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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump's Tricks; Hillary V.P. Watch; Terror in Germany; Awaiting Clinton Announcement on Running Mate; Manhunt Under Way for at Least Three Attackers; Trump Reacts to Apparent Mall Terror Attack; Clinton Aide: Attack Not Changing Plans for VP Reveal. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 22, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: terror at the mall. A deadly shooting spree at a popular shopping center believed to be a terror attack. Multiple shooters are believed to be on the loose. Residents are being urged to stay indoors, as an intense manhunt unfolds. Did the killers target children?
Trump's tricks. Fresh from a rousing and focused speech at the Republican Convention, Donald Trump returns to his more familiar campaign style. He lashes out at Ted Cruz and says he can keep his endorsement. Was the convention a turning point for Trump or a one- off?
Announcement delayed? Hillary Clinton is considering postponing unveiling her pick for vice president in the wake of the latest terror attack, the Democratic Convention just days away. Who has she chosen and when will she reveal her running mate?
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 the breaking news. At least nine people dead in a shooting at a mall in Munich, Germany. Police say a gunman may be among them. This is being treated as a terror attack. And right now police are searching the entire city and the area for multiple suspects.
The city is on virtual lockdown and people are being warned to seek shelter and stay indoors as the manhunt for the killers unfold.
Donald Trump has just put out a statement saying the rise of terrorism threatens the way of life for all civilized people and we must everything in our power to keep it from our shores. Trump vowed of a terror threat in his speech at the Republican Convention, vowing to restore law and order, saying he alone can keep the country safe.
And Hillary Clinton's campaign is watching the situation unfold right now in Munich. But an aide tells CNN it has not yet changed plans to reveal her pick for vice president, expected at any time. We're covering the breaking news this hour with our guests, including retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark. And our correspondents, expert analysts are also standing by.
Let's begin with the manhunt unfolding in Munich right now after that deadly shooting spree.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is working the story for us.
Barbara, you're learning new information.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, at this hour, authorities have no real idea who carried out the attack and what their motivation may be. As they look for additional intelligence, this major European city on edge. The killings have shut the city down.
And in the meantime, the U.S. Embassy warning Americans in Munich, Germany, to take cover and to stay indoors. And the U.S. military doing a head count for all of its personnel across Europe, trying to make sure no one is in Munich and in danger.
STARR (voice-over): Covered bodies outside the Munich shopping mall. Already, German police have made one determination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is a terrorism situation.
STARR (voice-over): But who is responsible is not clear, ISIS, right- wing extremists or others. Authorities brought much of the city to a halt and continued a manhunt into the evening hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We believe there are three perpetrators. We have contradicting information, but up to three.
STARR: Shooting broke out initially at a McDonald's at the popular Munich mall. Dozens of people fled, terrified eyewitnesses offering what information they could.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I went to the one of the exits and I looked in his direction and then he shot at two people near the stairs. And I ran away.
STARR: Some saying the gunman aimed at children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The children were sitting to eat. They can't run. I hear this Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar. This, I know because I'm Muslim too.
STARR: German police quickly began to assemble, warning people to stay off the streets amid the confusion of the early hours with little intelligence about what was happening. U.S. officials were awaiting an assessment from German law enforcement
and intelligence services. So far, there is no credible claim of responsibility.
However, one U.S. official says there has been concern for months about potential ISIS activity across Europe, attacks either inspired by ISIS or directed by operatives back in Syria and Iraq.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's still an active situation, and Germany's one of our closest allies, so we are going to pledge all the support that they may need in dealing with these circumstances.
STARR: At this hour, it has to be said again there's no clear understanding of who or what group or individuals may have been behind this attack.
But the U.S. government remains extremely concerned, we're told, about ISIS activity in Europe. CIA Director John Brennan has been warning for weeks that ISIS may be trying to send operatives into Europe to carry out attacks. Not clear again if that's what happened in Munich -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thank you.
Brian Todd is also working the story for us.
Brian is here.
