people are sick people and they have to turn them in.
And a lot of people knew what was going on with the man and wife, if I can even say that because I think it's so horrible. I think this is horrible.
KEILAR,: All right. We're watching Donald Trump ahead of an event that he has in Council Bluffs, Iowa. We're going to continue to monitor this. We'll be back after a quick break.
[18:50:21] KEILAR: Let's talk Trump as we monitor this live press avail that he's got going on in his airplane on the tarmac near in Omaha, Nebraska, ahead of an event in Iowa.
I want to talk to some of our top political experts. We are joined now by Eric Fehrnstrom, he's the former senior advisor to Mitt Romney's campaign.
And we also have Mo Elleithee. He's a former top spokesman for the Hillary Clinton campaign and for the DNC. He currently heads up Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service.
Mo, thanks so much for being here.
I think the question that I have is if Donald Trump keeps hammering Hillary Clinton on this, does she or her supporters at some point have to address it? Even if -- even if they don't want to when over and over he is going to talk about Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky?
MO ELLEITHEE, FORMER SENIOR SPOKESMAN: Yes, look -- I don't speak for Hillary Clinton or her campaign anymore, but I'd be thrilled if I were them right now, because what's Donald Trump is solidifying with this line of attack, he's solidifying supporters in the Republican primary that he may have been losing to Ted Cruz, solidifying his position as the Republican nominee, and only emboldening Hillary Clinton supporters to fight back against him even harder in a general election.
This I think is a win/win for her. This line of attack didn't hurt politically in 1998. Didn't hurt the Democratic Party in the midst of the impeachment hearing.
The American people pushed back on this line of attack politically. So, the fact -- the notion that it would come back and hurt nearly 20 years later to me seems a little tone deaf. It's great for him, though, in the Republican primary. It's exactly what his supporters want him to be doing, but I do not think a majority of general election voters are going to respond to this.
KEILAR: Eric, what do you think? Obviously, this has positives to Donald Trump. What about the raise in general and what about the general election?
ERIC FERHNSTROM, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Well, I think just about anything is fair game in a presidential race, but Mo is right.
The assumptions have been the women's issues that relate to Bill Clinton don't stick to Hillary. But that's what makes these unorthodox candidates like Donald Trump so interesting. They are willing to test these old assumptions.
I continue to think that the issues that hurt Hillary the most relate to her character, her ethics and her trust. And there are plenty of issues out there that are more relevant and potentially more harmful to her than her husband's bad behavior.
Let's not lose sight of the fact that Democrats may be nominating the first person for president to ever be under the cloud of an FBI investigation. So there are more fruitful lines of attack for Donald Trump than reviving these old allegations about Bill Clinton.
KEILAR: All right. Eric, Mo, stand by. More from you guys and more on Donald Trump after a quick break.
[18:57:19] BLITZER: We are back now with our political experts as we await Donald Trump taking the stage in Iowa. We have Eric Fehrnstrom and Mo Elleithee with us.
And, Eric, I wonder and a lot of people wonder this, if the establishment sort of coalesces around one of these more standard- bearer GOP candidates, is that going to be enough to take on Donald Trump?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think our establishment candidates so-called needed two things to happen. The first is they needed the field to thin out a little bit so that the establishment could rally behind a single candidate and they needed Ben Carson to remain strong so he could divide that outsider vote with Donald Trump. The fact that that has not happened, neither of those two things is
going to make it much harder for them to make a strong run at Donald Trump.
KEILAR: Mo, it's interesting we just heard Donald Trump say Hillary Clinton doesn't want to run against me. A while ago I think I was hearing from the campaign they really didn't think it was going to happen and they wouldn't have to run against Donald Trump, but they thought he was a good foil for Hillary Clinton.
What do you see, I guess I should say, in a Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump win? Before it seemed like folks were saying that would be a shoo-in for her. Maybe that's the case -- run, not win, run.
ELLEITHEE: Yes, I don't think anybody -- if anybody thinks that this general election is going to be a run away for either candidate, no matter whoever is on the ticket, I don't think they understand current politics today. We are a polarized nation. This is going to be a close election no matter who is on the ballot.
Having said that, candidates do matter. I do think Donald Trump is probably one of the easiest candidates for Democrats to run against, but he can still win. And I think Democrats need to keep remembering that.
The mood of the electorate, the way we are polarized today, the anger that is out there, what it is he is tapping into, he could still win. So, I think he has a very good shot being the Republican nominee. Democrats could hope for that, but they shouldn't rest on that. It's going to be a long slog.
KEILAR: Real quick, 20 seconds with you, Eric. What is your -- if you're doing odds on this, what is the chance that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think there is a strong chance. You know, there is a scene in the movie "Rocky" where Apollo Creed's trainer warns him against fighting a southpaw like Rocky Balboa, the reason is because unorthodox fighters are unpredictable. And that makes them harder to beat and that could be the problem Hillary has with Donald Trump.
KEILAR: All right. We will see.
Mo, Eric, thanks so much to both of you.
Thank you so much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.