Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Zika Virus Fears; Machete Rampage; Cruz vs Trump; Cruz Takes Down Ad Featuring Soft-Core Actress; Actress from Cruz Ad Gives First TV Interview. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired February 12, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:10]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just in the last few minutes, Donald Trump threatening to sue Ted Cruz over his citizenship. The Cruz campaign says Trump needs to take a seat in the time-out chair.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Ted Cruz yanks a new campaign ad after discovering the ad featured an actress with a history in erotic films. She will join us live. We will talk to her if Cruz pulling the ad because of her past was the Christian thing to do.

Also:

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's someone who's really hurt. He's bleeding bad.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: A man swinging a machete goes on a rampage at a restaurant in America's heartland, a restaurant owned by an Israeli. Was the now- dead attacker inspired by terrorists?

Plus, another terrifying turn for the Zika virus, three deaths now possibly linked to the illness known for causing birth defects in newborns. Could this epidemic seriously threaten the Olympics? Could it seriously threaten the United States?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to begin with our politics lead today. Republicans are preparing for their next debate tomorrow night in Greenville, South Carolina. And judging from the barrage of insults, tweets and attack ads, it ain't going to be dainty and that's just the way they like their politics in the Palmetto State.

Marco Rubio going after all of his rivals for lack of foreign policy smarts and experience. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz escalating their tussle. Trump now talking about suing Cruz. And as if that aren't enough, an erotic film actress also in the mix.

CNN correspondent Sunlen Serfaty is live in Greenville.

Sunlen, just in the last hour, Trump tweeting that he might sue Cruz over questions about his citizenship. How is the Cruz campaign responding?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the Cruz campaign is basically trying to downplay this, calling it another Trumper tantrum.

Ted Cruz and three other of his Republican candidates are here today to make their pitch directly to evangelical voters at Bob Jones University. Donald Trump is not here, but he's still very much in the mix from afar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY (voice-over): Donald Trump's pledge to stay above the fray in South Carolina short-lived, Trump blasting rival Ted Cruz on Twitter, writing -- quote -- "If Ted Cruz doesn't clean up his act, stop cheating and doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural-born citizen."

The new offensive coming after showing off a lighter touch last night in Louisiana, even autographing actual babies and suggesting he was ready to go positive.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won't use foul language. I'm just not going to do it. I'm not going to do it. They're all saying, do it, do it. No, I'm not.

SERFATY: But Trump couldn't stay out of the all-out fight breaking out in the South Carolina trenches.

NARRATOR: There's nothing conservative about giving money to the Clintons. There's nothing conservative about Donald Trump.

SERFATY: The airwaves plastered with negative ads.

NARRATOR: Ted Cruz voted to undermine our national defense and weaken our ability to track terrorists.

SERFATY: The attacks between the candidates flying back and forth with a dizzying pace.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Maybe you should vote for more than just a pretty face next time.

SERFATY: But that ad backfiring on Cruz. His campaign is pulling it off the air after it was revealed that actress is also an adult film star. Cruz's team is refocusing today with a new ad directing fire instead at Hillary Clinton in a spoof of the movie "Office Space."

Many of the candidates today speaking at the conservative Christian Bob Jones University in South Carolina, making a big pitch to woo coveted evangelical voters. JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not believe that you put

your faith in a lockbox when you're in public life and say, well, that's only for my private matters. That's just not -- that is totally wrong.

SERFATY: Jockeying over who has the most conservative credentials.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You disagree with people, for example, on the definition of marriage, they call you a hater and a bigot. Now, what is the next step?

SERFATY: Ted Cruz trying to cast his rivals as out of touch with the conservative base over the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same- sex marriage.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Seeing my two leading competitors in the Republican primary both publicly say following that decision that the decision is the settled law of the land, we must accept it, surrender, and move on, I have got to say those are word for word the talking points of Barack Obama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And back on Donald Trump's potential threat of a potential lawsuit against Ted Cruz, the Cruz communications director, Rick Tyler, saying Trump needs to go back to the time-out chair, think about his choices, adding that's what you do to any 3-year-old -- Jake.

[16:05:08]

TAPPER: Sunlen Serfaty in Greenville, thanks. Thank you so much.

Coming up, we will speak live with the actress at the center of that ad controversy with Ted Cruz.

Turning to the Democrats now, if you went to sleep for eight years and then woke up and turned on the TV, last night would have really seemed rather weird for you, if the first thing you turned on after waking up was a Democratic debate, because Hillary Clinton who eight years ago was questioning then Senator Obama's readiness to lead, last night she was doing everything she could to make herself look like President Obama's BFF.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is in Denmark, South Carolina, where Hillary Clinton just wrapped up a speech to voters there.