Brian, we're hearing some chilling descriptions from eyewitnesses.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really riveting witness account from a woman we reached earlier, Wolf.
What we can tell you right now is in the latest Twitter post, the Munich police said they're bringing in special forces from Bavaria and surrounding federal states as reinforcements. They are also tweeting public transportation remains disrupted.
Right now, it's about midnight in Munich. We're getting just these stirring accounts from witnesses tonight. One woman who we reached on the phone from a store right next door to the McDonald's near the mall said she was inside the McDonald's there that you see just a couple of inches away from the shooter.
It appears to be the same shooter seen in this video shooting people outside of McDonald's. We're only calling this woman by her name, Loretta, out of concern for her safety. My producer Dugald McConnell, who speaks fluent German, reached her this afternoon.
Loretta says the shooter had her back turned -- had his back turned to her or she believes she would be dead right now. She was waiting for her 8-year-old son outside the men's bathroom. She said her son saw the man loading his gun inside the bathroom. She says he came out of the bathroom and started targeting children. She also gives an account of what that man said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear this Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar. This, I know because I'm Muslim too. I hear this and I only cry, screaming and take my children and go out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now, Loretta got to a windowless store next to the McDonald's, she says. And that's where we caught up with her a short time ago. She hid there with her two children ages 8 and 11, Wolf, a harrowing experience for this woman.
BLITZER: Any indication where the terrorists might be right now?
TODD: Police say they assume the attackers are still in Munich, Wolf.
They're conducting a citywide manhunt tonight. They have stopped all train and subway service. They are asking drivers to clear the highways. But police do say they have had alerts in other areas, Wolf. This remains a very, very fluid situation. And as we said, it's right now just after midnight in Munich. The cover of darkness, late at night. You don't know who is out there. People are asked to stay in their homes, stay in shelters, but it's a huge city. And it's late at night.
BLITZER: Shelter in place. That's what they're telling everyone in Munich right now. Brian, thank you very much.
Let's get some more on the breaking news.
Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, a former NATO supreme allied commander, former Democratic presidential candidate, is joining us now.
General, thanks very much for joining us.
These gunmen reportedly still on the run. Munich police are saying it looks like a terror attack. How dangerous is this situation right now?
WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I think it's more dangerous than one could anticipate because normally these people self-destruct.
And that's bad if people are nearby, but in this case maybe they're not. Maybe they have decided to try to hit another target. This was a pattern in San Bernardino, you may remember. The gunmen got away and then they were caught. These people could be miles away. They could be in a different
community. They could be hiding with accomplices. This is a really critical period of time. I hope the German intelligence authorities really do have complete electronic coverage of this area. They need to be looking at social media. They need to be looking obviously at cell phone transmissions and everything else to try to determine who was communicating with whom at this time and where they are now. And it can be done.
BLITZER: I assume, General, you spent a lot of time in Germany. You were the NATO supreme allied commander. You know your counterparts, the German counterparts. They are very good in this kind of stuff, aren't they?
CLARK: They're terrific. The German authorities are very, very confident. They are very well-equipped.
They do have a standard of information sharing and information collection, and whether they have gone far enough and enough intrusiveness to be able to really identify people and have the kind of electronic coverage of cell phones they need, I assume they have, but who knows. We're going to find out, I think.
BLITZER: The shooting took place at this McDonald's right at this major shopping mall in Munich. Do you believe that Americans might have been targeted? State Department now warning all U.S. citizens in Munich to shelter in place just like the German government, the Munich police are warning everyone in Munich to shelter in place.
CLARK: Even if Americans weren't specifically targeted, McDonald's is a symbol of America.
So, it could serve a dual purpose. You can hit a symbol of America. You can kill children if that's who he was targeting. And you can create even more havoc.
What we haven't seen yet in the news media, Wolf, is why do German authorities believe there might be three shooters? That's what we haven't seen. And maybe there's some information coming on that.
