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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
New Polls, Clinton Tops Trump; Obama Approval Rating Soars; Ryan Responds to Trump's Non-Endorsement, Khan Comments; Mayor Increase in Trump Fundraising; Interview with Lindsey Graham. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired August 4, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: The campaign is doing really well. It's never been so well united.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump for me is beginning to cross a lot of red lines of the unforgivable.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is unqualified to be president.
TRUMP: Our country took $400 million and flew it over to Iran.
CLINTON: This is not someone who understands the honor, the duty, of serving America.
TRUMP: Our leaders are incompetent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.
Hi, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
As Pat Benatar would say, "Love is a battlefield." So are the great states of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Donald Trump is not getting much in the love department from these states right now. Brand-new polls show Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead over Trump in all three states. This, after a rough week for Trump, including a fight with Republican Party leaders and with the parents of a fallen American soldier.
BERMAN: But wait. Pat Benatar might also say "Hit me with your best shot." And Trump's best shot might be $82 million he just brought in, in July, closing the gap with Hillary Clinton.
We're covering all the angles today.
First, CNN political director, David Chalian, as Pat Benatar would say, our "Heartbreaker," who has the latest poll numbers.
BOLDUAN: I only wrote the first one.
BERMAN: David, you're so thrilled to be here now.
CHALIAN: I am.
Let's go from east to west. We'll tick through them. In New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton with a 15 point edge, 47 percent to 32 percent. In Pennsylvania, 49 percent to 38 percent, an 11 point edge for Hillary Clinton. These are big leads. In Michigan, a nine-point lead, 41 percent for Hillary Clinton, 32 percent for Donald Trump.
Guys, these are results that are outside the margin of error. These are big leads at the moment. It is part of her convention bounce perhaps. We've seen it nationally. She is riding high off of Philadelphia and benefiting from controversial days since then for Donald Trump.
The question is, is this a new plateau and, from here is where the battleground starts coming this fall or does she return to earth before Labor Day? That's something to watch out for. But with these kinds of margins, Donald Trump's path to 270 electoral votes becomes much more narrow.
BERMAN: Much. Blue states the Trump campaign had been laser focused on.
David, not the only poll numbers of interest today. President Obama, the guy still in the White House, with some interesting approval ratings today.
CHALIAN: Take a look at this. He's at 54 percent approval in our new CNN poll, 45 percent disapproval. This is his highest approval rating of his second term. He is now in the ballpark with Ronald Reagan, where he was at this point in his second term, right near where Bill Clinton was when he was riding that post-impeachment high at the end of his term. He's in sort of that record territory.
This is exactly what Hillary Clinton and the folks in Brooklyn wanted. He is critical to her success with 96 days to go at his highest in the second term. This is right where the Clinton camp wanted Obama.
BERMAN: David Chalian, stick around. There's a lot more to discuss.
Donald Trump, he's going to speak shortly. He's in Maine today. That's interesting in and of itself.
But his running mate, Mike Pence, going it alone at a rally in North Carolina. Also alone in Trump world in terms of messaging. A different tone when speaking about the Khan family, the Gold Star parents of a fallen Muslim-American soldier.
BOLDUAN: And Mike Pence publicly endorsed Paul Ryan for re-election yesterday, despite Donald Trump being not quite there yet on the House speaker. Paul Ryan speaking this hour for the first time since this apparent Trump snub.
Let's get to senior political reporter, Manu Raju, with the latest on this.
What are we hearing from Paul Ryan this morning, Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's downplaying the lack of Trump endorsement. One of the first things he said in a local radio interview in Wisconsin is, "The only endorsements I want are from my own employers," referring to voters in his congressional district. He has a primary challenge from Paul Nehlen, a businessman, on Tuesday, where Ryan is heavily favored, but his challenger is trying to use this non-endorsement against Paul Ryan.
But Ryan was pretty critical of Trump, particularly on Trump's comments, criticizing the Khan family, of course, the Gold Star family that lost their son in Iraq, family of Muslim faith. He said it was beyond the pale. Ryan said it was beyond the pale that Trump would criticize that family, particularly when he questioned why the mother of the Khan family did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said it was beyond the pale. He explained why he made -- he was critical of that. One reason why Ryan said he continues to criticize Trump is because he said he needs to defend the Republican principles and the Republican brand and that's why he will speak out from time to time when he believes, in his words, that the Republican brand being, quote, "distorted." That was some comments that Ryan has been making for months but he made that very clear here as well.
