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Looking at Controversy over Various Trump Statements; Trump's Temperament and Presidency; U.S. Airstrikes Pounding ISIS Targets in Libya; Health Officials Issue Travel Warning for Miami due to Zika. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 1, 2016 - 16:30   ET



KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: This is something that we expected to come.

Mr. Trump has the utmost -- utmost respect for POWs, as well as those who serve, and veterans, considering how he is the only one with a plan to reform Veterans Administration at this point.

And, look, I understand how his comments are going to be taken out of context, and so does he. This was an off-the-cuff remark, mainly against John McCain, who was attacking him in the public. And most people understand that that was not a blanket comment for all POWs.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Guy, your response?

GUY CECIL, PRIORITIES USA ACTION: Well, I mean, it's not an attack against all POWs, just this POW.

This is what the Trump folks do. They level attacks. They have attacked veterans, disabled people, the Gold Star mother of a person slain in 2004, African-Americans, Muslims. And then, when they are approached, they simply dissemble. They say, well, I don't mean it about all African-Americans, or all POWs. I only mean it about the ones that have something to say about Donald Trump.

And the reality is that it continues to display that Donald Trump lacks the character to ever be president of the United States. And it becomes harder and harder to respond to this fun house mirror image that the Trump campaign, the Trump surrogates and Donald Trump himself tries to present about Americans.

TAPPER: Ana, let me ask you, you're not a fan of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. What was your response to the ad?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it is a very effective ad, because it cuts to a threshold issue. Does he have the basic decency, does he have the basic human empathy to be able to be commander in chief?

In case you have lost track, this is a man who got four deferments from the draft because he had a foot spur. And until now, he has gone after John McCain. He's gone after POWs. He's gone after a four-star general. And he has gone after Gold Star family, Gold Star parents while auditioning to be commander in chief.

So I think it boils down to this basic question. Is this the guy we want leading our armed forces, somebody that can't show respect? You know, most of us have not served in the armed forces. I certainly haven't, which is why I recognize that I need to bow my head in respect, that I have a debt of gratitude that I can never repay to those who do serve, to those who pay the ultimate sacrifice, to the families that will never be whole again because they had to bury their child, or spouse or their sibling.

And so I think that for most of us to see a presidential candidate slander and attack a Gold Star family just crosses a bridge that is insurmountable.

TAPPER: Katrina?

PIERSON: Well, to be clear, Donald Trump hasn't gone out and attacked anyone. He simply responds to people and defends himself.

And I understand how they try to make this out to be some sort of all- out attack against everyone who served in the military. Look, I have relatives that signed up to fight in the Civil War from Missouri. Other than that, my grandfather fought in Korea. My dad was stationed in Germany.

And none of us are taking this as if it is a blanket attack. Mr. Trump has a right to defend himself from anyone. And I understand that the left, the Democrats and the media are not used to having a Republican candidate with a backbone that stands up for himself.

But just out of curiosity, because I keep hearing how Donald Trump attacks everyone, and you have mentioned African-Americans -- could you tell me what attack you're talking about?


CECIL: Well, where do we begin?


CECIL: He falsely defended -- or falsely defended -- or falsely the Central Park Five. He repeated -- I don't even know where to continue with this.



PIERSON: Yes, you don't know, because it has not happened.


TAPPER: For the sake of argument, it's -- to say -- he list six groups, and one of them you say, well, when did he attack African- Americans? Fine. Let's pause it for the sake of conversation in this panel that that's not one of them, and let's talk about the Khan family.

PIERSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: I think one of the reasons that Mr. Trump is taking so much flak for the rhetoric about Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan is that it is so different from the typical response that we do hear from most politicians.

Here is an example. President George W. Bush, who was criticized much, much more harshly by another Gold Star mother, Cindy Sheehan, here is how President Bush responded.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her position. And I -- she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position.


TAPPER: It is a little different than we heard from Mr. Trump. Why not just take the high road? You can't win when you're in a fight against somebody who has such loss and pain.

PIERSON: Well, Jake, this isn't about winning a fight against anyone. This is Mr. Trump defending himself.


And I think you said it right. It is very different than your typical politician. I think we have all established and it is well-known that Donald Trump is not your typical robotic politician with canned responses.

This family went up on a national political stage and attacked him personally and viciously. And he just defended himself. And, look, the death of the Khan family son, Captain Khan, who was a war hero, had nothing to do with Donald Trump.

So, I'm sure you can understand why Mr. Trump is a little confused on where they are attacking him. He didn't vote for the Iraq War. He didn't vote to not send them help. Here we are today having the same issues in the Middle East. Donald Trump had nothing to do with that. So the question is, why?

TAPPER: I think the argument that they were trying to make was, their Muslim American son is a patriot and their Muslim American family sacrificed.

The new head of the VFW issued a statement this afternoon specifically attacking Trump's comments about the Khans -- quote -- "Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression. There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed. Giving one's life to one's nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by all Gold Star families, who have a right to make their voices heard."