BLITZER: That's because eyewitnesses have described three individuals, three shooters who look different, were at different locations. That's why they are suggesting, General, there may be three shooters. There are nine bodies they found at that mall. They think one of them possibly could be one of the shooters. But that's why this manhunt is still under way, because eyewitnesses have given various accounts of who the shooters might be.
There is pattern though unfolding. If in fact it's ISIS -- we don't know if it's ISIS or al Qaeda. You don't know. It might be right- wing terrorists who are opposed to all the Muslim immigrants who are coming to Germany right now, whether from Syria or Libya or Iraq.
But there's clearly a heightened state of alert in Europe right now. That's totally understandable, right?
CLARK: That's exactly right. And there should be, because we know the cells that were in France and Belgium were also in Germany. There were connections to some of these people. Some have been arrested.
And we have to look at every one of these tragedies as also an opportunity to go back and roll up networks. And so police and the military have got to move very, very quickly on this. And obviously any information that the United States can share, electronic or otherwise, we will obviously be doing that to help our German friends.
But there's Austria nearby, there's Italy nearby, there's Switzerland nearby. Everybody has to be working this.
BLITZER: Germany has been on a heightened state of alert since Monday when an Afghan refugee in Germany, a 17-year-old, started stabbing people on a train with an axe, screaming out Allahu akbar throughout, claiming he was ISIS-inspired. ISIS later claiming responsibility for the attack.
The fear right now is what just happened at the shopping mall could be connected. Do you believe it possibly could be connected?
CLARK: I believe it's probably ISIS-inspired and it may be ISIS- directed.
We will know more as we look at the behavior of the gunmen. But typically the ISIS people who have been inspired have not survived the incident. This sounds like something different. It sounds like a more determined effort to sow confusion and create havoc in Germany and maybe elsewhere, so new tactic.
BLITZER: General Clark, stand by. We have more to discuss.
There's other information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Much more with the former NATO supreme allied commander right after this.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. At least nine people are dead in an apparent terror attack at a mall in Munich, Germany.
The news may be prompting Hillary Clinton to postpone announcing her pick for vice president, as she was expected to do this afternoon.
We're back with retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark. He's the former NATO supreme allied commander, a former Democratic presidential candidate.
I assume you're supporting Hillary Clinton, right?
BLITZER: There's reports she's made her decision for a vice presidential choice. A lot of people think it could be the Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, a former governor. What do you think? Do you think he's the guy?
CLARK: Well, of course, none of us know. That's really a very personal decision that Hillary has to make. She's got some really wonderful, qualified people in the running.
Tim Kaine is at the top of the list. I have known him for more than a decade, since before he was the governor. He did a great job as governor. He's a senator. He's smart. He's personable. He's balanced. He's got so many wonderful qualities. And he'd be a great pick. Tom Vilsack is in that mix. Cory Booker is in the mix, Perez, the labor secretary, and Jim Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander, is in that mix.
And I love Jim. He'd be a terrific pick.
BLITZER: As you know, Tim Kaine is considered a moderate Democrat. Some progressives, they really wanted someone more in line, let's say, with Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
Will this really help rally the Democratic base in November if he's the pick?
CLARK: Well, it's hard for me to say because I'm not on the inside of that selection process, and looking at the polling and so forth.
I did mention Elizabeth Warren. I think she's terrific. She's done so much to publicize the need to really strengthen employment and traditional work in America, as opposed to the financialization of the economy. So, she's going to be hugely influential to Hillary and to whoever is in office around Hillary, whether she is the pick or not.
But I think Tim Kaine can rally any component of the Democratic base if he's the pick.
BLITZER: Let's see if he's the pick.
You're the former NATO supreme allied commander. Donald Trump, today, once again critical of the U.S. spending when it comes to NATO. Let me play this little clip for you, General.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look at the military, where it's so depleted, but we're taking care of other nations, and I want to continue to take care of other nations. There's a lot of good things about that, but they have to pay us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Does Trump have a point when he says these other NATO allies should be paying more? [18:20:05]
CLARK: Well, they're all paying one way or another. It's not just NATO, but it's our allies, South Korea and Japan. They pay a lot of money in base support and other payments to the United States government.