And one other thing, guys, that he also said that, you know, he will -- he would not rule out revoking his endorsement of Donald Trump. He was asked, was there any consideration, will you rescind your endorsement, he said, "Well, nothing is a blank check." Those were his words, Paul Ryan's. But he's not at the point right now, even though he's been criticized on a number of issues, he will not rescind that endorsement, but he's not ruling that out for now -- guys?
[11:05:42] BERMAN: That is one complicated relationship.
BOLDUAN: I would say so.
What's the song for that one, Berman?
BERMAN: "Love on the rocks." I don't know.
That's one possibility.
All right, Manu, thanks very much.
Donald Trump does have something to brag about, a big, big fundraising month. It is Trump campaign brought in more than $80 million in July. CNN's Phil Mattingly, following the money for us -- Phil?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't get a Benatar reference at all?
BOLDUAN: You haven't earned it.
BERMAN: Come on.
MATTINGLY: I'm going to try it. No.
Look, the money, the top-line money for Donald Trump has been a big question mark over the past couple of months. He answered that question in a very big way as you noted, raising $82 million. To put that in perspective, at the end of May, he had $1.3 million total in his bank account. So that's big raising. But it actually getting better when you dig into the numbers. The campaign says $64 million of those dollars were raised via their small dollar operation. That's both digital and direct mail. Two-thirds of that $64 million was via digital. Here's why that's important. Small dollars is -- they're not the max-out folks, they're not the folks writing the big checks. That's $10, $15, $25 donations. Those are donors you can go back to over and over and over again. It's what we saw really drove Bernie Sanders's success, record-breaking success in the Democratic primary. It's something that Republicans have had a very difficult time tapping into, locking into over the last couple of cycles. It appears Donald Trump has been able to bring that grassroots support he so clearly had during the Republican primary into the donation game. And that's important going forward because, again, you can go back to those folks month after month after month to continue raising the money.
Now, there's no question, Donald Trump, still having problems raising those big dollar checks. His biggest fundraisers, raising only $16 million. That's not a lot when you compare it to where Hillary Clinton is. But still, guys, compared to where Donald Trump was just a few months ago, compared to where Donald Trump was with a fundraising apparatus that was essentially nonexistent a few months ago. Big numbers coming out, no question. A lot to ride on in what otherwise was a very difficult week.
BOLDUAN: You could ride on those numbers quite a while. That's a whole lot of money.
Thanks, Phil. Great to see you.
You've now earned a Pat Benatar reference.
Let's continue the discussion right now. Back with us, CNN political director, David Chalian. Also joining us, CNN political commentator, Hillary Clinton supporter, Hilary Rosen; CNN political commentator and Trump supporter, John Phillips; Pete Seat, the former communications director for the Indiana Republican Party; and CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich.
Again, I love the "Brady Bunch." We are back here.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: "Hit us with your best shot," Kate.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Hilary.
Pete, of all the things that concern Republicans, one thing chief among them is Donald Trump dragging on the ticket, hurting Senate races, hurting congressional races, and so on and so forth. These numbers, how concerning are they to you?
PETE SEAT, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, INDIANA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Certainly I think Hillary Clinton got a bounce from her convention. I think that's where President Obama's higher approval rating is coming from as well, a bounce from the convention. People thought he did a very decent job. These numbers are going to be volatile. They're going to go up and down. But Senate races, congressional races, gubernatorial races, they're going to focus on their home turf, they're going to focus on their own voters. He's not concerned about people endorsing him. He cares about his voters at home in his district and that's where he's going to put all his chips.
BERMAN: Pete, you gave me the perfect segue for this next bit.
Mike Kaufman is a congressman in Colorado, Republican congressman in Colorado, which is seen as a swing state. He's got a new ad coming out right now which doesn't just separate himself from Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, he's running against Donald Trump, the Republican nominee. I want you to watch this.
All right. We do not have this ad.