Joe, Clinton had President Obama's very high favorability ratings among black voters very much in mind likely when she took on Sanders when it came to his loyalty to the president last night.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's pretty clear, Jake. The president's approval ratings in the African-American community across the country run between 80 percent and 90 percent. If this event at a poor school district in South Carolina is any indication, if last night's debate is any indication, the Clinton campaign is planning to get a lot of mileage out of those approval ratings in a state where the African-American vote is so critical.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): Hillary Clinton pitching South Carolina voters today on why she's best suited to be the Democratic nominee.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to go after every single barrier that stands in the way of what Americans can do.

JOHNS: The Clinton campaign is hoping the Palmetto State can help slow Bernie Sanders' momentum following his big New Hampshire win on Tuesday.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, New Hampshire.

JOHNS: The fight for the first-in-the-South primary will likely hinge on support from African-American voters, who make up over half the Democratic electorate in the state. Clinton lost African-Americans in South Carolina to President Obama by nearly 60 points in 2008.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, South Carolina.

JOHNS: With the president still held in high regard by African- Americans and Democrats nationwide, both candidates are working hard to show their support for him, including in Thursday night's debate in Milwaukee.

SANDERS: President Obama and I are friends.

CLINTON: I think President Obama has set a great example.

JOHNS: Clinton is trying to drive a wedge between Sanders and President Obama.

CLINTON: The kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama.

SANDERS: That is...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Madam Secretary, that is a low blow.

JOHNS: With Sanders returning the favor.

SANDERS: One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.

JOHNS: Sanders also targeting Clinton over Wall Street contributions to her super PAC.

SANDERS: Fifteen million dollars from Wall Street.

CLINTON: Barack Obama.

JOHNS: An attack Clinton rebutted by noting President Obama's super PAC also took money from Wall Street in 2008, but that did not influence his decision-making as president.

CLINTON: Let's not in anyway imply here that either President Obama or myself, would in anyway not take on any vested interested, whether it's Wall Street, or drug companies, or insurance companies.

JOHNS: But Sanders refused to let Clinton off the hook.

SANDERS: People aren't dumb. Why in God's name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? I guess just for the fun of it. They want to throw money around.

JOHNS: When it comes to reining in Wall Street, Clinton said she and Sanders share a similar view, but that her agenda goes beyond that one issue.

CLINTON: I am not a single-issue candidate and I do not believe we live in a single-issue country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Secretary Clinton goes from here to a political dinner in Minneapolis tonight. Bernie Sanders is also going to be there and then it's on to Las Vegas on Saturday -- Jake. \

TAPPER: Joe Johns, thanks so much.

Let's talk about the Democrats.

Joining me now, CNN political commentator and Bernie Sanders supporter Bill Press, and CNN political commentator foreign policy director for Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign and current Hillary Clinton supporter -- that's a mouthful, Neera Tanden -- Neera Tanden.

So, Bill, let me start with you.

You heard Hillary Clinton simplify the argument -- quote -- "I'm not a single-issue candidate and I don't believe we live in a single-issue country," a clear shot at Sanders. Your thoughts?

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's also a clear talking point of the Clinton campaign, let's be honest. I heard it about five times last night from people who were speaking on behalf of Senator Clinton and it's simply not true.

[16:10:00]

Hillary is a great candidate and she knows a lot about the issues. Bernie Sanders is a great candidate. What they mean is that when they say that, all Bernie talks about is Wall Street. Again, Jake, not true.

Bernie does talk about Wall Street very tough. He also talks about education, free community college. He talks about universal health care. He talks about reforming police departments. He talks about sentencing reform. He talks about cleaning up the campaign contributions system, a whole range of candidates -- of issues, rather, on some which the two candidates agree and some that they don't. It's just a bogus talking point.

TAPPER: Neera, I want to give you an opportunity to respond to a criticism we have heard on CNN which has to do with the fact that Hillary Clinton when she pitches herself to voters, she's pitching herself because of her readiness, because of her experience, but the question then becomes, is she talking about herself too much vs. the voters, I and me vs. we and us?

We actually did an analysis and we looked at how many times on the New Hampshire speeches the two candidates used I and me vs. we or us. And you can see Bernie Sanders used we or us twice as much as he said I or me and Hillary Clinton was the exact opposite, I or me 44 times vs. 21 we or us.

This is just one set of speeches. This is not a comprehensive analysis. The reason is obviously because of her pitch about her experience, but is that a problem, do you think?

NEERA TANDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think, in this context, I have to say we generally look at women and how they're talking about some of these issues a little differently.