Could our NATO allies do more in terms of strengthening their own forces? Yes. And every administration and every supreme allied commander since Dwight D. Eisenhower has asked for that. And with Putin's behavior, the allies are getting on board. I think this is a case where the thrust of what Mr. Trump is saying about allies doing more, it's an old trumpet cry and it's being answered.
And the Obama administration, I think, has done a great job of rallying our allies to do more for their own defense. I wouldn't want our soldiers to be paid directly by other nations. We're not a nation of mercenaries. NATO is in our interest, fundamentally in our interest.
And, Wolf, we fought two world wars in the 20th century to make sure Europe wasn't dominated by a power hostile to us. And that's why we built NATO. And so it works for us, for our interests in Europe and worldwide.
BLITZER: He put forward in a speech last night, Trump, let's say a more nationalistic tone. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponent is that our plan will put. America first, Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I want you to react to that. Go ahead.
CLARK: Wolf, that's just -- that's a bumper slogan.
Every president puts America first. And you can be sure that Hillary Clinton, when she becomes president of the United States, is going to put America first. That's our national interest. That's the duty of the president of the United States.
I have been in uniform since -- I went to West Point in 1962, when John Kennedy was president. I have studied. I have worked for a number of presidents. They all believe that what they're doing best serves America's interest.
Nobody's in there to serve the interests of so-called globalism. They're doing it for our voters and our people. And Hillary is the kind of person who can best do that, in my view.
BLITZER: General Clark, thanks very much for joining us.
CLARK: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: We will have more on the breaking news coming up, but there's new information, in fact, coming in right now about the deadly shooting rampage at the mall in Munich, Germany, the manhunt for multiple suspects unfolding right now.
Plus, Donald Trump fresh from his very serious and focused speech at the Republican Convention, now he's back on the attack and he's lashing out at Ted Cruz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't want his endorsement. Just, Ted, stay home. Relax. Enjoy yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news this hour, a deadly shooting spree in a mall has set off a manhunt for suspected terrorists in Munich, Germany.
At least nine people have been killed. A gunman is possibly among them. People are being told to stay indoors, as police search for multiple shooters who may be on the loose right now.
Let's get some more from our justice correspondent, Evan Perez, who is with us. Our national security analyst, Peter Bergen, is with us. And our senior law enforcement analyst, the former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes, is with us as well.
This manhunt under way right now, Evan, what are you hearing from your sources?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: U.S. law enforcement is talking to their German counterparts.
And it does appear that this is a very serious manhunt. They have called in police, reinforcements from the surrounding areas in Bavaria and as well as some of the other neighboring states, Wolf. And they are treating this very seriously. The reason why they're looking for possible attackers, additional attackers is because of witness accounts.
But we have seen this over and over again. Witness accounts are often the weakest part of any of these scenarios. People often think they see other gunmen. And even there were additional reports of a second shooting scene, but it doesn't appear that's borne out by additional evidence.
It appears that was contained -- or I'm sorry -- in the northwest part of the city in this area near the Olympic stadium and never actually went to the central, the old town of Munich. If you have been to Munich, you can easily take a metro down there. It appears that perhaps some of the people who were showing up in the central district were actually people who were injured and maybe got on the metro to try to just get away from the scene.
It's very, very fluid right now. Not a lot of information being made out there, simply because it's the time of the hour and this manhunt is still ongoing.
BLITZER: There's a huge manhunt still under way right now.
Tom Fuentes, explain what's likely happening during this manhunt and especially if they believe multiple people are involved and they believe multiple people may be involved, because eyewitnesses gave different descriptions for the shooters.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, Wolf, that's pretty much what they're looking at first, is, are there multiple shooters, because it really changes everything.