Ana Navarro, let me just bring you in here.

I'm finding it hard to believe that -- I mean, normally it's the Democrats who are attacked as being unpatriotic. But here we have the Republican nominee being accused of being insensitive to a Gold Star family.

NAVARRO: And let's make that distinction.

It is Donald Trump. It is the Republican nominee, a nominee I am embarrassed by. But it is not John McCain, it's not Paul Ryan, it's not Kelly Ayotte, it's not Lindsey Graham. All these Republican voices have risen today, yesterday in effort of the Khan family, denouncing those comments.

And let me just say this, Jake. Unfortunately, my parents belong to that sad club of parents who have had to bury a child. Not because he was a hero. Not because he was in the military. He died in his bed. There is no pain, no pain in life that compares to the pain of having to bury a child.

Those parents will never be whole again. So to, take issue with the mother because she was there in silence, it is just unconscionable. It is unacceptable. And I think that it just repels the conscience of so many people.

Republican after Republican I'm hearing from telling me they are leaving the party. I choose not to leave the party. But I choose to tell the Khans to tell the Gold Star families, he does not represent my values. He does not represent Republican values. John McCain does. Lindsey Graham does. Jeff Flake does. Kelly Ayotte does. Susan Collins does.

And I can go on and on and on. So please do not judge all Republicans and let all of us bow our heads in respect and embrace Gold Star families with our arms, give them empathy, offer them support. It is not acceptable to compare the building of a building to the sacrifice of losing a child. It is not acceptable to have your surrogates out there comparing sacrificing a marriage to sacrificing the life of a child.

It is not acceptable to, you know, compare the sacrifice of losing a child to anything else. So I just think we have got to chill out a little bit and put perspective and realize that the best thing to do is recognize that pain, recognize their sacrifice and, you know, just be silent for a little bit.

TAPPER: Ana, Katrina, Guy, thank you, one and all. Appreciate it. Very tough conversation.

For Trump and Clinton, the race is coming down to a handful of battleground states. Exactly how many would either candidate need to edge out a win in November? We will do the math coming up next.


TAPPER: Ooh, I like that election music. Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, duking it out for votes, trying to hit that magic number of 270. That is the number of electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Let's go to CNN chief national correspondent John King, who is at the magic wall.

John, let's look at some scenarios, starting with Hillary Clinton, if you can.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's switch over to the electoral map here. We will try to get you there.

First, let's set you up where we start, Jake. We have it on our CNN map right now 236 for Secretary Clinton, 191 for Donald Trump. Pretty easy to read here, dark blue, solid Democrat, light blue, leaning Democrat. Dark blue, solid Republican. Red. I'm sorry. Light red here, leaning Republican.

How does Hillary Clinton get there? She has the easier path. She starts with you might call it the home field Democratic advantage. If the Democrats can hold Tim Kaine's state, a big reason Hillary Clinton picked Tim Kaine, and win the state of Florida, if Donald Trump won the rest, Hillary Clinton is still the next president of the United States.

Donald Trump could sweep all these other toss-up states, if they win Virginia and win Florida. Now let's say they don't. But that's path number one for Secretary Clinton. Let's say Donald Trump holds Florida, though.

How does Secretary Clinton get there? A, holding Virginia is pretty critical. How would she do it then, Jake? She can do it, Pennsylvania, there's a reason the convention was there. Not just because it is Jake Tapper's home state. They want those 20 right there.

Then she would be at 269. Then pick it. Nevada would be the most likely scenario because of the Latino vote. But if they couldn't get Nevada, you could do it with Iowa and you could do it in New Hampshire. If you start with Secretary Clinton first, Jake, she has a broader menu, if you will. It's much more -- tougher path for Mr. Trump.

TAPPER: What is planning on doing? How does he want to get there?

KING: Let's flip the map and come back to the original set, 236 to 191.

How does Trump get there? Number one, he must, must, must hold North Carolina. Remember, Obama won in '08, but Romney won it in '12. Trump has to hold North Carolina. Under most scenarios, the easiest path for Trump -- I'm not saying it's easy -- he says that is his second home state there of Florida.

Pennsylvania, he says he can get those white working-class voters. If Donald Trump could do that and then put in the state of Ohio, then Donald Trump is the next president of the United States.

Flip three states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, from 2012, and hold North Carolina.

[16:45:04] If he can't win Florida, Jake, this is where it gets interesting. Then, he's dependent on the rust belt. He would have to win Pennsylvania. He would have to win Ohio, and then he would have to turn states that haven't got Democratic in a long time, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Right there, if you do the full rust belt strategy that gets Donald Trump to 270. Is that doable? Yes. Is it easy? Absolutely, not.

TAPPER: And of course, this year, nobody is going to make any predictions because everything is unpredictable. John King, thank you so much. Will Clinton get a post convention bounce? We're going to find out in a matter of minutes our brand new CNN/ORC poll.