When you look at the Republican candidates, they're often talking about I, me, because you're talking about what you're going to do as president. But I hear the point that this really needs to be a mission about what she's going to do as president.

And she has to work on making sure everyone feels part of that. Her language can shift a little bit on that point. But I think I always get a little anxious about these kind of comparisons, because we ask questions about women, about whether they're talking about themselves too much. Last night, Senator Sanders kind of called her on saying -- when she said, you know, as president I will do, he called her on that and I thought in a kind of harsh way.

And really what she was saying was what every -- Republican male candidates, all male candidates say that all the time. When I'm president, I will do this.

TAPPER: This is a direct comparison to Bernie Sanders.

TANDEN: Yes.

TAPPER: But certainly she would stack up well with some of the other Republicans, I'm sure, especially Mr. Trump.

But, Bill, how about that? Neera brought up a moment that I think a lot of commentators think was not a great moment for Bernie Sanders, his, you're not president yet, Secretary Clinton. Did you think that that was a little rough, maybe the race is getting to him a little bit?

PRESS: No, I will be honest.

First of all, when she said -- I forget exactly how she phrased it. When I'm in the White House. And I thought maybe she should have said if I'm lucky enough to get there. And I think Bernie -- it was a little sassy on Bernie's part. On reflection, he probably wishes he hadn't said it. It reminded me and I'm sure a lot of us of then Barack Obama when he said you're likable enough, Hillary.

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: I remember that.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: Yes, you do.

That hurt him, but at the same time, he was elected president, so not a fatal mistake, but unfortunate remark, I would say.

TAPPER: Neera, a strong performance for Secretary Clinton last night, do you think? Obviously, you're a fan.

TANDEN: Yes, I mean, I'm biased, right. I think do she had a strong -- I think there was a strong performance. I think they were both pretty strong.

I do think that the real issue in this race going forward is Senator Obama -- Senator Sanders -- oh, my lord.

TAPPER: Whoops.

TANDEN: Senator Sanders.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: A flashback.

TANDEN: Senate Sanders has a strong critique. He does talk about a different set of issues, education, other issues, but the real strong critique he has is around inequality.

And I think the debate going forward, we want to talk about rising inequality, but other challenges the country faces. I think Hillary did a great job in saying that we have issues of systemic inequality that affects us on race, racial inequality, gender inequality and really having a conversation about all of these issues is vital as we go into South Carolina and the rest of the country.

TAPPER: Neera Tanden, Bill Press, to be continued. Thanks so much. Appreciate it, both of you.

PRESS: All right. Thank you, Jake. TAPPER: She has been in television series such as "Silk Stalkings"

and "Star Trek: Voyager," as well as more erotic films such as "Timegate: Tales of the Saddle Tramps" and "Animal Lust." But thanks to Ted Cruz's campaign, a former actress who's been in some steamy films, her latest role is the one that might be getting the most attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Maybe you should vote for more than just a pretty face next time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That actress joins me for her first live TV interview next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:18:29] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to stick with politics now. As if we are not already in the middle of the most bizarre presidential race in history, the Ted Cruz campaign has pulled this attack ad against Marco Rubio. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe you should vote for more than just a pretty face next time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Why? Because that woman who just said that, as first reported by "The Daily Caller" is Amy Lindsay who also had roles in some steamy, dare I say erotic films. Films with titles such as "Carnal Wishes", "Insatiable Desires", and, of course, the classic "Timegate: Tales of the Saddle Tramps".

Though to be fair to Ms. Lindsay, she is a working actress. She's also been on "Star Trek: Voyager". And joining me now is the actress at the center of all this brouhaha.

Amy, thank you for joining us.

Tell us your reaction to the Cruz campaign pulling this ad. How did you hear about it? What did you think?

AMY LINDSAY, ACTRESS: Well, I was pretty shocked. I shot this ad a couple of months ago. I think as soon as it ran before I even knew it was running, I received a telephone call on my cell phone from a media outlet asking me about my reaction to it being pulled.

So, did I not -- I not only knew that it had run but I didn't even know that it had been pulled yet. Yes, it was pretty shocking to be honest with you. Just like what? TAPPER: The Cruz campaign says that they cast the ad in an open

casting call and they say you were not properly vetted. How did you get involved in the ad? Was this just a gig or are you or were you a Cruz supporter?

[16:20:02] LINDSAY: It was a gig, but I absolutely, when I got the copy of what the campaign was going to be about, I knew that it was supporting a Republican candidate, which is definitely what I'm doing. And I thought the writing was smart, I thought it was snappy. I did not know who it was for.