If you have just one shooter that was seen several times and described differently each time, but it's still only one shooter, then it has the possibility that it's a mentally ill person, although it's unlikely that the average mentally ill person in Germany can get their hands on a long gun, unlike the United States, where it's no problem. But if it is multiple shooters, then it's unlikely that they simultaneously became deranged and initiated this attack.
So I think right now, the police are trying to pull video cameras either taken by individuals or from the malls and the stores, gas stations, street intersections, anywhere that they can get video. And that takes a long time to analyze to see if they can actually confirm three separate individuals, even more than one individual involved in shooting.
BLITZER; Peter, as you know, German police, they're investigating if one of those bodies -- they found nine bodies at the mall -- may, in fact, have been one of the shooters, assuming there are more than one shooter. If that's true, and in this particular case the shooter, let's say, killed himself, that would not necessarily be in line with traditional ISIS-type terrorists, right?
BERGEN: I don't think so. But I think we know so little about the motivations right now that it's hard to make any sort of assessment. But I think this may provoke a bit of a discussion in Germany about the way the police and the intelligence services share their information. There are a lot of, as there were in this country before 9/11, sort of barriers for that. The German intelligence apparatus can't do a lot of signals collection compared to what we are allowed to do in the United States or places like Britain. Not much data storage. And this is all for very sound historical reasons in Germany, kind of suspicion of the central government and intelligence gathering.
But I think this kind of mass casualty attack will provoke a discussion in German about are they really aligned in a way that can kind of detect these things before they happen? BLITZER: A lot of the local authorities there suspect it could be
ISIS-related terrorism. Just a couple -- three days ago there was an ISIS-related terror attack. A 17-year-old Afghan refugee had an ax and started...
PEREZ: Attacking, right.
BLITZER: ... attacking people on a train, screaming out "Allahu Akbar," making it clear he was supportive of ISIS. ISIS later claiming responsibility for that.
But there is one other theory out there, that this may, in fact, have been some sort of right-wing terror attack.
PEREZ: That's right. It's the fifth anniversary of that attack in Norway in which a right-wing attacker tried to blow up -- or blew up a bomb at the parliament and then went after a youth conference, Wolf.
But the other possibility here is that this person is just mentally ill and that it might not be right-wing or Islamic related. They haven't found any -- so far the investigators haven't found any links to any terrorist groups yet. But I mean, that's a -- that sometimes takes days to emerge, as you saw in the Nice attack.
BLITZER: There has been evidence, Peter, of mentally-ill people who become obsessed, let's say, with ISIS and go on a killing spree.
BERGEN: Yes. I mean, there's some indications the Nice attacker may have had mental issues.
BLITZER: Eighty-four people were killed in that.
BERGEN: But I would caveat, if you have serious mental problems, it's very hard to carry out a sophisticated terrorist attack. In the Nice case, for instance, he seemed to be planning this for a year. It was a predatory murder with a lot of care and attention.
PEREZ: And a lot of help from other people helping him there.
BLITZER: Eighty-four people were killed in that truck attack in Nice, and hundreds more were injured. All right. Stand by, everyone. Stand by.
Just ahead, Donald Trump going way off script the day after his very focused speech at the Republican convention. Is he slowing his own momentum? We'll update you on that. Hillary Clinton hammering away at Donald Trump today, just ahead of revealing her pick for vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I mean, I never thought I would say these words, but Ted Cruz was right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[18:38:43] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, the apparent terror attack on a mall in Munich, Germany, that's left at least nine people dead as police search for multiple shooters. That search underway right now.
Donald Trump has just put out a statement on that. I want to bring in our political reporter, Sara Murray. She's in Cleveland for us.
Sara, Trump spoke at length about the terror threat in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination less than 24 hours or so ago. Update our viewers on what he said.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And today Donald Trump is sending his prayers to the victims in Munich. And there's no doubt the Trump campaign believes they hit the right tone in his convention address last night. The only question is whether that's going to be overshadowed by some of the remarks he made this morning, re-litigating fights from the primaries.
MURRAY (voice-over): Today Donald Trump just couldn't resist the chance to settle old scores from his perch as the GOP nominee.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't want his endorsement. Just Ted, stay home. Relax, enjoy yourself.