Plus, more Zika cases now confirmed in a specific Miami, Florida neighborhood, and a new warning out today for pregnant women. Can this virus be contained? A top health officials says expect more cases and he joins me ahead.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Topping our world lead today, U.S. air strikes pounding ISIS targets in the coastal city of Sirte, Libya. CNN's Barbara Starr is following the latest developments from the Pentagon.

Barbara, what can you tell us about the strikes and the targets? Libya?

[16:50:01] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hey yeah. Back in the business of striking Libya here at the Pentagon, Jake, at the authorization of President Obama and in conjunction with his emerging new Libyan government, U.S. warplanes struck a number of ISIS targets along the coast near Sirte. This is the ISIS' strong hold in Libya they struck a tank and some vehicles. It sounds pretty small to start with.

But what is really going on here is the U.S. is trying to back up this fragile Libyan government in its efforts to push ISIS out. ISIS has been on the rise in Libya. They've killed a number of ISIS fighters. But there's a good deal of concern that many fighters for ISIS have simply disappeared into the desert, gone into hiding, drifted into other towns and villages, living among civilians all it fight another day.

So look for the U.S. to keep up this new effort, a new round of air strikes in Libya, to try and help this government push ISIS out once and for all. Jake? TAPPER: All right. Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon for us. Barbara, thank you so much.

An unprecedented travel warning from CDC inside the U.S. after several new cases of Zika are discovered in Florida. That story, next.


[16:55:36] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD and our health lead today, an unprecedented warning from top health officials avoid traveling to one part of Miami to avoid the Zika virus.

The CDC confirming today that the number of people with the devastating virus is surging forward. The Governor Rick Scott said there are now 14 cases of Zika in Florida, "Likely through a mosquito bite". From the same one square mile neighborhood just north off downtown Miami.

Let's bring in Dr. Anthony Fauci for the Nation Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Fauci, good to see you as always. Within just days the number of people infected with Zika by mosquitoes, is it is believed went from 4 to 14. What does that say to you?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND IFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, that says it says that certainly we're seeing this cluster of local transmission prior to this all the cases in the United States, 1,600 of them, have been travel-related. A few hundred between 300 and 400 of them have been in Florida. And when you have travel-related cases and the mosquito's that it capable of transmitting this infection, you're going to see in certain situations like we've seen now what we call a local outbreak.

Occasionally you just see maybe 1 or 2 what we call singletons but every once in a while you'll see a cluster like this and that's then triggering what you just mentioned. One is the travel alert from the CDC for pregnant women not to travel to that specific area just north of Miami. But it also triggers a very aggressive mosquito controlled program to try and eliminate the mosquitoes that are causing the spread that we're seeing now up to 14 cases. There could be more.

We hope there are not but you have to address it by very aggressive mosquito control as well as having individuals do what they can to avoid getting bitten by the mosquitoes.

TAPPER: And Dr. Fauci, obviously everyone hopes for the best case scenario but health officials, government officials have to prepare for the worst. What should they be preparing for?

FAUCI: Well they should be preparing for a sustained spread and a widening of the radius of the spread and that's one of the things, the reason why what's going on right now, they're doing surveillance testing around the rim of that perimeter, of that quite restricted place just north of Miami. And they have to do very aggressive mosquito control there. They also need to be very alert in other areas that have the right ingredients for a local outbreak. A lot of mosquitoes, perhaps poor control of mosquitoes, that really is something that we generally see more vulnerable along the gulf coast. Obviously, Florida is one of those states. You have to worry about the other states in the area but you have to keep your eye open for this kind of local transmission anywhere in the United States. But particularly in the more vulnerable areas, we have lot of mosquitoes in the semi-tropical climate at this time of the year in the United States.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Fauci, thanks so much. Appreciate your time. We'll have you on again soon I'm sure unfortunately, to discuss the Zika virus and its continued spread.

Internationally today, a young boy with a rare disease and a love of the marines has died. Just hours after being made an honorary marine. 8-year-old Wyatt Gillette suffered from a rare genetic disease which causes seizures and kidney failure. As Wyatt courageously fought for his life, taking more than 15 medications a day, a movement group to make him an honorary marine.

A movement that became a dream fulfilled on Saturday, a formal ceremony was held at Camp Pendleton to do exactly that. The California boy with the beaming smile was bestowed with the honor as his mom and dad who is a marine drill instructor, watched over him.

Sunday morning, yesterday morning, Wyatt died, in peace. If you want to help the Gillette family pay off his medical bills and assist with funeral costs, you can donate online at, The name again is Wyatt Gillette. RIP little man, and semper fi.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Poll Vault. Our exclusive new poll release right now shows Hillary Clinton gets a convention bounce with biggest for a Democrat since 2000. She regained her lead over Donald Trump but can she keep it?