But I do identify myself as a conservative Republican so I knew that it was something I could get behind and support.

TAPPER: That's interesting. Now, the Cruz campaign, to play devil's advocate here, they're making a big play for conservative evangelicals, especially in South Carolina, and I guess their mindset is that those voters might not approve of some of the movies you've been in before. Can you see their point of view on that or is it unfair?

LINDSAY: No, I can see their point of view, and I think that one of the discussions, a hot topic right now in this great country that we all love, the United States of America, is the right to free speech. So I think that I have a right to get here and tell my view about it and explain to people who might be interested who I am, what I stand for. And they absolutely have the right to have the beliefs that they have.

TAPPER: Now, you are, from what I understand, a conservative Christian, you're a Republican, you're from Texas. I don't want to be rude because I'm not the one judging here, but obviously the Cruz campaign felt that there was something untoward, something inappropriate about what you've done before you did this ad. Is that un-Christian for them to have done?

LINDSAY: I don't -- I don't think it's un-Christian. I think this is politics as usual. It was done in a snap moment. Someone has got to make a decision and sometimes it's just better to take it down. And from what I have heard, they are re-evaluating the rest of the campaign.

I've actually gotten a lot of support on the right from a lot of people that think the Ted Cruz campaign might have acted hastily. And like, hey, this is also the type of person who might be voting in this race. You know, it's not just the white male Christian gun-toting people, it's people like me, you know, that tend to be to be very fiscally conservative and maybe a little bit more socially liberal in some of my views that I feel about.

So, I think, if they were smart, and they probably are, that people would look at broadening the horizon of women that might be leaning Republican and why.

TAPPER: Now, also to be fair, this wasn't like -- you have not been as far as I know in any like truly explicit, explicit films. This is more kind of like late night Cinemax kind of stuff as I understand it.

LINDSAY: Absolutely.

TAPPER: It's not that these movies aren't watched in red states or South Carolina. Quite the contrary, according to some studies I've seen.

LINDSAY: Quite the contrary, exactly, right?

TAPPER: Is it hypocritical, do you think, for people to pretend that it's only liberal deviants watching late night Cinemax?

LINDSAY: I haven't heard that quote --

TAPPER: No, I made that up.

(CROSSTALK)

LINDSAY: Can you tell me that again because I want to use that quote. What did you call them? Late night social deviants?

TAPPER: Yes, liberal deviants watching late night Cinemax. Anyway, please?

LINDSAY: Right, you know? One of the funnier things earlier in my career was I got kind of called out by some people in my earlier social circles. And like, so you were watching this, so how did you see it? You know, exactly.

I would say it's a tad bit hypocritical, but maybe they just like the film. You know, I don't know. So I don't want to use the word "hypocritical" but it's definitely a dichotomy to me.

TAPPER: What are your thoughts on the race right now? You say you're a Republican and you're going to vote Republican. Is there a candidate you're leaning towards?

LINDSAY: There is. But I haven't come out to endorse anyone just quite yet.

TAPPER: Is Ted Cruz still in the running for your vote or is it over?

LINDSAY: He is. He absolutely is. Like I said, when I did the ad and the words that came out of my mouth, I was a character. My character in the commercial was Sam, I believe. But I was speaking from the heart about some of the issues that I think are true problems in this country that we as Americans are facing today. So I did believe in the message and I put it out there.

And so, yes, I have no ill will against Ted Cruz right now. He's got a job to do. I'm a middle class working girl and I had a job to do. So, yes.

TAPPER: You're going to come back on our show when you're ready to endorse, I assume?

LINDSAY: Absolutely I will.

TAPPER: All right. Amy Lindsay, thanks so much for coming on today.

LINDSAY: Jake, thanks for having me.

TAPPER: People just having dinner in an Ohio restaurant attacked by a man with a machete. Now, the FBI is investigating this as a lone wolf terror attack as we learn more about the suspect.

And then, new concerns.

[16:25:01] The Zika virus could be more harmful that researchers originally believed. One country now blaming Zika for three deaths.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

A brutal and bloody attack in the heartland now being investigated as a possible lone wolf terrorist attack.

CNN national correspondent Deb Feyerick has more on the Somali man with a machete who walked into a Mediterranean restaurant in Ohio and started hacking away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The attack happened at the Nazareth Middle Eastern restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.

911 CALLER: Some guy pulled out a machete and started stabbing people. I ran out with my kids --

FEYERICK: A man with a machete attacked and injured four people, one of them critically.

911 CALLER: It the table right in front of me. He just started attacking people.

KAREN BASS, WITNESS: I thought it was a personal thing and then he just started down the row hitting everybody with something.