MURRAY: At an event billed as a thank you for volunteers and staffers, Trump quickly veered from the task at hand, insisting he doesn't want Ted Cruz's endorsement and arguing he never insulted Cruz's wife Heidi Cruz, even after he retweeted this unflattering photo of her during the primaries.
[18:40:03] TRUMP: I saw somebody tweeted a picture of Melania and a picture of Heidi, who I think, by the way, is a very nice woman and a very beautiful woman. I have to tell you, I think Heidi Cruz is a great person. I think it's the best thing he's got going, and his kids, if you want to know the truth.
MURRAY: Trump stepping on his own triumphant moment just a day after accepting the Republican nomination, where he largely stuck to the script as he vowed to fight for the American people.
TRUMP: I say these words to you tonight. I am with you. I will fight for you. And I will win for you.
MURRAY: While Trump used his Thursday night address to try and rise above...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock her up! Lock her up!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock her up! Lock her up!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock her up! Lock her up!
TRUMP: Let's defeat her in November.
MURRAY: ... by Friday morning, he was back to plumbing the depths of conspiracy theory, reviving a tabloid tale, backed by zero evidence, linking Ted Cruz's father to John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
TRUMP: All I did is point out the fact that, on the cover of "The National Enquirer," there's a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.
MURRAY: And while Trump spent much of his convention speech offering a dark assessment of the challenges facing the country...
TRUMP: I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police. When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country.
MURRAY: ... today, President Obama is pushing back, maintaining that portrayal doesn't match reality.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This vision of violence and chaos everywhere doesn't really jibe with the experience of most people. I hope people the next morning walked outside, and the birds were chirping and the sun was out.
MURRAY: Now, Trump has clearly tried to frame himself as the security candidate in that race, and he sort of continued with that in his statement on Munich today. He said, "This cannot continue. The rise of terrorism threatens the way of life for all civilized people, and we must do everything in our power to keep it from our shores" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sara Murray in Cleveland for us. Thank you.
An aide to Hillary Clinton tells CNN the Munich attack is not -- repeat not -- changing plans to reveal her vice-presidential running mate. An announcement, in fact, could come out at any time now, maybe even any moment.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, has the latest. Jeff, one week ago, it was the terror attack in Nice, France, that impacted Donald Trump's running mate announcement. What's the very latest you're hearing about the Hillary Clinton announcement?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Hillary Clinton herself directed her advisors today, I'm told, to not disrupt their plans to announce her running mate. This has become true now, week after week, that these waves of violence are going to become part of this presidential campaign.
Now, Democrats we're talking to tonight, from the Senate to the White House, do believe that she is poised to name Tim Kaine as her running mate. She has not yet made that decision public. She will do it tonight. But Wolf, it's all part of the Democratic Party's plan to seize the spotlight from Republicans.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton has long been a political partner. Now she's revealing her own.
CLINTON: We have to be willing to stand as one.
ZELENY: She was planning to unveil her running mate in an afternoon text message to supporters, hoping to build anticipation before making their debut on the campaign trail Saturday in Miami.
In Tampa tonight, Clinton assailed Donald Trump and his message at the Republican convention.
CLINTON: I never thought I would say these words, but Ted Cruz was right. In this election, do the right thing and vote your conscience. Vote for your future. Vote for a United States of America.
ZELENY: In her search for a vice-presidential candidate, CNN has learned Senator Tim Kaine has emerged as the leading contender. He has the backing of President Obama, former President Clinton, and, more importantly, Secretary Clinton herself.
CLINTON: Everything Tim said is absolutely on the mark.
ZELENY: He flew to Boston today for a fundraiser.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: You know, I'm not a pro-baseball player (ph).
ZELENY: Already being asked to sign autographs. He was tight-lipped on the vice-presidential search, sworn to secrecy.
On the campaign trail, Clinton's been testing her comfort and chemistry with leading Democrats.