But Mike Kaufman in this ad looks straight at the camera and says, people ask me, what do you think of Donald Trump. "Honestly," Mike Kaufman says, "I don't care for him much."
That's a Republican congressman spending money on a television ad to tell his voters he doesn't like Donald Trump much.
You know, John Phillips, Donald Trump supporter, this has got to be of concern to the Trump campaign when you have Republicans spending money against Donald Trump.
[11:10:03] JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, over the last few days, I'm not surprised to see people running for the hills. The last 72 hours for Donald Trump have been the political equivalent of Chris Farley's final 72 hours on planet earth. Look, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich say they're planning an intervention. Sign me up. I'll bring Dr. Drew, the burlap sack and the station wagon because this guy needs to get back on track. Every time he fights with someone else, when he fights with the Khan family, when he fights with someone in the news media, when he's fighting with CNN, that's time that he's not spending going after Hillary Clinton and President Obama and making the case to the American people. He has got to get back on track.
BOLDUAN: And, Jackie, I mean, John said it earlier, these three states, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Michigan, these are three states that are just the type of bluish state that Donald Trump and his campaign have been really going after to flip. I mean, we've heard Donald Trump say, I'm going to do great in Michigan. I'm going to do great in Pennsylvania. What kind of shock to the system -- do you think this is a shock to the system, these numbers to the campaign, even though they are volatile?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think you heard Donald Trump say a limb bit of that at his rally yesterday. He knows he's not invincible -- Pat Benatar referee -- but they haven't really hard like a staff, in terms of the infrastructure on the ground, you haven't really seen that in a lot of states. Particularly in Virginia, there are reports he doesn't even have an office there yet. You heard Donald Trump say yesterday he doesn't know why the numbers aren't getting higher. I think he hopes in the next couple of months with these promising fundraising numbers that perhaps that will keep coming in. But when you talk to his staff and talk to some of the people around him, there needs to be some discipline there, and it can't just be Mike Pence with the broom and the bucket following him around.
BERMAN: Hilary Rosen, Jackie was just saying he doesn't have this, he doesn't have that. But he does have, now, 82 million bucks that he raised in July, which is objectively an impressive -- even more impressive, as it is largely fueled by small dollar donations, the type of donations that can keep coming back, the type of donations Republicans haven't had in the past. So there is enthusiasm there, there are possibilities, and he does have money to spend.
ROSEN: I don't think anyone ever thought this campaign would lack for money, small donors or big donors. As a practical matter there is enough support in the base of the party to get that. And all that shows, really, is that the Republicans have gotten better at technically finding, you know, with a better e-mail program finding their donors. And the enthusiasm, though, is still really limited for Donald Trump. And I think you would see that in terms of the overall number of donors he has. For instance, compared to the overall number of small donors that Clinton has, which is probably ten times what Trump has.
So the problem is in a regular campaign you would look at the campaign manager would look around and say, do I have the right team, am I going to go the distance, are we focused number, am I pushing in the right states. In this case, the campaign manager is actually the candidate and the candidate is not self-critical enough.
Having said that, I am fully convinced that at some point he is going to ride his own train. He's arrogant, thin skinned, misogynist, narcissistic, but he's not stupid. He's going to look in the mirror at some point over the next couple of weeks and say, I need to fix this, I need to do better here. And he's going to get more discipline and the race will tighten.
BOLDUAN: Someone else who is not stupid is Paul Ryan, David. What we were hearing from Manu Raju, Paul Ryan was doing a radio interview and he says I only want the endorsement of voters. I don't know if we call it a game of chicken now between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. Donald Trump not endorsing. Paul Ryan now saying, you know, it's not a blank check, I could potentially maybe revoke my endorsement. How man how much does this matter? From the top of the Republican Party?
CHALIAN: Paul Ryan sees this in his Benefit to continue this battle with Donald Trump. Because it clearly is giving such pain to so many in the party that I find it surprising. He knows what he's doing. He knows if he's going to talk about this still, mention the Khan family, go ahead and talk about not wanting his endorsement, that's going to feed another cycle of this conversation. Paul Ryan is not letting him off the hook here.
BERMAN: Hang on. Hang on.