KAINE: Are we ready for Hillary?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes!
ZELENY: CNN has learned the finalists also include Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
[18:45:03] TOM VILSACK, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: Good evening, fellow Democrats.
ZELENY: He's a former Iowa governor and loyal friend of Clintons for nearly two decades.
VILSACK: My support for Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States is something that's very personal to me.
ZELENY: He's spending the day in Missouri and had kind words about Kaine.
VILSACK: I have a tremendous amount of respect. We did not serve together as governors but I know he's a really solid guy.
ZELENY: Selecting the critical battleground of Florida to unveil his vice presidential candidate suggests Clinton has her eye on winning over Hispanic voters, critical to defeating Trump.
And Kaine speaks fluent Spanish.
For Clinton, choosing a running mate opens a new chapter in her historic bid for the presidency. She was closely involved in her husband's selection of al gore in 1992.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: This is the next vice president of the United States of America, Senator Al Gore.
ZELENY: But now, she's picking a partner of her own. She said her top priority is finding a seasoned hand in government who is ready for the presidency. If she selects Kaine, she's also getting a musician. He often plays the harmonica like here with the band the Jug Masters back in 2012.
Fellow Virginia Senator Mark Warner says it's a sign Kaine is flashier than he first appears.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: You get him on a harmonica and he's not boring at all.
ZELENY: Now, Tim Kaine learned Spanish when he was a missionary, as a Jesuit missionary in his 20s in Honduras, Wolf. It's one interesting part of his background. But even before he's formally announced, some liberal groups are saying that he's simply not liberal enough.
So, for all the rancor we saw at the Republican convention this week in Cleveland, the Democrats have some discussing of their own to do next week in Philadelphia -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jeff Zeleny with the latest, stand by. Momentarily presumably, she could be making that announcement.
We want to dig deeper with our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, CNN political analyst, Jackie Kucinich, the Washington bureau chief of "The Daily Beast", "The Washington Post" assistant editor, David Swerdlick, our senior political analyst, Ron Brown, he's a senior editor at "The Atlantic", and our CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston.
We want, in fact, all of you to stand by. There's no information coming in. Lots to discuss and assess. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:52:11] BLITZER: Welcome back.
Any moment now, presumably, Hillary Clinton will be sending out word who her vice presidential running mate is going to be. And presumably tomorrow, there'll be a joint appearance.
Gloria, earlier, just a little while ago, she was really, really in a fiery mood going after Donald Trump, and what he said last night in Cleveland at his convention. Let me play a little clip of Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Last night, Donald told us I am your voice. Well, I -- I don't think he speaks for most Americans, do you?
He doesn't speak for small businesses like the ones he has consistently stiffed and driven into bankruptcy and financial peril. He doesn't speak for the workman that he's employed on his various projects and then refused to pay them. He doesn't speak for the housekeepers and the cooks and everybody working at a hotel in Las Vegas that he owns that have voted to have a union and he refuses to even talk to them.
He doesn't speak for immigrants. He only speaks against immigrants.
He doesn't speak for people with disabilities.
He doesn't speak for our military which he has insulted consistently and in particular prisoners of war who sacrifice much of their life because they serve us. And contrary to what they tried to say at their convention, I don't think he speaks for women.
I don't think he speaks for working families who would be devastated by his reckless economic policies. He doesn't speak for anyone who thinks our country should be standing together not splintering apart. He sure doesn't speak for me because I know we are stronger together and that's what we're going to be next year!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And, Jackie, I guess that's a little appetizer of what we ca expect in Philadelphia in the coming days.
[18:55:03] JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is going to be very clear that the Democrats would be watching that convention very closely and at times, it felt like they might have been funding it.
But, I think, you know -- yes, absolutely. We're going to be hearing a lot about what Donald Trump said on that stage last night. BLITZER: And they're really going after him for last night and
they're also doubling down this morning based on what he said bringing back all of that talk about Ted Cruz.