Beyond the pale -- I'm not sure that beyond the pale means what Paul Ryan thinks it means. Because he said the judge references Donald made was beyond the pale. A whole lot of what Donald Trump is doing exists beyond the realm of what is acceptable to Paul Ryan.
It just seems like -- John Phillips, Donald Trump supporter, you know, what's your message to Paul Ryan, the party?
[11:15:03] PHILLIPS: Well, I don't think it's to his benefit to engage in these side shows either. Paul Ryan has an opponent back in Wisconsin. He should worry about that. Trump has an opponent in Hillary Clinton. He should worry about her. Every day Trump spends feuding with Paul Ryan or feuding with someone else is a day he doesn't spend calling Hillary Clinton a pathological liar.
BOLDUAN: We got to run right now though.
ROSEN: Democrats are going to hang this around Trump.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.
Thank you, Hilary.
Thank you, all.
Coming up for us, what does Senator Graham think about all this, including Trump's refusal to endorse his friend, John McCain, who is also up for re-election? We'll talk to him, live, next
BERMAN: Plus, can you say "kiss-ass generation" on television? Clint Eastwood says, go ahead, make my day. The actor/director/chair whisperer weighs in to the 2016 race. Why he says he's now going for Trump.
BOLDUAN: What is going on today?
BOLDUAN: Donald Trump says we've never been more unified, despite the past few days where Donald Trump was not quite there yet on Paul Ryan and is refusing to endorse Senator John McCain. Both men have endorsed Donald Trump and both are up for re-election. And this also comes after a long drawn-out fight with the Khan family who's soon died while fighting in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:20:14] TRUMP: So I just want to tell you the campaign is doing really well. It's never been so well united.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Never been so well unified.
Let's bring in Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Senator Graham is also a former presidential candidate.
Thank you so much for being with us.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.
BERMAN: I want to know what your reaction was the minute you heard that Donald Trump was refusing to endorse your friend, Senator John McCain, refusing to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan in their primaries? What was your reaction? Remember there are no FCC regulations. We're on cable.
GRAHAM: Well, my first reaction was it's pretty short sighted on Mr. Trump's part because John McCain will re-election in Arizona. He's the best hope to keep the Arizona Senate seat, which helps Republicans in the Senate. And the better John McCain does in Arizona, the more it will help Donald Trump. John McCain's primary opponent would get beat by 15 points in the general election.
Paul Ryan will win his congressional district very handily. The person running against him is an unknown. I saw him on TV last night. Paul Ryan will run up the numbers in his congressional district, helping Mr. Trump, our Senate candidate and everybody else running in Wisconsin.
So it's pretty short sighted to attack people who actually will help you by being on the ballot with them. BOLDUAN: Senator, what do you think is behind it? Do you think it's
just because he holds a grudge?
GRAHAM: Yeah, I've said all along he can't take criticism. If you really want to be president of the United States, this is the best chance you'll ever get, Mr. Trump. You're running against somebody most people don't want to vote for, they don't trust, they don't like. The reason you're doing so poorly if you've scared people. They don't think you have the temperament, the judgment for the job. Prove them wrong. You've built some great buildings and been involved in great projects. Your campaign strategy is not working. Attacking Paul Ryan and John McCain is not helping you with the Hispanics and young women. And you need to do better with the groups to have a chance to win the White House. And you want Kelly, John McCain and Paul Ryan on the ticket with you, because they're the best candidates we could ever hope to have in their respective states.
BERMAN: Donald Trump, we just played the sound, he says there's never been more unity in his campaign. You disagree?
GRAHAM: Well, if you think -- what would disunity look like? People are responding to Mr. Trump. He can beat Hillary Clinton but he's not going to beat Mr. Khan. Mr. Khan is going to have the support of the American people because his son gave his life for our country. So every day that we talk about Mr. Khan and Donald Trump, it's bad for Trump and everybody else. He is the establishment. Donald Trump is the leading, most recognizable Republican in the country. He represents the Republican Party. The Trump establishment's in charge. From what I can tell, they don't have a strategy to effectively exploit Hillary Clinton's weaknesses. If you really focused on Hillary Clinton's weaknesses and the Obama economy's weaknesses, you would change these numbers. That means you have to focus on your opponent, and your opponent is not John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, Paul Ryan. Your opponent right now, Mr. Trump, is yourself.