DAVID SWERDLICK, WASHINGTON POST ASSISTANT EDITOR: Sure. Trump had three bad days of publicity last week. Last night, finally got the message out that he wanted that the world is to going to hell I a hand basket and he can stop the problems of America. And then today, he stepped right back into old campaign mode, primary election mode by attacking Ted Cruz.
BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, presumably, fairly soon, we could be hearing from Hillary Clinton on social media and some sort of e-mail to her supporters who the vice presidential pick is going to be. What are you hearing?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, all of the indications have been toward Tim Kaine. It will be very revealing if it is, Wolf, because it would signal that the Democrats are putting more of their emphasis, this time putting a bigger bet on the Sunbelt swing states than the Rust Belt swing states. The Rust Belt is there is a path to 270 Electoral College votes, where Donald Trump is through these states in the Midwest, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to a lesser extent where there are a big concentration of blue collar white voters that he's strongest among.
Tim Kaine, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, places like that are suddenly looking more important and more gettable for Hillary Clinton because they are defined by the voters where Donald Trump are weakest and those are the white collar whites as well as minorities and I think Kaine will be a signal of the shift.
BLITZER: Mark Preston, you heard all the speculation maybe she would postpone the announcement because of the terror attack in Munich. What are you hearing?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, certainly at this time, we are told now reporting from Jeff Zeleny and others who are following Hillary Clinton very closely is that they're not going to put off the announcement. This is obviously a very difficult situation for the Clinton campaign to juggle with when you have an attack, we're not sure what kind of attack it is over in Munich and yet she is trying to roll out her presidential campaign.
The question is, do you roll it out, Wolf, and now show that you can chew gum and walk at the same time, that you are able to deal with major crises? Or do you call it back out of respect for what has happened? And right now, we are told that their plan is they're going to stick to it, so we could hear some time tonight who Hillary Clinton has chosen.
BLITZER: And a joint appearance in Florida tomorrow. That's what the speculation was.
You know, the whole notion of Tim Kaine, Gloria, there's been some criticism from progressives in the Democratic Party that he is a moderate, he isn't progressive enough. Is that going to undermine her effort now to bring in those Bernie Sanders, the Elizabeth Warren supporters?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the question in politics is always compared to what? And so, will Bernie Sanders supporters vote for Donald Trump in huge numbers? I doubt it. He made a play for them as we all heard in his convention speech.
Tim Kaine is more moderate on issues like abortion. He personally does not favor abortion, but he considers himself pro-life -- I mean, sorry, let me -- pro-choice because he doesn't stand in the way and supports NARAL, for example, he doesn't stand in the way of a woman's right to choose. But it's a nuance position, right? He's Catholic and has his personal beliefs.
On trade, for example, he's very different. He's very different. He's very pro-free trade, pro-TPP. This is a difference that he has with Hillary Clinton now, and, of course, with Bernie Sanders people.
So, progressives that I've talked to say can't you come up with somebody else for us, aren't you?
DANA BASH: It's true, but we all know the way the Clinton campaign operates. They're very data-driven. They don't do things without knowing where their numbers are, and at this point, she has got to believe that she has the liberal, the progressive, the former Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren voters enough in her corner that she can and maybe needs to move beyond that to try to grab some of the independents and even Republicans who may be repelled by Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Jackie, she wants to re-create that Barack Obama coalition that got him twice elected to the White House.
KUCINICH: Absolutely, and drive them right to the polls. But you're also right about Republicans. I mean, that's something I heard even at the convention last week and people musing about having to vote for Hillary Clinton because they couldn't possibly get behind the man that was at the top of their ticket right now.
BLITZER: That could be an interesting debate. Tim Kaine, Mike Pence and a vice presidential debate.
SWERDLICK: I don't know. I think the Clinton campaign needs to think this true. It could be an interesting debate, Wolf, and I see this as a turnout election and they may need it more exciting.
BLITZER: Momentarily, we might be getting that announcement. I want all of our viewers to stay with CNN because it will be very interesting to see who Hillary Clinton eventually picks.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.