BOLDUAN: That's really interesting because I was also reminded this morning that we're about at the two-month anniversary, Senator, of when you were saying that the attacks on the judge, born in Indiana, by Donald Trump, offered Republicans an off ramp if they were going to pull support from him. What does the episode of this week mean? What do you think, what's the message to your colleagues? Is this an off ramp?
GRAHAM: John McCain needs to do what he needs to do to win in Arizona. Like every other candidate on the ballot, they have to walk a fine line when it comes to Mr. Trump. All I can say to John McCain is keep being John McCain. John McCain spoke out when Mr. Trump said things that were highly inappropriate regarding the Khan family. He wants to support the nominee of our party. And I understand that. I just can't go where Mr. Trump would take the party.
The bottom line here is Donald Trump should want John McCain in Arizona to win the primary because he will win the general election. He should want Paul Ryan to be the nominee in that congressional district because he'll perform so well. He should want Kelly Ayotte, who is truly he future of the Republican Party, to be on the ballot in New Hampshire because she's our strongest candidate, which helps Mr. Trump.
BERMAN: Senator, William Weld, former Republican governor of Massachusetts, last night was part of a town hall here on CNN, he says he thinks Donald Trump has a screw loose.
Do you think Donald Trump has a screw loose?
[11:25:00] GRAHAM: No, I mean, you can't be as successful as he's been without being -- he's not crazy. At the end of the day, he doesn't have discipline. He's thin skinned. This is not a real estate deal where you can bully your way into a good deal. I think he's an undisciplined candidate who is running against somebody who is very week, and if he could get on this, if he could make this competitive. Because at the end of the day, the economy is the slowest recovery since 1949. The world is literally on fire from radical Islam running wild. The Obama policies are not working. Hillary Clinton is not trusted. People don't want to vote for her. But what Mr. Trump is saying is basically focusing on everything, except the big thing, which is the election for president.
BOLDUAN: Senator, you mentioned trust. This has come up this week. Do you trust Donald Trump with the nuclear code?
GRAHAM: Right now, I think Mr. Trump has rattled the American people with his judgment and temperament. He's got to prove he can be commander-in-chief.
Here's the one thing I could say that when --
BERMAN: Right now --
GRAHAM: I'm not voting for him or Hillary Clinton. The question for Mr. Trump -- he does have it within him to be successful. He's been successful in other endeavors. In politics, he beat 16 people. So -- he beat me. So it doesn't really matter what I think about him in terms of the electoral process simply because he beat me. But the polls should be a wake-up call to Mr. Trump. He's losing to a person who people believe is a liar. He's losing --
BOLDUAN: Right, but, Senator, a lot of people do respect what you have to say, especially when it comes to national security.
GRAHAM: Yeah, that's why I'm not supporting Mr. Trump. I don't think he has the judgment and experience. He hasn't shown the judgment and experience, in my view, to be commander-in-chief. Putin is not our friend. Assad staying in power in Syria is a bad deal.
I can give you a million reasons why I'm not supporting Clinton. That's easy for a Republican.
GRAHAM: At the end of the day, Trump's temperament and judgment is what people find lacking in him.
BERMAN: You served with Senator Clinton and you worked on foreign policy issues with her. Who do you trust more with the nuclear codes, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?
GRAHAM: I don't want either one of them to be commander -- do I think Mr. Trump is going to start a nuclear war? No. Do I think that when he took the Purple Heart, that it was -- he was saying something out of bounds? No. I took it to be a tongue-in-cheek remark. My problem with Mr. Trump is he doesn't, in my view, understand who our enemies are and who our friends are, and he doesn't understand the Mideast for the complexity that it is, that he's an isolationist, he's to the left of the Republican Party, he's in Bernie Sanders land when it comes to trade. That's my problem. No, I don't think Donald Trump would just wake up one day and start a nuclear war.
Here's my problem, I don't think he understands how to win this war any better than Obama. Show me that I'm wrong.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about that. Let's get in a quick break. We've got a lot to talk about. We'll talk about what's going on overseas. I know you have some strong opinions on that.
We'll be right back.